The Southeast Culture Area, as defined by scholars, is
bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south
by the Gulf of Mexico; on the west by the Trinity,
Arkansas, and Mississippi Rivers (approximately); and
on the north by the Tennessee and Potomac Rivers
(approximately). It includes all of present-day Florida,
Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina; most
of Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia;
and parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky,
West Virginia, and Maryland.
This part of North America is mostly forested, much
of it with yellow pine. As a result, the culture area is
sometimes called the Southeast Woodland Culture Area.
Yet there are many variations in terrain and vegetation in
the Southeast. These include the coastal plains with saltwater
marshes, grasses, and stands of cypress trees; the
subtropical Everglades with jungle and swampland; the
sandy soil of river valleys, plus the Mississippi floodplain;
the fertile soil of the Black Belt; and the forested highlands
of the Piedmont Plateau, Blue Ridge, Smoky
Mountains, and Cumberland Mountains, all part of the
southern Appalachian chain.
Southeast Indians hunted and fished for many species
of fauna and they gathered wild plant foods. But they
were also highly skilled farmers, growing corn, beans,
squash, melon, sweet potatoes, and other crops. Because
they could grow enough food to support a sizable population,
Southeast Indians for the most part lived in permanent
villages, usually located in river valleys. The main
type of architecture was wattle and daub. Branches and
vines were tied over pole frameworks, then covered with a
mixture of mud plaster. But plant materials were also used
to cover the both rectangular and circular structures,
including thatch, grass, bamboo stalks, palm fronds, bark,
and woven mats. Animal hides were utilized too.
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