“SHTF” Survival – Wednesday 7.9.14

           Survival Skills to Learn from the Indian Tribes

Native Americans are, perhaps, the best example on the planet of a people who lived solely off the land while protecting it for future generations. They held the belief that we don’t own the land; we are simply borrowing it from our children.

In other words, they lived sustainably, protected their resources, and survived (and thrived) while doing no harm to the planet. This made them survivors of the highest order, so today we’re going to talk about survival skill you can learn from Indian tribes.

Meat Preservation

It was imperative to Native Americans that no meat be wasted. There were a few reasons for this but the two main ones were that meat was crucial to survival, and wasted meat was a dishonor to both the animal who gave his life and to the hunter who took it. They were masters of preserving meat into jerky or pemmican and it was this that got them through the harsh winters.

The process of making jerky is fairly simple; Native Americans simply cut the meat into thin strips and dried it in the sun. Salt wasn’t used as a preservative like it is now. Fat will make the meat go rancid, so lean cuts are used.

Pemmican is a bit of a different deal. It consists of dried meat, rendered fat, and berries. The berries are optional but add more nutrition and flavor. Dry the meat until it’s crumbly. Grind it into a powder and pour just enough rendered fat over it to make it stick together. Add in the dried berries. Roll it into balls or press it into strips.

Pemmican will keep for years and is a great source of protein, fat, and (if you add the berries) carbohydrates. You can actually live off of just it and water for extended periods of time.

Preserving Animal Skins

Every part of the animal was used; nothing was wasted, for both practical and spiritual reasons. The hide provided clothing, shelter, water vessels, shoes, rawhide, baskets, arrow fletching, horse tack, hair ornaments, musicalSurvivopedia American Indian Survival Skills instruments, and many other products.

They tanned the hides both with the hair and without it. Though there are many different methods that were used, some steps were common to all methods.

First, the flesh has to be removed from the skin. This was done using a piece of bone, stone, or other sharp but smooth object. If the hair was going to be removed from the hide, now would be when that would happen.

Once hair and flesh is removed and the hide is clean, you have rawhide, which is great for such items as rope, string, storage containers and snowshoes. To make it into leather, it needs tanned and possibly smoked.

To continue making leather, brains (or another tanning agent) are rubbed into the hide, and it’s rinsed. More brains are rubbed in and the hide is stretched and worked while it dries. If not, it will be stiff and difficult to work with. Smoking was used often to make it more waterproof.

Using Plants for Healing

To say that Native Americans didn’t have doctors is incorrect, but they didn’t have access to “modern” medical practices and medications. They had medicine men and women who made it their craft to know about the medicinal properties of plants.

Much of this was learned by trial and error and passed down orally from one generation to the next through training and practice.

Plants were also used in spiritual ceremonies to invite the spirits or to attain the proper state of mind in which to speak with them.

Today, you can purchase books about Native American healing practices that pertain to plants and we’d recommend purchasing one. Combine that knowledge with modern medicine has learned about each plant and you may just have a survival plan that doesn’t involve modern pharmaceuticals.

Reading Nature’s Signs

Reading sign can help with everything from tracking animals to predicting weather and was a skill that Native Americans had mastered. Even children could look around and tell a considerable amount about what was going to happen because it was an art form taught practically from the cradle.

Perhaps the most useful skill that you should consider learning is predicting weather patterns based up clouds and animal behavior. Clouds are a great indicator of weather. High, wispy clouds are an indicator of clear weather.

Puffy clouds with flat bottoms that grow higher than their width is a good indicator that a thunderstorm is coming. A ring around the moon is often an indicator of rain, too.

Animal behavior is another “sign” that Native Americans were attuned to. For instance, squirrels gathering large amounts of nuts may indicate a long, tough winter. Horses and other livestock get nervous when bad storms are approaching. There are many books written about this survival skill practiced by Indian tribes, so read up and keep the book handy.


Survivopedia American Indian SkillsNative Americans didn’t have rifles and other weapons that were effective long-range so they had to learn to approach game and enemies quietly. In fact, the higher echelons of the American military still practice Native American stealth tactics. There are two basic ones that you should master if stealth is your goal: the Fox Walk and using wide-angle vision.

The Fox Walk is how Native Americans walked silently. It’s practiced by wearing soft moccasins or no footwear at all so that you can feel the ground and avoid stepping on twigs or leaves that will make noise.

Your heel strikes the ground first, then you roll your foot forward onto the ball of your foot. This reduces your footprint and noise. The person behind you, if you’re traveling with somebody, places his foot directly where yours was. It’s a slow, methodical way of traveling that preserves energy while allowing you to move quietly.

Wide-angle vision allows you to see inconsistencies and movement rather than focusing on a few visual details. You’re basically training your eyes to use peripheral vision as well as see what’s straight ahead.

Place your hands directly in front of you, then spread them until your arms are stretched out to your sides. Wiggle your fingers; if you can see them, then you’re using wide-angle vision.

Learning to live as part of the land and to survive with stealth was what kept Native Americans alive and thrive for centuries. These are skills that will serve you well in a survival situation, so it’s well worth your time to learn more.

If you know of any other survival skills to learn from Indian tribes, please share them with us in the comments section below. It’s not only a fascinating topic but one that we should all study a bit more if we want to survive any SHTF scenario!

This article was written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

~The days of disposable items is OVER. It’s time to appreciate everything in a much different light. Whether it’s a piece of string, and old shoe or even an aluminum pie plate, everything HAS a second use. These were always there but you never gave it a second thought as you simply threw it away. Not any more you won’t. 

In preparation for any SHTF scenario, the next time you go to throw something away, STOP! THINK! “What else can I possibly use this for”?

I can’t wait to hear your comments and ideas.


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13 Responses to “SHTF” Survival – Wednesday 7.9.14

  1. captbogus2 says:

    I was a very young tad spending the summer on my aunt & uncle’s farm. Uncle Jim killed a moccasin out by the barn. We went on about our morning stuff but when we were heading back to the house for dinner (lunch was ‘dinner’) we passed the dead snake. Uncle Jim said, “It’s going to rain.” He then explained, “The dead snake turned its belly up. It’s going to rain.” I waited until he was around the barn heading to the house and rolled the snake back over. After dinner I went back out there. The snake was belly up.
    It rained that afternoon.

    • Hardnox says:

      Speaking of snakes… if you ever smell the odor of fresh cut cucumber in the air get the hell out of dodge. You are in close proximity to a copperhead that is about to strike.

      An old timer told me that long ago and it has proven true several times. Just yesterday we were about to load hay into a shed and we smelled it. Sure enough, there was Mr. Copperhead.

      Mr. 12 gauge met Mr Copperhead. Couldn’t tell if his belly went up since it was scattered around. It rained last night.

      • Janyk says:

        Great tip, HN. thanks for sharing it.
        i remember when I was young, hunting along an aqua-duct and my lab-mix, being ahead of me as usual, stopped dead in her tracks and then jumped over something. Two steps later, I saw it – a copperhead. Wish I knew then what you just told us now.

      • CW says:

        There was snake in my house not too long ago! He was only about 7 inches long but I scooped him into a bowl with a piece of cardboard and threw him outside, which I think is a testament to ever-increasing bravery.

        • Janyk says:

          Bravo~!, CW. You’ve got guts~!!!

          We don’t have any poisonous ones up here, although rattlers have been reported in the lower parts of Maine, along the Appalachian Trail. Yet local folks are deathly afraid of them.

          I guess they could come in handy for emptying out a camp should hostilities break out,. right??? lmfao~!

          Who needs Small Pox?,,,,lol

    • Janyk says:

      Nature knows best. Only fools think themselves wiser…

  2. Hardnox says:

    I’ve eaten pemmican made with raspberries. It’s delicious.

    For tanning hides you can use dried acorns. Crush them to a powder akin to sand then add a bit of water to a toothpaste consistency then rub it on the meat side of the hide. Then rinse it well and let it half dry. Then work the hide over a pole or board to soften it and let the hide fully dry. After the hide is fully dry work it again over the pole and the result is magnificent.

    As far as watching critters to determine a bad winter… I watch my horses. If they get their winter coats early then watch out. Last fall was such an indicator. They started to fuzz up in September.

    The geese flew south early last fall too.

    Can’t fool the critters.

    • Janyk says:

      Same with insects. Working in the woods, I learned to watch for their nest placements. If they’re low- not much snow. If they’re high – well, you sigh…

  3. Clyde says:

    Good advice. As Hardnox and I talked about on the phone last fall, watching the animals, observing the fur growth, watch the fruit and nut trees, THOSE are sure-fire harbingers of upcoming seasons.

  4. Mrs. AL says:

    Goodness, I am going to have to send this to my husband person for sure. Including the info on the copperheads.

    Thanx all and thanx, Janyk, for the education !

  5. CW says:

    Although I don’t like clutter I’m always reluctant to throw anything away that still seems useful, so I should be good at that last part.

    Thanks for the info, Janyk!

    • Janyk says:

      It’s not “clutter” if it has a “viable” purpose and you can readily find it, CW. Trust me, I have plenty but, within an hour, it’s organized and labeled. I just need to have enough to justify buying the containers for it…lol
      Glad you’re enjoying these~!