Native American Life

Hundreds of tribes lived a Native American life for thousands of years before the Europeans ever set foot on the North American continent. But, it wasn't always peaceful as the tribes fought each other. However, all the tribes depended on Mother Earth to provide what they needed. Native American tribes hunted and grew their own food. One of the more popular crops grown was known as the "three sisters" - corn, squash, and beans.

Important figures in the tribe were the chief, the medicine men, and the warriors. The chief served as the leader of the tribe while the warriors helped protect the tribe from enemies. Medicine men were there to guide tribe members not only physically but spiritually, healing both the body and psyche. Unfortunately, the Europeans brought with them diseases that Native Americans had never experienced before. Things such as chicken pox, measles, and smallpox caused terrible epidemics in tribes, killing thousands between the 16th and 19th centuries.

The Europeans brought one thing the Native Americans adopted as their own - horses. The use of the horses allowed the Native Americans to travel further than ever before. Tribes used horses not only to travel, but to carry items to neighboring tribes for trade. The horses also made hunting much easier. Many tribes still pride themselves on their horsemanship.

As more people immigrated to the new country, the Native Americans were pushed further west, north, and south. Most of the wars between the Native Americans and the U.S. military took place in the 19th century. By the end of that period, Native Americans had been assigned land, called reservations, by the government. In 1924, the Congress granted all Native Americans U.S. citizenship.

Today, Native Americans live both on and off reservations. The 2003 Census showed there were 2,786,652 Native Americans living in the U.S., with many of them being concentrated in California, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Most Native Americans strive to accept the ways of modern life while still passing down their culture and traditions to their young.

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