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Life of a Child in a Native American Tribe

 A child being born within the tribe was celebrated. The name of the child would be decided during the celebration of its birth.

Sometimes the child’s name was chosen by the first thing the mother saw at the time of the child’s birth.

Ambrogio Lorenzettis Madonna And Child

Early Years

For the first two or three years after birth, the child was nursed by the mother. The baby was kept close to its mother or carried and never left alone.

The mother usually carried on with her chores with the child wrapped in a sling on her back called a papoose.

Sometimes the baby was wrapped up on a cradleboard and propped up so the child could watch what other people were doing.

Edwards Curtis Collection People

There was no schooling like we know of today. Grandparents took a leading role in teaching the children all the traditions, songs, stories of the tribe.

Children were taught how to behave and after the age of 4 or 5, they were expected to help with chores.

The children listened to stories told by their parents, grandparents, and the other members of the tribe so they learned the history and the rules of the tribe.

reading books

The elders did not use discipline to teach the children.

They would praise them for a job well done and also praise them in front of the rest of the tribe so they learned to be proud of their accomplishments.

The only discipline used was teasing to embarrass the child.

Learning Games

The games that the children played were often play-acting roles of the adults. Boys would practice with bows and arrows, learned how to ride a horse, and learned how to fish.

Girls would pretend to cook meals and learned to sew and cure hides. Both boys and girls worked in the gardens and fields until the boys were old enough to go on hunting trips with the men.

Wild Horses


There were usually ceremonies that welcomed the teens into adulthood call initiation rites. The welcoming ceremony is common among all indigenous peoples, no matter where on earth they live.

Each tribe had itsparticular initiation celebrations.

There was one initiation where a young man was sent into the wilderness to prove he could survive. Teenage girls were also initiated and that meant she was eligible to marry.

Bundesarchiv Bild Interessengemeinschaft Mandan Indianer

By the time the boys were in their early teens, they were good hunters and used the bow and arrow with some accuracy.

Teen girls could tend babies, knew how to cook and sew, was able to makea fire, and learned how to smoke meat and fish.

Indians Hunting Buffalo In The Winter


quiz activity for kids


  1. Was the birth of a child an important occasion within the tribe?
  2. When were little children taught to help with the chores?
  3. Who were the principal teachers of little children?
  4. What is an initiation?
  5. What was taught by young children playing games?


  1. The birth of a child was a celebration and the entire tribe took part.
  2. At about 4 or 5 years old, a child was expected to help with some of the daily chores.
  3. The grandparents were usually the people who taught young children the rules of the tribe.
  4. An initiation is a ceremony to welcome a teenager into adulthood.

Games were played by boys and girls so they could copy their parents.

Native Americans

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