The Indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands spoke languages belonging to several language groups, including Algonquian, Iroquoian, Muskogean, and Siouan, as well as apparently isolated languages such as Calusa, Chitimacha, Natchez, Timucua, Tunica and Yuchi. Many of these languages are still spoken today.
Eastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples belong to two unrelated language families, Iroquoian and Algonquian.
The Iroquois, Cherokee, and Mound Builders were important Woodland tribes.
The Eastern Woodland Indians, who commonly spoke the Muskogean language, had more rigid social structure, and they had matriarchal societies as well. They lived in towns arranged around a central plaza.
The Eastern Woodlands Indians of the north lived predominately in dome-shaped wigwams (arched shelters made of a framework of poles and covered with bark, rush mats, or hides) and in long houses (multi-family lodges having pole frames and covered with elm shingles).
The Eastern Woodlands Indians dressed mainly in clothing made from animal hides that were softened, tanned, and sewn. Their basic wardrobe consisted of soft-soled moccasins, leggings, and a long-sleeved shirt or coat, over which women wore long skirts and men wore breechclouts and short kilts.
The Woodlands Native Americans worshipped the spirits of nature. They believed in a Supreme Being who was all-powerful. Shamanism was part of their religious practices. A shaman is a person who, while in a trance, can communi- cate with the spirits.
What did Eastern Woodland Indians use for food? They found their food by hunting, fishing, and picking berries, fruits, and nuts. They also planted and ate corn, beans, and squash which Native Americans called “the three sisters.”
Woodlands Region is hot, humid summers and mild winters. The Eastern Woodland Native Americans lived in longhouses. They were made from wood and bark from the trees. Multiple families lived in the long houses.
In general, the natives were deer-hunters and farmers. The men made bows and arrows, stone knives and war clubs. The women tended garden plots where beans, corn, pumpkin, squash and tobacco were cultivated. Women also harvested these crops and prepared the food.
For individual treatment of specific tribes, see Abenaki; Apalachee; Catawba; Cayuga; Cherokee; Chickasaw; Chitimacha; Choctaw; Creek; Delaware; Erie; Ho-Chunk; Huron; Illinois; Kickapoo; Malecite; Massachuset; Menominee; Miami; Mohawk; Mohegan; Mohican; Montauk; Narraganset; Nauset; Neutral; Niantic; Nipmuc; Ojibwa;
Government – Eastern Woodlands Indians. All the Eastern Woodlands Indians had a very specific and organized method to handle tribal affairs. This organized method would help the American Indians adapt to their environment. The similarities that they share outweigh the differences.
These cultures were characterized by the building of substantial lodges, the coalescence of hamlets into concentrated villages, and the development of elaborate rituals and religious practices.
The Eastern Woodlands Indians developed myriad ways of using natural resources year-round. Materials ranged from wood, vegetable fiber, and animal hides to copper, shells, stones, and bones. Most of the Eastern Woodlands Indians relied on agriculture, cultivating the “three sisters”— corn, beans, and squash.
The tribes of the Great Plains were led by groups of people, not just one person. They did not have a king. Sometimes these leaders were called “ chiefs.” The governments of many Plains tribes were democratic. This means that the chiefs were chosen by the people.