As modern-day preppers, there’s so much we can learn by looking to the past. Lucky for us, some influential Native American tribes have passed along valuable tactical, hunting, and survival knowledge for us to discover.
From food preservation and water-forging methods – like irrigation and canal building – to constructing hidden shelters and camouflage techniques, Native American tribes of the past and present have seemingly mastered the art of survival.
If they needed to go undetected or “blend in” to survive, they had generations of survival knowledge to pull from.
By understanding how Native American Indians used to hide in plain sight, modern-day preppers can learn valuable lessons about how to remain undetected while hunting for food or during an emergency.
The History And Art Of Camouflage
Different forms of “camouflage” have been used throughout history, but none are as celebrated as the methods used by the native tribes of America.
Some argue that the indigenous people of North America were the first to use what most of us would recognize today as modern camouflage.
Related: 21 Native American Life Scenes from 150 Years Ago
When Europeans came to the New World, their version of camouflage was just a single-color outfit – usually an earth color like dark green or brown. However, these clothes did little to help the wearer avoid being seen.
In contrast, pre-Columbian Native Americans were using camouflage in both warfare and hunting for generations before Europeans arrived. As a result, their camouflage disguise methods were so successful that a person could remain almost entirely unseen; even while standing only a few yards in front of a hunted animal or enemy!
Naturally, Native American camouflage methods have since been adopted by various military forces around the world for their effectiveness in both hunting and combat.
Reasons To Use Natural Camouflage
Whether for hunting or for hiding, there are a number of potential reasons why you may want to stay hidden in plain sight.
In a bug-out or SHTF situation, it’s sometimes safer to stick around – or “bug in” – than it is to be on the roads or in cities.
Or, maybe you just want to learn about novel, cost-effective camo methods you can use while hunting for food on your back forty or favorite hunting spot.
In any case, one of the best parts about learning how to use natural camouflage is that you don’t have to run out to the shops to buy expensive gear. You can easily create an effective camouflage by using neutral-colored clothing and things that grow in your backyard.
Native Americans of the past used natural debris such as leaves, twigs, dirt, and other raw resources that were often adorned in the hair or affixed to the clothing. They painted their faces and bodies with mud and other natural paints and dyes to better blend into the landscape.
This allowed them to almost completely blend in to their environment and remain undetected – effectively hiding in plain sight. As preppers, we can use some of these same methods today.
Incorporating Regional And Seasonal Foliage
The trick to creating natural camouflage is to mimic the colors of the current season. After all, green camouflage probably won’t help you blend in very well against a snowy Winter landscape. This is why observing your climate patterns is so important when attempting to hide in plain sight.
Related: Camouflage and Concealment: The Art of Staying Hidden
For example, if you live in the Southwest region of the USA, your summer camouflage will likely include shades of beige, khaki, grey, sage-green, or other “desert” colors.
Similarly, if you live in the American South, your Midsummer to Fall season camouflage might be made up of deep greens, reds, oranges, yellows, or a variety of brown shades.
Using sand, dirt, mud, twigs, leaves, feathers, and other plant matter or natural debris can help you better blend into the place where you plan on hiding.
Since natural camouflage is most effective when matched with the current season, it may be wise to prep and store your natural camouflage ahead of time.
For example, you might want to switch your bug out bags and observe the foliage available to you at the beginning and end of each new season.
This practice can help you form a closer connection to the land around you which may work to your advantage in an emergency. When you plan ahead, you’re less likely to be caught off guard.
Using Hidden Structures
Camouflaging your body with paint, clothing, and items found in nature isn’t the only way to avoid being seen in plain sight. Native American tribes used things like animal skin, hide, pelts, fur, feathers, and woven materials like blankets to blend into their surroundings.
A large grey blanket could be draped over the body to convincingly blend into rocks, boulders, or mountains. Animal pelts were worn to sneak and blend into herds of wild animals.
These hunting methods allowed a man to get as close as possible before killing the animal, as long as their scent didn’t give them away.
Because many game animals have poor eyesight and powerful noses, they can smell people coming. This is why rubbing dirt, grass, or other strong-smelling material on the body was a necessary part of remaining unseen and undetected while hunting.
Whether hunting or hiding, maintaining a neutral body odor may be another detail to consider when trying to stay hidden in plain sight.
Assimilating With The Baseline
Camo does its job when you need to blend into the jungle, forest, desert, or mountains .
But, what happens when you need to blend into unfamiliar or hostile cities and towns? When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Related: How To Become Untraceable When SHTF
When Native Americans in the past faced a similar situation, they knew that adaptability was the key to survival. In some cases, they were even able to convincingly change their names, disguise themselves as Europeans, and hold important positions as influential land and business owners.
While preppers aren’t the most likely group to establish themselves in downtown areas, it’s still important to learn how people in the past stayed hidden in plain sight.
This is especially valid if you need to travel through more dangerous high-traffic areas in an emergency.
If you do have to travel during a SHTF emergency, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.
When you behave, speak, or dress in a way that isn’t typical for an area, you’re likely to be noticed. Before interacting with people in a place you’re unfamiliar with, it’s important to do your research.
What’s “normal” for the area that you find yourself in? What’s taboo? Taking the time to learn these things before traveling may make your presence less noticeable and increase your overall safety.
Know The Lay Of The Land (And Have A Backup Plan)
Like most things related to developing a new skill, practice makes perfect. Taking the time to scout and learn the lay of the land will place you at a clear advantage whether you’re hunting for food or bugging out in an emergency.
Native Americans had a unique and intimate knowledge of the land and animal behavior. By knowing the lay of the land, they were able to find natural hiding places and blend in with the environment.
Simply going on semi-regular walks around the areas you plan to hunt or bug out on can help you familiarize yourself with the land you’re on.
Taking the time to map the terrain means you can find the best hiding spots, plan ahead, and develop a backup plan if things go wrong.
Remember, anyone else who is moving through your bug-out area or hunting spot is likely stumbling upon it for the first time.
Taking time to know the landscape better than anyone else can give you a home team advantage.
Native Americans had a unique ability to hide in plain sight due to their adaptability, knowledge of the land, and keen ability to blend in with their surroundings.
These skills helped them survive during times of conflict while also allowing them to protect their traditions and way of life.
Their ability to remain hidden in plain sight is a reminder that we can all benefit from learning from the wisdom of the past.
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