Native American People Roles in Society

Native American tribes lived a life close to nature. Some of the tribes hunted, so they often moved around to follow the buffalo herds. Other tribes practiced agriculture and took care of their crops in order to get enough food every year. So a lot of work needed to be done. They had to build and dismantle their homes more than once every year. They also needed to consume, process and store different foods.

Native American men and women did their share of the work. In most tribes, the men and women understood their duties very well. They carried their duties every day. These included not just their personal duties but also different tasks of the tribe.

Native American Men and Hunting

Native American men in most tribes were tasked with the bulk of outdoor activities away from home. This primarily included hunting. The men would go out hunting bison, deer, fish and a variety of other animals. They usually hunted together and in packs so that they could hunt a large number of animals in a single go.

Before the Europeans arrived, the men hunted bison using different tactics. Once the Europeans brought the horse to Americas, Native Americans adopted the use of horses. The men would then use horses to hunt bison.

Native American Men and Warfare

Warfare was almost exclusively the domain of the men in Native American tribes. The men were tasked with protecting the members of the tribe. They would also attack other tribes or soldiers of the enemy groups in order to harass them. The men fought on foot or on horseback. They could use a variety of weapons including spears and bow-and-arrow. Towards the 18th and 19th centuries, the Native American men also learned the use of muskets and guns.

Other Roles of Native American Men

Native American men also performed a number of other roles. Notable among these were specialized crafts. They practiced different crafts which benefited the tribe. For instance, they would make weapons for the warriors or canoes for traveling in water bodies.

They also acted as spiritual and political leaders of the tribes. A spiritual leader was responsible for determining the will of the spirits in different matters. He also oversaw different religious ceremonies. A political leader dealt with most of the important matters concerning the tribe such as migrations, warfare, treaties and trade.

Other duties performed by the men included building homes in tribes which usually lived in permanent dwellings. In such tribes, men also did much of the work in sowing crops and irrigating them.

Native American Women

Like the men, Native American women also lived a very active life. They performed a wide range of duties, not just for themselves and their families, but also for their tribes. The key duties of the women included cooking, tanning hides and a variety of other crafts.

Native American Women and Cooking

Cooking daily meals was an important part of a Native American womenÂ’s lifestyle. The men would hunt buffalo or other animals and bring the meat home. The women would then cook the meat and prepare it for the family. Sometimes, they also had to skin the animal on their own. The women also foraged in the forests for berries, nuts, fruits and other types of foods. Back at home, they would process the meats by drying them so that they could be consumed later.

Native American Women and Agriculture

In most tribes which practiced agriculture, cultivating and planting the crops was the duty of men. However, the women of the tribe were responsible for harvesting the crops once they were ready. They spent a considerable time in the fields once the crops were ripe.

Native American Women and Tanning

The tanned hides of bison and other animals were very important for Native American tribes. They built their homes, such as the tipis, by using these hides. They also used the tanned hides to make clothes and other accessories.

Although the men were tasked with hunting the bison, the women were tasked with tanning the hide. In many cases, they would first skin the animal and then use different methods to dry it. Once the hide was dry and fully tanned, the women cut, sew and shaped it for different uses.

Other Roles of Native American Women

Apart from cooking, harvesting and tanning, women also performed a variety of other roles in Native American tribes. In hunter tribes which moved around often, women were usually responsible for pitching the tipi and erecting it properly. This was needed every time the tribe moved to a new location.

Women also practiced specialized crafts such as making baskets for storing and carrying items. They also weaved thread to make clothing from it.

Native American Children

Native American children were an important part of the tribal society. Although they had a fun life, they were also taught important things from an early age. The boys would mostly learn from the men of the tribe, and the girls would learn from the women.

Boys were expected to learn tasks such as horse riding and hunting. They were expected to be brave and physically strong. The girls were taught cooking, tidying up the house, pitching a teepee and other tasks by their mothers. They were expected to be hard working and well-organized.

Native American Children and Storytelling

Storytelling was one of the most important things in the life of Native American children. The children would sit around an elder of the tribe who told them interesting stories. These stories taught the children about the history, culture and traditions of their tribe. The stories were a way of educating the children.

Native American Children and Religion

Children participated in the important religious ceremonies from an early age. This taught them about the religion of their parents. Once they were about to become adult, the boys went on a spiritual vision quest. In this quest, they left the tribe and went into the wilderness to seek their guardian spirit. The vision quest was a kind of rite of passage for boys to adulthood.