Daily Life of the New England Indian American Tribes

Christian -- Mira -- Grace -- Lindsey

Period 8/9


Northeast Native American Rituals

There are a few rituals and religions in the Northeast region of the Native American territory. The rituals are the sun dance, which is from the Sioux, and the ghost dance, which is from the west. All of the tribes had something in common in their rituals which included singing, praying, and dancing. The sun dance was one of the most important rituals but seems like torture. “Each one of the young men presented themselves to a medicine-man, who took between his thumb and forefinger a fold of the loose skin of the breast—and then ran a very narrow-bladed or sharp knife through the skin—a stronger skewer of bone, about the size of a carpenter's pencil was inserted. This was tied to a long skin rope fastened, at its other extremity, to the top of the sun-pole in the center of the arena. The whole object of the devotee is to break loose from these fetters. To liberate himself he must tear the skewers through the skin, a horrible task that even with the most resolute may require many hours of torture.” Another important ritual was the ghost dance. The ghost dance otherwise know as “ the circle dance,” was a very big tradition. It came from the west then started to spread all across the country and made it to the Northeast. Some Native Americans used it with their beliefs. The ghost dance represented god coming back and warning them about the white men. The Natives thought of it as the resurrection of the dead (not a good thing). The ghost dance was considered a religion of some sort and combined it with their beliefs, until the Europeans came and forced them to be Christian. My question to you is did they know that the white men were coming? Did their god tell them to ghost dance or do the dances show something to them, for example, the secret to life?




The Roles of men and women in the Wampanoag Tribe

      In the Wampanoag tribe, men and women both had a certain role in the society. The men usually did the hunting and fishing for the tribe, while the women sewed, cooked, searched for herbs and berries, and planted the crops. Women also served as “translators” from the Native Americans to the Europeans and vice versa.  However, even though the men and women had different jobs to do, they both took part in story telling, art, music, medicine, and rituals. The government in this society generally consisted of men. However, now women can be government.  The Wampanoag tribe leader was called a sachem. Each village had one. A sachem was the leader of that village.  The job of sachem was always kept in the family and passed from generation to generation. Usually from father to son but sometimes the daughter inherited the job. The Wampanoag thought that men and women were equal but had different jobs that they were good for.




How life differed between tribes

If you were to travel to another big city like Chicago, for example, Minneapolis, you would find the same city structure, but it would be a little bit different. It was the same thing with the Native American tribes of New England in the 1600’s. They all had similarities, but there were still differences. The Narragansett believed in their elders, while the Wampanoag were linked more with nature. One of the similarities was that quite a few of the New England tribes housed in Wigwams during the summer. A Wigwam was usually eight to ten feet tall and built off of a wooden frame with bark on the outside and woven mats on the inside to channel the rain away and keep the inside of the Wigwam warm and dry. Every Indian American tribe we know of used hunting and fishing for getting meat. Some tribes gathered more, while other farmed more. The Pequot tribe were a very agricultural people. They raised corn, beans, squash, and tobacco. Since all of the New England tribes were located in a similar area, they pretty much grew the same crops. The Mohegan tribe harvested corn, squash, and beans, and gathered nuts and fruit. All of the New England tribes all were similar, but they were all different.


Native American food

The Native Americans in the East had a very well balanced diet. Woman often cooked and farmed while the men hunted and fished. Most of the time, men were unable to find birds to kill roaming cows and horses. If a family had farm animals it was usually a large sacrifice to kill an animal for eating, and lots of time they would only kill their own animals to spare them from pain. Most of the meat that the Native Americans actually ate on a regular basis was deer, rabbit and squirrel. Other things they ate consisted of plants that either grew wildly or were grown by the women. Most of the fruits and berries that they ate were already grown wildly. Many of the foods we eat today came from the settlers that invaded the culture of the Native Americans. For example, the settlers brought French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream from London, England to America. Most of the vegetables that the northeast Native Americans grew were pumpkins, squash, beans and corn. The Native Americans adapted themselves to the land by using only the things that they could grow on their land and making many different things with the same ingredients.



Mashpee River


Works Cited

Bragdon, Kathleen J. Columbia Guide to American Indians of the North East. N.p.: Columbia UP, 2001.

"Clothing and Food." 20 Oct 2008 <http://anglais-lp.ac-rouen.fr/activities/activites_fichiers/American_Indians/pages/sommaire.html

Erdosh, George. Food and Recipes of the Native Americans. New York, NY: The Rosen publishing group, 1997.
Narragansett Indian tribe. "Early History." Narragansett Indian Tribe. 20 Oct. 2008


Plimoth Plantation. "Building a home." Plimoth Plantation. 20 Oct. 2008 <http://www.plimoth.org/
kids/homeworkHelp/building.php>. Works Cited

Plimoth Plantation. "Growing Food." Plimoth Plantation. 20 Oct. 2008 <http://www.plimoth.org/

Redish, Laura, and Orrin Lewis. "Native Languages of the Americans." Facts for Kids Wampanoag Fact
Sheet. 1998. 20 Oct. 2008 <http://www.geocities.com/bigorrin/wampanoag_kids.htm>.

Riehecky, Janet. The People of the First LIght. N.p.: Capstone Press, 2003.