Plains Indians

The Great Plains cover miles and miles of open rolling country in the middle of the United States.  The Indians who lived there were called the Plains Indians.

Before white people came to America few Indians lived on the Great Plains.  The ones who did lived near rivers and streams, where the woman grew crops like corn, beans, and squash.  The men hunted deer, elk, and sometimes buffalo.  Hunting on food though was very difficult.


This way of life changed after the Spanish came to America.  The Spanish brought horses with them.  When some of these horses went wild, the Indians learned how to tame them and even ride them.  Suddenly, hunting the many thousands of buffalo that roamed the Great Plains became much easier.


Before long the Indians whole life depended on these animals.  Riding horses at full speed,  the Indian men used their bows and arrows to shoot down the huge buffalo.  It took a brave and skillful rider to learn to ride a galloping horse without holding on, to kill a buffalo.

Afterwards, the women in the tribe took over the rest.  They used every part of the buffalo.  Nothing went to waste.  They roasted the meat over a fire to eat right away, or they sliced and dried it in the sun to eat later.  They sewed the skin into clothing, tipis, bedding and made tools from the bones and horns of the buffalo.

Later more and more Indians moved to the Great Plains.  They never could make permanent towns because they had to follow the buffalo.  When it came time to pack up and move on, they loaded everything onto a travois, a type of sled pulled by a horse.  Then the mothers got their babies and strapped them to a cradleboard, and tied the cradleboard to their back.

The Plains Indians had a good life as they followed the herds of buffalo.  But, this time was short.  Soon many white people came to the Plains.  These people killed the buffalo for fun and sometimes just for fun.  Without the buffalo, the way of the Plains Indians couldn't survive.