When the first Europeans came to the North American continent. they encountered the completely new cultures of the Native American peoples of North America. Native Americans, who had highly developed cultures in many respects. must have been as curious about the strange European manners and customs as the
Europeans were curious about them. As always happens when two or more cultures come into contact. there was a cultural exchange. Native Americans adopted" some of the Europeans' ways. and the Europeans adopted some of their ways. As a result. Native Americans have made many valuable contributions to American culture. particularly in the areas of language. art, food. and government.
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Especially in the western and south western regions of the United States. native crafts such as pottery, handcrafted leather product, and bead work can be found in many homes. Indeed. native art and handicrafts are a treasured part of American culture.
In addition to language and art, agriculture is another area in which Native Americans had a great and lasting influence on the peoples who arrived here from Europe. Africa. and Asia. Being skilled farmers. the Native Americans of North America taught the newcomers many things about farming techniques and crops. Every American schoolchild has heard the story of how Native Americans taught the first settlers to place a dead fish in a planting hole to provide fertilizer for the
Grown plant. Furthermore. they taught the settlers irrigation methods and crop rotation. In addition. many of the foods Americans eat today were introduced to the Europeans by Native Americans. For example. potatoes. Chocolate and peanuts were unknown in Europe. Now they are staples in the American diet.
Finally. it may surprise some people to learn that Americans are also indebted' to the native people for our form of government. The Iroquois. who were an extremely large tribe with many branches called "nations," had developed a highly...