The difference between nomads and settlement dwellers was the reliability of food sources. Nomads traveled looking for their next meal. Whether they were hunters migrating along with the animals they relied upon, or gathers moving on to the next grove of fruit trees, every moment of life was about looking for food.
Once pre-historic people found a reliable food supply they no longer needed to migrate. Indians found naturally growing maize growing year after year. They began to cultivate more and select the seeds from the biggest and healthiest plants. Over time they expanded their fields and produced greater quantities of food.
Large crops produced more food than could be eaten at one time, so other uses were needed. Corn could be dried, picked in the kernel stage to become popcorn, or most ingeniously ground into meal. Corn and other grains, once ground, could be used to make breads and cakes. Pre-historic people, including but not limited to Indians, engaged in many forms of complex thoughts when it came to hunting, fighting, farming, and surviving. For instance, who said let’s take that grain and grind it into powder, beat that egg they came out of a chicken, squirt some milk from a cow, and mix it all together?
Permanent settlements began near reliable sources of food and water. The more food available, the more the settlement population grew. Food could be stored and distributed and not everyone needed to be farmers. Once people did not have to worry about their next meal, they could engage in tasks and hobbies that took advantage of their skills and talents, which evolved into occupations. Soon classes developed with the more skilled and unique jobs like governmental leaders, priests/medicine men, and warriors on top, skilled craftsmen in the middle, and basic laborers on bottom.
These realities can still be seen in our lives and society.
Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.