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Early American and African Tribes

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Early American & African Tribes

Though cultural features, including language, garb, and customs vary enormously from one tribe to another, there are certain elements which are encountered frequently and shared by many tribes. Early nomadic hunters forged stone weapons from around 10,000 years ago; as the age of metallurgy dawned, newer technologies were used and more efficient weapons produced. Prior to contact with Europeans, most tribes used similar weaponry. The most common implement were the bow and arrow, the war club, and the spear. Quality, material, and design varied widely. Large mammals such as the mammoth were largely extinct by around 8,000 B.C., and the Native Americans were hunting their descendants, such as bison or buffalo. The Great Plains tribes were still hunting the buffalo when they first encountered the Europeans. The acquisition of the horse and horsemanship from the Spanish in the 17th century greatly altered the natives' culture, changing the way in which these large creatures were hunted and making them a central feature of their lives.

The Iroquois tribes, living around the Great Lakes and extending east and north, used strings or belts called wampum that served a dual function:

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