Survival Skills To Learn From The Indian Tribes

Survivopedia Survival Skills from Indian TribesNative Americans are, perhaps, the best example on the planet of a people who lived solely off the land while protecting it for future generations. They held the belief that we don’t own the land; we are simply borrowing it from our children.

In other words, they lived sustainably, protected their resources, and survived (and thrived) while doing no harm to the planet. This made them survivors of the highest order, so today we’re going to talk about survival skill you can learn from Indian tribes.

Meat Preservation

It was imperative to Native Americans that no meat be wasted. There were a few reasons for this but the two main ones were that meat was crucial to survival, and wasted meat was a dishonor to both the animal who gave his life and to the hunter who took it. They were masters of preserving meat into jerky or pemmican and it was this that got them through the harsh winters.

{adinserter usdeception}The process of making jerky is fairly simple; Native Americans simply cut the meat into thin strips and dried it in the sun. Salt wasn’t used as a preservative like it is now. Fat will make the meat go rancid, so lean cuts are used.

Pemmican is a bit of a different deal. It consists of dried meat, rendered fat, and berries. The berries are optional but add more nutrition and flavor. Dry the meat until it’s crumbly. Grind it into a powder and pour just enough rendered fat over it to make it stick together. Add in the dried berries. Roll it into balls or press it into strips.

Pemmican will keep for years and is a great source of protein, fat, and (if you add the berries) carbohydrates. You can actually live off of just it and water for extended periods of time.

Preserving Animal Skins

Every part of the animal was used; nothing was wasted, for both practical and spiritual reasons. The hide provided clothing, shelter, water vessels, shoes, rawhide, baskets, arrow fletching, horse tack, hair ornaments, musicalSurvivopedia American Indian Survival Skills instruments, and many other products.

They tanned the hides both with the hair and without it. Though there are many different methods that were used, some steps were common to all methods.

First, the flesh has to be removed from the skin. This was done using a piece of bone, stone, or other sharp but smooth object. If the hair was going to be removed from the hide, now would be when that would happen.

Once hair and flesh is removed and the hide is clean, you have rawhide, which is great for such items as rope, string, storage containers and snowshoes. To make it into leather, it needs tanned and possibly smoked.

To continue making leather, brains (or another tanning agent) are rubbed into the hide, and it’s rinsed. More brains are rubbed it and the hide is stretched and worked while it dries. If not, it will be stiff and difficult to work with. Smoking was used often to make it more waterproof.

Using Plants for Healing

To say that Native Americans didn’t have doctors is incorrect, but they didn’t have access to “modern” medical practices and medications. They had medicine men and women who made it their craft to know about the medicinal properties of plants.

Much of this was learned by trial and error and passed down orally from one generation to the next through training and practice.

Plants were also used in spiritual ceremonies to invite the spirits or to attain the proper state of mind in which to speak with them.

Today, you can purchase books about Native American healing practices that pertain to plants and we’d recommend purchasing one. Combine that knowledge with modern medicine has learned about each plant and you may just have a survival plan that doesn’t involve modern pharmaceuticals.

Reading Nature’s Signs

Reading sign can help with everything from tracking animals to predicting weather and was a skill that Native Americans had mastered. Even children could look around and tell a considerable amount about what was going to happen because it was an art form taught practically from the cradle.

Perhaps the most useful skill that you should consider learning is predicting weather patterns based up clouds and animal behavior. Clouds are a great indicator of weather. High, wispy clouds are an indicator of clear weather.

Puffy clouds with flat bottoms that grow higher than their width is a good indicator that a thunderstorm is coming. A ring around the moon is often an indicator of rain, too.

Animal behavior is another “sign” that Native Americans were attuned to. For instance, squirrels gathering large amounts of nuts may indicate a long, tough winter. Horses and other livestock get nervous when bad storms are approaching. There are many books written about this survival skill practiced by Indian tribes, so read up and keep the book handy.


Survivopedia American Indian SkillsNative Americans didn’t have rifles and other weapons that were effective long-range so they had to learn to approach game and enemies quietly. In fact, the higher echelons of the American military still practice Native American stealth tactics. There are two basic ones that you should master if stealth is your goal: the Fox Walk and using wide-angle vision.

The Fox Walk is how Native Americans walked silently. It’s practiced by wearing soft moccasins or no footwear at all so that you can feel the ground and avoid stepping on twigs or leaves that will make noise.

Your heel strikes the ground first, then you roll your foot forward onto the ball of your foot. This reduces your footprint and noise. The person behind you, if you’re traveling with somebody, places his foot directly where yours was. It’s a slow, methodical way of traveling that preserves energy while allowing you to move quietly.

Wide-angle vision allows you to see inconsistencies and movement rather than focusing on a few visual details. You’re basically training your eyes to use peripheral vision as well as see what’s straight ahead.

Place your hands directly in front of you, then spread them until your arms are stretched out to your sides. Wiggle your fingers; if you can see them, then you’re using wide-angle vision.

Learning to live as part of the land and to survive with stealth was what kept Native Americans alive and thrive for centuries. These are skills that will serve you well in a survival situation, so it’s well worth your time to learn more.

If you know of any other survival skills to learn from Indian tribes, please share them with us in the comments section below. It’s not only a fascinating topic but one that we should all study a bit more if we want to survive any SHTF scenario!

CCC4This article was written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • Tannic acid tanning your hides from Accorns.
    I learned this method from a Indian chief I was blessed to know as a child growing up in Northern California. In a five gallon bucket, we used a hollow oak stump holding rain water. Crush green acorns approx 30-40 lbs. If your using a bucket probably 10 pounds will work. Add water and allow time for the tannic acid to leach into the water. You’ll know when the mixture is right and or ready when you can take a axe blade and dip into it and the steel turns blue. We waited for about three good summer days. Take your fleshed and or de haired hide and submerge completely into this mixture holding it under with rocks or the axe handle. Agitate once daily. Give it about 5 days. When you can cut a small piece off and boil it and it stays pliable upon cooling, it’s done soaking. If not and it’s like rubber it’s not done and needs more soaking. Once it’s done wring out excess water and work over a fence rail or on a post back and forth until dry. The more labor here is very rewarding with your final product. Now you can enjoy your first Indian Tanic Acid Taned leather hide which now can be made into shoes or cloths. I took apart a Levi jacket and used it as a pattern cutting two inches bigger than the jacket pannels. It took two hides to complete and a shed antler cut crossways Were used as buttons after drilling holes in
    them. I kept the hair on mine and put it to the outside witch help the jacket to shed rain. Enjoy I know Dan would have wanted me to share.

    • Cool stuff! I was just wondering about tanning hides and how it’s done as the Indians would do. Now, don’t think me crude, but doesn’t “urine” play a part in all of this…somewhere? Like, in bleaching, or something? Also, I enjoyed the talk on meat preservation. So we don’t NEED salt then? But what means the term “rendered” fat? All of this is fascinating, indeed.

      • in this case it’s cooking the fat in order to get the oil (lard) see this website on it

      • Rendered fat means beef or pork fat that has been cooked low and slow. The resulting liquid fat is called rendered fat or renderings. The meat or fat scraps that did not render or turn to liquid can be used for other things of to feed a dog or cat.

        • Thanks for the tip on rendered fat. I’m thinking of all that good juice that sort of crystalizes in the pan…you know…the “yummy” part, what we always called the “drippings.” I’m gonna’ try that heel walking thing, too, ha! But no one has answered my question on the use of urine in tanning. Did I hear that wrong?

    • Excellent Rob! Thanks for sharing – I had never heard of this method. I’ll give it a shot next deer season!

    • This is awesome!! Thanks for sharing this!

  • I’ve always thought stealth walking was done toes first. Heel first…the heel doesn’t have the touch that the toes do. The toes can register the feel of the ground to the brain as good as fingers. You’d be up to your ankles in crap before your brain knew it if you stealthed heel first. The toes can carefully brush aside a twig or even burrow between them, whereas the heel would be awkward to do this if not impossible. If the ground is very littered then toes first gives the option of not putting down the entire foot. Toes first give instant grip, whereas heels are a stump that HAS to be followed through with the rest of the foot. Placing the heel down first even gives the walker less control in a stealth movement.

    • The problem you are encountering is one of trying to think, rather than to do. The advice given in the article is correct. You put the heel down first, gently, and slowly shift your weight to that foot while rolling it forward. It is this rolling motion of the foot that is crucial.

      Some things to note here… You are trying to walk with stealth – that means quietly. You are not merely plodding along, heel to toe, throwing your full weight from foot to foot with each step. Stealth walking required fluid motion. If you are not limber, it will be very difficult, or perhaps impossible to do.

      The arch of your foot is the most sensitive part of your foot. It is also closer to your heel, than to your toes.

      When attempting to walk stealth walk backwards, the reverse is true – you want to walk toe to heel, again rolling the foot you are stepping with, as you shift your weight to that foot.

      Stealth walking isn’t just about being sneaky or quiet, it’s about making a minimal impact on your environment. Yes, the average surely did not want to be detected while moving near danger, or closing in on a hunted animal, but he also didn’t want to disturb his brother and sister animals while simply traveling or performing other tasks; nor was it wise to leave a blazingly obvious trail behind, when crossing through the territory of another tribe.

      I’ve practiced stealth walking for decades. It is almost second nature to me, when walking, and I scare the wife fairly regularly around the house, without meaning to… However, I feel much more grounded. A walk in the woods alone, is an entirely different experience from what it is when walking with someone else. I can pass animals and birds with only a glance from them. I can hear and sense so much more…

      As time has gone on, I’ve become very much aware of what other people sound like when they are walking and to honest, while I know my wife’s footsteps, and those of my dogs and other family members, I’ve noticed that most people literally throw themselves forward while their legs try to keep up. The majority of people are literally reeling, stumbling, and stomping – all of the time – without even realizing that that is what they are doing…

      With that observation in mind, I would add that if you wish to learn stealth walking, then in addition to simply trying to practice it, you should put some effort into or acting a set of exercises which help to improve balance, and which bring awareness of your center of gravity.

      • A good reply E Myers, as I read the second half I was reminded of time here in South Australia, where my partner and I visited a wild life sanctuary in the Adelaide hills. Their speciality was to have bred the ellusive duck billed Platypus. It was an evening walk and as the tour group walked toward the dark water dam that was the animals home, I suddenly realised that with all the flat footed noise, there would be no hope of seeing the platypus in the open. I light footed it to the dam edge ahead of the noisy stompers and was blessed with the sight of the dear, shy animal happily going about it evening business. A minute later the ‘mob’ arrived and my friend ‘plopped’ out of sight much to everyone’s dissapointment. I was the only fortunate one, due to my self taught, at a young age, ability to walk gently. Thank you for your contribution. Cheers.

      • Hi. I do not understand what you mean by “rolling the foot.” My difficulty understanding it may have to do with my having military-certified “flat feet” (no visible arches). I typically walk on the outer edge of both feet. Maybe I would understand this “rolling the foot” style of walking more easily if you broke it down into a foot-to-ground contact sequence. Are you referring to: (1) Softly place heel on ground; (2) Lift toes high to push downward the arch of the foot, then, roll on the foot from the rear arch to the front arch, and finally to the toes platform? Is that what you are implying? When I try to walk silently I start with the heel, and then twist my feet in sort of a pigeon-toe direction so that I roll on the outer side of each foot and then land on the toes platform. This is the only way I can feel any sort of roll of a foot; yet, this flat-footed roll also leaves a track on the ground similar to the shape of the parentheses symbols: left foot= ” ( “, and right foot ” ) ” . I recall as a teen sneaking up on peers in tents at night, when walking barefooted, by walking on the sides of my feet, and using the heel to brace my weight, then literally using the sides of my feet to sweep away any small twig to avoid “snapping” the twig to reveal my presence. Am I describing what you mean by rolling the foot (where you walk from heel, to rolling along the sides of the foot to toe platform)? Or are you referring to something else?

    • Actually it is the ball of your foot first rolling into the big toe then to your heel. Here is a good video of it

      • Mike – I couldn’t access your video from my device for some reason, but your description seems clear enough in terms of what the feet are doing. Obviously, this differs with my own experience, so I tried sequencing the footstep in the manner you described. What I find is that this method has an advantage if you are walking somewhat crouched or on steep and uneven terrain, where it may be neccessary to place your center of gravity more forward. I also found that it fatigues the feet rather quickly – but this could also be because it is very unnatural to me after walking the way I do for so many years.

        Having read some of the other comments this morning as well, I am inclined to point a couple of things out: the heel and arch of the foot are both fleshier and more sensitive than the forefoot. I do not step on to my heel with my full weight, rather I “roll” my foot forward while shifting my weight to that foot. By the time my full weight is on that foot, my heel is no longer touching the ground, and I have already begun to step with the other foot. Thus, my full weight is only on one foot for a second or less. Most of the time my weight is transitioning between my feet through both legs. Stopping (or stepping) with the majority of your weight on one foot or the other is when you are most likely going to create noise. While some would argue that stealth walking is merely a matter of technique, I think it is more a matter of balance. The key to walking quietly (IMO) is to keep your weight distributed on both feet for as much of the time as is physically possible. This is why a certain amount of strength and flexibility, is crucial. Without those attributes, it is difficult to manage your center of gravity in a way that keeps it actually centered.

        Steeping with the ball of the foot first is going to require one of the three following things: putting your center of gravity too far forward where it becomes very difficult to manage, placing your full weight on your back foot, thereby placing your center of gravity behind you, and crushing whatever may be under that foot, or essentially walking with most of your weight on the balls of your feet and balancing with your toes.

        Radarphos – you basically have the idea of what I was saying. Having flat feet may mean that you leave more of an impression, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t stealth walk. Two things that may help you with your feet are standing on your toes for a few minutes each day… and perhaps even walking on them a little. This will help to strengthen your arch. Also, walk barefoot whenever possible – even if it is only around the house. This also strengthens your feet. While I am certainly no expert, I have read that footedness is a problem which is predominantly found in cultures where the people wear shoes most of the time. In South American Indian tribes, for example, the problem is virtually nonexistent 😉

  • Hi Theresa;
    You have authored a very informative and helpful article. I have but one correction for you to consider. The American Indian or Eskimo was no more “conservitors of the wilderness” than the Caucasians that attempted to supplant them. Here is a short list of large animals that survived the last glaciation, but not the arrival of the aboriginals that crossed the land bridge: mastodon, mammoth, giant buffalo, ground sloth, giant beaver, giant bear. Many bones of these animals have been found with arrowheads or cuts that could only have been inflicted by sharp implements. The musk ox was eradicated from all of North America. Fortunately a few survived in northern Greenland and have been reintroduced. Furthermore, one way to harvest meat was to drive whole herds of animals off cliffs killing hundreds at a time. These locations in North America are known and called “buffalo jumps” (or insert whatever named animal that was induced to jump). The piles of animal bones are still there. So as not to leave anyone out, while I lived in Alaska, it came to light that about 20 walrus bodies were found on a ice flow in the Arctic Ocean with only the tusks missing. Only Alaskan Natives have a vested interested in taking ivory as the penalties for white man caught trafficking in ivory are so severe that no one would be dumb enough to do it. Natives are legally allowed to harvest, carve, and sell ivory, but it is expected they will use the meat, as well. So, along came the (mostly) Europeans and added to the carnage by wiping out the buffalo and the carrier pigeon. And we’re working at eliminating some others. I’m not defending or criticizing either group. I’m just tired of hearing that the natives were “conservitors of the wilderness.”
    Cheers! Stu.

    • Stu, I’d give you a hundred thumbs up if I could.

    • Well written, Stu.

    • Stuart has critiqued Theresa by saying that the natives were no more in touch with nature than the white man. I, in turn, must critique Stu. As one who has spent years with & studying traditional native culture, I can only conclude that such an opinion could only come from someone who has not.
      It is not my intention to attack anyone personally. And to avoid making this response excessively long and complicated, I will use some generalisations that are not strictly true. I will use “white man” and “European” as synonyms, and treat the USA as an outgrowth of European culture. I will also use “American” in its common sense as referring to the USA and not all of the Americas.
      It is true that certain species lived at the same time as the natives. However, there is no hard evidence that the natives caused their extinction. There is, on the other hand, incontrovertible evidence that Europeans have caused the extinction and near extinction of many species.
      The method of driving buffalo over a cliff has been derided. Consider. You need animals 15 times your size for food and shelter. But you have no high powered rifles or guns of any kind. How are you going to hunt them?
      It WAS a basic tenant of native philosophy that you do not take more out of nature than nature can put back. I can find no such concept in the urbanised, technological world.
      It is true that a small population is unlikely to effect sustainability. However, we do not now know how large the native population was. They left no asphalt cities or libraries. We do know that the Europeans decimated them. Most natives were not killed on the battlefield. Europeans soon discovered that the natives had no resistance to their diseases. All they had to do was expose them and let disease take its course. The Europeans, then, had seldom to lift a gun. It was genocide on -probably – a larger scale than Hitler’s Germany.
      The white man made little or no attempt to share the land. He stole (there is no polite word to describe it) the land, and, what is worse, the native culture and way of life.
      You can’t judge traditional native culture by present day indians. They have had their traditional way of life stolen: they can only fight the white man by his own methods.
      The early settlers were afraid of indian raids, aka terrorism. There is nothing new about terrorism. How else do you fight an enemy larger or more powerful?
      The Canadians engaged in terrorism against the USA long before 911. Canada, before 1812 was a ragged scattering of dissimilar colonies. Had the US left them alone, they would probably have drifted, one by one, into the fold. By attacking Canada, the US gave them a common cause to unite against. So, in a very real sense, it was the USA and not Britain that created Canada.
      The natives have various versions of a history of man. Basically, they are all the same: in the beginning, man was one. But he displeased the Great Spirit, so the Great Spirit divided him into races. Sort of the native version of the story of the Garden of Eden.
      Without going into details, the white man was given providence over fire, which is to say, technology. Indians called electricity “white Man’s fire”. This doesn’t mean that the Europeans were the first to invent things. Americans like to think they have invented everything, some probably think Henry Ford invented the car.
      But Americans, as an extension of their European talents, have been very good at turning the esoteric inventions of others into household appliances. That is exactly what Ford did to the car. The earliest record of a self powered vehicle I have found is 500BC in China. There is also evidence that the Chinese had heavier than air wind powered flight when Marco Polo was there.
      However, the Chinese didn’t take technology very seriously; Europeans, and especially Americans, did.
      The Europeans were not the first to discover the world. However, they were the first to keep careful records which thereby enabled them to repeat their journeys and to distribute their technology to the rest of world. The problem is, they have taught the rest of the world to also regard technology as an end in itself. I have long said that the worst thing about Americans is that everybody wants to be like them.
      The missionaries in Africa told the black man it was a sin to worship idols. The black man replied, you have an idol you worship unceasingly. It is called money.
      It is not money, or technology, that is an evil. It is the love of material things. And there is no question that the American concept of happiness is the pursuit of material possessions.
      Such is probably not history as you have been taught it. But the winners write the history. As a student of history my saying is that history is a story of things that didn’t happen, written by people who weren’t there.
      No one who has carefully studied tradition native culture, be it the USA, South America, Africa or Australia can say that the natives had did not have more respect for the environment than the Europeans.
      I talked to a student of history once, who had the theory that the white man came from another planet to exploit the world, because he alone has disrespect for nature.
      That the Europeans turned technology into useful devices is a good thing. That they disregarded nature in the process is a very bad thing. Technology makes a good slave; it also makes a devastating master.

      By the way, the disclaimer that I am responsible for what I write, but the web site becomes the owner does not sit well with me, and has prevented me from writing so far. However, you have probably already guessed my opinion about the American concept of ownership and copyright law.


      • I got as far as “the white man” and didn’t read any further. If “the red man” can be referred to as “the natives” then “the white man” can be referred to as “the settlers” or whatever. 2014 and it’s still the ignorant comments like that, that keeps racism alive.

        • I don’t mean to steer this forum off topic, but now I’m a bit perturbed, and I am going to speak my mind and tell you why..,

          Actually, it’s people crying “racism!” Every chance they get, that seems to keep racism alive. What I’ve noticed, after living in this country for 44 years, is that in this year 2014, calling people “racist” seems to be one of the more prolific forms of “racism” going. I’ve also noticed that those who seem to cry “racism” the loudest and the most often, tend to profit from doing so. In short, “racism” has become a lucrative enterprise, sustained entirely by useful idiots who sit on BOTH sides of every argument. True racism doesn’t keep people divided. Instead, a media-created concept of it does.

          A dissenting opinion is just that, and in America, where the right to express that opinion was defined at our inception as the first founding principle of freedom, those who are truly interested in equality as a universal virtue and the birthright of all people, should be able to regard it as just that: a dissenting opinion, and one that need not be regarded as anything more.

          Indeed, “political correctness” has done more to retard the advancement of equality in this country than anything else has – at least within my lifetime. Enough, already. Think for yourselves. That man does…

          • Nevertheless, you label indigenous Americans with a respected title granting them “native” American status, and label the non-indigenous settlers with a racist title based on a skin colour. All I’m saying is that you should be consistent. Call them “the red man” and “the white man” if that suits you, because then it’s fair and is only stating a fact, but skin-colour coding one race only is transparently racist no matter how educated you try to sound.

          • Well… lol… I – ME – I did not write what you are complaining about – “no matter how educated you try to sound.”

            Let me ask you, how is making a point if this – how is raising this proverbial flag of “justice” – NOT singling out a group by doing so?

            Like I said, racism isn’t fueled by mere words… It’s fueled by useless idiots. People who who subscribe to the media created idea that everyone needs to be an enduring champion of such things.

            Shoot, racism? In America?, it was almost dead, you know? Only people who stood to profit, and the egos of shameless self promoters saved it.

            Let it go.

            Because I have news for you: I am of German descent, and I was born here.

            And THAT FACT makes me a damned “native American too.

            So can it.

          • I’m sorry if my comments have made you so angry; that was not my intent. My point is that your comment on “the white man” (a name encouraged by ?-run media, textbooks etc, to keep the races separated and is mindlessly accepted by the masses) was still categorising people according to color. However, it’s your right to conform to government-lead segregation, no matter how subtle it is. I’m sure the big man will be very pleased with your service.
            Congratulations on being a Native American.

      • I fully expected to be taken to task for my claim that the Indians/redmen/whatever were really better than the “settlers” (there you go) in preserving the environment by those who have lived beside the Indians. I would like to point out, there is a difference between living beside the Indians and living with the Indians. I have lived in “Indian” territory and had trouble finding a job (such as there were); all available jobs went the First Nations.
        However, it came as a complete surprise that I used “racist” language. It shouldn’t have. I have been out of the loop too long, living the past ten years in a backward area of a “backward” country (Brasil), where people are most laid back and happy, friendly and family and community orientated. Where it is not considered weird or offensive to look at and talk to a stranger in an elevator, and where I get regular hugs from my neighbours and dentist. I forgot that north of the Mexican border, you have to be politically correct. Since we are in the business of being fair, I will point out that Brasil is just “that much” short of paradise. We have a statistically high crime rate (which hasn’t effected me) and, like the rest of the world, a stupid and corrupt government (which has). I like this location in Brasil because of the clean air and good quality food (which has vastly improved my health) and because of the friendly people (which has vastly improved my state of mind).
        When I go north or read on the internet, I see so much anger and frustration. Being the most powerful nation on earth certainly doesn’t buy happiness or peace of mind.
        Nevertheless, I did refer to the “white” man and the “black” man, but not the “yellow” man or the “red” man. I didn’t think that was a big deal, but it seems it is.
        More important, I pointed out shortcomings of the white race, but not the others.
        The Indians were scarcely angels when the “invaders” arrived. Many tribes were war like. Many had strange social customs. Northern tribes suffered from light clothing in the winter because they wanted to be “fashionable”.
        Not only could the tribes not come to terms with the invaders, they could not and cannot come to terms with themselves.
        Not only did the invaders and the natives speak different languages, they thought in different concepts. Where the Europeans offered to buy the land (instead of stealing it) many Indians could not understand how they could sell something they didn’t own. Europeans gloated over buying Manhattan for a few trinkets, but some tribes referred to the newcomers as “the people who make things square”, which in their concepts translates to “how stupid can you be?”.
        I think it is fair to say that most Indians have drifted away from traditional beliefs and practices. This parallels the Europeans who have drifted away from Christianity and a farming lifestyle.
        That is why I say, you can’t judge traditional Indian beliefs and practices by living alongside present day Indians.


        • Ab – I don’t think your terminology is a big deal either. What I attempted to point out to Fay was that it isn’t people using terms like “red man,” or “black man” that keeps racism alive. It is other people making a big deal out of what ought not to be an issue at all – the use of such terms – which does more to promote a concept of racism than anything else. It’s the people who decry the issue of racism the loudest, out of a sense of “political correctness” who are keeping this “issue” alive – and many of them don’t even realize it.

          When you really think about it, the term “white man” is probably the only truly derogatory description in use today as a general reference for a particular “group” of people. It isn’t even race specific. A person is “white” regardless of their ethnicity or heritage, and simply based on the color of their skin that person is automically assigned some portion of blame for every human downfall in modern history – a lot of which isn’t even true. For example, the “white man” didn’t create black slavery. He simply participated in an African slave trade which had been in existence for thousands of years – and which persisted long after the slaves were declared free in this country.

          As for the American Indians (and let me point out here that spell check automatically capitalizes those two words, whereas it makes no attempt to capitalize the word “white”), their displacement and decimation was indeed a dark chapter in human history. Yet, their story is not unique – it has been played out over and over again, among every culture around the world, throughout human history. As one friend of mine (a full-blooded Mohawk) once pointed out to me in a conversation, the best thing his people could do for themselves at this point would be to abandon the reservations and fully assimilate in the same way other peoples have around the world. He said that until his people do this they are not free. Instead they are prisoners of their own sovereignty. He said many of the younger generations were beginning to realize this, while the older generation fought, scorned, and sought to punish such thinking – not because they wished to preserve tradition, because they were corrupted. He said that while he loved his people and cherished his heritage, he could not live among them on the reservation. When I asked him why, he said,”Because a reservation is not a place for an Indian to live; it is a place for an Indian to die.”

          • Erik: Thank you for your comments. I was wondering how to word a reply, but you did it for me.

            To me terms like “white”, “yellow” etc are simply terms to specify a type of “division” of humanity, like Christian or Muslim, Brazilian or Canadian. I consider them generalisations and said as much in my first post. There are no distinct boundaries to any racial or cultural or national group.
            You talked about the blame for everything being laid on the “whites”. Indeed “whites”, “Europeans” and especially the USA gets blamed for everything. The white race has originated little if anything not previously present in other racial groups. But, like the USA, the “whites” have tended to make the innovations bigger and better.

            I have always liked the Native story of races as I learned it. It compares the strengths and weaknesses of different races and thereby demonstrates how they could work together. And, although the concepts are generalisations, my observation has been that they are remarkably accurate.

            You may be familiar with the Native prophecy of a huge iron snake (the railways) invaliding their land and destroying their way of life.
            You may also be aware of the prophecy of another people (“whites?”) invading and destroying their way of life, only to be conquered by yet another people (“yellow?”) or, in another version, destroying themselves. That prophecy seems to be working its way out.
            Another prophecy involves spacecraft (no less) coming to take away the faithful, sort of a Native version of the Christian rapture.
            Everything we can conceive is a version of the witness story. If you have six people watch an event, you will get six stories of what happened. And there is nothing wrong with that. Mankind has always sought absolute truth in a life were there is none. This creates the situation symbolised by the story of the Garden of Eden.
            Kalil Gibran has the Prophet say: “Say not I have found the path to the soul, but say I have found the soul walking on my path, for the soul walks on all paths.”
            If people could just learn to look for the truths in other people’s visions, instead of fearing them, the world would be a better place.


      • I don’t post much to the internet. I have the distinct feeling that most of what I post goes right over the heads of most people, including so-callled preppers, or gets misinterpreted. There is indeed good practical advice on this site (and others) about practical tips for being prepared for a “disaster” that seems certain to happen. However, in my opinion, many of those who post to these sites, including this one, are more or less totally at a loss to explain the causes of the problem.
        Since the issue seems to be the term “white man” instead of whether the red man was a custodian of nature, let me explain.
        The Indian prophecies and stories about the battle between the “white man” and the “red man” are symbolic, like all prophecy is. Since I am not a Christian in the conventional sense of the world, most will probably be outraged at my interpretation of Christian prophecy, too.
        The “white man” and the “red man” are not literal races and the story has, ultimately, nothing to do with race. They are symbolic of the struggle between those who would preserve the life-giving capacity of the planet and those to whom other agendas, like money, power and self, are more important. Anyone who supports the planet is a red man, anyone who doesn’t is a white man. Therefore, I call myself a red man in white man’s skin.
        The trouble is, people take the words literally, just like they take the Bible literally. It is like the joke about the man who says to his wife, “The trouble with women is they take everything personally.” She answers, “Nonsense. I don’t.”
        The story of the Battle of Armageddon is essentially the same thing. The battle described in Revelations, the battle between good and evil, is the Indians battle between the red man and the white man. Armageddon is not some battle in the future, we are living it now, and have been at least since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
        Indians, at the time of the beginning of their encounter with the Europeans, could not conceptualize the atom bomb and the internet; they couldn’t even conceptualize the steam locomotive. What they could conceptualize was these different skinned people displacing them.
        There is nothing new about civilizations displacing each other. However, the European invasion of the Americas was the first time that the invasion involved a change in world-view and technology that would ultimately threaten the life supporting ability of the planet.
        You don’t need high technology or dense population levels. The disruption of the balance of nature was already underway within decades of the arrival of the new-comers.
        I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I see images of a gun on top of a Bible on top of an American flag. Since when did the New Testament, which is the source of Christian authority, advocate the use of guns? Is not the message of the New Testament, and of history, “They who live by the sword small die by the sword?” The symbol of the USA is not the eagle, it is the gun.
        However, the obsession with the gun is not surprising as Matthew also has Jesus say “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”.
        Also, it is the American pass-time to blame Obama for everything, some who post on this site included. Can people not understand that Obama is only a puppet? I figured out in high school that it didn’t matter who you voted for, because, once in power, they are all basically the same.
        It took me a little longer to figure out that politics does not and never has controlled the world. The world is controlled by the idol that the Africans identified as money. If you don’t support the interests of money, you never get into power in the first place. Money has always used politics as a front. That way, the public can blame the politicians instead of them. Americans have obviously bought into this big time.
        Money today translates to the banks, the stock market, the multi-nationals. The only real vote that people have is with their pocket book. And they have voted, overwhelmingly, for the auto companies, big oil and coal, processed food, fast food restaurants, expensive and ineffective drugs, “put options”, the list goes on. As long as they do, getting rid of Obama is not going to help.
        It is common wisdom that in hard times, the third world suffers most. Such a theory could only be devised by arm chair experts who have always had hot water at the turn of a tap. In a downturn, yes. But in a total collapse, the poor of the third world will be on top because they have never had running water, and already have the skills of living on next to nothing. Those will suffer most are those who have no idea what to do when the supermarket shelves are empty, and the tap no longer produces water.
        As one of my survival strategies, I engage the poor of Brasil. I give them a bicycle here, a (what is for them) a large loan there. You need to build a community to survive, but building a community of middle class nerds unskilled in survival is not going to help much.
        My methods are not by any means all self seeking. I remember days when I was not sure where the next meal was coming from. And I believe that the ultimate test of a person is how they treat the environment, and those less fortunate than themselves.


        • I think perhaps you have pointed out one of the greatest “survival skills” of the American Indians, and that was their ability to organize and live among themselves as ordered communities. Yes, most Indians were adept at surviving alone or in small groups for days, but they also understood that as days became seasons and seasons flowed in cycles, each life depended on the life of the tribe, and vice versa.

          I have had discussions with many “preppers,” and what strikes me the most about many of them is the short-sightedness of their way of thinking. Many (if not most) are not preparing for a natural disaster, but rather a man made “disaster” that they attribute to the continued advancement of the New World Order and it’s various agendas. Some of these people also see themselves as part of a greater body of like minded persons who are the over-romanticized militia of yore, armed with the tools of today, and ready to organize into a triumphant force against the tyrannical forces of government and the underlying power structure of the global elite.

          Yet they have no workable plan to do so.

          They have their cabins up in the hills, their stockpiles of food and ammunition, their bug out bags at the ready, a full tank of gas in their 4X4…

          Yet they aren’t ready to do anything except die in isolation if all of their worst fears come true. That’s a fact. Sad, but true.

          Survival isn’t just about being able to resist or thwart any adversity which comes our way; it’s more a matter of being able to adapt. Regardless of whatever it is that people are preparing to survive, they all need to realize that whatever may happen will involve a fact of permanent change. There will be no “going back to the way things were” for the prepper any more afterward, than there has been for the American Indian, for the past century and a half.

  • one survival skill that i learned as a young boy growing up in delta junction alaska was skin eating. as a homestead family in the 50s, we would go out durring the salmon runs and dipnet salmon. this is considered subsistence fishing now, but with dad,mom,grandma and 9 siblings, it was just a good way to get more protein for the harsh alaskan winters. while on a trip to chitna at the age of 12, i met an old indian named oggie. i told him how i would eat flowers while walking in the woods w/out any fdood, and keep from getting too hungry. it was then that he told me of skin eating. while traveling in anything but desert areas, keep an eye out for wet boggy areas or the edges of lakes,ponds and streams. at the edge bof the wet areas, pull back the moss/turf, and it will pull out of the groung with the root system in the turf. underneath is a layer ufbasically plant nutrients broken down into the vitamins, minarais,proteins and other essentials we, animals as well as plants need to live and grow. basically this mud is the basic end product of the bugs ,worms,and enzymes and bacteris that break dead plant and animl matter down to the point where the plants can use it as food. your skin is the largest organ of the human body. it is capable of absorbing sunlight, water, heat, as well aschemicals and poisons and natural herbal substances. so you take a good double handful of this mud you exposed from under the moss/grass you pulled up in a hunk of turf, lay it on your t shirt or other suitable cloth, and spread it about an inch thick over an area large enough to cover your belly well. tie it off at your back so yhe mud is held tightly against your belly, and conyinue walking. 2-3 times a day, take the pac off. remoisten the mud. and remix it every day, or replace it fresh. your skin will absorb the nutrients in the mudpac and sustain you as though you were eating a little all day. i have never been lost , even in the wilds of alaska, but i did get a little comfused as to where i was for about 10 days the summer of 59-60 between the alaska and brooks mountain ranges. using skin feeding, i walked out about 70 miles from my home to the richardson highway. i had only drunk fresh running stream water and i couple of trout i had noodled, and most people i told did not believe me as i looked very fit and trim, and not at all emaciated as would be expected for being away from the dinner table that long,and going thru that gruelling an ordeal. your body can feed itself thru your skin. teach your kids this method. it just might save their life if they ever get -confused- as to where they are in the wilds. -mr. bill a.k.a. wild bill nilsson.

    • That has to be one of the most interesting survival tips I’ve ever heard. Thank you for sharing that, Bill.

    • Bill, that’s an amazing story. Who would ever think of doing that? And yet it makes so much sense! I’d love to hear more from you. There’s not too many people around with your experiences and real survival knowledge. Thank you.

    • If anyone follows this story (fairy tail) they will starve to death. The skin cannot absorb the molecules that food nutrients are made of, they are way too big to be absorbed that way. It is a nice fun story, but just that, a story. DO NOT try this, unless you like staring to death.

      • Actually Jimmy, you are wrong. You would also do well to remember (or perhaps you did not understand in the first place) that this is not a survival “plan,” it’s an option when options are few.

        The fact is, our skin is the largest organ of our bodies. It is capable of absorbing nearly 60% of most substances which exhibit transdermal availability (like the water and anything dissolved in that water found in mud) is applied to it, and introducing those substances directly into the bloodstream, much like your diegestional tract does. That is both scientific and medical fact. Skin feeding is not just some old Indian survival tip, it is a practice used for various purposes around the world, by many people – including medical professionals. (Haven’t you ever heard of nicotine patches? Clay packs? Hormone replacement therapy?)

        Should you rely solely on a mud pack tied around your belly for subsistence if you find yourself lost in the wilderness for a few days? Obviously not. Supplement with whatever you can.

    • Very excellent tip, Bill. I pray I will never find a need to use it, though. May we all be praying in that vein. God bless.

  • The tips in the article are excellent and there is much we can learn from the various Indian tribes. I personally learned several fish trapping methods, snaring, as well as different styles of fires. Archery, of course, is a practice much older than the history of any of our extant American Indian tribes. By the same token, humans around the world have been preserving meat, tanning hides, using plants for medicinal purposes, and living with a keener awareness of nature (simply by virtue of living in it without the shelter of modern technologies) than most people today have.

    But the representation here of the Indian tribes presented in the first 3 paragraphs is no more accurate than the Hollywood depictions of them as utter savages. Were they survivors? Absolutely… by whatever means necessary. And while the “never waste meat” blurb might have been true in some places, the plains tribes were noted for their buffalo jumps for generations prior to Europeans introducing horses to America. These were places where through the use of huge wildfires they would stampede a herd off a cliff, most often resulting in many more buffalo deaths than they could ever possibly utilize.

    As far as “sustainable” lifestyles, virtually anything is indefinitely sustainable when you population is low enough. Little medical care, short lifespans, sparse populations, and low energy demands in resource rich environments can be called “sustainable” if you desire, but they have no relationship to the “sustainable living” politics of today.

    All the tips here are good, but we don’t have to fictionalize the Indians to make these points. I’m sure it would feel good to believe these things, but that doesn’t make it true.

  • yea.. im really a person who likes stealth… ive always liked it. i never knew that native americans relied so much on inspires me a lot to try and lern them.

  • Aw, this was an extremely good post. Finding
    the time and actual effort to make a good article… but
    what can I say… I put things off a lot and don’t manage to get nearly
    anything done.

  • Can I learn Survival skill from native american tribes by living with them instead of joining survival school?

  • I’m looking for a good book recommendation on Native American how-to survival skills, primarily in the Northern WI region (or similar environment). Can anyone recommend one??