Native American Physical Characteristics: Learn About The Native Americans 

The history of America is long, and there are many players in the making of this history. So much has happened over the years that it is difficult to differentiate what was there from what is there now. 

This is because many races of people came together and interacted. One of the most common concerns or questions for many people is understanding what the native Americans look like. 

If you understand the Native American physical characteristics, you may identify them even in a group of many people. So what are these

Native American Physical Characteristics

The most common physical characteristics used to identify Native Americans include;

  • Mongolic features
  • Straight black hair
  • Dark eyes
  • Reddish-brown to yellow-brown skin color
  • Sparse like body hair.

The Native Americans previously inhabited North America. It was during the 15th century before the Europeans arrived. 

After centuries of intermarrying, migration, and many other groups of people coming to North America, it is now difficult to understand how the Native Americans looked.

Many centuries passed, even the languages have changed because many groups of people moved to and from North America. Native Americans are of more than 500 tribes.

Different Native American Physical Characteristics

The Native American Hair

There is so much to know about Native American hair and how it differs from other races. First, they have long, straight black hair. The hair can reach lengths of up to 100cm.

Other than the color and length of their hair, the texture is also different. The hair is rough and thick when compared to other races of people. 

The Native Americans considered their hair sacred, and you will find them protecting it to grow long.

The native Americans have various community and family groups. As a result, there are variations in their hair depending on which group you come from.

Irrespective of considering hair sacred, when morning a dead member they shave.

In most cases, you will also see Native Americans decorating hair using feathers, wool, and other materials. You must always ask for permission before touching their hair.

Facial Features

Native American facial features are different, starting with the head shape. It is oblong. Their head has a slight forehead, cheekbones, and extended eyebrow. The forehead is lifted and slightly protruding.

The eyes have a slanted shape but are well-positioned just above their cheekbones. The eyes are upswept towards the corners.

Native Americans are also distinct from their long shovel-like teeth. The ears are also of average size but well-developed.

Native American Hands and Feet

Feet and hands are very well-formed. The nails are dull-colored. However, the Native Americans’ many tribes are of many variations based on the size of feet and hands from one tribe to the other.

They also have big toes, thick ankle and feet soles, and an average arch.

Native American People Height

Native American people cannot be considered very tall. However, for the Indian tribe of the Native Americans, they were taller Australians than the Europeans.

The average height of Native Americans was around 5ft 6inches which is 1.726m. On the other side, Australians and Europeans had an average height of 1.72m and 1.71m, respectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About Native Americans

Where Can You find the Native Americans today?

As much as the Native American people were in America long before other races arrived, much has changed over time. Like other types of people, Native Americans are all over the country. 

However, there are areas you will find many of them concentrated. These areas include; Arizona, Oklahoma, and Arizona.

How Many Native Americans are in the United States?

According to research, there existed 574 tribes of native Americans, which the federal government also recognizes. 

However, the most popular tribes include; Comanche, Cheyenne, Lakota, Cherokee, Apache, Navajo, Shoshone, Osage Nation, Sauk people, Ponca, Odawa, and Otoe Arikara.

According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 6.79 million Native Americans in the country which is 2.09% of the total population.

Does the Federal Government Recognize Native Americans?

Yes. The government recognizes them. Although the Native Americans are not well-known by many people who have not interacted with them, the federal government recognizes them.

They are a minority group, but the United States government recognizes more than 574 tribes.

Native Americans Original Inhabitants

Northwest Coast Area

Northwest Coast is an area that extends beside the Pacific from the S Alaska ending in N. California. 

The main languages around these areas were Algonquian-Wakashan, Tsimshian, and Nadene. The tribes of the Native Americans that inhabited these areas were the Haida, the Nootka, the Kwakiutl, and the Tsimshian.

A temperate climate and enough rainfall offered good food such as salmon, a staple food, berries, and wild fruits for this region. 

The people around this region built their houses using wood and carved dugouts. They were also involved in weaving, basketry, and making masks and rattles.

The Plains Area

The Aztec-Tanoan, the Hokan-Siouan, and the Algonquin-Wakashan families occupied The Plains Area. 

The Plains Area was north of the Canada border to Texas. It also included the grasslands between Rocky Mts foothills and the Mississippi River.

Communities living in this area were nomadic and sedentary. As a result, they used the river valleys and the mountains. 

They also hunted for buffaloes. However, they also did farming and produced beans, corn, and squash. By doing both agriculture and hunting, they could exchange meat and farm products with each other.

The Plateau Area

The Plateau area was occupied by the Shoshone, the Spokane, and the Nez Perce. The Plateau region is an area that extended over the Canadian border to the plateau, then the Rocky Mts area, then to the Southern part.

The groups of Native Americans living in this region differed in various ways, including their occupation. 

The Pomo were gatherers of edible roots, plants, and fruits. They were also hunters. Other groups cultivated, weaved, and making of baskets. They used brush shelters.

The Eastern Woodlands Area

This area extended to the eastern part covering the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. 

Native Americans how inhabited this area were the Creek, the Natchez, the Cherokee, and the Choctaw. 

In addition, it also included the northeastern side that included an area from Canada to Kentucky and Virginia. 

This area was occupied by Native Americans speaking Algonquin-Wakashan and were farmers and hunters. They were also involved in making cooking vessels and some pottery.

The Northern Area

The Northern Area was mostly the Canada part. It also included the Rocky Mts all the way to the Hudson Bay. 

The Native Americans occupying these areas were the Nadene and Algonquin-Wakashan stocks language speaking people. 

The group of people in this region practiced hunting and gathering. Some also trapped fish, and others were nomadic. 

Most of their food included fish, berries, and edible roots. They were also involved in the making of bags and nets. 

The Southwest Area

It extended over the Arizona area, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. The main language group occupying this group was Uto-Aztecan. 

They were mostly semi-nomadic people, and they were basket makers. Some of them were hunters who used an atlatl or spear thrower. Their southern neighbors cultivated squash and beans.

This group also made sandals, bags, and baskets and learned some unfired pottery.

They hunted using arrows and bows. This group of Native Americans used pit dwellings. The dwellings were designed, part of them being underground while with stone slabs.

What Happened To The Native Americans When Europeans Came?

When the Europeans discovered North America, the Native Americans lived their normal lives. The Europeans came and colonized the Native Americans. There was a lot of struggle and fighting for freedom during this period.

During the years of colonization, so much changed. So many new things from Europe were introduced to North America. Around the same time, other races also came to North America.

Some of the people that came to North American include Africans and Europeans. After decades of interaction and inter-marrying, the United States ended up being a country made up of several races.


The most noticeable Native Americans’ physical characteristics are their long black hair, head, teeth, and eyes. However, many other characteristics are discussed here that many people cannot identify. This group of people is still around in high numbers and interacting with others. As a result of inter-marrying and migration, their population has reduced significantly.

John Taylor
John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!


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