For Kids -
Plank Canoes: The California Chumash made planked canoes, which they took out on the ocean for quick travel and to fish.
Cedar Carved Canoes (Dugouts): In the Pacific Northwest, canoe carvers were trained by their ancestors to be carvers. No one else was allowed to carve a canoe. The art was handed down from father to son, from uncle to nephew. These canoes were huge. They were carved from cedar trees, of course.
For those of you who do not live in the Pacific Northwest, cedar trees can grow over 80 feet tall quite easily. Since the forests are so thick, there are few branches on the way up. (This is still true today.) One way to describe a cedar tree is that it is a tall, wide, strong pole of wood with a hat of green leaves at the very top. The natural shape of cedar trees make them rather perfect for cutting into planks or for splitting into two long sections. That's exactly what these early people did. They built canoes that were 50 feet long and 8 feet wide. These were workboats. Each canoe could hold 20 warriors and 10,000 pounds of cargo, such as fish.
They also carved boats that were much smaller. A single family, for family outings, to enjoy the water and the sunshine or to visit other tribes along the coast, used these small boats.
To make a canoe, first they had to cut down a cedar tree. Then they had to split the log in half, without cracking it. Then, they had to burn and scrape down the middle, to begin to shape it. Once they got that far, they filled the hole they had scraped down the middle with water. Just as the women used hot stones to make water boil in cooking baskets, so did the ancient canoe makers soften the cedar. They filled the hollow with water and added hot rocks until the water boiled. This softened the cedar so that they could begin to shape and carve their canoe.
Birch Bark Canoes: The Chippewa/Ojibwa were master canoe builders. First they put stakes in the ground, forming an outline of the canoe. The stakes were not part of the canoe. They were used to hold the boat upright while it was being built. Next, they placed thick sheets of birch bark inside the stakes, forming the canoe. They added bent cedar ribs. They sewed the bark together with string made from spruce roots. They glued it together with spruce gum that made the seams watertight. Their canoes were portable, light weight, sturdy, and waterproof. Some of their canoes were so big they could move entire families. Make a Birch Bark Canoe (Native Tech)
Return to Native Americans in Olden Times
Native Americans for Kids
Native Americans in US, Canada, and the Far North
Early people of North America (during the ice
age 40,000 years ago)
Northeast Woodland Tribes and Nations
- The Northeast Woodlands include all five great lakes as well as the Finger Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. Come explore the 3 sisters,
longhouses, village life, the League of Nations, sacred trees, snowsnake games, wampum, the
arrowmaker, dream catchers, night messages, the game of sep and more. Special Sections:
The Lenape Indians. Read two
myths: Wise Owl and
The Invisible Warrior.
Southeast Woodland Tribes and Nations
- The Indians of the Southeast were considered members of the Woodland Indians. The
people believed in many deities, and prayed in song and dance
for guidance. Explore the darkening land, battle techniques, clans and marriage, law and order, and
more. Travel the Trail of Tears.
Indians and Cherokee
Plains Indians - What was life like in
what is now the Great Plains region of the United States? Some
tribes wandered the plains in search of foods. Others settled down and grew crops. They spoke different
was the buffalo so important? What different did horses make?
What was coup counting? Who was
Southwest Indians -
Pueblo is not the
name of a tribe. It is a Spanish word for village. The Pueblo People are the decedents of the
Navajo and the
Apache arrived in the southwest in the 1300s. They
both raided the peaceful
Pueblo tribes for food and
other goods. Who were the Devil Dancers? Why are blue stones important? What is a wickiup? Who was
Child of Water?
Pacific Coastal Northwest Indians -
What made some of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes "rich" in ancient times? Why were woven mats so
important? How did totem poles get started? What was life like
in the longhouse? What were money blankets and coppers? How did
the fur trade work? How did
Raven Steal Crow's
Inland Plateau People - About
10,000 years ago, different tribes of Indians settled in the Northwest Inland Plateau region of the
United States and Canada, located between two huge mountain ranges - the Rockies and the Cascades. The
Plateau stretches from BC British Columbia all the way down to nearly Texas. Each village was independent, and each had a
democratic system of government. They were deeply religious and believed spirits could be found
everything - in both living and non-living things. Meet the
California Indians - The Far West was
a land of great diversity. Death Valley and Mount Whitney are the highest and lowest points in the
United States. They are within sight of each other. Tribes living in what would become California were
as different as their landscape.