The Plains Indians were a people who had to survive under harsh living conditions. They were faced with many problems and challenges and yet they survived for hundreds of years thanks to their way of life. Each tribe was accustomed to different methods of survival; some were nomads and some were settled in the same place, but they all had similar attributes on how to survive. The Native American Indians main source of food was hunting. The native children would be trained from childhood to how to hunt and how to use hunting methods such as the Bison-Pound method or simply stalking.
In the plains mammals such as Elk and other types of Antelope were common. A problem that the Native Americans were faced with was that they were in danger of hunting too much wildlife but they solved this problem by being cautious of their consumption and kept it under control by not wasting any of the hunted animal’s resources. The buffalo is the biggest link between the different aspects of Indian life. With an animal such as the buffalo the Native Americans were provided with a weeks supply of food and new material for clothing with every one they caught, and if they were a nomad tribe the buffalo even provided housing.
The Native American nomads lived in the traditional home called a tipi, the Sioux word for home. A tipi is made up of a cone-shaped wooden frame with a covering of buffalo hide. The Native Americans were nomads because they followed the buffalo herds, and this was a problem because every time the herds started moving they needed to follow; they did not have the time or the resources to build houses every time they stopped so they needed and easy solution. Like modern tents, tipis are designed to be set up and then taken down quickly and easily.
As a tribe moved from place to place, each family would bring their tipi poles and hide tent with them because in the plains there were few trees to benefit from and use for new poles each time the tribe moved. Originally, tipis were about 12 feet high, but once the Plains Indian tribes began to use horses, they began building them twice as high. The native religion also influenced the tipi design. The tipis were decorated with painted designs to scare away and prevent evil spirits. The Native American religion was a big part of the Indians lives.
In each tribe there was a man called a medicine man or a shaman. The Medicine men were in charge of the weddings and the funerals as well as most rituals that took place. These men were believed to possess special powers and were thought of as miracle workers because they were able to connect with the spirit world. Young men also relied on them to interpret their visions. Shamans were trained in how to use herbs, plants and animal substances as medicine to heal. To the tribe’s people the shaman was their connection with the Great Spirit and the spirit world.
When the Europeans invaded the Native American lands they also brought with them new diseases that the Indians had not seen before such as small pox. This would not only kill many people but it was a new disease and the shaman did not know a cure; but the shaman helped heal his people. The way the Indians believed in respecting nature and the Great Spirit in their religion also links to their respect for not only the buffalo but also all the other animals they hunt, it gives them a connection to mother nature. The women of the tribe made all the clothes.
The Native American clothing was simple for men; they were bare-chested for the majority of the year, except in winter Native American women wore skirts and leggings, but the material depended on which tribe she was from. In some women wore one piece dresses. In Native American tribes all most clothing was made out of animal skins usually buffalo. . Decorations and Patterns were very important for special clothes such as for festivals or weddings but patterns were also important to symbolize people’s family, tribe and so on.
The main problem that the tribes faced is that if they do not catch enough buffalo then not only the food runs out but there would not be enough skin to make the clothing; especially in winter or in preparation for the winter season the tribes needed to make sure that there was enough buffalo to provide what they needed, but also if they hunt too much they would end up not using the buffalo and wasting it. The Native American lifestyle is extremely fragile; ultimately everything influences everything else in some way or another. We could learn a lot from them, especially when it comes to basic survival.