1 Yobei

North American Culture Regions Assignments

Native American Arts: Regional Focus

In the pre-Columbian period, and still today, there was enormous diversity in Native American culture and language across different groups and different regions. In North America alone, at the most basic level, there were eleven different Native American cultural areas. These included regions as far south as southern Mexico and as far north as the arctic in northern Canada. In each of these cultural areas, there was a great diversity of peoples and languages. But in each region there was also a degree of cultural and linguistic similarity, which is why it makes sense to discuss these regions as cultural areas. For example, in the southeast region, there are Native American groups like the Choctaw, Caddo, Natchez, Tunica, and many others. While these groups are all different, they share many similarities with each other that they don’t share with groups from areas like the northwest, southwest, or eastern woodlands. Native American art, like Native American culture and language, also reflects the enormous diversity of these people. Likewise, Native American art can also be understood as reflective not only of different smaller groups but also of the larger region. For example, the art of the groups of the southwest produced finely designed pottery, colorful baskets, and intricately decorated woven blankets. In the northwest, by contrast, the art styles included animal-like shapes drawn with smooth, curving lines and carefully decorated totem poles. Review the Media Gallery presented here. Note how the art from different regions across North America were both different and similar. As you do, think about examples of Native American art from the region you live in.

LO: Students will explore the survival skills of Native Americans from the Eastern Woodlands, The Great Plains, Southwest Desert, and Northwest Coast. Students will explore shelter, food, clothing, and culture of the four regions.  Students will work in teams to create a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating an understanding of how environment affects the culture and lifestyle of Native American tribes.




How do you survive a rainy day or a snow storm? What would you do if you ran out of your favorite snack or milk for your cereal? What would happen if the roof of your house blew off during a wind storm? What would happen if your favorite sweater shrunk in the wash? The answers to these questions are simple in today's world. But what if the only tool or resource available to you was your mind. Are you a survivor? 

Native Americans were the original survivors. Without television, computers and video games, they found ways to entertain each other. Without grocery stores, they hunted, farmed or fished for their meals. Depending on the climate of their location, they created shelters. Without malls and stores, clothing was created by hand from materials in their environment. Native Americans developed their shelters, clothing and food using their intelligence and hard work.


The United States differs in climate and environment in different regions of the country. Native Americans needed different shelters, clothing, and food to survive in different regions. Different regions had different cultures. The Eastern Woodlands, the Great Plains, the Southwest Dessert, and the Northwest Coast all survived very different climates and environments.


Your Task:

Your task with your team is to travel back in time and learn how to be a survivor. You and your team have been assigned to travel back to a specific region. You will observe the climate and environment of your assigned region. You will be asked to share facts about the shelter, clothing, food and culture of the Native Americans who lived in your assigned region. Upon your return to the present day and location, you will need to report through a power point presentation on the survival skills of Native Americans, focusing particularly on how the environment helped determine the way of life.

Team Assignments

Team 1: Eastern Woodlands  

Team 2: The Great Plains  

Team 3: Southwest Desert  

Team 4: Northwest Coast  


Each team is responsible for gathering information on the following key areas for their region:

1. Climate and Environment

2. Shelter

3. Clothing

4. Food

5. Culture


Key questions to answer are:

  • What is culture?
  • What is environment?
  • What does influence mean?
  • What major landforms are found in your region?
  • How do landforms affect climate, transportation, and trade?
  • What natural resources did your tribe use for food, clothing, shelters, medicine?
  • What is the climate like in this region?
  • How is the environment reflected in your region's art?
  • Did the environment have any influence on religious beliefs and customs and legends?
  • What core democratic values are reflected in the way your region's cultures viewed nature? (optional)
  • What were the religious beliefs, customs, and legends of the tribes in your region?


Team Process Steps:

1.  Gather data from the Internet (see links provided) and books (school library time will be used).

2.  Create a graphic organizer (list, web, chart, etc.) to help separate the information that you are collecting.  Please note that your rough notes will be handed in with your final product.  Please be sure to document where you got all information (for example: write down the addresses of websites, the publishing information of books).

3.  Create a PowerPoint presentation on your region that focuses on the 5 key areas above and answers the key questions above (computer lab time will be given).

4.  Prepare an oral presentation to accompany your team's power point presentation.  Your group must be practiced, speak clearly and loudly, and maintain eye contact.  All group members must participate in both aspects of the team challenge.



Your team will be assessed using the following rubric:

 Level 4Level 3Level 2Level 1
Graphic OrganizerOrganizer is not completeOrganizer is completed including 2 or less details under each headingOrganizer is completed including at least 3 details under each headingOrganizer is completed including at least 5 details under each heading
Format of Power point ShowSlide show includes less than 4 slidesSlide show includes 5 slides with out illustrations or text on each slideSlide show includes six slides without illustrations or text on each slideSlide Show includes six or more slides with illustrations and text on each slide
Content of Power point ShowFacts are not accurate or illustrations are unappealingFacts are sometimes accurate and illustrations are fairFacts are mostly accurate and illustrations are appealingFacts are accurate and illustrations are interesting and appealing
TeamworkTeam did not work together or demonstrate good effortTeam worked together with some members demonstrating good effortTeam worked together with most members demonstrating good effortTeam worked together fairly with all members demonstrating good effort



Native Americans were truly the first survivors. They created everything needed to survive in the regions where they lived. Shelter was built to suit the climate. Food was grown or hunted dependent on the climate and region. Clothes were created from materials and animals from their environment. Every tribe had different cultures and impacted their region in different ways.

How were the different regions alike? How were they different? Which region do you think survival was easiest? Most difficult? If you could travel back in time, in which region would you choose to survive and why?




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