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Native American History for Kids

Cover of Native American History for Kids

Native American History for Kids

With 21 Activities
A chronicle of American indigenous life, this guide captures the history of the complex societies that lived in North America when European explorers first appeared on the continent. Not only a history of tribal nations, this exploration also includes profiles of famous Native Americans and their many contributions—from early leaders to superstar athletes, dancers, astronauts, authors, and actors. Readers will learn about Indian culture through hands-on activities, such as planting a Three Sisters Garden, making beef jerky in a low-temperature oven, weaving a basket out of folded newspaper strips, deciphering a World War II Navajo Code Talker message, and playing Ball-and-Triangle. An important look at life before the settlers until present day, this resource shows that Native American history is the history of all Americans.
A chronicle of American indigenous life, this guide captures the history of the complex societies that lived in North America when European explorers first appeared on the continent. Not only a history of tribal nations, this exploration also includes profiles of famous Native Americans and their many contributions—from early leaders to superstar athletes, dancers, astronauts, authors, and actors. Readers will learn about Indian culture through hands-on activities, such as planting a Three Sisters Garden, making beef jerky in a low-temperature oven, weaving a basket out of folded newspaper strips, deciphering a World War II Navajo Code Talker message, and playing Ball-and-Triangle. An important look at life before the settlers until present day, this resource shows that Native American history is the history of all Americans.
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  • Native American History for Kids

    The sound of a hawk shattered the silence as rancher Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law climbed to the top of the mesa. From the top of the flat-topped hill, they hoped to see where several cattle had wandered. But the Native American guides who had accompanied them refused to go farther—they shook their heads and communicated something about the “Ancient Ones.”

    The snow on that December day in 1888 made it difficult to see, which may have caused Wetherill to rub his eyes at what he saw next—there was a city perched in an opening between the cliffs. Large sandstone buildings with almost 100 windows and doors sat silently in the falling snow. The same sandstone lined a number of circular shapes in the ground. The city of stone showed no signs of life. It had been deserted for over 500 years.

    Mesa Verde

    The place that Wetherill stumbled upon was called Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table,” located in the southwestern corner of Colorado. It is one of many ancient abandoned communities in the Southwest, particularly in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. From 550 to 1300 a.d., thousands of people lived and worked in this area. They carved and constructed multistory buildings from sandstone while people in other parts of the world still lived in caves or primitive huts.

    One of the main activities of this civilization was making sure there was enough food to survive. A young girl of the time would probably help her family farm corn, beans, and squash.

    After planting the crops with digging sticks and irrigating them with nearby water, the people waited until harvest time. They spent their free time socializing and playing games.

    At harvest, the girl might carry ears of corn in a basket woven from yucca or other plant fibers. She would take the basket to her home, located in a building shared with fifteen other families of her clan. The girl would climb two ladders to reach her third-floor home. In a small room, her mother would sit on her knees, grinding corn for the family’s meals. A black-and-white clay pot would sit on the fire cooking a dinner of stew. The smoke from the fire rose up the center of the room until it exited out the hole in the ceiling.

    The cliff dwellings faced south, so they enjoyed the warmth of the sun in the winter. Small stones called chinking stones filled the gaps between the sandstone blocks that the buildings were made from. Mortar from soil, ash, and water cemented the parts of the walls together. The thickness of the walls kept out the worst of the summer heat, too.

    In addition to the cliff dwellings where families lived, Mesa Verde contained below-ground circular chambers, known as kivas. Kivas probably served as meeting places for special gatherings. Clan leaders might meet in kivas to settle disputes, hold council meetings, or conduct religious ceremonies. The largest kiva at Cliff Palace, 12 feet deep and 50 feet across, was located in the center of the village.

    The Navajo, who live primarily in New Mexico and Arizona, first named the people of these ancient abandoned villages “Anasazi,” which means “evil ones” or “ancient enemies.” Anasazi was also the name that white people first used when they began exploring the different ruins, trying to solve the mystery of what happened to the people who disappeared so suddenly, leaving baskets, pottery, and tools behind. The correct name for these people who lived over 800 years ago is Ancestral Puebloans.

    While the Ancestral Puebloan girl helped with the farming and her mother ground corn, her brother and father would hunt in nearby forests with spears or bows and arrows. The deer and rabbit provided meat to eat and . . .

About the Author-
  • Karen Bush Gibson is the author of eight books on Native American culture, including The Arapaho, The Chickasaw, The Pawnee, and Plank Houses. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
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    Chicago Review Press
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Native American History for Kids
With 21 Activities
Karen Bush Gibson
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