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Cary Coglianese. Smart City. Renata Paola Dameri. Before the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of machines, societies were small, rural, and dependent largely on local resources. Economic production was limited to the amount of labour a human being could provide, and there were few specialized occupations.
Production was for the most part for immediate consumption, although evidence of trade between groups also goes back the earliest archaeological records. The very first occupation was that of hunter-gatherer. Of the various types of preindustrial societies, Hunter-gatherer societies demonstrate the strongest dependence on the environment.
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As the basic structure of all human society until about 10,—12, years ago, these groups were based around kinship or tribal affiliations. Hunter-gatherers relied on their surroundings for survival — they hunted wild animals and foraged for uncultivated plants for food. They survived on what nature provided and immediately consumed what they obtained.
They produced no surpluses. When resources became scarce, the group moved to a new area to find sustenance, meaning they were nomadic. The plains Indians of North America, moved frequently to follow their main source of food. Some groups, like the Haida, lived off of abundant, non-depleting resources like fish, which enabled them to establish permanent villages where they could dwell for long periods of the year before dispersing to summer camps. Most of the caloric intake of hunters and gatherers came from foraging for edible plants, fruits, nuts, berries, and roots.
The largely meat-based diet of the Inuit is a notable exception. With the earliest economic division of labour being between male hunters and women gatherers, the fact that women accounted for the largest portion of the food consumed by the community ensured the importance of their status within the group.
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On the other hand, early reports of missionaries among the Algonquins of the north shore of Lake Superior observed women with their noses cut off and small parts of their scalp removed as punishment for adultery, suggesting that at least among some groups female subordination was common. Male Algonquins often had seven or eight wives Kenton, As a result of their unique relationship and dependence on the environment for sustenance, the ideal type or model that characterized hunter-gatherer societies includes several common features Diamond, :.
This is a mechanism that actively wards off the formation of permanent institutionalized power Clastres, Evidence also shows that even when hunter-gatherers lived in close proximity with agriculturalists they were not motivated to adopt the agricultural mode of production because the diet of early agricultural societies was significantly poorer in nutrition Stavrianos, ; Diamond, Recent evidence from archaeological sites in the British Isles suggests for example that early British hunter-gatherers traded for wheat with continental agriculturalists 2, years before agricultural economies were adopted in ancient Britain Smith et.
They had close contact with agriculturalists but were not inclined to adopt their sedentary societal forms, presumably because there was nothing appealing about them. Hunter-gatherer groups largely disappeared under the impact of colonization and European diseases, but it is estimated that another 75 uncontacted tribes still inhabit the Amazonian rainforest. The Pacific Northwest region was utterly separate from the Plains and other cultural zones.
However, these differences and there are many others are overshadowed by cultural similarities across the region. An abundance of food from the sea meant that coastal populations enjoyed comparatively high fertility rates and life expectancy. Population densities were, as a consequence, among the highest in the Americas.
In some respects it is appropriate to consider the mainland cultures as inlet-and-river societies. Running north of the Interior Salish nations through the Cariboo Plateau, and flanked on the west by the Coast Mountain Range, are societies associated with the Athabascan language group. Some of these peoples took on cultural habits and practices more typically associated with the Pacific Northwest coastal traditions than with the northern Athabascan peoples who cover a swath of territory from Alaska to northern Manitoba.
Society in Pacific Northwest groups was generally highly stratified and included, in many instances, an elite, a commoner class, and a slave class. In this way, an individual could acquire rank through kin associations, although kin groups themselves had ascribed ranks. Movement in and out of slavery was even possible.
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