The Plains

The people of the North American Plains were predominantly nomadic, living in large territories roamed by great herds of buffalo.

Early adopters of the horse, they lived in societies governed by profound military and religious traditions which produced richly decorated clothing and weaponry. The Plains peoples fought ferociously to maintain their independence as the European nations of North America spread westwards in the nineteenth century. Eventually, after decades of resistance, most Plains people were forced to live on reservations, where despite documented official efforts to eliminate them, traditional practices and languages have survived.

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The Eastern Woodlands

Deerskin moccasins

The peoples of the expansive woodlands of Eastern America live in a large number of tribes, with related religious and linguistic traditions.

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The Northwest Coast


The societies of the Northwest coast of North America developed in relative isolation between the Coastal Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

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The Arctic

Ulu knife

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.

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The Southwest

Katsina doll

The peoples of the Southwestern United States have a long tradition of settled life that is reliant on agriculture.

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Contemporary North America


Today Native American societies thrive across North America, with traditional practices, languages and religions experiencing resurgence after decades of suppression and neglect.

More about contemporary North America