Comparative studies are an essential component of all scholarly analyses, whether the topic under study is human society, fine art, paleontology, or chemistry; the similarities and differences found in the entities under consideration help to organize and direct research programs and exegeses.
This region lies near and above the Arctic Circle and includes the northernmost parts of present-day Alaska and Canada.
The topography is relatively flat, and the climate is characterized by very cold temperatures for most of the year.
The specific number of culture areas delineated for Native America has been somewhat variable because regions are sometimes subdivided or conjoined.
The 10 culture areas discussed below are among the most commonly used—the Arctic, the Subarctic, the Northeast, the Southeast, the Plains, the Southwest, the Great Basin, California, the Northwest Coast, and the Plateau.
Nonetheless, they have been among the most active and successful native peoples in effecting political change and regaining their autonomy in areas such as education, land ownership, religious freedom, the law, and the revitalization of traditional culture.
Culturally, the indigenous peoples of the Americas are usually recognized as constituting two broad groupings, American Indians and Arctic peoples.At the dawn of the 16th century AD, as the European conquest of the Americas began, indigenous peoples resided throughout the Western Hemisphere.They were soon decimated by the effects of epidemic disease, military conquest, and enslavement, and, as with other colonized peoples, they were subject to discriminatory political and legal policies well into the 20th, and even the 21st, century.This region lies south of the Arctic and encompasses most of present-day Alaska and most of Canada, excluding the Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island), which are part of the Northeast culture area.The topography is relatively flat, the climate is cool, and the ecosystem is characterized by a swampy and coniferous boreal forest (taiga) ecosystem.Pre-Columbian Americans used technology and material culture that included fire and the fire drill; the domesticated dog; stone implements of many kinds; the spear-thrower (atlatl), harpoon, and bow and arrow; and cordage, netting, basketry, and, in some places, pottery.