"*Indians were the first farmers in North America, and agriculture has been a mainstay of the American Indian culture and economy for thousands of years. In fact, the Indians of Central America and Mexico, or Mesoamerica, were engaged in agriculture 7,000 years before Europeans settled in the present-day United States.
Archaeological evidence indicates American Indians began farming in what later became the continental United States by 5000 B.C. utilizing indigenous agricultural practices as well as practices learned from Mexican and Central American cultures. By A.D. 1000, American Indian farmers had developed a productive and complex agricultural system based on corn, beans, and squash, which have been commonly referred to as the “three sisters.”
…There has been variety in American Indian agriculture and economy. Before contact with the European civilization, American Indians in the northern United States cultivated the river valleys and flood plains with bone and wooden hoes and digging sticks. American Indian women raised the traditional crops of beans, squash, and many varieties of corn–the most important crop. In the upper Great Lakes, the Ojibwa (Chippewa) and the Assiniboin sowed, harvested, dried, threshed, and stored wild rice… . Over time, American Indian farmers in the southern United States cultivated squash and bottle gourds, and then traded agricultural products in market centers. Southern farmers raised a significant amount of their own food as well as a surplus for lean times, and for trade with each other and later with the European settlers.
American Indians used highly developed agricultural methods and practices. The Southwest Indian farmers developed a new type of corn, which provided the subsistence basis for southwestern Indian civilization; cultivated several varieties of squash and beans; grew cotton; developed water-conservation practices; and used several methods of irrigation. From A.D. 800 to 1400 the Hohokam Indians in the Southwest, called the “canal builders,” constructed major systems of irrigation canals that were 150 miles long or more. Although the Plains Indians relied mainly on hunting and gathering, by A.D. 1000 the Indians of the central Plains practiced well- developed agriculture with corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, and tobacco being the important crops. "*
*The Creek people lived in large permanent towns or italwa with smaller outlying villages or talofa that were associated with the larger town. Italwa were centered around plazas(pascova) used for dancing, religious ceremonies and games. …Plazas in the towns also contained a rotunda – a round building made of poles and mud used for council meetings – and an open-air summer council house. The people in the villages attended ceremonies in the towns with which they were associated. Surrounding the plaza area were the family homes. Towns were governed by a Chief, or “Mico”, an assistant chief, and a “Mico Apokta”, who acted as speaker for the Chief, announcing his decisions to the people.
These characteristics are very similar to what is known about the prehistoric Mississippian Culture who occupied the Etowah Mounds village. The people of the Etowah Mounds are believed to be the ancestors of the Creeks who controlled the area until the early 1500’s.
When a Creek town reached a population of about 400-600 people they would split, with about half moving to a new, nearby site. The new town would build its ceremonial center and develop its own villages, but would also retain a “mother-daughter” relationship with its original town. This is how the confederacies were formed. Creek legends tell of palisaded, compact towns. By the 1700’s Creek towns began to spread out, reflecting a move to an agrarian lifestyle. At the end of this century it was not uncommon for each town to have outlying homes separated by a mile or more of crops. The Creek adopted the plow and ax and raised livestock"*
*Generally, the American Indians burned parts of the ecosystems in which they
lived to promote a diversity of habitats, especially increasing the “edge
effect,” which gave the Indians greater security and stability to their lives.
Their use of fire was different from white settlers who burned to create greater
uniformity in ecosystems. In general, during the pre-settlement period, Indian
caused fires are often interpreted as either purposeful or accidental (campfires
left or escaped smoke signalling).
Most primary or secondary accounts relate to the purposeful burning to establish
or keep “mosaics, resource diversity, environmental stability, predictability,
and the maintenance of ecotones (Lewis 1985: 77).” These purposeful fires by
almost every American Indian tribe differ from natural fires by the seasonality
of burning, frequency of burning certain areas, and the intensity of the fire
(Lewis 1985). Indian tribes tended to burn during different times of the year,
sometimes in the early spring or summer, while at other times in the fall after
the hunt and berry picking season was over. Hardly ever did they purposely burn
during mid-summer and early fall when the forests were most vulnerable to
catastrophic wildfire. Often the Indians burned selected areas yearly, every
other year, or intervals as long as five years. Steve Pyne put much of the
Indian use of fire into perspective as he reported that:
the modification of the American continent by fire at the
hands of Asian immigrants was the result of repeated, con-
trolled, surface burns on a cycle of one to three years, bro-
ken by occasional holocausts from escape fires and periodic
conflagrations during times of drought. .....
What follows is list of documented reasons for one change to ecosystems - that
of intentional burning. This activity has greatly modified landscapes across
the continent in many subtle ways…
Hunting - Burning of large areas to divert big game (deer, elk, bison) into
small unburned areas for easier hunting and provide open prairies/meadows
(rather than brush and tall trees) where animals (including ducks and
geese) like to dine on fresh, new grass sprouts. Fire was also used to
drive game into impoundments, narrow chutes, into rivers or lakes, or over
cliffs where the animals could be killed. …
Crop management - Burning used to harvest crops, especially tarweed, yucca,
greens, and grass seed collection. In addition, fire was used to prevent
abandoned fields from growing over and to clear areas for planting corn and
Improve growth and yields - Fire used to improve grass for big game grazing
(deer, elk, antelope, bison, and later horses), camas reproduction, seed
plants, berry plants (especially raspberries, strawberries, and huckleber-
ries), and tobacco."
*Pueblo Indians(Spanish pueblo, ìvillageî), American Indians living in compact, apartmentlike villages of stone or adobe in northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. …The transition from the Basket Maker to the Pueblo culture occurred about 700. Stone construction was adopted, and the connected, now-aboveground houses became larger. The ceremonial chamber developed into the kiva, an underground chamber used for rituals and as a male lodge. Several kinds of corn were grown, and the cultivation of cotton may have been introduced. Pottery was produced in a diversity of shapes and styles. During this period the Anasazi made their greatest territorial expansion, reaching as far as central Utah, southern Colorado, and a large part of northern Mexico.
During the Classic Pueblo period (1050-1300) the northernmost regions were no longer occupied, and the population became concentrated in large multistoried, terraced pueblos and in similar villages built in recesses in cliffs"*
By Nomadic you’re just referring to the Plains indians. In many ways these are what us “round eyes” think of as Indians. However, they were just the indians we mainly encountered during the “cowboy and indian” phase.
Many Indian people lived in small towns.
Before there were People here, there was mostly Ice. Humans appeared as the ice ages went away. But even without humans, some areas are deserts or grasslands, as they just don’t have enough water for trees.