The Native American way of life and religion Flashcards Preview

American West > The Native American way of life and religion > Flashcards

Flashcards in The Native American way of life and religion Deck (14)
Loading flashcards...

Why did Native americans like living a nomadic way of life?

- Partly because the Great Plains would not support their way of life in any one place for long, and they had to follow the buffalo migrations.
- Also partly because they believed that their god, the Great Spirit, wanted them to live a life of continual moving.


Describe the nomadic way of life?

Native Americans were still nomadic when the first European settlers arrived in America - with each tribe split into smaller bands (of about 400). The bands moved 6-8 times a year, and camp could be broken (dismantled and packed up) in a few minutes. People put their belongings into buffalo-skin bags called parflèches, which were dragged on poles pulled by horses.


Describe the native American lifestyle.

The Native Americans had very limited technology when European settlers first arrived in America. Some tribes were still using stone implements.
Native Americans were hunter-gatherers. They gathered maize, squash, beans and turnips (asking permission from the spirits of the land before pulling them up).
They also hunted deer, rabbits, ducks and turkeys, but the central event of their life was the buffalo hunt (on horseback).


Native American Men and women had clearly defined roles, what were they?

- Men went off to the hunt and to war (on horseback). - - Women (and any males too timid to go through initiation) gathered food, stayed at home and looked after children.


What sports did Native Americans take part in and why?

Native American sports were designed to help their people survive in the Great Plains, by preparing them both for war and for the buffalo hunt. These sports included horse racing (sometimes with the riders dropped to the horse's side) and shooting contests (when they fired as many arrows as possible in the air at once).


How did native American women spend their leisure time?

The women spent their leisure time decorating their clothes and tipis (tents) with beads and quills. The decorations often had a religious meaning.


What was the native American currency?

The Native American currency (used instead of money) was horses.


Why did Native American live in tipis?

- Tipis were warm in winter, cool in summer, helping them to cope with the extremes of temperature on the Plains.
- A tipi's shape protected it from the Plains winds.
- Tipis were easy to move (and fitted the nomadic lifestyle). The wooden poles in the tipi were used to make a travois, which was like a trailer that was pulled behind horses with their belongings piled on top of it.
- Tipis were circular, and Native Americans thought that: ...the power of the world works in circles.
- Tipi dwellers believed that a fixed home was unhealthy - a cage - while a tipi was healthy.


Why were buffalo so important?

Every part of the buffalo was used to supply the needs of the Native Americans.
- Buffalo provided the people's main food - buffalo liver, brain and nose gristle were a treat, eaten raw.
- Dried buffalo meat, called pemmican, provided food to eat through the winter.
- Buffalo bones provided marrow to eat.
- Buffalo bones were also carved to make knives, and boiled to make glue.
- Buffalo skin could be used to make tipis, clothes, moccasins, bedding, parflèches, saddle covers and water-bags.
- Dried buffalo dung provided fuel for fires.
- Buffalo horns and hooves were made into cups.
- Buffalo sinews were used as bowstrings and thread.
- Buffalo fat was used as soap.
- The rough tongue of a buffalo could be used as a hairbrush.
- The tail of a buffalo could be used as a fly-swat.


Native American religion - the spirits
Who was the great spirit?

Wakan Tanka


The native American religion is animistic, what does this mean?

a belief that there are living souls in trees, stones, stars, etc.


How did the Native American appease their spirits?

- When a young man came of age, he would take part in a ceremony which involved fasting, self-harm, going into a trance and seeing an animal that was a spirit friend.
- One of these ceremonies - the Sun Dance - featured a structure with a central pole signifying the sun, from which the young men hung themselves by their nipples.
- Native Americans believed that spirits caused the harsh weather of the Plains, as well as illness. They thought that 'medicine men' could speak to these spirits, and ask for their help.
- They performed the Mandan Buffalo Dance, which they thought would bring buffalo to them.


Native americans were true lovers of nature, what did they believe?

They believed that humankind ought to live in a way to fit in with nature. They especially loved the land, which they called their 'mother'. As the Sioux chief, Luther Standing Bear, said: 'Man's heart away from Nature becomes hard.


What did Native American feel about the land?

Native Americans thought that:
- Land was put here by the Great Spirit to support mankind.
- Land did not and could not belong to any one person.
- Land belonged to all the creatures.
- Land could not be sold.
- Land should be venerated because the ancestors were buried there.
- Land was beautiful and should be enjoyed by all.
- Land was eternal and imperishable.
- Spirits lived in the earth and it was unwise to anger them.
- The buffalo needed open land to migrate; fences and farms were impossible.