The Differences of Native American Cultures

The Differences of Native American Cultures

The cultures of Native American tribes varied greatly from geographical region to region. The tribes in the Pacific Northwest had plenty of time to be involved in intricate forms of art. Great Plains tribes believed in magic buffalos and were nomadic. Easten Woodlands tribes made some pottery. Great Basin tribes worshipped the different seasons. Southwest tribes valued peace and wisdom. California and Baja tribes prized staying in one place and didn’t like change. The geography of the area in which a tribe lived determined the kind of culture that each tribe developed. The surrounding environments of the different areas often changed the beliefs of each tribe. Things such as food, plants, animals, weather, etc. were often a factor in determining culture. Take the Plains tribe the Cheyenne, for instance. They originated from the area around Wisconsin. There, they fished, hunted, farmed and gathered like any other Eastern Woodlands tribe. Later on, they moved to the Great Plains, where they had the buffalo hunt and the sun dance. Geography affected Cheyenne culture in this way. The buffalo hunt was created so, since the Great Plains lacked much food, the Cheyenne could get enough food to survive. Before they arrived at the plains, the buffalo hunt was unnecessary because of the bountiness of food. The Inuit people (known incorrectly as eskimos) were, of course, affected by their geography. Their language consisted of over 50 words for ice. They had to live in igloos, because of the lack of building resources. Shamans were popular and had a lot of power because, since food was so scarce, they were believed to have powers that could help find it.

Pacific Northwest people were obviously affected by their geography.

Food and resources were so plentiful they didn’t have to spend too much time farming of gathering food. This gave them time to form very complex art such as totem poles. Also, since they had so many resources, every year a potlach was held. A potlach was a celebration where people gave their possessions to others to distribute the wealth. The tribes in the Northwest believed in sharing wealth because of its bountifulness.

These are just a few examples of tribal differences due to geography.

Knowing a tribe’s geography is the first step to knowing about a tribe.