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Encyclopedia > Plains Indians
The three chiefs--Piegan, by Edward S. Curtis

The Plains Indians are the Indians who lived on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their greatest dominance lasted from approximately 1750 to 1890. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... For other persons named Edward Curtis, see Edward Curtis (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Great Plains (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Classification

Original range of the Plains Indians
Original range of the Plains Indians
Chief of the Blackfoot
Chief of the Blackfoot

Plains Indians are usually divided into two broad classifications which overlap to some degree. The first group were fully nomadic, following the vast herds of bison. They are said to have been part of the Buffalo Culture (sometimes called somewhat misleadingly, the Great Plains Culture). Some tribes occasionally engaged in agriculture—growing tobacco and corn primarily. These included the Blackfoot, Arapaho, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Lakota, Lipan, Plains Apache (or Kiowa Apache), Plains Cree, Sarsi, Shoshone, and Tonkawa. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Blackfoot chief Aatsista-Mahkan. ... Image File history File links Blackfoot chief Aatsista-Mahkan. ... Species †B. antiquus B. bison B. bonasus †B. latifrons †B. occidentalis †B. priscus Bison in winter. ... For other uses, see Blackfoot (disambiguation). ... Scabby Bull, Arapaho 1806 Arapaho camp, ca. ... Assiniboine Family, Montana, 1890-1891. ... For other uses, see Cheyenne (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Comanche (disambiguation). ... Crow indians (Karl Bodmer) The Crow, also called the Absaroka or Apsáalooke, are a tribe of Native Americans who historically lived in the Yellowstone River valley and now live on a reservation south of Billings, Montana. ... The Gros Ventres (French for Big Bellies) is a name given to two distinct Native American groups in North America. ... This article is about the tribe. ... Eddie Plenty Holes, a Sioux Indian photographed about 1899. ... Lipan Apache are also known as Nde buffalo hunters, called by anthropologists and historians for many years as Eastern Apache, Apache de los Llanos, Lipan, Ipande, and other names. ... Essa-queta, Plains Apache chief The Plains Apache (also Kiowa-Apache, Naʼisha, Naisha) are a Southern Athabaskan group that lived primarily on the plains of North America along the Kiowa. ... Cree camp near Vermilion, Alberta The Cree form an aboriginal nation of North America. ... The Tsuu Tina Nation is a First Nation in Canada. ... This article is about the Native American tribe. ... Seal of the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma Tonkawa The Tonkawa are a people native to central Texas, speaking the Tonkawa language. ...


The second group of Plains Indians (sometimes referred to as Prairie Indians) were the semi-sedentary tribes who, in addition to hunting bison, lived in villages and raised crops. These included the Arikara, Hidatsa, Iowa, Kaw (or Kansa), Mandan, Omaha, Osage, Otoe, Pawnee, Ponca, and Wichita. It has been suggested that Arikara language be merged into this article or section. ... Pehriska-Ruhpa of the Dog Band of the Hidatsa. ... The Iowa (also spelled Ioway) are a Native American people. ... The Kaw (or Kanza ) are an American Indian people of the central Midwestern United States. ... This article is about the Native American tribe. ... The Omaha tribe is a Native American tribe that currently reside in northeastern Nebraska and western Iowa, United States. ... The Osage Nation is a Native American tribe in the United States, which is mainly based in Osage County, Oklahoma, but can still be found throughout America. ... The Otoe or Oto are a Native American people. ... The Pawnee (also Paneassa, Pari, Pariki) are a Native American tribe that historically lived along the Platte, Loup and Republican Rivers in present-day Nebraska. ... The Ponca are a Native American tribe originally living around the mouth of the [[Niobrara River],] Nebraska, but was later removed to the Indian Territory. ... Tribal flag Wichita camp, 1904 For other uses, see Wichita (disambiguation). ...


The tribes of the Great Plains have been found to be the tallest people in the world during the late 1800s, based on 21st century analysis of data collected by Franz Boas for the World Columbian Exposition.[1] This information is significant to anthropometric historians, who usually equate the height of populations with their overall health and standard of living. Franz Boas Franz Boas (July 9, 1858 – December 21, 1942[1]) was one of the pioneers of modern anthropology and is often called the Father of American Anthropology. Born in Germany, Boas worked for most of his life in North America. ... One-third scale replica of The Republic, which once stood in the great basin at the exposition, Chicago, 2004 The World Columbian Exposition (also called The Chicago Worlds Fair), a Worlds fair, was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbuss discovery... Illustration from The Speaking Portrait (Pearsons Magazine, Vol XI, January to June 1901) demonstrating the principles of Bertillons anthropometry. ... Height is the measurement of distance between a specified point and a corresponding plane of reference. ... The standard of living refers to the quality and quantity of goods and services available to people and the way these services and goods are distributed within a population. ...


Culture

Shoshone around their tipi, about 1890
Shoshone around their tipi, about 1890

The nomadic tribes survived on hunting, and the bison was their main food source. American buffalo, or simply buffalo, is the commonly used (but inaccurate) name for the American Bison. These animals were the largest source of items such as food, cups, decorations, crafting tools, knives, and clothing. Not a single part of the animal was thrown away. Download high resolution version (887x589, 79 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (887x589, 79 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... A tipi of the Nez Perce tribe, circa 1900. ... This article is about the hunting of prey by human society. ... Binomial name (Linnaeus, 1758) Subspecies B. b. ... Binomial name (Linnaeus, 1758) Subspecies B. b. ...


The tribes kept moving following the migration of the bison. The Plains Indians lived in tipis because they are easily disassembled and so allow a lifestyle of following game. The Plains tribes adopted a horse culture beginning in the 17th century when escaped Spanish horses were obtained. A tipi of the Nez Perce tribe, circa 1900. ... The term Horse culture is used to define a tribal group or community whose day to day life revolves around the herding and breeding of horses. ... Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse (Equus caballus, sometimes seen as a subspecies of the Wild Horse, Equus ferus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ...


Hunting in the Plains

"Assiniboine hunting buffalo", painting by Paul Kane
"Assiniboine hunting buffalo", painting by Paul Kane
American Bison
American Bison

Although they hunted other animals, like elk or antelope, bison was by far the most plentiful food source throughout their area. Before horses were introduced, hunting was a complicated process. The Native Americans would surround the bison, and then they would try to herd them off cliffs or into places where they would be more easily killed. A commonly used technique was the Piskin method. The tribesmen would build a corral and have people to herd the buffalo into it where they could be killed. This would be achieved by constructing a v-shaped funnel, about a mile long, constructed of fallen tree, rocks etc.. The buffalo would be lured into the trap with one of the tribe dressing up in a buffalo skin and imitating the call of a buffalo. Image File history File links Kane_Assiniboine_hunting_buffalo. ... Image File history File links Kane_Assiniboine_hunting_buffalo. ... This article is about the painter. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1933x1774, 1033 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): American Bison Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1933x1774, 1033 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): American Bison Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner... For other uses, see Elk (disambiguation). ... Binomial name Antilocapra americana Ord, 1815 Subspecies The Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae, and the fastest mammal in North America running at speeds of 58 mph (90 km/h). ...


The weapons of the Plains Indians were spears, bows and various forms of club. When horses were introduced to the Indians when white settlers came to America, it made hunting much easier. With horses, the Indians could simply stampede and overtake the bison with their speed, and many bison were slaughtered at point-blank range from horseback. The bows were then changed in design, reduced to only three feet in length, to make them easier to shoot from horseback. Bows were still used when guns were introduced, as guns took too long to reload and were too heavy. In the summer, many tribes would gather in one place to hunt. The main hunting seasons were fall, summer, and spring, as in winter, harsh snow and mighty blizzards made it almost impossible to kill the bison. Spears were one of the most common personal weapons from the late Bronze Age until the advent of firearms. ... This article is about the projectile weapon bow. ... “Truncheon” redirects here. ...


Over years of surviving off the hunt, Plains Indians developed an ability to survive longer on less food through metabolism. In long intervals between hunts, Native Americans survived by this adaptation. And in times of plentiful food, Plains Indians took on a lot of extra weight to prepare for a time without food. This adaptation saved tribes from starvation in their old way, but when reservations were introduced the adaptation became a threat. Because they were confined to reservations, Natives were generally no longer able to hunt for food, so they took up other means of subsistence. For other uses, see Adaptation (disambiguation). ...


Great Plains religion

Sioux Ghost Dance
Sioux Ghost Dance

The Plains Indians followed no single religion. Animist religion was an important part of a Great Plains Indians' life, as they believed that all things possessed spirits. Their worship was centered on one main god, in the Sioux language Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit). The Great Spirit had power over everything that had ever existed, and the Indians believed that by worshipping him they would become stronger. Earth was also quite important, as she was the mother of all spirits. Spirits were worshipped daily. People sometimes prayed alone, while other times there were group gatherings. The most important group ceremony was the Sun Dance. In the Sun Dance, participants danced for four days around a sacred object, and some would inflict harm upon themselves on purpose, all while staring at the sun. They believed this self-sacrifice would encourage powerful spirits to support and defend them. Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... The term Animism is derived from the Latin anima, meaning soul.[1][2] In its most general sense, animism is simply the belief in souls. ... In Lakota traditions, Wakan Tanka is a term for The Great Spirit which resides in every thing, similar to many notions of God. ... Sketch of a Siouan Sun Dance by George Catlin The Sun Dance is a ceremony practiced by a number of native americans. ...


There were also people that were wakan, or blessed, who were also called shaman. To become wakan, your prayers must be answered by The Great Spirit, or you must see a sign from him. Wakan were thought to possess great power, and one of their jobs was to heal people, which is why they are also sometimes called the medicine man. The shamans were considered so important that they decided when to hunt. Plains Indians also thought that some objects possessed spiritual power. One such item was the medicine bundle, which was a sack that carried items that were thought to be important to the owner. Items in the sack might include rocks, feathers, and more. Another thing that was very spiritual was the shield. The shield was the most prized possession of any warrior, and he decorated it with many paintings and feathers. The animals that were drawn onto the shield were thought to protect the owner. The shaman is an intellectual and spiritual figure who is regarded as possessing power and influence on other peoples in the tribe and performs several functions, primarily that of a healer ( medicine man). The shaman provides medical care, and serves other community needs during crisis times, via supernatural means (means... This article is about the defensive device. ...


References

Further reading

  • "American Indian Contributions To Science and Technology", Chris R. Landon, Portland Public Schools, 1993
  • "Buffalo and the Plains Indians", South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit
  • Carlson, Paul H. The Plains Indians. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-89096-828-4
  • Taylor, Colin E. The Plains Indians: A Cultural and Historical View of the North American Plains Tribes of the Pre-Reservation Period. New York: Crescent Books, 1994. ISBN 0517142503

  Results from FactBites:
 
Plains Indians (308 words)
The Plains Indians lived in the area from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from Canada to Mexico.
The plains area was hotter than 100 degrees in the summer, and could drop to 40 degrees below zero with heavy snows in the winter.
Few Indians lived on the Great Plains before white men brought the horse in the 1600’s.
Plains Indians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1237 words)
The Plains Indians were the Native American tribes who lived in the Great Plains region of North America.
The Plains tribes adopted a horse culture beginning in the 17th century when escaped Spanish horses were obtained.
With horses, the Indians could simply stampede and overtake the bison with their speed, and many bison were slaughtered at point-blank range from horseback.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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