Native American culture is one of sophistication, community spirit and respect for the land, its animals and the environment as a whole, and it’s definitely something we can all learn something from. There’s a reason that their culture and tradition has lasted so long against all odds. Below are 5 Native American skills and traditions that are useful and relevant now more than ever.
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1. Nature Provides Everything We Need
One of the most important lessons we can learn from Native American culture is to appreciate what we have.
Right-back before the first white man set foot in America, the Natives were surviving and thriving wholly off the land and what it provided. They found food in the animals and plants, weapons to hunt from the trees and rock and clothing and shelter from animal hides.
Additionally, medicines were created over the generations from the plants and tree – using their anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling, cure headaches and toothaches and to settle digestive issues over a period of trial and error.
What Can We Do?
Although we live in a more modern era surrounded by technology and simple, immediate solutions, we still have access to the raw materials that the Native Americans used all those years ago. Instead of using them, we choose to take them for granted.
Learning about foraging for food and using herbal remedies for minor ailments can save you money and give you extra knowledge in the event of an emergency. All of our modern medication was originally created using natural elements and can often be better for you than more modern chemical medicines.
2. Live in Harmony with Nature
It was the Native Americans that originally taught settlers not only to live off the land but to respect it. They understood how to interpret nature, pick up the signs in changing seasons and cultivate the ground to make it suitable to grow food.
They weren’t greedy and only took what they needed from nature, believing that this behaviour would ensure more fruitful living, as nature would respect them in the same way.
Today’s society is quite different. We’re powered by money and fight for possessions for pleasure, not necessity.
But imagine what would happen if we were taken back to basics. How would we survive?
We must learn to only take what we need and respect the animals, plants and the environment around us. Without them, we wouldn’t have the food we put on our table today. Caring for animals and plants can help you give as much back to nature as you’re taking – keeping natural harmony and balance.
3. Learn to Minimize Waste
The modern world is wasteful and it’s the same across the globe. We fill our landfills with waste food, old clothes, and items that we just got bored of.
Native Americans would use every piece of what they had. It was their responsibility to catch their own meat, to grow their own vegetables and to make and fix their own clothes. It’s a vastly different lifestyle if you don’t know when your next meal is coming.
They were great recyclers:
- Eating the Whole Animal – melting down the fat and bone marrow to make soup and preserving any meat they didn’t eat for a time when food was scarce.
- Tanning Hides – Preserving the hides of the animals they killed for food allowed them to make clothes and create shelter.
- Fixing Old Clothing – They learnt to repair clothes because hide tanning took a long time, the next outfit might have taken weeks to be ready to wear and in cold winters, layers were key.
Not only did this benefit their way of living, but it also showed the respect they had for nature around them, making sure every kill had a sure purpose. This is a respect that many of us have sadly lost in today’s world.
How Could This Benefit Us?
There’s no reason we can’t follow their example though. Removing waste is easier than you think:
- Use the seeds and pits in fruit and vegetables to grow your own.
- Use leftover meat cutlets to make soup or stew.
- Preserve fruits and vegetables to eat out of season.
- Dry out your meat and store it for winter. The Native Americans dried their meat by hand – removing the fat and letting it dry in the summer sun. Although we have modern appliances to make our jerky – their old method still works, so give it a go.
- You can even use the bones to make a broth mixed with vegetables which is really good for you.
- YouTube is full of videos on how to repurpose old clothes with holes too. So, don’t be so quick to throw things away.
Upcycling furniture and appliances is also a massive trend these days – sure, it’s fashionable, but think of all the money you’re saving and all the skills you’re developing in maintaining your own lifestyle for longer.
4. Develop a Community
The sense of community that we strive to feel in modern living isn’t actually a new concept. Native American tribes such as the well-known Apache or Mohican tribes focused on a culture of support, exchange, and shared knowledge. This made their tribes thrive, allowing them to swap wisdom between like-minded people to create an education system and ultimately, aid survival.
What Can We Change?
In today’s world, we tend to shut ourselves off. It’s a world of competition – survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, this always means that there has to be someone at the bottom of the pile. There’s always a loser. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Connecting within your community, sharing wisdom on common interests, and going out of our way to help and support the people around us will ultimately make us more successful. People are stronger together than they are alone. In the event of a disaster or survival situation, it’s always the groups that make it through, not the lone wolves, so reach out and create a support network.
5. Pass Down Wisdom
It was, and still is, a parent’s responsibility to pass down knowledge to their children to allow them to be successful. Many of the stories that we tell our children today originate from Native American and early pioneering tales which were formulated with a moral to educate their children.
This wisdom was then passed down from generation to generation – developing over time until we became who we are today.
How Can We Change?
Don’t rely on the internet or television to educate your children. No wisdom stays with children as deeply as wisdom imparted by a parent. It’s not based on the unrealistic expectations of the media. Instead it is focused on truth and experience.
Take some of the new skills that you’ve learnt – growing vegetables, foraging, creating a community, using plants as home remedies/medicines and caring for the local environment. Impart that knowledge on your children. They will take this forward to future generations, ensuring their success and maintaining our history.