A clan could have a hundred members, who’d spend most of the year living together in hundred-foot-long bark houses. During summer, many clans moved closer to the coast or to large lakes where they could fish. To stay cool, they lived in dome-shaped shelters called wigwams, which were made of young trees, bark, and cattails.Tribes that lived only on the coast—including the Micmac (pronounced MIK-mak) and Pequot (pronounced PEE-kwot)—often ate meat from clams and sea snails, then pounded and polished the shells into beads called wampum. (Purple beads were especially prized because shells of that color were more rare.) They could then trade these beads with members of inland tribes for furs and food.
When Europeans began to arrive in the 1600s, they often fought with tribal members over land. Tribes sometimes made treaties with these immigrants to cease fighting, and these agreements moved the Native Americans to land called reservations—but those areas were often far from their original homes. Today many tribal members choose to live on reservations, where they have their own governments and support themselves with businesses such as forestry and blueberry farming.
Many tribes are working to protect the natural resources of the land that they live on. For instance, the Maliseet (pronounced MAL-uh-seet) people are working to protect bald eagles, and the Penobscot (pronounced puh-NOB-skot) people are active in helping endangered Atlantic salmon.