Native American Government and Contributions to Modern Science
By: Emily Muller, Steven Warner, Tommy Zhang and Emma McWilliams

Throughout the entire history of the United States of America, Native Americans have been discriminated against. They were forced to leave their homes so that the colonists had a place to live, they were brutally murdered in numerous battles. Even though the Native Americans were treated miserably, they have taught the colonists a way to survive, and they even made numerous contributions to modern scientists as well. Some of the areas in which they made discoveries include Astronomy, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, and even Physics!

This is a map of the tribes present in North America and the areas in which the inhabited.

*Native Americans use herbal remedies to cure the illnesses that the people suffer from.
*Native Americans have used the bark from white willow trees to heal the ill and injured. The bark contains salicyclic acid, the chemical that is used for aspirin
*Lobelia is a plant in which the Native Americans discovered that helps the bronchial tubes to dilate. This allows for easier breathing and a cure for asthma.
*Native Americans also used the mayapple also known as Podophyllum peltatum, to get rid of worms in the body.
* One of the most substantial contributions to modern science by the Native Americans is their recognition podophyllin, which is made from the rhizomes of the mayapple. This substance was used to cure warts and is still used in wart removal today. Because of the nature of the removal, the same substance has been used to produce a certain kind of chemotherapy in England. This drug has just recently began being used in the United States to treat ovarian, testicular, and small-cell lung cancer.
*Native Americans were the creators of moccasins. Podiatrists have concluded they are the best shoes for our feet because they correctly form to each individuals feet. Native Americans wore this type of shoe dating back a long time. Contrary to this trend, Europeans didn't even have shoes specific to the left and right feet until the 1850s.
*Native Americans also had early treatments for diabetes long before Europeans did. Native Americans treatment began in about 1500 and the rest of the worlds treatment began in the early part of the 20th century
This is a video of a Native American talking about herbal remedies
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Here is a picture of the mayapple plant.

*Native Americans knew the earth was round long before Englishmen ever accepted it. There method was perhaps not scientific but it was an accurate prediction. The Lakota's have a creation story which gives a glimpse into how the circular formation of the earth was incorporated into their society. It describes the first four things were the sun, earth, rock and sky. All four items are viewed as circular because the circle is the most sacred form.
*Native Americans also understood the importance of preserving the land, and used nature for food and shelter. They realized all things were important for the survival of the other things in the area.
*Native Americans also discovered the first set of Mastodon fossils along the Ohio River. They were then taken to France to be studied by scientists. They were the first fossils found in the United States to be studied.

*Native Americans knew there was a black hole in the middle of the Big Dipper thousands of years ago, and scientists have just proven it. *Astronomy was also used as a device to tell time. Native Americans were not necessarily concerned with day and hour time because they didn't have clocks or calenders. They were more concerned with the seasons. They used the moon patterns and changes of the seasons to tell time.
*Lakota Native Americans predicted the earth was a free standing body floating in space just as the sun, moon, and stars.
*Also, the Native Americans set up observatories that have been recorded in history. At these places, the stars, moon, planet, and sun could be accurately tracked.

Biology / Agriculture
*Native Americans can be thanked for a multitude of crops and species we now use today
*One of the biggest domesticated crops in America today is corn or maize. This familiar food comes from a grass like plant called teosinte. The Native Americans took this plant and through many years of cultivation and domestication came to maize. Because the corn was not found naturally in the area, scholars believe it had to have been cultivated and carefully taken care of for a foreign species to thrive. The early forms of corn would have been much smaller and the kernels would have fallen off periodically, making it much harder to use resourcefully.
*Native Americans also conducted similar activities with other species. Much of the food we eat today was at some point cultivated and domesticated, by Native Americans.
*Another biological aspect the Natives knew a lot about was fertility. They knew that taking care of the soil was the best way to produce crops most successfully. They would rotate crops so the soil didn't become malnutritious and overworked from always containing the same thing. This way of farming is still practiced today. It has been proven by modern science that rotating crops from season to season and year to year, is actually better for the soil.
*Also, the Native Americans knew how fire could be used as and advantage. They would routinely burn the underbrush so that better fruit and nuts would grow. This in relation would provide better food for the animals in the area. These animals would then grow big and strong and the Natives would be able to use them much more than weak, thin animals.
*Native Americans were the first people to withdraw maple syrup from the maple trees.
This picture shows how corn has been domesticated through the years. It began very small and has become the size we know today.
This is a video on how Native Americans planted corn in the desert region

*Native Americans were the 1st to use asphultum as a glue make canoes.
*Native Americans realized that if they used akaline substances on hardened corn, the corn would release off the cob much easier. This also made the corn soft and edible again.
*Native Americans were able to filter the water to enable drinking.
*Other processes they used were distilling, pickling, pasteurizing, melting, percolating and evaporating. Most of these methods of preserving foods are still in effect.
*Native Americans also used fermentation to create the alcohol they needed for medical purposes and to make vinegar.
*They created vinegar by allowing stale wine to sit in covered in a barrel for a month.


*One of the most insightful discoveries made by the Native Americans was that cedar wood repels lightning because of its negative charge.
*Other insights Native American Indians includes:
-Everything vibrates - This was later proven by the String Theory which states that all things at their smallest microscopic levels have vibrating strands.
-Everything is in flux
-Principle of Complementarity- Which states that some observations cannot be made together, they must be made seperate
-Quantum Potential - "The de Broglieā€“Bohm theory, also called the pilot-wave theory, Bohmian mechanics, and the causal interpretation, is an interpretation of quantum theory. As in quantum theory, it contains a wavefunction - a function on the space of all possible configurations."

*Native Americans made homes that were appropriate for their living situations
*Native Americans were also the creators of hammocks
*The Algonquin Indians had homes called Wigwams. These were usually small, about 8 to 10 feet tall, and remained stationary for months at a time. When the tribe would move for the winter they could make a new one. They weren't necessarily portable but they were easy to build
*The Iroquois and some Algonquin tribes used homes called longhouses. These building could be 20 feet wide, 20 feet high, and 200 feet long, holding 60 people. These homes were good for people who stayed in the same place for long periods of time.
* Other Native American tribes who lived on the plains used Tepees. They are tent like structures specifically designed to be able to put up and take down easily. They were originally about 12 feet tall, but with the addition of horses to their load, they became bigger. These structures were good for the Native Americans who lived on the plains because they often migrated as the animals which they hunted did.
*Southern Plains tribes like the Caddos used grass houses. They were made up to 40 feet tall. The reason they worked well in that area was because of the heat. The grass let air in and didn't hold too much heat. It also doesn't get too cold there, therefore they didn't need a material that would hold heat well.
* Wattle and Daub houses used clay and fabric to create a very sturdy, stationary structure. They were used in the southeastern tribes such as the Cherokee. It was necessary to have a sustained living and also a warmer climate for these homes to be practical
*Chickees were homes specifically structured to be used in Florida. They had thatched roofs and no walls. The floor was built several inches off the ground. When there was a storm, walls would quickly be assembled and then taken down again when the storm was over.
* Adobe houses were often used in the Southwestern United States. They were made from clay and and straw baked together. They were made to be stationary and to hold many people.
*Earthen homes were built underground like a basement like structure. They were constructed in the west and plateau, where the underground, proved to be a good shelter.
*Plank houses were used in the Midwest where the harsh climates forced solid structures to be built. There are many trees in this area, providing the resources to construct such homes. The people who lived in these homes stayed for long periods of time and made their living from fishing.
*Another popular, still used structure made by the Native Americans is the igloo. The igloo is constructed from snow. These structures were obviously created in very cold environments. When the snow was packed tightly and shaped, it created a thermal temperature to live comfortably in.
* Temporary structures were often made using twigs and different sized branches from trees


The Native Americans have had a influential role in shaping today culture. They contributed many of the founding ideas to science today. However, the vast amount of prosecution directed towards them caused them to loose their homes, change their lifestyle and loose respect they deserve. As stated many of the discoveries made by Native Americans are still used today. Those which are not still applicable were the base of modern science. Native Americans continue to be an asset to modern society and science. The Native Americans high regards of the land caused major problems when Englishmen came to America and wanted to take over. The new way of life pilgrims brought did not blend well with Native American culture and lifestyle. Because of this, the foreigners took over with violence and power and pushed the Native Americans away from not only their home but the way of life they knew.


The Good

Really Awesome Timeline

Native Americans have done a lot during the formation of America over the past hundreds of years. Their skills have shown colonists easier ways to go about many things. From hunting and fishing, navigation, healing, and an overall better way of living.

The "influence" idea has worked into discourse in a number of academic fields, among them Native American Studies, American History, Anthropology, Law, Education, and Political Science. R. David Edmunds, in "Native Americans, New Voices: American Indian History, 1895-1995," surveys developments in American history relating to Native Americans during the century since the American Historical Review began publishing in 1895. Edmunds commented that "Recently, claims by some Native American historians that the Constitution of the United States was modelled after the Iroquois Confederacy have attracted the public's attention and engendered considerable controversy" -Native American Political Systems and the Evolution of Democracy


The Bad

Though Native Americans have brought the colonists a long way, they are not fully recognized for their actions like they should be. Clearly, as soon as colonists flocked North America, the pressure was on the Natives to be pushed out of their already established territory. The invaders claimed what was not theirs, which is just the start of the many untold truths about Native American history.

American-Indian Wars

  • In 1800 there were around 60 million buffalo in North America. By 1890 this number had fallen to 750.
  • Within a few years millions of buffalo were killed for their hides, and thousands of white men, the best rifle-shots in the world, were engaged in the business. The buffalo, like the Indian, was in the pathway of civilization. Now the same territory is occupied by innumerable numbers of domestic animals that contribute untold wealth to our entire country.
  • Massive amounts of Native Americans were innocently killed during this "European Invasion".
  • Medicines stolen from Indians and shipped to Europeans.



Many connections can be drawn between science and history revolving the Native Americans and their past. After all, science is history. The fact that many medicines and cures for things such as Diabetes have been founded in early America, and still used today; like aspirin. Moccasins are still making history today as a fashion statement worldwide. Native American ways also tie into the makings of our United States Constitution. Indians definitely helped shape our government and society by giving the founding fathers their first kick towards to a successful nation.

Government Sources,r:5,s:141&tx=75&ty=123&biw=994&bih=869,r:5,s:90&tx=72&ty=27&biw=994&bih=869

Science Sources,r:0,s:0&tx=90&ty=113&biw=1104&bih=619