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Native Americans

The First Conservationists

Perhaps like no other group, Native Americans have long had a deep respect for their natural world. They have always understood the need for moderation in the use of natural resources.  This awareness has often led to misunderstanding and conflict.  This Web site is designed to provide information that educators can use with their students in studying ecology and conservation.  It is the hope of the designer that students gain a better understanding of Native Americans, their regard for nature and its resources, and why this regard often put them at odds with settlers and homesteaders.

Navigating Your Way Around This Site

This site is organized according to the eight Native American culture areas found in the lower forty-eight states of the U.S.  A brief overview of each area is given.  This overview includes the location and description of the area, a description of the lifestyle of the people (food, shelter, clothing), and a more in-depth description of two of the tribes to whom the area was, or is, home; one of the tribes well-known, the other slightly more obscure.


Due to the magnitude of the topic of Native Americans and their respect for nature, this Web site is designed as an overview to provide background information only.  The information presented here should be used as a stepping stone to further, more in-depth study.


Native Americans

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors.  If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred.    Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people.  The water's murmur is the voice of my father's face."

Chief Seattle (Sealth),
Suquamish and Duwamish Chief


"We are vanishing from the earth, yet I cannot think that we are useless or Usen [God] would not have created us...For each tribe of men Usen created, He also made a home.  In the land created for any particular tribe He  placed whatever would be best for the welfare of that tribe..."   " There is one God looking down on us all.  We are all the children of one God.  The sun, the darkness, the winds are listening to what we have to say."

Geronimo (Goyathlay),
Chiricahua Apache Leader
From his autobiography

 Native Americans


 Native Americans

"We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born.  We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees."

Qwatsinas [Hereditary Chief Edward  Moody],
Nuxalk Nation


"You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round....

The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars.  The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.  Birds make their nest is circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours...

Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were.  The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves."

Black Elk,
Oglala Sioux Holy Man
1863-1950 1863-1950

 Native Americans


 Native Americans

"I was born upon the prairie where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun.  I was born where there were no enclosures and where everything drew a free breath.  I want to die there and not within walls."

Ten Bears,
Yamparika Comanche Chief
At the Medicine Lodge Creek Council at Kansas,
October 1867


"I do not want to settle down in the houses you would build for us.  I love to roam over the wild prairie.  There I am free and happy.  When we sit down, we grow pale and die."

White Bear,
Kiowa Chief

 Native Americans

Culture Areas 

 Native Americans

A culture area is defined as a geographical region where different Indian tribes exhibited similar ways of life.  As applied to Native American studies, culture areas make up a system of classification which is based on geography and life-ways.  The habitat  (geography, climate and wildlife) directly affected the way native inhabitants lived, including what food they ate, the materials they used for shelter and  clothing, and their world view.

To understand how Native Americans utilized the natural resources around them, one must study the culture areas where they were located.  Humans that live in a region adapt to the characteristics of the area in order to acquire life's necessities.

Sociologists divide the Americas into several different culture areas.  The culture areas of North America are: the Southwest, the Northeastern and Southeastern tribes of the tribes of the Eastern Woodlands, the Great Basin, the Great Plains, the California-Intermountain Region, the Plateau, the Sub-arctic, the Northwest Pacific Coast, and the Arctic.

Click this link to the Major Tribes of North America page.

Native American Map

Site designed by Richard Lachowsky
e-mail comments or suggestions to:

The author would like to thank Stuart Berryhill for his original artwork that appears on various pages of this site.

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