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The Way of Life of Northeastern Woodland Native Indians during Pre Contact, Colonialism, and Post Contact

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It was interesting to learn that they built dams referred to as wires, using brush and stones removed from the river mouths, so as to get huge number of fish. Thus, the Algonquian-speaking groups did not just subsist on deer meat, bears, and wild fruits, but also obtained fish from the lakes and shellfish along the ocean shores. They also harvested various wild foods but within a seasonal cycle, for example, maple sap, nuts, rice, and yellow water-lily roots (Oswalt, 2009). Horticulture and cultivation of corn were practiced in order to balance hunting and trapping, and the crops are grown included several forms of beans, squash, while some regions had tobacco.

During springs, they cleared the fields before planting and during summer they tend to look after the planted crops so that between late summer and early fall harvesting was done. This made the entire period during fall to be a collective hunting session as they left their villages and built temporary camps within the different hunting territories. Notably, the Abenaki and the Micmac groups used dogs during hunting to catch deer and other game animals (Oswalt, 2009). It was not surprising to me that their religious view was based on animism point of view.

Thus, they had shamans who believed in spirits and the guardian spirits, and who helped them in healing illnesses and performing agricultural ceremonies. Moreover, the Five Nations Huron practiced medicine through societies, the famous one being the False Face Society, a group specializing in curing illnesses. The Iroquoian-speaking warriors asked for assistance from guardian spirits through dreams and vision quests before engaging in wars. In terms of burial rites, they often put up heaps of earth on the deceased bodies.

However, the Huron sub-group practiced complex ceremony referred to as Feasts of the Dead, and such ceremonies took place when villages were to be relocated to new areas (Oswalt, 2009). The Feasts of the dead involved collecting every one of those who died in that particular village and then heaping them inside a mass grave, in order to accompany what they referred to as grave goods.    

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