Plains Indians

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  • Created by: NicoleA
  • Created on: 12-01-14 13:17

Why and how the Indians lived on the Plains

They moved because horses allowed them to hunt buffalo which transformd the way they lived.

They survived by:

  • Dependance on the buffalo - Used horses to follow herds and hunt them, used every part of the buffalo for food, clothes etc.
  • Hunting - All boys were taught to hunt from a young age, essential method of survival
  • Co-operation and organisation within bands
  • Warrior societies - In charge of hunting, ravelling and protecting the village from attack
  • Tipis - round so wind couldn't blow them over, quick easy and quiet to pack away
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Dependence of buffalo

Clothing - Fur, rawhide - Decoration on cothes, bags, mittens

Homes - Tanned hide, tail - Bedding, blankets, tipis, ornaments

Religion - Skull - Religious ceremonies

Warfare - Sinews, bones - Bowstrings, arrow heads, war clubs

Cooking - Fat, flesh, bladder, liver - Food 

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Why white Americans thought they were savages

19th Century white Americans thought the Plains Indians were savages because of:

  • Pologamy - to ensure all women were cared for and there were lots of children - Americans believed in monogamy
  • Exposure - so the band would ot be held up - Americans thought it was forcing old people to die
  • Scalping - evidence of succes in battle - Americans thought it was torture
  • Beliefs - they had ceremonies and dances - Americans thought it was torture
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Why Indians went to war and how.

  • To become wealthy
  • To steal horses
  • To gain a wife
  • To test spiritueal powers
  • To seek revenge
  • To destroy enemies
  • To defend their way of life
  • To prove their bravery
  • Scalping the enemy
  • Counting coup ( touch the enemy)
  • Went to war in summer
  • Only went to war when food supplies were built up
  • Tried to stay alive and not loose their scalp
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The Plains Indians believed that no one could own land. 

They believed that the land was sacred, for the Sioux, the Black Hills were very sacred.

However, white americans thought that land was something to be brought ad sold, not something sacred.

Manifest destiny

This was the belief of white Americans that it was their God-given right to dominate the entire continent. The whites used racist attitudes to justify taking land off the Plains Indians. They accused them of being savages and wasting the land by not farming it.

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Outsiders on the Plains

Mountain Men

Half of these men married Indian women. They gave them guns and alochol which made the Indians less self-sufficient. In 1837 a steamboat arrived bringing smallpox and killing thousands of Indians.


Emigrant wagon trains brought measles which killed many Indian children.

Gold Miners, Homesteaders and Railroad Builders

The arrival of these people speeded up settlement in the west and put pressure on the US government to force the Indians onto reservations.


Long drives went through Indian hunting grounds and disturbed the buffalo leading to Indian attacks on cowboys.

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Outsiders on the Plains

Buffalo Hunters

Brought by the railroad companies. Reduced the number of buffalo from 13 million in 1840 to 200 in 1885. This forced the Plains Indians to surrender and go onto the reservations.

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Could have more about women.

Miss E


Really helpfully bullet pointed and colour-coded to help with revision of the Plains Indians, check exam questions to make sure you have revised every aspect of this topic.

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