Native American Culture Term Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Native Americans Type: Term Paper Paper: #35583287 Related Topics: Native Americans, Canadian Culture, American Indian Studies, North American
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Native American Culture

The Native American people occupied the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century and have long been known as Indians because when Columbus reached the shores he believed he had landed in the Indies (Natives Pp).

It is generally agreed by most scholars that the Native Americans came to the Western Hemisphere from Asia via the Bering Strait or along the North Pacific coast in series of migrations spreading east and south (Natives Pp).

It is believed that these waves of migration account for the numerous native linguistic families while the common origin explains the physical characteristics that Native Americans share, such as Mongoloid features, coarse straight black hair, dark eyes, sparse body hair, and skin color ranging from yellow-brown to reddish brown (Natives Pp).

The majority of scholars believe that they arrived approximately 12,000 years ago, while other accept evidence that they have exited in the Americas for more than 25,000 years (Natives Pp). Moreover, there is dispute concerning pre-Columbian population, with some conservatively estimating it to be roughly 1.8 million, while other authorities believe the population to be more than ten million (Natives Pp). Regardless, within the first few decades of European contact, the Native population dropped dramatically due to smallpox, influenza, measles, and other diseases to which they had not previously been exposed (Natives Pp).

It is generally agreed that from prehistoric times until recent historic times there were approximately six major cultural areas, Northwest Coast, Plains, Plateau, Eastern Woodlands, Northern, and Southwest (Natives Pp).

The main language family of the Northwest Coast were the Nadene in the north and the Wakashan, a subdivision of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock, and the Tsimshian, a subdivision of the Penutian linguistic stock in the central area (Natives Pp). They had a highly stratified society with chiefs, nobles, commoners, and slaves, and are famed for their artwork of ceremonial items such as rattles and masks, weaving and basketry (Natives Pp). Moreover, they had woven robes, furs, basket hats, wooden armor and helmets for battle, and their culture included...


When the Spanish introduced the horse at the beginning of the 18th century, it revolutionized their way of life as well as other tribes who left their villages and joined the nomads and because of this a universal sign language developed among the tribes who traveled on horseback and lived in tepees (Natives Pp).

The Plateau was an area of great linguistic and cultural diversity, including brush shelters or lean-tos, tepees, and buried earth lodges for ceremonies and ritual sweat baths (Natives Pp). Their basketry was highly developed, as was their social, political, and religious systems (Natives Pp).

The natives of the Eastern Woodlands spoke languages of the Algonquian-Wakashan stock and were hunters and farmers (Natives Pp). Deerskin clothing, face painting and the scalp lock of the men were typical, as well as tobacco smoking, pottery making and burial mounds (Natives Pp). Society was divided into classes with a chief, his children, nobles and commoners (Natives Pp).

The main languages of the Northern area were Algonquian-Wakashan and the Nadene stocks and they lived as hunters and gatherers (Natives Pp). The snowshoe was one of the most important items of material culture and the shaman was paramount in the religion (Natives Pp).

The Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock was the main language of the Southwest group (Natives Pp). This seminomadic people, the Basket Makers, hunted with a spear thrower and acquired the art of cultivating beans and squash, and unfired pottery (Natives Pp). They lived in large, terraced community houses set on ledges of cliffs and canyons and developed a ceremonial chamber, called the kiva (Natives Pp).

Life for Native American in the 20th century has been…

Sources Used in Documents:

Work Cited

Natives, North American

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition; 4/22/2004; Pp.

Native American Spirituality
A Line in the Sand.
First Peoples' Cultural Foundation.
Native Nations Network.

Cite this Document:

"Native American Culture" (2004, November 28) Retrieved August 19, 2022, from

"Native American Culture" 28 November 2004. Web.19 August. 2022. <>

"Native American Culture", 28 November 2004, Accessed.19 August. 2022,

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