Indigenous peoples of the Eastern Woodlands
The Eastern Woodlands is a cultural area of the indigenous people of North America. The Eastern Woodlands extended roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern Great Plains, and from the Great Lakes region to the Gulf of Mexico, which is now the eastern United States and Canada. The Plains Indians culture area is to the west; the Subarctic area to the north. The Indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands belong to two different language groups, the Iroquoian-speaking people and the Algonquian-speaking people.
The earliest known inhabitants of the Eastern Woodlands were the Adena and Hopewell, who inhabited the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys between 800 B.C. and A.D. 800. These tribes, as well as the other Iroquoian-speaking people, were mound builders. They also relied on farming to produce food because of the fertile land in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. Because of this reliance on farming, these tribes did not migrate like the more northern Eastern Woodlands tribes and instead stayed in one place, which resulted in them developing new social and political structures.
The Eastern Woodlands tribes located further north (Algonquian-speaking people) relied heavily hunting to acquire food. These tribes did not plant many crops, however, some tribes, such as the Ojibwe, grew wild rice and relied on it as one of their major food sources. The type of animals these tribes hunted depended on the geographic location of the tribe. For example, the tribes located close to the coast hunted seals, porpoises, and whales, while the more inland tribes hunted deer, moose, and caribou. The meat was then either cooked to be eaten immediately or it was smoke-dried which preserved the meat for later consumption.
The largest political unit among the Eastern Woodland tribes were village-bands, which consisted of one chief. In the Eastern Woodlands Algonquian society, patrilineal clans with names appointed by animal totems made up the village-bands. The Eastern Woodlands Iroquoian society was a matrilineal culture. The Iroquoian village-bands were also composed of numerous clans. Individuals would marry outside their clan to form exogamous clans. They considered themselves to be sibling with the other individuals within the exogamous clan.
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