American West Revision

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Native American way of life

Native americans lived a nomadic lifestyle. They did this for two reasons :

  • To follow the migration of the buffalo
  • They believed the great spirit wanted them to move as staying in the same place would be claiming in land
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Native american perspective on land

They believed that:

  • Land cannot be owned, bought, shared or sold
  • Land cannot be Destroyed e.g by farming
  • Some places were Sacred e.g the black hills ( they believed they were sacred as they thought it was near to the spirit world)
  • They believed in the circle of nature (life & death)
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Native american beliefs & religion

  • They believed in a great spirit called Wakan Tanka
  • If they served the great spirit well they believe after death their spirit would go to the happy hunting ground.
  • They had an animistic religion, which means that they believe that there are living souls in everything e.g trees , rocks etc
  • They believed the world worked in circles
  • They thought they could communicate with the spirits in special ceremonies e.g the sun dance, where they would torture themselfs which showed bravery and would bring them visions to contact the spirit world.
  • They thought by working with the spirits they would make themselves better warriors and bring glory to their tribe
  • They said girls automatically could contact the spirits when they started their periods
  • Whereas indian boys had to go looking for their vision, when they found their vision they would talk to the medicine man (shamen) who would interperet the vision and tell them what it meant.
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Role of buffalo

Buffalo were essential in native american life, they relied upon them. They were seen as a gift of a great father to the indians, so they appreciated them greatly.  The native american word for buffalo is Ta Tanka.

Uses of the Buffalo:

  • Food, for the winter they dried the meat out as buffalo was harder to catch in the harsh conditions of winter. The dried meat is called Pemmican.
  • They used the skin of buffalo to make their homes Tipis.
  • They used buffalo dung as fuel
  • They used the tongue as a hairbrush
  • The used the fat of a buffalo as soap
  • The used the ribs as sledges for children in the winter

The Indians used every part of the buffalo.

They hunted the buffalo using horses, before horses they did it on foot.

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Tipis or tepees are the homes of the native americans. They are mobile homes.

Why they lived in tipis :

  • Suited their nomadic life
  • Easy to pack up
  • Used to carry possessions as they turned it into a travois
  • It was warm in the winter and cool in the summer
  • The shape of the tipi could protect them from the harsh winds of the plains
  • Tipis were circular shape, which was good because they believed that the world worked in circles
  • They believed tipis were healthy and static homes were unhealthy
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Male and Female roles

Male Role:

  • Hunt the buffalo
  • Go to war
  • Some men were dog soldiers
  • Some men who could not pass the initation, had the same role as the women.

Female Role:

  • Gathered food
  • Stayed home and looked after the children
  • Prepared the buffalo
  • Took down the tipis
  • Made The tipis
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Indian War

They main causes of war for indian tribes was to seek revenge on another tribe or to steal horses from another tribe.

They had many beliefs that white men didn't like. Such as:

  • If the fighting was going badly the would retreat, they did this because the aim of war was to stay alive
  • They would do counting coup (riding up to an enemy and striking them with a stick). they did this because it showed bravery. If they did this they would receive feathers to wear and there head dress.
  • If they killed someone they would scalp them, they did this so they could not get to the happy hunting ground. Often they would put the scalp on the tipi or wear it around the warrior.
  • Dog soldiers were a special group of warriors who aim was to protect women and children and also organise the hunt.
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Native American Society

  • They practised Polygamy
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