Posted by: lemmod | March 10, 2010

American Indian Food Sources

Upon watching Dancing With Wolves and seeing the famous buffalo hunt in the movie, I began to wonder other ways Native Americans received their food. I then did a little research and found that there were about four total ways Indians were able to gather food. These included hunting/fishing, gathering, farming, and domesticating animals. For Native Americans, it seems that most participated in at least two of these food collecting ways with every single known Native American participating in hunting/fishing. The tribes that were extremely far north such as the Eskimos generally relied on hunting/fishing while other tribes, like the Hopi, Navajo, and Cherokee, were skilled at farming. American Indian farming was relatively enhanced with the use of irrigation, terracing, and crop rotation in order to grow crops more successfully. Also, food crops were not only grown. American Indians were able to grow cotton, hemp, tobacco, and plants that would be used for medicine. The third way American Indians could obtain food is just by gathering it.  This could be as simple as plucking blueberries from a bush or as complicated as using tools in order to tape trees for maple syrup.  The last thing American Indians did for food was the domestication of animals. Here, they kept animals for both service and produce. For example, dogs were sometimes kept as a service in the retrieval of game or for some tribes to dog sled. Other animals were kept for produce like sheep or hogs. Overall, the food sources of American Indians could be obtained in a variety of ways and it really depended on the area, the tribe, and lifestyle each Indian group wanted to have.

For more information check out http://www.native-languages.org/food.htm

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