Native American Food

Native American food varied according to the location of the various tribes. Most Native American tribes depended upon deer, fish, small game, roots, vegetables, grains and fruits for sustenance. They were skilled in hunting, gathering, and fishing, as well as in farming.

Many Native American tribes relied on a trio of foods, discussed in Native American Foods, called the Three Sisters - corn, squash, and beans. These three foods provided a variety of meals depending upon how they were prepared. Cherokee recipes and food traditions include fried bread and hominy recipes. Corn was widely grown in the Americas, and according to American Indian Health - History of Traditional Tribal Foods, was taken to Europe by Christopher Columbus. In the Great Lakes Region, Native Americans used wild rice as a dietary staple. Sweeteners like maple sugar and cane sugar were also used. Foods originating in the Americas are now used all over the world.

Native American food was comprised largely of meat, freshly fire-roasted. In the Plains, nomadic tribes who followed the migration of wild animals hunted buffalo, elk, and deer. Native American Food: Agriculture, Hunting and Gathering, Fishing, and other American Indian food sources describe the food gathering techniques used by Native Americans from Alaska to South America. Those who didn't migrate tended to farm as a means of providing food. Some Native Americans, like those in Alaska, survived on marine life without the benefit of fresh fruits and vegetables because the high vitamin D content of seals and walruses supplemented the lack of sunshine. The people's dietary needs adapted to their environment.

Native Americans drank herb-flavored water and broth. In Florida, the Timicuans brewed a caffeine-rich drink called the Black Drink. This tea, made from Youpon Holly, was used by adult males for ritualistic purification. It was also traded to other Native American tribes.

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