Did the plains Indians act in a brutal and bloodthirsty manner? Discuss

Essay by darius1982 April 2006

download word file, 3 pages 4.0

The plains Indians were an advanced unique nation of their time. Some people may perceive their cultural differences as 'cruel' or 'bloodthirsty'. This essay will show both views of the Native American's ways of life.

The sun dance was a ceremony which involved a young warrior dancing for four days without food or water, whilst strapped to a tree by a leather strap which was embedded into his flesh. This caused ripped skin, and hallucinations. To an outsider this must have seemed gruesome and horrendous, to have a young adolescent unwillingly and painfully 'dance' with a strap digging under his skin non stop for four days.

However, the sun dance was really a way for young warriors to get in touch with spirits, and to prove his strength to the tribe. If this endurance test was completed successfully then it would be something to be proud of as well as a way for the spirits to bless everyone with good food and health.

Scalping was another custom which might have seemed 'bloodthirsty'. This was when the scalp of a person was cut off. When the person was dead, this may have seemed a disrespectful act, and to do this to someone who was still alive was savage.

On the other hand, this bloodthirsty custom was in fact a religious custom, because they believed scalping someone was the only way to release the spirit of that person and allow it to go to the 'Happy Hunting Ground.' So again this was meant as a favour, not as a harmful action.

The plains' Indians attitude towards marriage seems 'uncivilised' as the man was allowed to commit polygamy (numerous wives.) In our society today, this would be against the law and frowned upon as it is unaffectionate and disrespectful to the...