Native American Indian Food

Native American Indian Food - Curing Fish

Native American Indian Food
Facts and history about the life and lifestyles of Native American Indians. What did Native Americans eat? The food eaten by Native American Indians varied from tribe to tribe and was obtained from the natural resources such as meat and fish that were available in their different locations or from the crops that were raised by the agriculturalists.

The protein foods and cultivated crops were supplemented by wild vegetables, seeds, grains and nuts, fruits and berries. Maize, or Indian corn, was one of the principal sources of food for many tribes and together with the staple crops of beans and squash are commonly referred to as the 'Three Sisters'.

Native American Life - Native American Indian Food
The life, history and lifestyle of Native American Indians is a varied and fascinating subject. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Native American Indian Food and cuisine. For additional information refer to
Native American Indian Recipes and Cuisine

Native American Indian Food Fact Sheet for kids

  • Native American Food Fact 1: Protein food such as meat and fish were obtained by the men of the tribes by hunting, trapping and fishing. It was the responsibility of the women to prepare and cook the foods
  • Native American Food Fact 2: The women and also the children were generally responsible for collecting the nuts, berries, roots, wild vegetables, tubers, greens, fruits and seeds that contributed to the diets of the tribes
  • Native American Food Fact 3: Many foods were introduced to the early colonists and settlers and continue to make a significant contribution  to the food eaten today. These foods include Avocado, Beans, Chocolate (Cacao), Corn, Cranberries, Jerky, Maple sugar and syrup, Melons, Peanuts, Pemmican, Peppers, Pineapples, Popcorn, Potatoes (white and sweet), Pumpkins, Squash, Sunflower seeds, Tapioca (Manioc), Tomatoes, Turkeys, Vanilla and Wild rice
  • Native American Food Fact 4:  Great Plains tribes such as the Sioux and the Cheyenne hunted animals such as buffalo, bear, deer, elk, and wild turkey. These were supplemented with wild vegetables and roots such as spinach, prairie turnips and potatoes and often flavored with wild herbs
  • Native American Food Fact 5: When foods was scarce the tribes of the Great Plains ate dried buffalo meat, called pemmican.
  • Native American Food Fact 6: The staple food of the tribes of the Great Basin, such as the Bannock and the Paiute,  were the nutritious seeds of Indian rice grass. The tribes also fished and hunted, especially for migratory ducks
  • Native American Food Fact 7: Many Californian tribes such as the Chumash and the Maidu included a staple diet of acorns. The acorns were roasted, eaten whole or ground into acorn meal which was used to make bread. Coastal and river tribes ate a variety of fish and shellfish including salmon, eels, trout, clams and crabs.
  • Native American Food Fact 8: The Northwest Pacific Coast Indian Tribes, including the Chinook and the Tlingit, ate large amounts of fish, especially salmon that was supplemented by wapato (Indian Potato) greens, berries and seeds The tribes also pressed the rich oil from the eulachon (candlefish) to use as a dip for their food
  • Native American Food Fact 9: The Plateau Indian Indian Tribes, including the Modoc, ate fish, small game and waterfowl. The seeds of the water lily, called 'wocas', were ground into flour in mortars and made into bread
  • Native American Food Fact 10: The tribes who inhabited the Northeast Woodlands, such as the Abenaki and the Mohawks,  raised the  "three sisters" crops of corn, beans and squash together with sunflowers, the seeds of which were crushed for their oil. Their food was prepared in different ways and included soups, stews and cornbread
  • Native American Food Fact 11: The Southeast Indian Tribes including the Cherokee prepared staple foods of corn, squash and beans supplemented with wild onions, rice, greens mushrooms, berries and nuts. The Seminoles of Florida hunted wild turkeys, rabbits, deer (venison), fish, turtles, and alligators
  • Native American Food Fact 12: The Artic Indian Tribes like the Aleut and the Inuit, ate fish products and shellfish that were supplemented by the meat obtained from sea animals such as the whale, seal, sea lions and walrus
  • Native American Food Fact 13: The Southwest Indian Indian Tribes, like the Hopi and the Pueblo, produced crops of corn, beans, sunflower seeds, squash, and melons and raised goats and sheep
  • Native American Food Fact 14: Southwest tribes traded salt that came from eastern New Mexico and from the salt lakes near Laguna and Zuni
  • Native American Food Fact 15: Wild Vegetables included Onions, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Carrots, Celery, Spinach, Garlic, Turnips and different types of Salad Greens
  • Native American Food Fact 16: Grains and Nuts included Acorns, Wild Rice, Sunflower Seeds, Piņon Nuts, Pecans, Mesquite Beans, Amaranth and Quinoa
  • Native American Food Fact 17: Fruits and Berries included Wild Strawberries, Blackberries, Huckleberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Chokecherry, Wild Cherries, Grapes, Melons, Pumpkins, Saguaro Cactus Fruits, Banana Yucca Fruits and Avocados
  • Native American Food Fact 18: Domesticated Crops included Corn, Beans, Squash, Peppers, Tomatoes, Potatoes and Cassava
  • Native American Food Fact 19: Baking was done in holes in the ground, and water was boiled by throwing heated stones into it
  • Native American Food Fact 20: With the use of grinding stones, seeds, nuts, and corn were ground into flour to make bread
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