Native Americans
Native Americans in the Northern Area

Native Americans in the Northern Area
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.79

     challenging words:    broadleaf, flat-bottomed, ingenuity, kinship, mink, nomadic, self-reliance, supernatural, taiga, tipi, presented, area, supplement, currently, capes, porcupine
     content words:    Native Americans, Rocky Mountains, Hudson Bay, North America, Klondike Gold Rush

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Native Americans in the Northern Area
By Jennifer Kenny

1     The Native American Northern cultural area is also called the Subarctic area. It includes most of Canada. It is a belt of land extending from the Rocky Mountains to Hudson Bay. It goes from inland Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador.
2     The Subarctic is an area of thick coniferous forests called taiga that includes some broadleaf trees. There are also flat, treeless arctic plains called tundra on the northern edge. Thousands of lakes, ponds, swamps, rivers, and streams exist here as well. The winters are long and filled with deep snow and thick ice. The summers are short.
3     Limited growing seasons and poor soil have prevented adequate farming here. Instead, the people must hunt, gather, trap, and fish. It requires ingenuity, courage, and self-reliance to live in this area.
4     About 8,000 years ago, nomadic hunters followed game, including caribou herds. In the spring, hunters would gather at the edge of the taiga to catch the animals migrating to the tundra in the north. The caribou were extremely important to them because they provided the Indians with food, clothing, and some shelter (tents). In the fall, the Native Americans returned to the same spot to hunt the caribou coming south. They used bows, arrows, and spears in the hunt. Many hunters used dogs to hunt. Sometimes they would snare animals with ropes strung between the trees. They also attacked animals from their canoes as the animals crossed rivers or lakes. They used lines and hooks, barbed arrows, spears, nets, and enclosures called weirs.
5     Large game in the area included moose, deer, musk oxen, mountain sheep, and bison. Small game included beaver, mink, otter, porcupine, rabbit, squirrel, and waterfowl.
6     The Indians would often collect berries and edible roots to supplement their diets. Seeds and bark were also important.
7     The peoples native to this area included the Cree, Algonquin, Chipewyan, Beaver, Kutchin, Ingalik, Kaska, Tanana, and Ojibwa (or Chippewa). The individual groups were small because food was limited. They traveled in hunting bands united by kinship - some families, some extended families. There were chiefs who were chosen for their hunting skills and bravery. They did have the power to settle disputes, but there was little power for the chiefs beyond their families.
8     The most common dwelling was a cross between the tipi and the wigwam. It was a small cone-shaped tent with a pole framework. A smoke hole was open at the top.
9     Women worked hard as part of the family. They made fires, prepared food, and cured animal hides to make leather. When moving their camp, women hauled provisions on their backs or on toboggans. Women could hold loads of up to 140 pounds on their backs. The men's job was to search the woods for game.

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