Native Americans – Inuit and Nez Perce Introduction About 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, people from north-east Asia (now called Siberia) carried herds of bison and mammoth across a land called Berengia, which is now known as North America. Berengia used to serve as the link between Asia and North America…
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He was the first European to land here what later was called as the “Americas”. Later explorers also called the Native Americans “Indians” although they stayed nowhere near India. Experts say that around 20 to 50 million people were staying the Americas by 1492. Mayans and Aztecs lived in the area which is presently known as Mexico. In the north, (present Ohio), Hopewell civilization had already flourished before Columbus came. There were farmers, hunters, fishermen, traders, craftsmen all over the continent at that time. (Reynoldson, 2000, p. 4-6) The Native American Groups The Native American groups discussed here are the “Inuit“and the “Nez Perce” groups. The Inuit Shelter, food and clothes The Inuit lived in the coldest terrain of the earth, i.e. the Arctic Circle. Their houses were made of driftwood or bones of whale. However, the Inuit who lived in the colder areas, built dome like snow houses during the winter months. They built these with huge blocks of snow and then cut out a doorway to enter in it. Around the snow walls, inside, a ledge of snow blocks was built which were covered by caribou furs to sit and sleep over those. All the insulations were done in such a manner that the temperature inside the house could be easily kept as high as 160C, particularly if cooking took place inside the house. A windowpane was made out of stretched intestines of seals to expel the stale air. The Inuit hunted seals almost round the year. During summer they could hunt from boats, when the seals would swim or were on ice. However, in winter, since the ice was easy to walk upon, hunting was easy. Seal hunting required sufficient skill and patience for hours. They used harpoon to kill the seals. Clothes were tailored by women to suit the harsh climate. (Reynoldson, 2000, p.12- 15) Social life By November, the water froze to ice in the Arctic, and it was a good time to travel with sledge pulled by dogs. Winter was the time to socialize. Inuits travelled to visit family and friends to spend time with them, sing and dance. Also, men who had hunted well and stored enough food for his family would take this time out for enjoyment. Those who didn’t have a fair hunting season would take their family to visit relatives to be fed. The sledges could be used till May. In autumn and spring they were used to hunt. Sledges were made out of various kind of materials as and when available like wood, bone or antler and even iron and mud. Twelve dogs could pull a sledge of half a ton weight through thirty two kilometers in about an hour. The dogs were very loyal and obedient to their masters. The owners kept their dogs around their homes throughout the year. They would also make skin boots for the dogs to prevent the entry of the salty water into their toes which if happened would be very painful once the water refroze. (Reynoldson, 2000, p.18-19) Marital life Men and women had their specific works to do. Women made clothes, processed the skin and flesh of animals hunted, cooked food, raise children and also took to fishing. Men were the food providers, hunters, made the tools and built houses. There was no marriage ceremony in their community. Any partner could come out of the relation anytime. However, if they had children they would try to be together. Spouse exchange was practiced among the Inuit.
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