Comparing and Contrasting Native American Life

Task    Process    Resources    Evaluation    Conclusion    Learn to Track    Enrichment  

Version 2

The lifestyle of the Native Americans was significantly changed with the influences of the European traders and settlers.  Through this unit, we will learn about how their life changed and we will make a determination if the lives of the Native American People were better or worse because of the Europeans coming to this continent.

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 We will:

Research the Native Americans lifestyle before and after European
 Create a 8 slide Media Blender stack      
  Present your Media Blender stack to the class.

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Below you will find links to the Native American Tribes which lived in Indiana.  You will find it interesting how many places in Indiana have Native American Names.

Activity 1
Research the lives of Native Americans before and after the Europeans.

Food  Farming       Clothing      Shelter       Land 


Trade     Hunting            Negative Influences 


Life for the originals Americans was a relatively simple way of life.  Most of their time was used getting their basic needs.


Food- Most of the Native Americans were hunters and gathers.  This means that most of their diet was meat or whatever fruits and vegetables they could find.  They would migrate (move from place to place), hunting animals such as deer and buffalo.  When these animals became scares they would move to another location.  They would also eat any kind of nut or berry that they would find to supplement their diet. 


Farming- The Native Americans began to rely more and more on plants such as corn, beans, and potatoes as a food source.  Although they did plant crops, a majority of their time was used hunting and gathering meat.   


Clothing: The clothing of the early Native American Tribes was basically animal skins or whatever they could make from what they could find. They created shoes called moccasins from deerskin and would chew the skins from buffalo to make it more pliable to make shirts and pants.  



Sometimes the Native Americans took on the styles of the Europeans but they also kept the jewelry of their Native Culture.  This made an interesting look by our standards!



With the Europeans, the Native Americans were introduced to weaving.  The Europeans taught the Native Americans how to grow cotton that could then be dyed with different plants to produce colored thread.  This thread was woven into clothing and blankets.  



Shelter: The shelter of the Native American peoples revolved around being functional.  The tribes from the northern part of North America built long houses that were made of wood and housed many different families together.   The Native American's housing did not change much after the Europeans basically because the Traders and Settlers had to adapt to the housing of the place where they lived.  It would cost way to much to have the brick and wood that was the style of architecture of Europe sent over the ocean to North America.  Later North America would be changed to look more like Europe after a few hundred years
The plains Indians used wigwams or teepees made of long poles tied together at the top with animals skins stretched over the poles to keep warmth and the weather out. The Southwest Tribes made huts of sun dried bricks or made their homes in caves. 
Ownership of the land- These traditions did not change with the European settlers. There were many possible reasons for this.  First, it was very expensive for the Europeans to bring over building supplies such as bricks and wood planks across the Atlantic Ocean.  Because of this,  the Native Americans could not see the architecture of Europe.  Secondly, the Native Americans had a totally different view of the ownership of the land compared to the Europeans. The Native Americans believed that the land belonged to everyone and it was to be used and shared.  They shared hunting grounds and moved to different parts of the country whenever they needed.  The Europeans believed that they owned the land and that each landowner was the only people that would have access to the use of the land.  This created a real conflict between the two cultures that ultimately cause the Native Americans to loose the use of all lands in North America.  As the continent became more settled, the tribes were pushed westward until finally the tribes were gathered up and sent to reservations that were usually land that no one else wanted.  
Transportation: Early Native American tribes used very primitive forms of transportation. Most of the time, the people would walk to get from one location to another.  If they were close to a river or a lake they would used carved out logs called canoes.  They would also use animals to help them move things, but the animals were not horses or cows, they were dogs!  They design a harness for the dog, place it around the neck and body and attach it to two poles connected with animal skin in the middle.  They would then place whatever they wanted carried on the skin and the dog would drag it to where ever they were going. 
Introduction of the Horse: The Europeans introduced the use of horses and other animals like cattle.  The use of horses allowed the tribes better ways of hunter and more mobility so they could travel longer distances to find animals to hunt.  

Trade: One of the biggest changes to the Native American’s lives came with the exchanging of goods with the European traders and trappers. The Europeans wanted the fur and leather that could only be gotten in North America.  The Europeans also wanted a new plant not found in Europe called tobacco that was used for smoking.  The Native Americans would bring furs to the trading posts.  The fur would include beaver, deer, antelope and buffalo along with tobacco.  In exchange for these items, the Native Americans were introduced to new products such as wheat flour for baking, cloth for making clothes and rifles for hunting.  

Hunting: The use of guns, particularly the rifle, revolutionized the hunting for the Native Americans.  They were able to hunt more efficiently and in less time, in other words, better and faster.  Before the rifle, the hunter would have to craft their spears or arrows out of stone and shave down shafts of wood for the rod or arrow.  They also had to make the bow from animal gut and tree branches.  This was a very time consuming process!  The rifle allowed the hunter to begin hunting with very little preparation.   

Negative Impacts:  

Although many of the changes for the Native Americans were good or positive, there were many changes that hurt the people and their culture. One negative impact to the Native American people was the introduction of grain alcohol.  The Europeans had been using grain alcohol as a drink for hundreds of years.  Liquor such as beer, wine and whiskey were used in many different ways and reasons.  Hard liquor was used to help soldiers bear the pain of their wounds.  Also grain alcohol would not spoil or go bad so it was drunk by explorers, sailors and travelers who could not get to fresh water during their trip.  Because the Europeans were used to the alcohol and its effect on the body, it was a normal part of everyday life.  However, the Native American did not have a similar drink that was used in their culture and it created many problems in their society.

Small Pox- The most devastating impact on Native Americans did not come directly from the European people but came in the form of diseases.  The Europeans had developed immunities to disease such as small pox, diarrhea and measles.  Europeans lived very close to each other in cities.  This caused the people to be exposed to germs and they could build up resistance- immunity.  However when the Europeans came to North America, they carried these germs that the tribes had never had contact with before.  The germs found fertile ground in the Native American peoples.  Small pox spread unchecked throughout the population and killed 2/3 of the tribes before it finallly died out. Read More


Evaluation:  Here is the rubric that will be used to evaluate your Media Blender Project. Click Here

Conclusion: So as you can see, the lives of the Native American people were not richer, healthier or fuller after being exposed to the European.  They lost their roaming ways of life, experienced devastating outbreaks of disease in exchange for a few rifles and cloth.

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