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Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
Smithsonian Mag

Cable Suspension Bridges

Cable suspension bridges come from South America, where the Inca originally weaved mountain grass and other vegetation. Oftentimes, these cables were as thick as a person’s body and able to hold a ton of weight. This helped them build suspension bridges longer than Europeans could ever think to build with stone. The goals of the bridges were both for offensive and defensive purposes. The only difference between the bridges during those bridges and modern-day bridges is that the main cables used in creating the walkway were also the cables to support them (Smithsonian Mag).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
VOA News

Sign Language

Native Americans didn’t use sign language solely for deaf people, as we do nowadays. They referred to it as “hand talk,” to enable different tribes, with varying languages, to communicate with one another. This helped in times of trading, conflict, or council when they relied solely on hand movements to prove their point. It’s all thanks to the Native Americans, though, that we have sign language to communicate with deaf people. We took many of their signs and instilled them into modern-day sign language (Discover Magazine).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today


It’s all thanks to the Native Americans we have cigarettes nowadays, though they used tobacco in a much cleaner, more natural state. In 6,000 B.C., the Native Americans first began cultivating tobacco. Later on, in Circa 1 B.C., Indigenous American tribes smoked tobacco in religious ceremonies and for medicinal purposes. They referred to tobacco as “caŋsasa” (Dakota) or “asemaa” (Anishinaabek), and used it in prayer and as offerings, in a more spiritual sense (Tobacco Free Life).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
Soma Technology


The original syringe came from the Native Americans. They used animal bladders and hollow bird stones to inject medicine into people. One of the first European uses was injecting morphine to relieve someone’s pain. In addition to injecting medicine, they also used syringes to irrigate wounds (Soma Technology).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
What When How

Oral Contraceptives

According to the Navajo and Shoshone Native American tribes, stoneseed, also known as Colombia Puccoon, is a great way to prevent contraception. They used this as a natural birth control, long before the Western world developed birth control pills (Pow Wows).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
National Museum of the American Indian

Snow Shovel

Every winter, the Native Americans had to remove snow from their living spaces, much like we do in modern times. Though, they didn’t have massive snow removal trucks to help them out. Native Americans invented the snow shovel, which is very similar to what you’ve probably used on your driveway. The Native Americans created a snow shovel using a walrus ivory blade edge (Splendid Heritage).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
Invisible World


Native Americans invented the poncho, something we use in modern times to protect ourselves from the rain or keep warm in cooler weather. It originated in the Andes Mountains in South America. They even developed ponchos made of thousands of feathers which became a gorgeous piece of outerwear for shepherds and farmers (Invisible World).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today

Raised-Bed Agriculture

Modern vegetable production today uses a technique called raised-bed farming. But this invention dates back to the Native people in Central and South America. They invented a technique to enrich soil and pile it to build garden plots. They referred to these plots as chinampas. In addition to this type of agriculture, they were well-versed in the land. An interview on Mother Earth News with a Mogen anthropologist revealed, “Native American gardens were fine-tuned to their local micro-climate…Native peoples maintained a wide selection of plants because they often moved around, so what may have worked well in North Carolina among the Cherokee may not have been successful on the Great Plains. The Pawnee of the Midwest, for example, maintained four sacred corn varieties, of which their white-flour corn, called “Mother Corn,” was the most highly venerated. If one failed, they had others they could rely on.” Their small-scale farming made the land richer than we could ever hope of achieving in modern times (Mother Earth News).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
Sky Above Us


We’re not talking about lying under the sun in the hopes of roasting your skin. The Native Americans developed tanning methods for leather, which people still use today. They typically used fatty animal tissues like the brain, liver, and fat to tan the hides. Sometimes, they even kept the fur for decorative purposes. They would even go so far as to soak the skin in a solution of the animal’s brain, and then roast the skin over a fire (Sky Above Us).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
Native Languages


Those small, narrow boats you take out onto lakes and rivers are all thanks to the Native Americans, who developed the original concept. But they used natural materials like whalebone and wood. They then concealed the opening with animal hides. Even though we use manmade materials now, the design is more or less the same. Different tribes could recognize each other based on the profile of their canoes. They divided the canoes into three categories, bark canoes, plank canoes, and dugout canoes. The Native Americans also used round-shaped bull boats to transport goods by the river and were more typically used by women (Native Languages).

Native American Inventions Commonly Used Today
Underneath the Mango Tree


Camping has never been easier, all thanks to hammocks. Why sleep on the ground when you can gently float between two supportive trees? The Native Americans had the same thought, which is why they invented the hammock. Native Americans typically wove them from the hammock tree, hence the name “hammock.” Christopher Colombus arrived in the Caribbean, only to find the Natives resting on bes made of cotton netting, suspended between two trees. This inspired European sailors to use them as beds on ships (Underneath the Mango Tree).