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American and Canadian Natives, the Way They Lived
Sung Hoon Kim | 승인 2018.12.15 13:24

Courage, agility, a great spirit . . . these are the traits of American and Canadian Natives that are portrayed to us through books and movies ever since we were young. Let us go over their various daily lifestyles left on historical records and references.

 

Shelter

Because the Natives obtained their food, clothing, and shelter all from the wild, their life was always in danger. Because a beast or foreign enemy could come in at any time from any direction, they could not make a sound at night. The children never cried at night. They also woke up early in the morning. It was because the early morning was the best time to find hunting game. The foreign enemies would also attack in the morning.

The Natives would wear clothes made from bison fur, and they made tents called teepees that were made from the bison leather. The tents helped them get through the exposure from the hot sun in the summer and the piercing wind during the winter. The Native American writer named Ohiyesa wrote that he once endured a blizzard full of snow for four days in a teepee without being able to obtain firewood.

The Natives’ diet consisted game they hunted, fish they caught, along with rice, roots, wild strawberries and other plants they collected from the wild. Because there was no guarantee that they would find food every day, the chief and the elders would contemplate heavily on how all the tribe members should survive on the small amount of food. Eating one or two meals a day was an everyday occurrence and sometimes they would survive on one bird’s wing, but rather than complaining, they were grateful.

When they ran out of all the food, the adults would forfeit their share of food to the elders while they starved. Even when there was abundance in food, the Natives would fast. This was to grow their physical stamina and mental power in case of critical situations in the future.

Education

The children of the Natives did not have school, regular classes, or textbooks. Instead, their parents or the village elders were their teachers. The adults would make children memorize past great chiefs or ancestors who shined in tribes before them as well as their own tribe’s history and legends. They also strengthened their hearts by hunting beasts, swimming across large rivers, and endure and fight the hardships of the wilderness.

 

Order of Rank

The elders were always to be respected and if the young ones did wrong, they would receive a severe scolding. The young ones would accept the scolding gladly and write it in their hearts. The adults who were abundant with farming and hunting knowledge were walking encyclopedias. Especially, the grandmothers had a detailed understanding of what food you could find where at what season. A death of an elder was comparative to a fire of the village’s library that compiled all the wisdom of the tribe.

 

Being Nature Friendly

“The land cannot be owned by anyone. The land feeds and keeps the animals, birds, fish, and all men alive.” said Chief Massasoit of the Native American Pokanoket Tribe. To the Natives, the land was the course of life, which provided all food, clothing, and shelter and was an excellent school. The children would observe the animals nurture their young and learn family’s love and sacrifice. They witnessed the feared storms and thunder and learned from the greatness of Mother Nature the way to be humble. Before they drank water or ate food, they would drop some on the earth to show their thanks to nature. They also did not carelessly dig up herbs they had never seen before. They would worry that the herb would go extinct.

 

Relationships with Neighboring Tribes

The Natives were brave, but they were not cruel. Though they would fight with other tribes, they were wounded only to the extent one would be wounded during a modern soccer game. They almost never killed each other. If someone killed another on accident, legends have it that he would paint his face black and have scruffy and windblown hair while they mourned for 30 days.

Sung Hoon Kim  kimkija@itomorrow.kr

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