10 Things Native Americans Can Do Better Than You

Simon Moya-Smith


Native Americans are skilled at various things, but here's a list of 10 things Native Americans can do better than most. (No, seriously. We can.)


10. Play lacrosse

 Illustration by George Catlin. Courtesy Wikipedia/Smithsonian Institution

Because we invented it.


9. Snowshoeing

courtesy Library of Congress.

Because, although Europeans had their own form of snowshoes, Native Americans are lauded for inventing the most efficient and diverse.


8. Run on Indian Time

Because “White Man Time will give you stomach cancer.”


7. Letting you know why this is completely and utterly wrong.

Naturally, a Native American will give you a better run down as to why this is fantastically repugnant.


6. Find unique ways to flirt while remaining traditional.

Facebook/Cumash Pow Wow 2013/AmigoNonProfitFilms.

Let’s face it: the potato dance is an art form and a fine way to hit on someone at a pow wow.


5. Host inipis (sweat lodges).


Listen, just don’t do it if you’re not qualified. It can end seriously bad.


4. Deep fry some dough.

Courtesy Wikipedia

It’s not super healthy, but it’s super nostalgic and pretty delicious with honey and powdered sugar.


3. Not act terribly surprised when celebrities claim to be Native American.

It happens a lot. (Brad Pitt claims to be Seminole and Cherokee.)


2. Honor Mother Earth


It’s kind of been our thing from the beginning.


1. Laugh


Because, well, without humor the past 521 years would’ve been a lot harder.

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Wehms2's picture
Submitted by Wehms2 on
When the white man arrived, Native "Americans(?)" men spent all day hunting, fishing, shootin' the buffalo.....while the women cooked, cleaned, etc., and the white man thought he could improve on that(?)!!! Well....figures, white men invented "Daylight Savings Time," too. King of like cutting a foot of the top of a blanket, sewing it onto the bottom & expecting to have a longer blanket!!! (& they call us "crazy" savages? HA!!!)

abandonF's picture
Submitted by abandonF on
Respect Your Elders, Recognize individualism and characteristics that display oneness with nature and courage, realize that the entire tribe and it's existenance is part of your heritage, reverence to the forces of nature and respect for all life is a sacred responsibility, you are one with nature a part of the cosmos. These traditions of your heritage must never allow to be broken this forms the circle of your nation as one with Spirit!

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
One other thing -- they enlist in the armed forces and see more combat at a higher rate than non-Indians.

Jennifer Smith's picture
Jennifer Smith
Submitted by Jennifer Smith on a big chuckle and also, a great deal of respect for a culture that has been around a lot longer than America! Especially like the comment about "Indian time" and "humor" matter what Europeans have tried to do, many Indian cultures survived and will continue to survive. An I for one respect that.

Jason's picture
Submitted by Jason on
I live in Indiana. We have a high school in town named Harrison after William Henry Harrison who became famous for killing Native Americans in Indiana. In spite of this, the high school's football team is named "The Warriors" and their symbol is a Native American headdress. I find this terribly offensive on multiple levels. But unfortunately, thanks in part to William Henry, we don't exactly have a lot of Native Americans around these parts to complain.

Joel Miller's picture
Joel Miller
Submitted by Joel Miller on
You forgot, native people are great at building the tallest buildings in North America. I can't do that.

Jim's picture
Submitted by Jim on
No indiginous tribe in North or South Ameica invented the wheel! Was the wheel considered too sacred to reproduce? Whatever the case, the lack of innovation or religious dogma would have kept this hemisphere in a stasis.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Bless them one and all...about those days, there was so much we will never know. Theym and much older people lived all over, lived with no technology, but knew so much of what to do to survive. We are novices and with technology, we learn something knew every day, thru Reading and TV/Radio and such...while others learned by trial and error, and perhaps different insight, because the little they had, had to be a lot.

Maryphyllis's picture
Submitted by Maryphyllis on
I love your 8 points. Such a delight, and an uplift to my day. Thank you for posting them. And - I wish so much that the rest of our nation would honor nature. It's heart-breaking to see so much of it being "cleared" for development.

Maryphyllis's picture
Submitted by Maryphyllis on
I love your 8 points. Such a delight, and an uplift to my day. Thank you for posting them. And - I wish so much that the rest of our nation would honor nature. It's heart-breaking to see so much of it being "cleared" for development.

trlpwill's picture
Submitted by trlpwill on
Here's my 10: Drink Whiskey, negotiate land deals, name kids, tan leather, make headdresses, raid wagon trains, ride bareback, build teepees, smoke peace pipes, look serious and say "How" -

Unimpressed's picture
Submitted by Unimpressed on

Ken Coleman's picture
Ken Coleman
Submitted by Ken Coleman on
J've been told I was 1/128 Indian, just enough to be able to do it better than they can. I don,t know what but I can.

ikonografer's picture
Submitted by ikonografer on
@ Joel Miller: maybe next time your ancestors won't build those tallest buildings in North America on stolen land. buncha thieves those.... Europeans.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
I should be offended when they refer to the Notre Dame football as "The Fighting Irish" But as long as they keep winning , Ill toast a pint of Guinness .

Harlen's picture
Submitted by Harlen on
You forgot some big things they do better then others . 1.Lie to gain money and always in need of help from the state. 2.Steal from each other (it's a way of life) 3.Blame every thing on some one for what they do. 4.wishing to run there own government but have others pay for it. 5.They are the best at going to the ER for a cold .

Helen Chandler's picture
Helen Chandler
Submitted by Helen Chandler on
Does it have to be written as a competition? I love the information, but the way it was presented is not appealing to me when it is a case of "We can do better than you." It may all be true, but there are better ways to present it without the biases.

BIgSoph's picture
Submitted by BIgSoph on
Honour Mother Earth? That explains the southwest Indian tribes that died out because they deforested the area and had no wood to build The ones that quickly adopted the horse (horses were extinct in North America, the plains Indians used ones captured, bought or traded from the Spanish) helped drive the Buffalo to near extinction. They previously had hunted on foot and killed large numbers of bison only by driving herds off cliffs. Bison are kind of stupid. You forgot point 11: die of alcohol related problems. Natives possess a genetic marker that enables them to better endure starvation conditions. The same marker also makes them more susceptible to alcohol, both the good (yay, party!) and bad (whoops, there goes my liver!) Price you pay (whites can endure vitamin D deficiency longer but at a cost of greater melanoma, blacks are resistant to malaria but are more susceptible to sickle cell anemia)

Native admirer's picture
Native admirer
Submitted by Native admirer on
I love how manynnative Americans strive to keep their culture alive. We owe it to them and to ourselves to help in that endeavor any way we can. It is a part of history that is precious and, like all cultures, can be forgotten if not preserved.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
I am just curious; if this article were titled ten things that white people can do better than you would everyone be screaming racism? Probable so! Are we reading an article based on a double standard?

Dr. Tom E. Lehman's picture
Dr. Tom E. Lehman
Submitted by Dr. Tom E. Lehman on
Well, I think that I would add- we know how to grow & eat corn without having to GMO it! We also knew a whole lot abpout the plants in this part of the world- but the European Powers wiped-out a lot of our holy-folk who specialized in that, so a lot of info was lost or nearly lost---like why todays' farmers keep having 'buttonweed' grow up in their corn fields (we grew em TOGETHER!). Osiyo, (Yes...I'm Irish/German/Polish AND Cherokee/Saponi/Machapunga)

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Love the web. My husband is about 40% Cherokee and he is the most wonderful man on earth. I should know. We've been married 36 years.

Dennis A Szczesny's picture
Dennis A Szczesny
Submitted by Dennis A Szczesny on
When white men invaded North America the found a people with a wonderful culture who respected life and the enviornment which God created. The culture of these people did not produce the vicious diseases which white men purposely used to kill about 80% of the Native American people. The savages who came here continue to violate the environment which is a violation of God,s gift to all life. Dennis Szczesny

Craig Dillon's picture
Craig Dillon
Submitted by Craig Dillon on
Ever notice how Lacrosse looks like the Irish game Hurling? Ever notice how the shallow Indian drum looks like the Irish bodhran drum? (St Brendan may have brought them to the Indians years ago). An Irish Ceili is a much better place to hit on and pick up a girl. The Irish invented whiskey. The Irish invented tap dancing (see Riverdance). Ever notice how many people claim to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day? If you are lucky, you are just a little bit Irish. Slan Leat.

retro-'s picture
Submitted by retro- on
dear Jim ! they didn't need the wheel! cause they didn't have draft animals till the Spanish showed up, 'I love people that really know their history.