Looking at Native Cultures in the USA

Rainforests are full of life. Apart from the many animal and plant species you expect in the rainforests, some people call the forests their homes. The indigenous people or the native cultures in the USA and around the world have lived in the forests for thousands of years.


Data from early European explorers show that the number of people who lived in the rainforests many years ago was higher than it is today. Most of them, including the Caribs (the Caribbean Sea is named after them), disappeared completely.


Some others are scattered remnants of the people they once were. However, many ethnic groups still use their distinctive languages and live in reserved lands in the USA. 


Native Cultures in the USA and Around the World


So, how do they live? And how is their culture? Even though most of the people living in the wild live as we do, some live as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. They organize their lives in a way that is different from ours. They get their clothing, medicines, and food from the forest. 


Most of the children do not go to school. Instead, their parents and other individuals in the community teach them about the forest. They are taught the many skills they need to survive in forests, such as hunting, fishing, and identifying plants they can use as food and medicine. Most of the kids know more about the rainforests than the scientists who have been studying them for many years. 


When it comes to food, the indigenous people gather wild nuts and fruits, hunt and fish. Some also plant small gardens using sustainable farming methods known as shifting cultivation. Before planting, they have to clear the area and burn it. After that, they can plant various plants for use as medicines and food. After several years of cultivation, the crops may fail to grow, and the weeds start taking over. That is when they move to the uncleared areas. Archeology has given us a lot of information about native cultures in North America.


Culture in the USA

A depiction of our early peoples at the South Florida Museum


They leave the area to regrow for around 10-50 years and then farm again. The indigenous groups who have access to very large amounts of land are practicing the shifting cultivation. Unfortunately, with the shrinking of rainforests and the increase of non-indigenous farmers, the people are forced to remain in one location. You can download Google Earth Pro to see the areas. The lands have become wastelands after many years of continued use and are not usable for future agriculture. 


The forest has protected them from the outsiders for many years and given them everything they need. They currently live what we call sustainable existence, which means that they do not harm the animals and plants that call the rainforests their home. The earth is our medicine, educator, historian, and provider of protection and clothing. In other words, she has supported all races. 


The reservations of natives in the United States 


Most of the native people in the USA live on reservations situated in the Midwestern and Southwestern states. Some of them have integrated into modern American societies and are living in metropolitan cities. The United States government has designated lands for them by treaty. The lands are known as reservations. Natives do not own any land. Instead, the US government manages the land and all resources on it for them. You can use Google Earth Pro to view the various reservations and really get an idea of where native cultures in the USA are rooted.


Cultures in the USA

A timeline of arrowheads at the South Florida Museum


You will find the reservations in New Mexico, South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota, Arizona, Utah, California, Tennessee, Florida, and Oklahoma. However, there are reservations in other areas of the United States too. For example, the Colville and Yakama Reservations are situated in Washington state. The Wind River Reservation is situated in Wyoming. 


Some of the tribes, including the Southern Arapaho, do not live on the reservations. They rejected the tribal lands and chose to live in rural communities of Canton and Geary, situated in the western-central part of Oklahoma, which is very close to the North Canadian Rivers. However, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribe share sovereignty over Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation. It is the largest reservation for native tribes in the United States. 



About Nia McKenna

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Nia is an Associate Editor at The Fairytale Traveler and self diagnosed travel junkie. Having traveled to 5 of the 7 continents, her love of good food and culture is a force to be reckoned with. When she isn't off adventuring with her husband, which she writes about on her blog CircaWanderlust, she can be found with a good cup of tea cuddling her pups and taking pictures of her food. She loves black and white movies and could listen to Elvis on repeat.

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