Social Studies - 2018-19

VS.2e - American Indians Food, Clothing, and Shelter

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between physical geography and the lives of the native peoples, past and present, of Virginia by

e) describing how American Indians related to the climate and their environment to secure food, clothing, and shelter.

Adopted: 2015


  • The natural environment, including physical geography and climate, affects how people live. 
  • Individuals and groups make changes to their geography as they adapt to their environment.


Virginia’s American Indians worked with the climate and the environment to meet their basic wants.

Many American Indians lived in towns situated along rivers, which made for good farming, good fishing, and easy travel.

Virginia Indian cultures have changed over time.


Climate in Virginia

  • The climate in Virginia is relatively mild with distinct seasons—spring, summer, fall, and winter—resulting in a variety of vegetation.
  • Forests, which have a variety of trees, cover most of the land. Virginia’s American Indians are referred to as Eastern Woodland Indians.

Environmental connections

The kinds of food American Indians ate, the clothing they wore, and the shelters they had depended upon the seasons.

  • Foods changed with the seasons.
    • In winter, they hunted birds and other animals and lived on foods stored the previous fall.
    • In spring, they hunted, fished, and picked berries.
    • In summer, they grew crops (e.g., beans, corn, squash).
    • In fall, they harvested crops and hunted for foods to preserve and keep for the winter.
  • Animal skins (deerskin) were used for clothing.
  • Shelter was made from materials found around them.

Native peoples of the past farmed, hunted, and fished. They made homes, using natural resources. They used animal skins for clothing.

Today, most native peoples live like other Americans. Their cultures have changed over time.


Updated: May 18, 2018