An Elder from the Plains

Plains are the famous “Hollywood” Indians we see everywhere. In Canada, the population of Plains Indians are much fewer in comparison to the population in America. They are densely populated in the middle of North America. The continental climate consists of hot summers and cold winters. There are high grass prairies and cacti in the south. There are flat land, rolling hill, with numerable amounts of buffalo. In this area, animals such as elks, mules, and rabbits are also abundant (essentially anything with horns). The Plains Indian people were nomadic. They were organized into large groups of people.

The Plains Indians had a unique tradition of killing buffalo by leading them down a cliff. Once the buffalo reached the bottom and were dead, the women would slowly make their ways to the bottom and process the buffalo for food and fur. They would use every bit of each and every buffalo.

There were 6 languages in total, in which 3 of the languages were spoken in Canada: Black fur, Cree, and Ojibwa. There were also Athopaskan speakers (mostly found in Alberta). There is also another language, Siouin, but it’s not spoken in Canada.

The Plains Indians were a genderized society, in that the men would hunt for food and organizing the buffalo for the buffalo

ritual, and the women would prepare the food and perform the household duties. The women wore dresses, while the men would wear breach clothes. This society had a “horse culture” because they are very “moving.” Tipi Travois is the term used to describe “tipi on horse,” or in other words, portable housing. The Plain Indians were very decorative with their houses, jewels, clothes, etc. All their clothing material were of high decoration very ornate; much time are spent to make them. Due to their abundance of natural resources, they have all the time to make such extravagant items.

The band chiefs were not considered the leaders, but advisers when making decisions. Decisions, whether it be vital or not, were made through unanimous agreement. In this society, public shame and ridicule were carried out. Most Indian Plains groups live apart, but congregate in mid summer when buffalo hunting begins.

One of the most famous rituals of the Plains Indians is the Sun Dance. In this dance, an Indian man places hooks into his ch

An Illustration of a Plain Indian Man

est, which is attached to poles on the ground. He dances until the hooks rip out of their chest. The larger the scar is, the more braver and “manlier” the Indian man is. They also performed the ghost dance. This dance was done so that their ancestors would return from the grave and wipe out all the “white” people (Europeans) back then. In essence, dances in this society were of great significance.

The Plain Indians do not believe there is a separation between human and nature. Plus, religion was indivisible, in that all life is religion. They believed in doing vision quests. Dreaming was also quite important in their culture.  Buffalo is a key aspect of their daily life. If something with buffalo changes, so does their culture.

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