Five Native American Inventions that Are Integral to U.S. Society

Most U.S. citizens are probably aware that American Indians invented birch bark canoes. They also know that Native Americans were the first people to cultivate tobacco. However, they might be surprised to learn about other Native American achievements.

Here are five Native American inventions or discoveries that are an integral part of U.S. society.

Maple Syrup
Jack-o-Lantern (1)

Native Americans in the northeastern United States and Canada were the first people to utilize the sap from maple trees. They would make V-shaped cuts in the trees and use buckets to capture the sap that leaked from these marks. The tribes would then convert the maple sap into sugar by boiling it.

Americans currently use maple syrup and maple sugar to flavor a variety of recipes, ranging from meat dishes to candies. They also like to pour maple syrup on pancakes and waffles. Maple syrup production is a big business in some states. Per the USDA, the United States produced 1.91 million gallons of maple syrup in


Lacrosse is a team sport in which players use sticks with webbed ends to move a ball up and down the field. They score points by putting the ball into the opposing team's net. More than 600,000 Americans currently play organized lacrosse. That number will likely increase over the next few years, given the sport's growing popularity in the United States.

It might surprise some lacrosse fans to learn that Native Americans living in eastern North America invented lacrosse (or at least developed many of the game's key concepts).


Pumpkins are indigenous to the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans were the first people to cultivate pumpkins, which they used as a food source. Americans have fallen in love with the fruit. Among other things, they use it in foods and as Halloween decorations.


Kayaks are watertight canoe-like boats that, depending on the design, can carry between one and three people. Kayaking is a popular pastime in the United States and has been an Olympic sport since 1936. Artic tribes living in Greenland, Alaska, and Canada (as well as groups living in Siberia) were responsible for developing the kayak.


Most Americans probably know that corn (or maize) is indigenous to the Western Hemisphere and was first cultivated by Native Americans. They might not realize that cornbread is also an American Indian creation.

1. Photographer: Petey21
    Date: October 31, 2010
    Title/Description: A Jack-o'-lantern.
    Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - Author's notes (click on title/link for more info.).

The author is a freelance writer and has a B.A. in History from Roanoke College

#food #NativeAmerican #sports #lacrosse #AmericanIndian #Indian #inventions #boating #halloween

-- Anthony Hopper

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