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Native Americans form an ethnic group only in a very general sense. In the East, centuries of coexistence with whites has led to some degree of intermarriage and assimilation and to various patterns of stable adjustment.
In the West the hasty expansion of… Native American culture areas Comparative studies are an essential component of all scholarly analyses, whether the topic under study is human society, fine art, paleontology, or chemistry; the similarities and differences found in the entities under consideration help to organize and direct research programs and exegeses.
The comparative study of cultures falls largely in the domain of anthropologywhich often uses a typology known as the culture area approach to organize comparisons across cultures.
The culture area approach was delineated at the turn of the 20th century and continued to frame discussions of peoples and cultures into the 21st century.
A culture area is a geographic region where certain cultural traits have generally co-occurred; for instance, in North America between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Northwest Coast culture area was characterized by traits such as salmon fishing, woodworking, large villages or towns, and hierarchical social organization.
The specific number of culture areas delineated for Native America has been somewhat variable because regions are sometimes subdivided or conjoined. The 10 culture areas discussed below are among the most commonly used—the Arctic, the Subarctic, the Northeast, the Southeast, the Plains, the Southwest, the Great Basin, California, the Northwest Coast, and the Plateau.
Notably, some scholars prefer to combine the Northeast and Southeast into one Eastern Woodlands culture area or the Plateau and Great Basin into a single Intermontane culture area.
Each section below considers the location, climate, environmentlanguages, tribes, and common cultural characteristics of the area before it was heavily colonized. Prehistoric and post-Columbian Native American cultures are discussed in subsequent sections of this article.
A discussion of the indigenous peoples of the Americas as a whole is found in American Indian. The Arctic This region lies near and above the Arctic Circle and includes the northernmost parts of present-day Alaska and Canada. The topography is relatively flat, and the climate is characterized by very cold temperatures for most of the year.
Distribution of Arctic peoples. The Arctic peoples of North America relied upon hunting and gathering. Winters were harsh, but the long hours of summer sunlight supported an explosion of vegetation that in turn drew large herds of caribou and other animals to the inland North.
On the coasts, sea mammals and fish formed the bulk of the diet.
Small mobile bands were the predominant form of social organization; band membership was generally based on kinship and marriage see also Sidebar: The Difference Between a Tribe and a Band.
Dome-shaped houses were common; they were sometimes made of snow and other times of timber covered with earth. Fur clothing, dog sleds, and vivid folklore, mythology, and storytelling traditions were also important aspects of Arctic cultures.
The topography is relatively flat, the climate is cool, and the ecosystem is characterized by a swampy and coniferous boreal forest taiga ecosystem.
Distribution of American Subarctic cultures. Their traditional languages are in the Athabaskan and Algonquian families.
Small kin-based bands were the predominant form of social organization, although seasonal gatherings of larger groups occurred at favoured fishing locales.
Moose, caribou, beavers, waterfowl, and fish were taken, and plant foods such as berries, roots, and sap were gathered.Vol.
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