Forget everything you’ve learned about Native Americans from TV and movies. The rich culture and diversity of the indigenous people of North America was nothing like what you saw in those John Wayne flicks. So if you’re looking for a real taste of their lives, you’re in the right place. These stunning photographs give us a glimpse into the real Native American way Of life in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The fabulously dressed man you see here belonged to the Cherokee. The Cherokee were one of North America’s largest tribes when the Europeans began to arrive. Back in 1650, there were 22,500 or so members scattered over a territory of some 40,000 square miles. That’s probably why around 820,000 people claimed they had Cherokee ancestry in the 2010 U.S. Census.
The Bannock tribe could be found mainly along the stretch of the Snake River in Idaho. Buffalo hunting was at the center of their semi-nomadic lives, although they also harvested fruits and feasted on salmon during the summer months. Sadly, though, the 1878 Bannock War ended with the slaughter of around 140 warriors. They’ve since dwindled in number, too. Incredibly, the 2010 U.S. census found only 89 people who identified as Bannock.
This Yuma man with his elaborate face paint holds a flute to his lips, and we only wish we could hear the tunes he played. The Yuma people were actually made up of several tribes, including the Maricopa, the Quechan, and the Mohave. You could find them in the vicinity of the Colorado River as well as the foothills of the Chocolate Mountains. For food, they typically cultivated crops such as beans and corn and hunted rabbits and antelope.
Blackfoot family migrating
This family of Blackfoot people is using the traditional carriage vehicle of many Native Americans: the travois. In this case, it’s being pulled by horses, although dogs might also have dragged this simple contraption across the prairies. How do you make an authentic travois? Well, you just need to bind two crossed poles with buffalo hide or sinew, and you have a neat way of transporting goods or even carrying the ill or infirm.