The Plains Indians got their name because they lived among the Great Plains of the United States. This vast expansion of land extended all the way from Mississippi to the mountains of Canada. In order to survive, the Plains Indians hunted buffalo as their main source of food. They would typically surround the buffalo on horse, until the group of Indians drove it to run off of a cliff. At that point, the buffalo would be dead and ready for consumption. Not only was hunting an integral part of Plains Indians’ life, religion was as well.
The worship of the Great Spirit was key to their beliefs. A dance performed called the Sun Dance was a way to show respect and love for their God. This dance would often take place over the span of four days; much of it spent staring up at the sun.
The use of shamans was also a large part of the Plains Indians way of life. These shamans were like medicine men, which tended to the sick and made up medicinal concoctions. Many times they would simply approach the sick person and try to convince them that were not really sick. Other times, they would attempt to use natural medicines by combining fruits and vegetables into a sort of potion believed to promote healing. The Earth was considered the Plains Indians’ female God, and so all of her rich resources were utilized in some way. Usually the men would be assigned to hunt, traveling in groups wielding shields, arrows, and handmade knives and swords. The men’s shields often had various symbols on them such as animals, feathers, and stones which were used to represent protection. The women would stay back at the camp, watching the children, weaving blankets, and cooking. Overall, Plains Indians life was efficient, spiritual, and integral to Native American history.
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