How Indigenous Communities Have Influenced Modern Day Survival Skills by Kylee Carter

Modern day survival skills are greatly influenced by Native American traditions. Over the years, Native American indigenous communities have played a huge role in shaping world agriculture and architecture, and as such, we are amongst the most historically significant communities of people of all time. Indigenous communities are well-known for their hunter-gatherer and survival skills, and in-depth knowledge of the natural world and working with nature. The following are some of the most essential indigenous survival skills that are still in use today among the wider community and have been influenced by Native American cultures.

The Rule Of Threes

The modern term for understanding our survival priorities in the wilderness is known as ‘the Rule of Threes’. This idea is underpinned by traditional survival wisdom, and it puts our survival needs into perspective by outlining the things needed in a survival situation that make the difference between life or death. The Rule of Threes states the following: 

·         You can survive 3 minutes without oxygen or in icy water

·         You can survive 3 hours without shelter in harsh conditions

·         You can survive 3 days without water

·        You can survive 3 weeks without food

Shelter And Fire

To ensure that these basic survival needs are met, traditional tribes use a range of different techniques. Maintaining core body temperature in harsh conditions is the most immediately important condition for survival. As such, the ability to both build a shelter out of trees or animal skins and start a fire with natural materials is essential. Traditional Native Americans discovered several methods to start a fire which have been passed down the generations. The most common method is the striking of rocks together to create heat and sparks from the friction and placing this over a flammable tinder, such as birch or cedar bark, flatwood or polypore mushrooms. These shelter building and fire-starting techniques are still in use across the world in the modern day.

Staying Hydrated

Throughout the generations, indigenous communities have always been aware that water is scarce, and that supplies are often limited. Because of its scarcity and centrality to existence, our tribes have always believed that it is sacred and divine. For these reasons, a key part of our survival strategy has been to travel and live along river routes to ensure a reliable supply of water. In order to purify the water, the water is boiled, and the evaporated water is collected on large leaves, which are placed over the boiling water. We have also devised systems to catch rainwater, and many of the rainwater systems that we see today were influenced by those developed by indigenous communities.

Catching Food

Indigenous communities have always possessed a vast knowledge of cordage, and we use various materials such as yucca, hemp, cattail and milkweed to make cord. Many indigenous people are experienced at both making and tying knots in rope and cord and using cordage for fishing lines and nets. Catching and eating fish has always been a key part of our hunting survival strategy. To this day, knowledge of knot tying is an important skill, particularly sailing knots, of which there are many that you need to know if you are in the sailing industry.

Deadfalls And Weaponry

In order to hunt and trap animals, traditional tribes have always used deadfalls, which involves using a large rock big enough to crush an animal, held upright by a clever arrangement of small logs. The animal is lured in by placing the appropriate bait underneath it. Deadfalls are very simple yet effective, and they are still widely in used today for hunting and animal trapping.

To catch smaller animals like game birds, squirrels and rabbits, we use blowguns. Modern versions of these are still being sold, and are in use today for hunting purposes. While indigenous versions are made out of cane or reed, which is hollowed out to make a tube, alternative versions are now made from materials such as aluminium with moulded plastic mouth pieces to minimise air leakage.

When it comes to the basic elements of survival, it’s plain to see how many of the survival skills discovered by our indigenous communities have stood the test of time, and are still in use today across the world.

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