Blog Posts - Indian Tribes



Artificial Want

When settlers arrived on Native American shores, they met robust nations with well-developed cultures and survival systems. However, native peoples did not domesticate the animals they ate to any great extent, nor grow food crops as extensively as Eu...

A Helping Hand

Though food scarcity occurred naturally due to weather and other factors, Native Americans could generally recover from a poor season of hunting or farming. However, the “help” extended by the U.S.’s federal government actually put...

Winter Living

The change of seasons brought changes in lifestyle to most Native American groups. Before industrialization, most societies lived seasonally, with certain tasks being relegated for certain times of the year…spring and summer to plant, grow crop...

Winter and Scarcity

Like many peoples dependent upon agriculture and hunting, Native Americans could face scarcity and deprivation if crops were poor or hunting was bad. If tribes had a regional primary food source, such as corn in parts of the Southwest or buffalo on t...

Expressing Gratitude

Though the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday does not have the same happy significance for Native Americans as it does for the descendents of European settlers, Native Americans have a deep tradition of giving thanks. Most Native Americans had a long-establi...

Winter on the Plains

Though its topography varied from region to region, the area known as the western Plains could be counted on to have a harsh environment. Summer temperatures often reached 100 degrees, and winter temperatures well into the double-digits below zero. W...

Prepping for Winter

A good vegetable harvest was important for many tribes, but all Native Americans did not practice agriculture and reap harvestsĀ  at the end of a growing season. These tribes still had to provide for winter food, when game was more scarce. Drying foo...

Winter Provision

By October and early November, Native Americans who were growing cultivated crops would have gathered much of their harvest. The task to preserve food for the coming winter was a difficult one, and tribes across the continent met the challenge in a v...

Horror Story

Native Americans did not celebrate Halloween rituals as Europeans did, but they passed on stories about spirits and ghosts. The following story is adapted from the Zuni tale, “Rolling Skull” on angelfire.com, Native American Legends, Myth...

Trading With a New Country

The newly created United States knew that it needed to promote trade to flourish as a nation. Congressional members also understood that Native Americans were important trade partners who had been cheated or otherwise treated unfairly by unscrupulous...

European Fashions

Trade usually benefited both parties in an exchange, since value (of goods traded) is in the eye of the beholder. However, from a strictly economic standpoint, European traders came out well ahead of their Native American counterparts. Except for gun...

Trade Issues

Though Europeans early on decided that their own culture should dominate the continent, they also recognized their need for, and dependence upon, relationships with Native Americans. Going beyond fanciful grade-school depictions of friendly meetings...

Philosophical Changes

As colonists became citizens of the United States, two great forces emerged to pit themselves against the Native American way of life. One was a desire for westward expansion on the part of whites, and the other was a desire from religious leaders an...

Conflicting Ideals

Though the U.S. population usually supported freedom passionately, the government and its people could also entertain strong paternalistic views. Eugenics laws (see last few posts) were created in part due to a feeling that certain authoritarians ...

Worlds Apart

Though insanity was rare, Native Americans did sometimes have to deal with tribal members they deemed insane. Their methods were less harsh than European ones (see last post) and Native Americans often tried to cure insanity rather than settle for th...

Another New World

Europeans coming to the American continents experienced a new world, but Native Americans also experienced new worlds as these strangers introduced their cultural practices and religious beliefs to them. Some, if not many, of these initial exchanges...

New World Medicine

Europeans who came to the New World welcomed Native American medical knowledge. Though Europeans had commonly used herbs and other plant preparations to cure illnesses, they were not familiar with many of the plants they found in their new home. Nati...

The Rough Riders

When hostilities began between Spain and the U.S. concerning Cuba’s independence (see last post), the U.S. did not have a large standing army. Many men volunteered their services in the subsequent Spanish-American War, but most were not well-tr...

Pettigrew Was Right

Senator Richard Pettigrew wanted a federalĀ  insane asylum for Indians placed in South Dakota, the state he represented. Via the Committee on Indian Affairs, he pushed for information that would justify his project. The committee sent a query to Indi...

Indian Agents Weigh in on Insanity

In 1898, forty Indian agents answered an inquiry from the Committee on Indian Affairs concerning the presence of insane Indians within their areas of supervision. Among all forty agents, they found only fifty-five insane Indians and perhaps fifteen t...


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