Native American Inventions Still Used Daily

by Rick Roberts
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Despite only 1.6% of the US population identifying themselves as Native Americans, people around the world benefit from and enjoy inventions pioneered by Native Americans today. From primitive chewing gum to kayak canoes, the variety of these inventions are as rich as they are diverse, from contributions in the agricultural and medicinal fields to technology and industrial material still used in abundance today.

One of the most vital discoveries by Native Americans include the understanding of growing corn as a crop, which started as early as 10,000 years ago and was taught to colonial settlers from Europe when they settled their ship at sea. Indigenous farmers have selectively bred corn so that its ears would be more palatable and digestible for humans until it has become the modern crop eaten globally. Other methods Native Americans discovered and are still being used throughout the world including the creation of raised garden plots, or “chinampas,” which entailed techniques to enrich the soil and pile it atop one another which preceded modern raised-bed agriculture.

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Centuries before the West developed synthetic and chemical solutions for the ills of man, Native Americans also contributed their part in the medicinal field, having created their own syringes fashioned from the skeletons of small woodland animals or birds, and helped pioneer the usage of pain relievers made from plants and roots in nature in the Western world. By grinding down select flora and specimens such as jimsonweed, injecting; applying to the site of pain or ingesting the concoction (either raw or brewed in teas), some of the effects were produced by similar chemicals used in modern-day aspirin and had the function of mild anesthetics. Several tribes have even used natural contraceptives through ingesting stoneseed from the Columbia Puccoon plant, or used the wildflower goldthread as a treatment for oral pain, in addition to a form of mouthwash.

In the commercial and industrial avenue, Native Americans invented many things which were only commercialized by Europeans who had the business sense and manufacturing wherewithal to do so. Among these include the pervasive usage of rubber, perfected by American engineer and self-taught chemist Charles Goodyear after making the sap from the Indian rubber plant heat and cold-resistant. The explorer Christopher Columbus, upon discovering hammocks, which were beds made from cotton netting and suspended between two vertical objects such as trees or poles, introduced the invention aboard his own ships and later on thousands of other European naval ships.

Designs and concepts from the kayak shape for canoes, suspension bridges to snow goggles created by the Inuit tribe from Northern Canadia and Alaska have been copied and refined with modern engineering and materials for usage all over the globe. With so many technological marvels, it may be understandable as to how early European settlers drew imaginary connections with the Native American tribes to mythical Phoenician or Israelite ancestors (source: https://www.history.com/news/native-american-inventions).

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