The End All Be All In Native American Survival Skills
Though the term “Native American” didn’t exist until several decades ago, the Native American people groups that live in what’s presently known as North and South America are some of the most historically signifiant peoples of all time.
Truthfully, most of what we know in the survival world in some way, shape, or form has been influenced by indigenous cultures (whether the Americas or abroad).
Obviously we’ve made some improvements on their original designs, but if you were reduced to limited possessions and stripped of your survival gear then you would be quite fortunate to know the survival skills they invented.
Note – In this blog post I’m only going to be providing you with cursory overviews of these important survival skills. If you want to learn more about these let me know in the comments and I might be able to cover some of these skills in more detail in subsequent blog posts.
Discover Some Of The Most Useful Native American Survival Skills
1 – The ability to travel unnoticed:
Perhaps one of the most advantageous skills practiced by ancestral communities was the ability to travel in near silence.
Why is this skill so valuable you might wonder?
Think about it this way…if your very life depended on the ability to draw close to prey (because your weapons were crude and ineffective at distance) then it would pay off in spades to be the quietest person you knew.
Indigenous cultures all around the world have learned to travel in near silence as well as conceal their movements with ease.
What’s the secret you might ask?
There are two. The first is using very thin, form-fitting foot coverings so they could interpret every form and feature of the ground they waked on. This helped them feel the ground in a way which allowed them to avoid making too much noise.
Then there was the method in which they walked.
Called the Fox Walk, this method of walking helped to minimize noise using a practical application in physics to keep sound at a minimum. The usefulness of this walking technique is it gives you the ability to get close to prey, or enemies, so you’re able to get close enough to accomplish your task.
Here’s a video explaining how best to use the Fox Walk.
2 – The ability to start a fire using natural material:
I’ve written about using a bow drill in another blog post, there I explained the essential understanding of using natural materials to help start a fire for numerous reasons.
The truth is one of the only reasons Native Americans ever experienced an enjoyable life is because they knew a multiplicity of fire starting methods.
Yes, they used bow drills to get a fire going in no time, they also relied on several different methods to get a hot fire. One of those included using rocks like Pyrite which could be struck together to garner a hot spark and then placed over flammable tinder to get a red-hot fire.
Then there was the option of using “fire rocks” or fire starting rocks, where a hole in the channel of a rock could be used with a dry stick and tinder to form an ember and then transfer to tinder for fire.
Then of course there was the simple and effective method of just using a simple hand drill and a hearth board to start a fire.
All of these skills can be learned in a matter of minutes and will translate into an increased likelihood of survival in a variety of circumstances.
3 – The ability to preserve meat:
If you’re not a vegan or a vegetarian then you probably love jerky.
Most jerkies available in the United States are manufactured via a commercial process. The meat of the animal is generally placed inside of a food dehydrator where the moisture is forced out by means of a fan and a heating element.
Obviously if SHTF you’re not going to be provided the luxury of using a dehydrator to dry your meat, so you’ll be forced to rely on natural means to get your jerky.
According to Jerky.com it was the Native Americans of South America who first realized drying out strips of meat would result in the long storage life for the meat. They write ‘”Ch’arki”, a name derived from the Quechuan language of the Incas (which literally translates into “dried meat”), later evolved into what we now call jerky.
The good news is the process of jerky production doesn’t require fancy equipment or advanced technique.
Provided you know how to start a fire (see the point above) you can create beef jerky in a short amount of time.
Here’s how to do it just like they did. Here’s a video demonstrating the technique (foul language alert).
One other thing.
Native Americans used a variation of beef jerky you might not be familiar with.
Known as “pemmican” it combined the nutritious fat and protein of the animal with things like dried fruit and herbs.
This helped you get a “whole meal” into one jerky bar which is far better nutritionally than jerky alone.
Look up pemmican recipes if you’d like to learn how to make your own.
4 – The ability to use deadfalls for trapping:
So now that you’ve learned how to make jerky you might want to learn how to hunt animals without the aid of weapons.
Of course I recommend a gun for survival, but a gun might not always be there for you to depend on.
The solution here of course is to create a trap that can help supply you with the food you need.
One of the most common, as well as the simplest traps used by Native Americans is the deadfall.
A deadfall is nothing more than a carefully constructed trap consisting of a heavy rock, a collapsible support structure and bait.
Below is an image of a deadfall.
The concept behind deadfall operation is simple. Get an animal that could easily be crushed (or trapped) under the weight of the stone and then lure them underneath it using appropriate bait. The deadfall would then fall right on top of the animal.
Native Americans figured this out years ago and they’re still being used effectively today.
5 – The ability to use blowguns to catch food:
You’ve likely seen blowguns on the Internet and in department stores as they’ve gained some notoriety in the past few years as information about these devices spread.
The truth is these devices are quite effective and have a rich history as they were heavily utilized by Native Americans to both protect themselves as well as to procure food with.
Blowguns were actually used for hunting and in warfare by Native American tribes such as the Cherokee. They would fashion these weapons out of cane or reed. The reed would be hollowed out to a tube wherein a dart would be inserted and propelled by a strong breath towards a target. Blowguns were used primarily to kill small game like birds, rabbits and squirrels and were sometimes tipped with poison extracted from venomous snakes and even Gila Monsters.
With a little bit of practice you can learn how to make and shoot a blowgun with ease. Both of these skills will have extensive applications in a survival situation.
6 – The ability to blend in with surroundings:
Imagine you’re in a survival situation and you’re trying to avoid other people as well as attempting to blend in with your surroundings so you can catch some food and not be detected.
This is where the Native American use for body paint and animal hides comes into play.
Their understanding of natural pigments and patterns helped them to fade into the background so to speak. They understood in battle as well as in hunting situations it was to their benefit to remain undetected.
They knew how to use things like mud, sap, oil, and more to artfully conceal themselves, and they knew how to use the hide and other material found from their prey to blend in. These skills are incredibly important to know for anyone who hopes to turn a survival situation into something they’ll be able to manage.
7 – The ability to read the environment:
One of the major problems we face as a modern people is we just don’t know how to read the environment.
If you were to look at the sky tonight would you be able to say with reasonable certainty you knew what was going to happen in the days to come? Or what if you saw animals behaving in an odd and unfamiliar way, could you make a determination you knew what that meant?
The Native Americans could.
Sure, even weather forecasters have a difficult time telling what the weather might be…but there are certain, indisputable facts observed in nature that signal what’s to come. The indigenous people knew that…and you can learn what they knew.
The same thing is true of their study of animals and their behavioral patterns. Again, it’s a lost art because now so many of us live detached from the land. The simple truth is they knew what it meant when the deer didn’t follow their migratory patterns, and they could tell you what the raven’s flight patterns meant.
And if you ever want to know what they did it’s helpful to learn what they knew.
8 – The ability to use tepees for shelter:
One thing I need to make clear real quick.
Not every tribe used tepees. For the most part these portable housing shelters were used by tribes who lived nomadic lives on the plains.
Nonetheless, the tepee was an incredibly adept and versatile housing structure and they served their owners very well.
Tepees are traditionally made of wooden poles and animal skins. If you’re ever stripped of all your survival gear then you might need to depend on those materials to build your own.
However, if you want to make your own using modern materials I have just the video for you.
9 – The ability to depend on community and established roles:
I’ll end this post on what I consider to be one of the most important skills of all, the ability of these people groups to operate in tightly knit social groups and to stay within their roles.
If a long term survival situation ever takes place here in the U.S. it’s going to be incredibly important for everyone to know their role as well as being able to operate within a community.
People like to romanticize the lone-wolf survivalist. And while they certainly play their role; it’s much, much easier for people to survive when they have a strong community to fall back on.
This is exactly why the Native American tribes had assigned roles, to help everyone survive together.
Now you can see why Native American Survival Skills are so beneficial.
Here’s What To Do With This Info
If you’re wondering what you might be able to do with this wealth of information I have a suggestion.
This suggestion is rooted in one, simple truth.
Most everything the Native tribes were able to accomplish was because they understood the importance of a sharp blade…
Unfortunately for them they had to fashion their own from rocks.
You on the other hand can buy your own.
What am I talking about?
A survival knife of course.
Go back over the preceding list and tell me a survival knife wouldn’t be useful in more than half of those tips. You can’t.
If you don’t already have a solid survival blade I suggest getting one.
We have a fine selection here at Survival Frog. You can get one here or by clicking on the image below.