The Plains Indians were pushed from the East of America onto the plains by the European settlers because of
- Diseases - such as smallpox
- Horses - which meant the Indians could hunt on the plains
Therefore they had to find ways of surviving there as the Great Plains were barren and not good for farming.
They lived in tipis which doubled as a travois so the Indian's could move around and be nomadic. The tipi would be decorated by the men, they also had flaps at the top for smoke to escape and each tipi would be for each family.
The buffalo were the main thing the Sioux used for survival.
Before hunting the Indians carried out the 'Buffalo Dance' which often took place for days. Warriors would do this because it was believed that the dance called upon the spirt world's help to aid them in the hunt.
They had two ways of hunting them
- Warriors would wear wolf skins which allowed them to sneak up to the buffalo and then shoot using bows and arrows.
- They'd cause a stampede by encouraging the baffalo to run off a cliff, killing them.
Using the Buffalo
The Plains Indians used every part of the buffalo for something - none of it was wasted.
- Horns - cups, and spoons were made for the horns
- Fat - used in cooking, or as soap
- Tongue - used as a hairbrush
- Hooves - they made glue out of these or rattles and tools.
- Bladder - this was used as a food bag
- Intestines - made into buckets or a cooking vessel
- Bones - arrowheads, dice, knives, needles, paint brushes, shovels, tools, and war clubs
- Tail - used as a fly swat or ornamental whip
- Dung - fuel
- Flesh - cooked or preserved
- Sinew (muscle fibre) - made into bow string or thread
- Raw Hide - bags, belts, containers, masks, sheilds, string, bedding, blankets, dresses, leggings, mittens, pouches, robes, tipi covers.
The Indians conducted warfare very differently to the Europeans. They think it's braver to get close to the armed enemy and touch them (with a coup stick) than to kill the enemy from far away. It was also humiliating for an Indian to be touched by the coup stick.
Why did Indian's take part in warfare?
- Impress and attract women
- Prove themselves to the council
- Obtain scalps which were seen as trophies
- Show their bravery - they would be given feathers for killing
- Seek revenge
- To test medicine skills and spirtitual power
The spirit world and the Sioux's beliefs had a big impact on the way they lived thir lives.
The Sioux believed everything has its own spirit, rocks, streams, birds, and animals and that they had descended directly from the Eagle.
They also believed in the circle of nature, the idea that they were physically surrounded by the circle, the circle of their tipi, the circle of their village, and the circle of the sun and moon.
Land was sacred to the Sioux due to their belief that they came from the land and it was their mother, when they died they returned to it. Therefore, no one could own land and higher land was more sacred because it was closer ot the spirit world.
Boys would recieve a vision when they became older and it would be interpreted by the medicine man. This vision would also determin their adult name. Girls found it easier to connect the the spirit world and after puberty had the ability to contact it.