Native North America: an Introduction
The vast geographic and environmental diversity of the North American continent has allowed one of the most culturally diverse regions on the planet to emerge.
Societies across the continent have developed beautiful and complex material worlds that reflect the character and personality of their territories. Native North American peoples have responded to the universal problems of life in individual and ingenious ways, making best use of their natural resources to build strong and expressive communities. Here objects from the Museum’s collection illustrate the ways in which separate Native American cultures have lived through a colonial period of immense social and environmental upheaval over the last three hundred years.
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The peoples of the expansive woodlands of Eastern America live in a large number of tribes, with related religious and linguistic traditions.
The people of the North American Plains were predominantly nomadic, living in large territories roamed by great herds of buffalo.
The people of the farthest northern reaches of the Americas live in a world of scarcity: finite resources and a hostile environment have created a resourceful and resilient people who retain much of their ancestral tradition and lifestyle.
The peoples of the Southwestern United States have an ancient tradition of life in settled permanent communities reliant on agriculture.