Native Americans in the Northern Area (Grades 4 to 6)
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||burdens, currently, framework, mink, nomadic, self-reliance, supplement, tipi, extremely, presented, traditional, area, spears, diets, affected, bravery
||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 Northern area is also called the Subarctic area when referring to the cultural areas of the Native Americans. It includes most of Canada. It is a belt of land from the Rocky Mountains to the Hudson Bay. It goes from inland Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador.
2 The subarctic is an area of thick pine forests with broadleaf trees called taiga. 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 environmental conditions and poor soil have prevented adequate farming here. Instead, the people must hunt, gather, trap, and fish. It required 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 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 at the top.
9 Women worked hard as part of the family. They made fires, prepared food, and cured animal hides to make leather. If their camp were moving, 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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