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Native Americans People of the Plains



these broad plains once home to the Buffalo great heard stretched as far as the eye could see today the Buffalo are mostly gone so too are the people who haunted them the people who call this land their home the people of the players the people of the plains had many names crow rapaho soon each had different names each spoke different languages but they all hunt in the Buffalo where the Buffalo went so did the people the Buffalo provided food clothing shelter riding on horseback the plains people fish the plains people never had to push sport they only kill to feed hay to them the Buffalo as with all living things was sacred and possessed a spirit life everything in nature grass wind water they all possess the spirit life in all were to be respected everything in the natural world had a reason for being here and everything was connected to everything else in the spiritual way but they were also ill spirits in the world and when things went wrong drought famine disease it was usually because of the evil spirits medicine men were said to have a special knowledge of the spiritual world and were called upon to make things right again sometimes by conducting ceremonies and dances where the people would become in better touch with the natural world around respect for the natural world is evident in nearly everything the plains people did many of their possessions were adorned with animal likenesses their ceremonial pipes were not only colorful but were sometimes carved with animal figures and so too were many of their cooking and eating utensils these serving spoons were carved from buffalo and ramble their ceremonial clothing was among the most beautiful of all Native Americans and so were the dolls they made for their children this headdress was worn by a warrior who performed many acts of bravery each feather representing some heroic deed while they didn't have a written language many Plains tribes kept track of important events by painting pictures on buffalo hives each picture stands for one year were the Plains people where did they come from how did they get here while many Native Americans explain their origin in a different way most anthropologists believe the following about 30,000 years ago north looked much like it does today a narrow stretch of ocean separated Asia from this continent there were no people living you then ice began to advance across the northern hemisphere as it did sea levels dropped exposing a land bridge connecting Asia with North America large game animals like bison and mammoths crossed this land bridge entering the new continent soon followed by Asian hunters there were probably several migrations over thousands of years and eventually the people spread throughout North and South America before the ice retreated and the land bridge became covered by water again there were hundreds of tribes but each can be classified into one of several groups according to the natural environment in which they live the names of these groups are the Eastern woodlands the plains the Southwest the Great Basin the Plateau California and the northwest coast each of these groups lived in an environment that was unlike the others none of the others lived in an environment that quite like this one the land of the plains people the plains is made up of gently rolling land covered by tall grass and few trees land is ideal for the Buffalo which once roamed here grazing on the wild grasses the Buffalo were free to migrate hundreds even thousands of miles following the same pathways here year after year and where the Buffalo went the people followed they were nomads following a nomadic life always on the move never in one place for long but would it be like to have lived back then to have followed we're like the plains people we had not seen Buffalo for many days if they're anywhere near my father would find them he is one of the best in our village at finding the trail of the Buffalo he is called strong the other man is called big horse my father's friend I am called vehicle Oota it means red feather I've lived for 12 winters and usually boys my age don't get throughout at their father's so my father says I'll soon be ready for the hunt myself I must learn the ways of the Buffalo so the Buffalo is all important without it we would not be able to live the way we do our very rooms are made from the Buffalo our teepees have been sewn together from buffalo hides a kitty makes a very nice home and it is very quick to set up which is a good thing because we're never in one place for long my mother sound of the wind always sets up our teepee she does so with help of another woman in the village first three Lodge poles are set up to make the basic shape of a teepee finger poles are placed between the three main poles all the poles are then bound to get it Shunta our dog enjoys watching war buffalo hides are then draped over the pole this is hard work because buffalo hides are very heavy and a total of 18 hides are you to cover one TV the high are then stretched tight and pay ground outside edge hammer my mother is using is made from an elk while my mother puts up the real TV my little sister spawns like a rabbit practices printing one up herself this is how in there things by copying our parents after the TV is up my mother a clear place inside for our fire she is using a buffalo horn to scrape away the grass the fire will keep our teepee warm on a cold us of nights and it can also be used for cooking before the fire is lit flats at the top of the teepee are open to let out smoke next my mother places buffalo robes on the ground to make a nice soft floor she sits up backrest these are made out of sticks and lays out a couple of pillows which are filled with soft buffalo hair ATP can be a very comfortable place one of the last things my mother does is to hang our wind chime it is made from buffalo hills it makes pretty sounds when the wind blows against the tepee after the tepee is set up my mother will build a fire dry grass is placed between two pieces of wood next she uses a bow and his spinning stick the spinning causes the wood to heat up he has to spin very fast but soon the grass begins this much then just the right moment my mother will stop spinning so that she can blow on smoking grass until finally a flame piers show out bigger and bigger sticks to the flame until there's a real fire after the fire has been burning a while my mother really moved one of the hot rocks this is place in a cooking bag the rock will cause the water to boil in a very short time after which my mother will add some pieces of buffalo meat which we eat practically all the time as well as some Prairie turnips which grow out just about everywhere runs like a rabbit likes to add the final season his chasin spirit leaves I almost forgot the cookie bag is actually the stomach of a buffalo it never leads even with boiling water inside well my mother is cooking my father will usually make tools and weapons our bows are made from tree branches after removing the bark a branch is cloud to the proper shape using a stone scraper it can take a long time but gradually the bow take shape the bowstring is made from sinew dried buffalo changes it first has to be shredded into thin strands we use buffalo sinew to make thread string and road to strands have to be twisted and braided together first he made bowstring is almost impossible to break arrows are made from carefully selected branches of the current bush the bark first has to be scraped away again using a stone scraper it is then sanded between two cores rocks and then straightened using a buffalo bone what they hold on it straightening is very important because if an arrow isn't straight it won't fly straight air overheads our trip from Flint the final touch is being done with a deer antler the arrowhead is then tied to the shaft was sinning the same for the feathers they're tied to the shaft with sinew then covered with a coating of glue which is made from buffalo hide it properly made bow and arrow in the right hands is a very deadly weapon a single shot aim properly can bring down a buffalo at full gallop work isn't all we knew there's usually time for games these children like buffalo hunt it's not only a lot of fun but it just has to be buffalo hunters throw one up like a bra it's always a lot of fun girls especially liked it it comes look at the throws small boys into the air hoop game also teaches us to be better hunters the girls think it's fun we miss but sometimes we make it up right here we will offer you hope you still have not found the Buffalo and so my father decides to stop and eat my job is waterboy and that means I must fetch water for the men water bag I'm using is made from a buffalo bladder it's very strong and like a buffalo stomach hardly ever leaks it is very handy to have on a trip another job of the waterboy it's a cool down the horses so it'll be fresh for the rest of the day back at the village my mother is making a new dress she starts by drawing an outline on a deerskin using a marking stone then using a flint knife she cuts the pattern now this will be a dress for rung like a rabbit but it's only half done my mother will next stitch this half is the matching half first using a bone all to make some holes and then sewing the two pieces together with sinew this is an everyday dress so it will be decorated but many of our things are beautifully decorated one woman in our village is well known for a beautiful embroidery she does it by wrapping dyed porcupine quills around sections of buffalo or deer skin this takes a lot of time it will take several passings of the moon to finish a beautiful bag like this finally we have found the buffalo but there is a problem there are many calves which mean the Buffalo will be very cautious they'll run with the slightest noise my father decides it elude us to use a sneak attack he has brought a wool skin for this very purpose wolves frequently follow the Buffalo in the Buffalo are used to their presence the Buffalo will not be frightened by smell my father will hunt alone using his bow and arrow your father knows me slowly and carefully he doesn't want to frighten a buffalo buffalo hunting is dangerous several men in our village had been killed by charging for Buffalo you can take a long time to get close enough to shoot today the hunters were fortunate but little did they know their days as Buffalo owners were coming to me a new people had entered America soon the new Americanism the European Americans would enter the plains and when they did the way of the plains people would never be seen running the land occupied by Indians the new Americans engaged in a series of conflicts that would eventually result in the complete conquest of the plains people in all Native Americans Indians everywhere were forced to give up their way of life and to live on small reservations areas of land set aside for Indians no longer able to hunt the fish in the old ways the Indians were rationed food and clothing by the government some agents who were supposed to help the Indians were dishonest they stole money and supplies so the Indians never got all that they were entitled to as a result the Indians lived in total poverty and many starved tribes were forced to give up many of their traditions and could no longer perform many of their religious rites and ceremonies many Indian children were separated from their families and were sent to strict boarding schools where they were forced to give up their Indian ways in the 1950s the government encouraged Native Americans to relocate to the nation cities where they could find jobs and play the modern ways but not all Indians chose to do this today Indians can live anywhere they want and many choose to live off reservations and cities and towns employed in the same sorts of jobs as other Americans but more than 1/2 million Indians prefer to remain on reservations located throughout the United States life here is better than it used to be and in some ways is similar to life anywhere else Indians drive cars and live in modern dwellings like other Americans they dress in modern clothing they shop in stores many attend Christian churches Indian children go to schools that look like schools anywhere and study the same kinds of subjects they play the same sorts of games and enjoy the same things as other American children while reservation life is a lot like life anywhere else there are something differences unemployment is very high on some reservations four out of five people are out of work and because of it alcoholism poverty or widespread no one knows that better than Sargent Wendell of the Pine Ridge Reservation police do the lack lack of money unemployment is very high jobs are not available we have young kids high school kids come in graduating needing jobs in the option out there and this leads to a lot of excessive time boredom and the alcohol and the drugs seem to be a way to go in recent years many tribes have opened casinos in order to create jobs and bring an additional income but only a few tribes those near major cities have actually profited from casinos a few Native Americans are able to earn incomes by selling their arts and crafts Shane Espinosa is learning to tan hides in the way his ancestors did before him deer hides like this were used by Plains Indians to make dresses shirts and other types of clothing today Shane sells his hides to earn needed money for himself his family another longtime craft of many Plains tribes is porcupine quill work Delores yellow bull a Lakota Sioux is working on a quill work piece she hopes to sell the quills must first be softened which is done by soaking them in the mouth they're then wrapped around sections of deer hide quill work is used to decorate many items like these wrist cuffs and barrettes mark zamata has been carving ceremonial light bowls since he was a boy and has gone on to become one of the world's best pipemakers Walmart uses some modern techniques his rifles are similar in style to bowls that have been car for many generations and will sell for hundreds of dollars crafts like these not only bring a needed income but they enable craftspeople to stay in touch with their traditional ways and that's important too many Indians that's why on many reservations Indians are participating in ancient ceremonies like the sweat lodge ceremony being prepared here by a spiritual leader and his assistant before the ceremony begins hot rocks are brought into the lodge water will be poured on the rocks creating steam people will take their places in the lodge to pray to sing and to be physically and spiritually purified one of the most exciting events on reservations or powers where Indians come together and participate many activities like dancing dancing is not only fun but the best dancers can earn thousands of dollars in prize money there are separate divisions from men women and even children another popular attraction at many parallels is the rodeo and one of the most popular parts of the rodeo is the bull riding competition here Indian riders get to compete for thousands of dollars in prize money it seems fitting that Native Americans once among the greatest writers in the world are now among the best on a rodeo circuit today the teepees are gone and so to the vast Buffalo turns them once roamed this land but when the light is just right and you happen to be looking you can still find evidence of an earlier place in time maybe just maybe the arrow had might have belonged to 301 of them named Redfield who passed this way nearly 200 years member

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