Southeast Region


The Southeast Culture

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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Choctaw Spiritual Prayer

Oh Great Spirit Father, who sits on high beyond the heavens,

Creator of all life below, please hear my spiritual prayer.

For I seek guidance in a world where few can lay claim to eternal peace.

Grant me the vision to see beyond tomorrow's horizon, yet still accept my daily trials, that must and will be faced to survive.

Give me the strength to rise each day and breathe the breath of life that you have provided for me.

Touch my spiritual soul, so that I may use every moment to spread your sacred message of love and peace for all mankind. I ask only the privilege to speak my native tongue, and learn the ways of my people, from generations of old.

Help me to understand and accept that we are of one body, as each spirit flows, from one to another in a sacred hoop. Let the trails that bore my ancestors blood and tears, and the chains that bound their freedom serve as reminders to all, of our hate and savagery against one another, and ensure its trust that we as a people choose never to repeat such ignorance.

Grant Mother Earth the strength to endure all injustices that have been placed upon her, and cleanse her red clay body to renew her growth for new generations to thrive. Embrace my mind and grant me the wisdom to seek and receive my ancestral birthright.

Guide my feet down the passage of forgiveness, of those who have severed my tribal ties, and help me to bind them once more. Teach this child, oh Great One, the true lesson of life, its sacred message of love, to spread freely beyond self, and among my brothers and sisters throughout the duration of my earthly existence.

May your morning sun awaken this weary body, and your night moon allow it to meditate and rest.
May your spirit continue to heal and instill within me the meaning of this spiritual prayer, and trust that I use it to serve you well.



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