Native Americans of the Southeast Cultural Area (Grades 4 to 6)
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||lacrosse, semi, wattle, wraparound, achievement, rank, area, circular, spears, rectangular, social, originally, open-sided, purify, southeastern, lasted
||Eastern Woodland, United States, Atlantic Ocean, Mississippi River, Great Lakes, Ohio River, Native Americans, Mound Builders, Temple Mound, Great Sun
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Native Americans of the Southeast Cultural Area
By Jennifer Kenny
1 The Eastern Woodland 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 southeastern portion ran from the Ohio River south to the Gulf of Mexico. The climate is humid and is well watered.
2 The Native Americans in this area were here before the year 500 AD. They were originally semi nomads who hunted, fished, and gathered roots and seeds. Then they cultivated maize, or corn, and that revolutionized their lives and permitted the development of complex societies.
3 Around 800 AD, the Mound Builders (or Mississippian) or Temple Mound culture built great earthen burial mounds. They built the city of Cahokia, which at one point may have had more than 20,000 people. They were master farmers who settled along riverbeds, and they also built massive earthworks to support their temples and their rulers' homes. The city declined by the year 1200 AD.
4 The farmers in this area were experts. Maize, beans, squash, and sunflowers were the staple crops. The Cherokees and others had three kinds of maize. They roasted one kind, boiled one kind, and ground one into flour for cornbread. If the soil were thought to be too sandy, they would move their fields to keep their crops healthy. The Natchez and Muskogean were farmers in this area who actually used hoes with stone, bone, or shell blade.
5 The Native Americans used bows and arrows to kill deer. They tainted blowguns with poison darts to hunt turkey and small game. They used spears, traps, enclosures set in waterways, and poisons to capture fish. They also collected nuts, fruits, edible roots, stalks, and leaves which could then be stored in baskets. Further south, the men watched out for and hunted alligators.
6 The Indians in this area lived in villages. Villagers governed their own affairs. A head chief who discussed community matters led village councils. Some tribes organized into chiefdoms, which had a supreme ruler. Social rank was determined by birth.
7 The Natchez were Sun-worshipping people. A leader known as Great Sun, who according to the Natchez was a living god, ruled them. His relatives were the high priests called Suns. Then came the nobles followed by the commoners who did the farming, hunting, and mound building.
8 The Cherokee and Choctaw were more democratic and less formal. Their leaders were determined by achievement.
9 The homes and the public buildings were rectangular (although sometimes circular). They were constructed of wattle and daub, a type of architecture. Branches and vines were tied over poles and covered with mud or clay (sometimes thatch or animal hides instead).
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