Native Americans of the Northeast Cultural Area (Grades 4 to 6)
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||ancestry, dependent, formation, somewhat, tribal, warfare, society, maintain, traditional, area, spears, negative, communal, longhouses, temperate, tended
||Eastern Woodlands, United States, Atlantic Ocean, Mississippi River, Great Lakes, Native Americans, Three Sisters, Native American, Northeast Indians, Nova Scotia
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Native Americans of the Northeast Cultural Area
By Jennifer Kenny
1 The Eastern Woodlands area is the eastern part of the United States, which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. It includes the Great Lakes. Most scientists divide the region into the Northeast and the Southeast. The Northeast portion of the region runs from Canada to Kentucky and Virginia. It has a temperate climate. It is somewhat humid. There are widespread forests and hundreds of rivers. Much of the soil is adequate for agriculture.
2 Approximately 10,000 years ago, ancient hunter-gatherers followed game animals into the region. Around 9,000 years ago, the climate warmed and these Native Americans became dependent on deer, nuts, and wild grains. Then, 5,000 years ago, they began cultivating plants. By the year 400 AD, maize agriculture was common. Women tended to plots of corn (or maize), squash, and beans. To the Iroquois in this area, those were the three most important crops. They planted them on small earthen hills. The Iroquois called these crops "The Three Sisters."
3 The Algonquians introduced the Pilgrims to these crops. Squanto shared the traditional Native American harvesting festival with the English. The Pilgrims had the first Thanksgiving with members of the Wampanoag.
4 Food was plentiful. Besides farming, people here hunted animals such as rabbits, deer, squirrels, beavers, turkeys, partridges, ducks, and geese. Far in the north, they hunted moose, elk, and bears too. In areas closer to the prairie, they sometimes found buffalo as well. The Northeast Indians also used traps and deadfalls, traps that made heavy things fall on prey to hunt or kill them. They were able to fish with hooks, spears, or nets in the numerous rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. The Indians near Nova Scotia liked to fish at night using torches. Fish came to the surface because the light attracted them. Then the men in the canoes speared the fish. They gathered wild plant foods such as berries too. Where there were maple trees, the Native Americans had maple syrup and sugar, as well to enjoy. Food in the Northeast was cooked in wooden vessels or simple black pottery.
5 There were two main groups in this area – the Algonquian speaking group and the Iroquoian speaking group. Tribes from either group were organized into clans. Clans were clusters of related families who claimed a common ancestor. A clan would take an animal name such as Deer Clan. In the Iroquois society, descent, or family ancestry, and property passed through the female line (matrilineal). A clan mother, an elder woman with much power, headed each clan. The Algonquian society, though, was a patrilineal society. Chiefs or leaders of the woodland tribes were called sachems.
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