Seasonal subsistence was a key in the lifestyles of Native Americans and fish resources have been an important part of their diet throughout history. So it makes you wonder… how has their relationship with fish resources changed over the centuries, and how does it compare to today?
To find out, take a step back in time and watch this interesting video. Then you can share and expand the discovery of learning in your classroom with a combination of watching the video and having your teacher download the free Lesson Activity at the bottom of this page that really tests your skills at seasonal subsistence.
Let’s begin a very long time ago. Archaeologists, the scientists who study past civilizations, believe that Native Americans inhabited Wisconsin shortly after the melting of the last continental glaciers about 13,000 years ago. Back then, mammoths, buffalo, giant beavers and other Ice Age creatures roamed across the landscape.
In many areas, these Native people left behind clues to their culture with stone artifacts, effigy mounds, and rock art in caves. From this evidence, scientists believe that the Native people lived off the land by hunting, fishing, farming and gathering natural foods. The largest of these American Indian populations in Wisconsin were the Menominee, who lived around the Fox River area.
Historically, the Menominee people farmed gardens of corn, beans and squash. They also relied on important aquatic food resources such as wild rice and fish. One of the more important fish species they harvested for food was the sturgeon. Because of their size, just one of the huge fish could feed a lot of people.
All creatures, including humans, get their food using something called an “optimum foraging strategy”. It simply means getting the most food with the least effort or risk. That usually means gathering whatever food source is most abundant and accessible at any given time and place. To find out how Native Americans used these foraging strategies, explore the “Learn More” below.
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