This set of worksheets focuses on understanding Native American culture and traditions.

We learn now about the culture that inhabited North America thousands of years before explorers set out to conquer the world. Many people often overlook the difference between tribes across the area. There are seen, by most, to be ten main groups of Native Americans. Different groups each have their own way of life. Some are nomadic, some move when the Earth needs to be reborn, and some just stay put. Though ten main tribes are recognized there is thought to be over six hundred different dialects. Rituals and ceremonies are a key part of the culture and are customary to worship the spirits.

This is an extremely large portion of our website. We often see an uptick in page views, for this section, around Thanksgiving time. Which, I guess, is to be expected. The worksheets and lessons in this section span many different grade levels and can be helpful for students of all walks of life. We look at the history of this culture and start by exploring the tribes and vocabulary terms that are commonly spoken in this civilization. We will look at the specific beliefs that the Nation shared as well as thoughts that were leaning more towards certain tribes. We will look at significant figures that helped shape the culture. We will also explore common traditions and rights of passage that are attributed to the Native American way of life.

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The First Native Americans

Native Americans were living in present day America long before Europeans arrived. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 10 million Native Americans inhibited America north of Mexico.

Native American Terms

Christopher Columbus thought he had reached the Indies when he arrived in North America. When he met the native inhabitants of the region, he called them Indians.


Prior to European arrival in the sixteenth century, about 50 Native American tribes inhabited the northeast regions of what is now the United States and Canada.

Past and Present

A Native American tribes continue to be a diverse group who bridges two worlds: past and contemporary.

Mother Earth

Native Americans respect the earth. In fact, they believe the earth to be sacred. Some parts of the earth were viewed more seriously than others.

The Iroquois

The area known today at central and western New York State that ranges from Lake Erie to the west bank of the Hudson River is where many Native American tribes spoke the Iroquoian languages.


The Cayuga Native American tribe refers to themselves Gayogho:no. This term means People of the Great Swamps, related to the swampy areas originally part of their homeland.


Many Native American tribes in the United States are autonomous, which means each tribe has its own laws, judicial system, and government.

Iroquois Language

Some tribes also lived in Ontario. Following the unity of the Iroquois Confederacy between 1400-1600 their home, the longhouse, became a symbol of this powerful group.

Iroquois Confederacy

Historians estimate that five of the Iroquoian tribes, Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca united sometime between 1400 and 1600.

Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscaror

Members of these individual tribes lived with family members in villages. Each family group, including extended relatives who shared common ancestral roots, is called clans.

Iroquois Nations

Still active and present today, the Confederacy's purpose was to represent each nation, help ensure peace, and work as a unified group among non-Confederacy nations.


Pocahontas was the daughter of the powerful Algonquian chief Powhatan. She was born an Indian princess in the Tidewater region of Virginia in 1595.

John Ross

John Ross was of Cherokee decent. He lived from 1790 until 1866. His mother was part Cherokee, his father Scottish.


The bison is the largest mammal that lives on land in the world. Adult male bison are known as a bull. Female bison are known as a cow and the young bison are known as a calf.


This term, powwow, is derived from the Algonquain language. The term refers to a medicine man or spiritual healer. These traditional leaders often sung along to the rhythm of a drum or rattle as ceremonies were held.

Reunite Family

Dancers must follow the rhythm of the drum and make sure they stop dancing on the last beat. Although dancing is a central activity at the powwow, many other activities are going on.

Native American Myths

Many Native American tribes have told stories through generations. Stories and poetry have been created for all occasions that life presents.

Native American Customs

Northeastern Native Americans such as the Iroquois lived in villages. Here, they shared life with family and relatives who shared common ancestry.


Iroquois Native American tribe members often live in towns and villages with family members. Members include immediate family as well as relatives who share a common ancestral background.


Native American tribes communicated through the use of pictographs. Their written language did not consist of an alphabet, rather pictures. Pictographs were used to communicate, share stories, and record information.

The Language Bridge

Language helps bridge communities and cultures. Many Native American tribes inhabiting the Northeast communicated through one language form of the Algonquian language.


Iroquois tribe members lived in longhouses. The longhouse became a very powerful symbol following the creation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Longhouse History

Historical and archeological findings indicate Iroquois tribes may have constructed their homes, called longhouses, as far back as 1100.

Wild Rice

Wild rice grows on stalks out of water. Abundant lakes, streams, and rivers are present in the areas west and south of Lake Michigan.

Natural Baskets

For thousands of years, people have relied on baskets to carry food and valuable items. The art of basket making in considered an ancient craft. Baskets have also been used for storage.


Generations of Native Americans of the United States Northeastern region have made baskets. Members of the Iroquois Confederacy have handed these special craft techniques to younger generations.

Generation Basket

Native Americans of the Iroquois Confederacy have been creating baskets for generations. Handed down from earlier generations, younger members of the tribe eagerly learn the craft.


Many Northeastern Native American tribes cherished beads. Many beads were collected from freshwater whelks, conches, and quahog clams.


Traditionally, in many Native American cultures, babies traveled with their parents. The baby would be carried and held in a wooden cradle while the parents worked.

The Symbol of Longhouses

The longhouse became a symbol of the Native Americans belonging to the Iroquois Confederacy. Young men often harvested young trees that were shaped and bent to form the structure of the longhouse, often about 20 wide, 20 feet high and ranging from 40 to 200 feet long.

Families and Longhouses

Families, or known as clans, sharing a longhouse were related. Relatives included clan members who shared common ancestral roots.

Maintaining a Longhouse

Longhouses were built from the bark of young trees. Sharp ends were driven into the ground while other ends were bent to form the roof structure.


Many Native American tribes who lived along the Atlantic coast migrated with the changing seasons. They had an understanding and respect of each season and knew how to best adapt and live according to the season.

Moving It Along

Native American families of the Pequot Native American tribe lived in wigwams. Wigwams could easily be packed up, moved, and reconstructed.

Lenni Lenape

Members of the Atlantic Coast Lenni Lenape Native American tribe planted corn, beans and squash. Women and children would plant corn kernels in small mounds of dirt.

Great Lakes Tribes

Native American's who inhabited the area near the United State's Great Lakes included the Fox, Sauk, and Menominee tribes.


Many of the Algonquian language speaking Native American tribes of the Northeast moved as the seasons changed. Knowledge of the seasons and the strengths of each guided the tribes to new locations.


Seasons were the reason many Atlantic coast Native American tribes to move inland and return to the coast. The changing seasons determined where tribes such as the Pequot Native American tribe would live.


Wild rice was an important food source for the Native American tribe Menominee. Men and women members of the tribe would work together to collect the grain from the rice stalks in the region west and south of Lake Michigan.

The Three Sisters

Many crops were important to the Atlantic Coast Native American tribes. Included in this group were Algonquian language speaking group Lenni Lenape.

Healthy Harvests

The Three Sisters referred to corn, beans, and squash. These three vegetables were vital to Native American tribes who lived along the Atlantic Coast.

The Essentials

Essential crops to the Atlantic Coast Native American tribes included corn, beans, and squash. These three foods became known as The Three Sisters.


Members of the Iroquois Confederacy, who included Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora viewed corn, beans and squash as essential.

Corn or Maize

Corn, also known as maize, was an essential crop to Native American tribes. Members of the Iroquois Confederacy viewed corn, as well as beans and squash as vital to their existence; these were known as The Three Sisters.

Yellow Currency

Corn was a very important crop for members of the Iroquois Confederacy. Corn was planted in fields cleared by men of the tribe.

Wild Rice

Plentiful amounts of rice grew to the west and south of Lake Michigan. This important food source grew among the thousands of marshes, streams, lakes and ponds that existed in this region.

Water and Rice

Wild rice grows on stalks that grow and extend out of water. The region west and south of Lake Michigan is abundant with streams, rivers, and lakes.


Many Native Americans used the canoe for transportation and hunting. The art of canoe making was passed from one generation to another.


Native Americans of the Northeast region of the United States have been using various types of containers for thousands of years. Among these containers are trays, baskets, cups, ladles, kettles, and pails.

Keeping It Altogether

Containers were extremely important to Native American tribes. These were often made from natural resources that included the white birch tree, husks, clay, and other wood available.

White Birch

The white birch tree was very important to Native American tribes living in the Northeast region of the United States.


Many Native American tribes would walk barefoot during the warm days of summer. Most of the year, however, tribes such as Sauk, would wear lightweight moccasins made from deerskin.


Snowshoes allowed Native Americans the ability to walk on or above the snow during the winter. Attached to moccasins, the person could walk easily because their weight was distributed.

Porcupine Quills

Many Native American tribes living in the Great Lakes Region would adorn their clothing with porcupine quills. These decorations were also used to beautify hair braids and bracelets.

Winter on the Great Lakes

During the winter months, Native American tribes who lived in the Great Lakes region would wear warm robes made from rabbit, bear, and even deer.


One of the Algonquian language speaking Native American tribes of the United States Northeastern region, the Micmac, discovered when and how to collect bark from the white birch tree without killing the tree.


The Iroquois used every part of corn. Corn was among the most vital of crops for many Native American tribes. Corn, along with beans and squash, were known as The Three Sisters.

The Hopi and Their Neighbors

Who lived in earth lodges in the area where the city of Phoenix is today?

Woodlands Indians

What did they make their canoes from?

Pueblo and Woodland Indians

Write an essay about the how the daily life for the Hopi of the Southwest and the Iroquois around the Great Lakes was different. Be sure to talk about climate, food, dwellings and religion.

The Plains Indians

What was used to clean the soul or spirit?

The Basin-Plateau Indians

The Basin-Plateau Indians obtained most of their food by trading with other tribes.

Navajo Code Talkers

A cryptographer is a person who makes up codes. Cryptographers made up the secret codes used in World War II. One problem with made-up secrets codes is usually another cryptographer can figure out the code and decode the message, that is understand what the message really says.

The Story of Sequoya

In 1776, while the colonists were fighting for freedom, Sequoya was born in the territory now called Tennessee. Sequoya's mother was a Cherokee Indian so Sequoya learned to speak the Cherokee language.

The Seminole Indians

. The Seminole Indians lived in homes on stilts because of what?

Black Elk Spoke

The Plains Indians used to hunt buffalo. The buffalo provided the Indians with a good life. The Indians ate buffalo meat, used buffalo hides for clothing and tipis, and even used dried buffalo droppings for fuel.

The Battle of Tippecanoe

Tecumseh was a member of the _________________ tribe who realized that no single tribe of Native Americans could stop the new settlers from coming into Indian lands.