People of the Waters - Natural Resources

How would you get by without modern technology? Early Native people depended on their environment for everything they needed, from food to tools. They paid close attention to the seasons, traveling to find the best resources. They let little go to waste.

What did Wisconsin's early people eat? This region provided many natural resources. Here, where the forest met the prairie, many species flourished. Fish swam in the lakes and rivers and wild rice grew. Deer, elk, birds, and small game thrived on the prairie and in the woodlands. As the climate warmed after the Ice Age, Native people adapted to new food sources. The Oneota planted crops and gathered hickory nuts, walnuts, and acorns. They moved seasonally, setting up villages where the resources were best - probably staying close to rivers and lakes.

Archaeologists have found ridged fields where Oneota farmers grew corn, beans and squash. They created the ridges by piling soil into long rows. It kept the plants high enough to protect them from flooding and frost. Beans, corn, and squash are called the "three sisters" because the plants help each other. Beans put nitrogen into the soil, which helps the plants process sunlight. The beans climb the tall corn stalks like a trellis. And the low squash plants act like mulch, preventing weeds and helping the soil retain moisture.

Native people used stone, bone, and copper to make a wide variety of tools. It took a lot of skill to work flint and other materials into all the tools that they needed to thrive. The process of shaping a tool from flint or other stone is called knapping. If you hit the rock in the right way, pieces flake off, revealing sharp edges.

Click Here to Start the Exhibit.

People of the Waters - Natural Resources