The Plains Indians
The plains are land of sun, wind and grass, the Great Plains is heartland of North America; it is some 2500 miles long. Their western boundary is formed by the Rocky Mountains. To the north, flatlands extend almost to the Artic Circle just beyond Alberta, Canada where there are boreal pine forests. The eastern boundary is formed by the Missouri-Mississippi Rivers where there is extensive prairie terrain, rolling hills and wooded areas.
A Land Of Abundant Game
Game was plentiful on the plains, buffalo and antelope grazed over the grassy land. In the hills and mountains nearby lived deer and elk, grizzly bears, mountain sheep, and mountain goats. The buffalo were the most valuable game animals but the big herds moved about constantly seeking pasture, and the Indians had a hard time catching them when they had to hunt on foot. After horses were brought to North America from Europe, the Plains tribes became successful mounted hunters and spent their lives following the herds.
Spanish settlers first brought these horses to the Southwest between 1650 and 1750. The Plains Indians lived on a vast rolling plain. There was enough rain for a thick blanket of grass but not enough to grow many trees. Trees grew only beside the rivers. Huge herds of grazing animals fed on the grasses. The all-important buffalo gave the Indians almost everything they needed. The flesh supplied food. From the skin they made tents, called tepees, boats, utensils, and some of their clothing.
After Spanish settlers in the southwest-brought horses to America, the Plains Indians became famous as expert hunters. With their swift ponies they could overtake a herd of buffalo and kill all the animals they needed. Hunting was usually a tribal activity, and it involved driving large numbers of buffalo off...