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Diversity Quiz

Native American Cultures in North America

by Margaret Manalo

Published: November 2015

Thousands of years before Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Bahamas, the nomadic ancestors of modern Native Americans traveled over a "land bridge" from Asia to what is now Alaska. Take this short quiz to discover more about these diverse groups of Native American peoples in North America.


1. Due to the vast diversity of Native Americans, anthropologists and geographers have divided North America into how many "culture areas?"

A. 4
B. 8
C. 10
D. 12

2. The U.S. Census Bureau states that about how many million Native American and Alaska Natives live in the United States today?

A. 3.0 million
B. 3.5 million
C. 4.0 million
D. 4.5 million

3. In the years between 1830 and 1838, the Cherokee were forced out of the southern states and into "Indian Territory" that later became known as what state?

A. Texas
B. Oklahoma
C. Kansas
D. Nevada

4. True or False: Due to the desert climate of the Southwest culture area, the peoples live a strictly nomadic lifestyle.

A. True
B. False

5. The California culture area, as the most diverse to this day, has more than how many dialects?

A. 100
B. 150
C. 200
D. 250

6. In the Plateau culture area, which animals became the most impactful for the region's economy?

A. horses
B. bison
C. antelope
D. elk



1. [C] 10
Excluding present-day Mexico, the 10 separate culture areas are as follows: the Arctic, the Subarctic, the Northeast, the Southeast, the Plains, the Southwest, the Great Basin, California, the Northwest Coast, and Plateau. These culture areas are rough groupings of contiguous peoples who share similar habitats and characteristics, as an estimated over 50 million people were already living in the Americas before the European adventurers arrived in the 15th century A.D.

Native American Cultures. (2015). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from


2. [D] 4.5 million
The U.S. Census Bureau finds that there are about 4.5 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the United States - about 1.5% of the population. The Inuit and the Aleut are the groups who call the Arctic culture area their home, a cold and treeless region near the Arctic Circle in present-day Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. The harshness of the region's inhospitable landscape causes the population to be relatively small and scattered.

Native American Cultures. (2015). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from

3. [B] Oklahoma
The Southeast culture area had already lost many of its native people to disease and displacement before the U.S. won its independence from Britain. Then in 1830, the federal Indian Removal Act had the remainder of the Five Civilized Tribes relocated so that white settlers could have their land. "Indian Territory," now known as Oklahoma, was journeyed with pain by the Cherokees upon the trek called the Trail of Tears.

Native American Cultures. (2015). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from

4. [B] False
The Southwest culture area is in present-day Arizona and New Mexico, which encouraged its people to develop two distinct ways of life. The Hopi, the Zuni, the Yaqui, and the Yuma are sedentary farmers, growing corn, beans, and squash. They built permanent settlements called pueblos, made of stone and adobe, which feature multistory dwellings that resemble apartment houses. The Navajo and the Apache are more nomadic, dependent upon hunting, gathering, and raiding their more established neighbors for crops. Their homes were less permanent to suit their lifestyle, with the Navajo creating their iconic eastward-facing round houses, called hogans, out of mud and bark.

Native American Cultures. (2015). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from

5. [C] 200
In the mid-16th century before European contact, the California culture area had a total estimated 300,000 population. The vast diversity involved 100 different tribes, with the groups speaking more than 200 dialects. These languages derived from Penutian, the Hokan, the Uto-Aztecan, and Athapaskan. One scholar states that California's linguistic landscape is more complex Europe's.

Native American Cultures. (2015). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from

6. [A] horses
The Plateau area is situated in the Columbia and Fraser river basins, right at the intersection of the Subarctic, the Plains, the Great Basin, the California, and the Northwest Coast - which includes present-day Idaho, Montana, and eastern Oregon and Washington.) Hunting and gathering were the main means of survival for many of this region's people. By the 18th century, other native groups brought horses to the Plateau. Soon horses were quickly integrated into the economy of the Native Americans in the Plateau area, which expanded their radius of hunts and helped with becoming traders and emissaries between the Northwest and the Plains.

Native American Cultures. (2015). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from


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