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The Secotan for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Mar 10

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The Secotan are an illustrative example of the Native American Societies before European Contact topic in Period 1 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.



Secotan village
Village of the Secotan by John White, 1585/public domain


The Secotan people, indigenous to the coastal plains of present-day North Carolina, have a rich history deeply rooted in their ancestral lands near the Outer Banks. For generations, they have inhabited this region, forming permanent villages that served as centers of community and cultural exchange.


Before the arrival of the Europeans, both men and women played crucial roles in sustaining their way of life. Men typically engaged in activities such as hunting, fishing, and building, while women undertook responsibilities in agriculture, gathering, and managing the household. They cultivated various crops, including sweet corn, kidney beans, squash, peas, melons, pumpkins, sunflowers, and tobacco. They also kept domesticated deer near their villages. This division of labor reflected the intricate social structure of the Secotan community, where each member contributed to the collective well-being.


Secotan lived in long houses with curved roofs covered in bark and woven mats. These houses provided natural air conditioning with holes at each end or along the sides to allow airflow. They were also often raised to allow for airflow under the house. The villages also included structures for surplus corn storage, local government, places of worship, and cemeteries. Tools, such as fishing nets, bows and arrows, and pottery, were essential for daily tasks and reflected the Secotan’s resourcefulness in utilizing their natural environment.


Yearly patterns among the Secotan followed the rhythm of the seasons. During the warm months, communities lived in their permanent villages and farmed together. In the winter, individual family groups broke off for hunting.


Leadership within the Secotan community was typically hereditary, with chiefs and elders playing vital roles in decision-making and preserving tribal customs and traditions.


Religion was important in Secotan life, with spiritual beliefs deeply intertwined with the natural world. They practiced ceremonies and rituals to honor the land, sea, and sky, seeking guidance and blessings from the spirits. This reverence for nature was a testament to their sustainable practices and respect for the environment.


Trade played a crucial role in the Secotan economy and culture. They traded food, pottery, and tools with neighboring tribes such as the Chowanoke, Weapemeoc, and Croatan. They also participated in longer-range trading networks. For example, the Secotan traded with the Mandoag, who traded the copper they had acquired from tribes around Lake Superior.



Printable Reading Passage on the Secotan


The Secotan FREE Reading Passage

Do you want to watch a video about the Secotan?





Native American Societies Before European Contact

Period 1

AP U.S. History



The Secotan

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Mar 10

4

0

0

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