Lesson 2 – The Plains Indians

Lesson 2 – The Plains
Identify the peoples who lived on the Great Plains.
Explain why the buffalo was important in the lives of
the Plains Indians.
Identify the traditions that the Plains Indians followed.
Nations of the Plains
• Lakotas, Arikaras, Comanches, Kiowas,
Apaches, Caddos, Gros Ventres, Snakes,
Crows, Pawnees, Osages…
• Cultures were rich & varied
– Well-organized religions
– Fine handicrafts
– Poetry
– Each nation had their own languages, but all
knew sign language.
Taming the Horse
• Agriculture was originally main source of
• Indians captured and tamed wild horses
descended from the animal herds the
Spanish brought to the Americas.
• Hunting replaced farming = followed huge
herds of buffalo.
Way of Life
• Indians mirrored the movement of buffalo – in
winter, small groups; in summer, huge groups.
• Corral – enclosure at the bottom of a hill.
• Jerky – dried buffalo meat
• Plains Indians depended on the buffalo for food,
clothing, and shelter.
• Buffalo was the main item in the Indians’ diet.
• Buffalo hides = shelter, horns & bones = tools,
toys, meat = food
Role of Women
• Women oversaw life in villages/homes.
• Raised children.
• Skilled in many crafts: clothing, tepees,
tools,…. Everything but weapons.
• Some women did hunt (Running Eagle).
• In some groups, elder women made all the
• Summer ceremonies
– Hunted together, played games, staged foot
and horse races.
– Councils – leaders discussed with elders
issues that affected the whole indian nation.
– The Sun Dance – most important religious
ceremony. It gave thanks to the Great Spirit
for help in times of trouble.

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