What Did the Eastern Woodland Hunters Eat?

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The Eastern Woodland hunters collected edible plants and used wild fish and game as their main sources of food. This group of people was native to central and eastern parts of Canada, which was too far north to rely on farming, though some members planted corn, beans and squash.

The Eastern Woodland hunters primarily relied on hunting and fishing for their food supplies. Game was plentiful in the woods where the hunters lived, especially the white-tailed deer, which supplied meat for sustenance and skins for clothing and shelter. In coastal areas, the Eastern Woodland hunters hunted seals and whales. Elsewhere, they hunted bears, moose and caribou as well as smaller game, including raccoons, squirrels and beavers. Because these native people lived close to rivers, the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast, they spent a lot of time fishing, most often in the summer. On the coast, they fished for eels, mollusks, cod, smelt, salmon and shellfish. Inland, they caught freshwater fish, such as trout and walleye.

To supplement meat and fish, the Eastern Woodland hunters gathered nuts, berries, tubers and other plants from the woods. People who lived near the Great Lakes also harvested wild rice and tapped maple trees for their sap to make maple sugar.