Ranching (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Many Native American tribes adopted the cattle and sheep ranching practices of European Americans, which gave them a steady food supply and a means of livelihood
North American Indians’ experience with ranching may be dated back to the appearance of the Spanish in the Southwest during the sixteenth century. Although at first the Indians captured stock for food and consumed the stolen animals quickly, eventually they began to breed animals acquired as gifts or through further raiding.
When the Spanish established settlements in the Southwest, their rancherías of cattle and sheep became targets for stock raids to supplement the desert fare of local Indians. Cattle were as yet not tended but were butchered and prepared for food as was native wild game, such as buffalo, the only “cattle” the Indians had known.
The Navajo learned the value of ranching early, and sheep herds became a focal point of their lifestyle. The sheep provided them with a manageable food source in the arid Southwest, and the wool provided material for superior clothing and blankets. The nomadic lifestyle of sheepherders suited the Navajo people, who had earlier been raiders of the Pueblo tribes.
Eastern Indians subdued by European invasion attempted to assimilate themselves into the dominant society by taking up farming and the management of livestock. The Cherokee, in particular, did very well until...
(The entire section is 345 words.)
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