8 major groups of indigenous peoples occupied the North American continent.
Great Plains Indians roamed a large area from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from present day central Canada through Texas. The area was covered with lush grasses that sustained vast herds of buffalo, source of most everything they needed for food, shelter, clothing, weapons, and tools. Following the bison, the people lived in easily transportable tipis (made of dried buffalo hides), and until the re-introduction of the horse—which had been hunted to extinction in pre-historic times—dogs were used for transport. Entire communities participated in driving herds of game over the cliffs. Not all Plains people were nomadic. Some farmed, living in villages along the rivers, which reached populations of 1,000 or more. Their lives were seasonal, sheltering in winter, planting in spring, farming (women) and hunting (men) in summer, and harvesting in the fall.
The people excelled at embroidery, basket-making, and beading, which was especially prevalent, because it was easily transportable. They decorated their clothing and tipis as well as many of their everyday tools. War clothing was elaborate. Porcupine quills were often woven into the clothing and it was often decorated with beadwork and fringe as a status symbol. Women wore jewelry crafted of seashells, semi-precious metals, and elk tusks.
The Plains nations, including Sioux, Pawnee, Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfoot, Osage, and Comanche, were the last indigenous peoples to succumb to European colonization, and have often been regarded as the archetypical American Indians. Their culture and lifestyle were popularized by “Wild West Shows,” such as “Buffalo Bill Cody,” and pulp fiction.
East of the Mississippi
The Northeast. The Native Americans of the Woodlands lived in forested areas with lakes, rivers and running water. They hunted, fished and farmed. Most groups lived in villages with permanent homes built of trees and bark: Wigwams (for one or two families) or a Long House (which held up to 30 extended families and could be 300 feet long). Walls or palisades surrounded the villages.. Although the Woodland nations each had their own customs, they all depended on the forests and its resources to survive. For many years the Native Americans of the northeast were at war with each other. When European traders began to buy the furs these people hunted and trapped, the nations, helped by weapons provided by the Dutch and the French, warred with one another to expand their territories’ supply of furs. The main cultures of the Northeast were the Iroquois, Algonquin, Wampanog, and the Cree.
The Southeast. Native populations in this area were the highest of all the regions of North America. The oldest pottery unearthed in North America, dating back to 4,500 years ago, was found on Stallings Island in the Savannah River near Augusta, Georgia. Many of the natives of the Southeast hunted buffalo, deer, and other animals, although the majority of the Native Americans of the Southeast were farmers. The region was home to the Cherokee, Creek Choctaw, Seminole, and Natchez.
Native American Indian Art is as diverse as the peoples who created it. Evolving from simple cave drawings and carvings, traditional American Indian art grew to include intricate pieces (or examples) in such forms as jewelry, beadwork, weaving, pottery, basketry, paintings, dolls, carvings, masks, quillwork (embroidery), and totem poles. Throughout their history their art has reflected their culture, lifestyle, and environment.
The people depended on things like pottery, basketry, wood, and stone to meet basic needs, but they were a highly creative, innovative people. Artistry was an important aspect of their lives; they decorated many of their functional items. They also used artistry to tell their stories, much of which survives today as artifacts. Not only did location and lifestyle determine much of their decorative endeavors, spiritual beliefs also played an important role. This is especially notable in the masks and dolls created by Pueblo tribes such as Hopi and Zuni. Jewelry and personal adornment served many purposes as well. Some, like the Navajo, have become known in modern times for their work in silver, gold, and semi-precious stones, especially turquoise.
For more information on Indian Arts & Crafts, visit https://native-american-indian-facts.com/Native-American-Indian-Art-Fact