Prior to the colonization that occurred between the 16th and 19th centuries, Indigenous Peoples in the Northeastern North American continent had rich cultures with sizable villages and social hierarchies. A few of the larger tribes included the Iroquois, Ojibwa, Sauk, Fox, and Illinois.

Explore a handout mapping the original Northeastern Indigenous Tribes

 Learning Targets 

  • I can identify the original Indigenous tribes of the northeastern part of the North American continent.
  • I can identify many attributes of the original Indigenous tribes of the northeastern part of the North American continent.
  • I can analyze the effects of the exploitation of natural resources on Indigenous populations.

Key Terms

  1. Indigenous
  2. Continent
  3. Natural Resources
  4. Exploitation
  5. Mythology
  6. Advocate
  7. Wigwams
  8. Siouan
  9. Animism
  10. NARF


Have fun by learning some of the key terms for understanding the Indigenous Perspective.

         Check out a handout mapping the original           Northeastern Indigenous Tribes.



Learn more about the original Northeastern tribes prior to colonialism:


Wigwams (or wickups), Longhouses


Check out some Iroquois beadwork


Iroquoian, Algonquian, Siouan


Hunting, Fishing, Beans, Squash, Corn

Spiritual Practices

Animism, Shamans


Learn about Cayuga Mythological Figures like Sky Woman and Dry Fingers


Issues in Indigenous Communities

One of the many social issues that North American indigenous communities face today is the exploitation of their rich natural resources like oil, gas, and timber by private companies. Many tribal territories still own large areas of land, even though they are a very small portion of their original territories. This is a major social issue for these communities because it challenges their self-sustainability, leaving many of these communities without access to clean water. Additionally, many food sources come from the lands where these resources are being extracted, where these tribes hunt, fish, raise livestock, and plant crops. Due to new infrastures being built on these lands, as well as pipelines put in place for the transportation of oil, many of their sacred sites become damaged in the process.

Prominent Youth Activist Autumn Peltier

Autumn Peltier uses the speech to call attention to the lack of clean water in numerous Indigenous communities.

Peltier spoke at the Global Landscapes Forum in New York City in 2018 and has made use of social media to spread awareness around the world.

Learn more about Indigenous activist and clean water advocate Autumn Peltier.

Northeastern Tribes Music

Cherokee Voice, flutes, and rattles

ChoctawDrums, striking sticks, and whistles

IroquoisTurtle, gourd, horn rattles, and drums

ShawneeWater drums, rattles, and dance cans

SenecaWater drums and cowhorn rattle



Discussion Questions

  1. What are natural resources?
  2. Why is it important to protect natural resources in all communities, not only in indigenous ones?


Writing Prompts

  1. What steps are organizations like NARF taking to protect natural resources for indigenous communities?
  2. What are activists like Autumn Peltier doing to advocate for clean water in indigenous communities?
  3. What other activists are out there advocating for clean water solutions?
Work Cited

Flows, Capital. “5 Ways the Government Keeps Native Americans in Poverty.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 29 June 2021,

“Native American Lands and Natural Resource Development.” Natural Resource Governance Institute, 17 Feb. 2016,

“Protect Tribal Natural Resources.” Native American Rights Fund, 25 Jan. 2019,

Staff, DiversityInc. “The Biggest Issues Facing the Native American Community Right Now.” DiversityInc, 13 Jan. 2021,

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