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The Plains Natives

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The Plains Natives - Page Text Content

S: The Plains Natives

FC: The Plains Natives | By: Danielle Starkman, Mai Ben-Aharon, Rachel Parker, Sam Shorfer, Steven Steinfeld

1: Table of Contents | Food: Pages 2-3 Clothing: Pages 4-5 Homes: Pages 6-7 Vision Quest: Pages 8-9 Sun Dance: Pages 10-11

2: Food The Plains Natives had lots of options for food. When they captured buffalo, the Blackfoot would wait for groups of buffalo to wander into a particular area close to a cliff which is known today as a buffalo jump. They would then cause the buffalo to stampede off the cliff, falling 20 to 100 feet. They boiled, roasted, or dried the buffalo meat. Buffalo tongues were a reward that everyone wanted to earn. They also hunted moose, deer and mountain sheep. When they went fishing, they preferred to catch salmon but other choices were accepted too. They also ate duck. They gathered many plants including cranberries, blueberries, berries, and nuts. Wild rice with duck or venison stew was also a favourite. They also ate sunflowers, corn, and squash. The Blackfoot had no grain to make cereal or bread like we do today. They used a mixture of fat and protein (a nutritious food) called pemmican as their source of protein. The women pounded meat, berries and fat to help create the pemmican. The mixture was then packed and stored to keep cool.

4: Clothing The Natives didn’t have too much of a choice when it came to clothing, considering they had to make it themselves. However, they had enough to keep them warm. When they killed the moose, they used the skin to make moccasins. They also used deer skin to make leggings for the men's and women’s dresses for special occasions. The Plains Natives were also very creative; they decorated their clothes by splashing paint on them and sewing on porcupine quills and elk teeth. They made the paint out of plants. They also wore loincloths and after they bathed in the rivers, they wore robes made from buffalo skin to dry off. During the winter time, they wore gloves which were really a bear's hand and used the bear’s claws for necklaces. Although there weren’t many seashells where they lived, whenever they did find seashells they made earrings and bracelets. Most of the Blackfoot put beads in their hair to look good and hold their hair back. To make scallop suits, a type of shirt and pants, they used both weasel and bear skin because they needed a lot of animal skin .They also wore shoulder straps, breech cloth, and tall feather headdresses.

6: Natives of the Plains - Homes The Plains Natives lived in tipis. Tipis were easy to take apart and put back up. Women were responsible for taking the tipis down and putting them up. Putting tipis up took about twenty minutes. The tipis were made of deerskins, buffalo, antelope or moose hide. When buffalo were used, they used about twelve to twenty hides. Each tipi had four long poles joined at the top with leather. More poles were then added and covered with huge animal skins. Each tipi had flaps so they could open during warm weather and cooking. Two big poles would attach to the flaps so they could open and close. Plains Natives are known for the beautiful designs on their tipis, but not all Natives painted their tipis. The Blackfoot tribe painted their tipis to honour animals’ spirits. They believed that the spirit design they used would help protect their families. The designs usually came to the people through visions or dreams from the grandparents' spirits. There is often a legend for each design. There are seven traditional designs. There was the big rock, black buffalo, buffalo head, crow, snake, winter, and yellow buffalo design. The tipi was a symbol of the Plains Natives.

8: Plains Natives - Vision Quest As Plains Natives started manhood, they went off by themselves to a lonely place for several days. This was called a Vision Quest. They fasted and prayed for a guardian spirit to come. The guardian spirit gave them skills such as hunting, healing and weaving. Before they saw the guardian spirit, they saw a scary image that could possibly be an animal. It may come to the youth in a dream or in a trance because of lack of food and water. The spirit taught the youth sacred songs, and how to dress and behave. Some youths failed the Vision Quest. One of the ways a youth failed a vision quest was by running from the scary image. The scary image was sent to test their strength/courage and determination to stay even though they were scared. A Vision Quest was like a bar mitzvah for Plains Natives, for it represented a boy turning into a man or a girl turning into a woman.

10: The Sun Dance Ah, the Sun Dance. Doesn’t that sound like a day at the beach where you just tan in the sun? You would be WRONG! Here is what the Sun Dance is! The Sun Dance was a dance of worship to the Great Spirit. This event was held in late spring or early summer. This dance was meant to give thanks and pray to the Great Spirit. The Sun Dance was held in a wooden lodge. The entrance to the lodge was from the south. Inside the lodge on the north side, a buffalo head was placed there to show the spirit of the people. A pole was placed in the centre of the place and from there, a rope made of rawhide was attached to the top of the pole. On the top of the pole, there were eagle feathers and grass to represent the Great Spirit. Before the Sun Dance, the Natives fasted for a week. If people wanted to be considered as higher ranking than the others, they would bring offerings such as buffalo meat, deer meat and even berries. The Natives cut slits into their chests and they would install a wooden pole inside of their chests via the slits they cut. The dancer had to make a vow that stated that they would dance until the skewer ripped out of their chest. The vow also stated that when the pole ripped out, they wouldn’t cry or let their emotions get the best of them. The dancer had to dance, sing and look at the eagle’s feathers until they got into a trance. When they got into a trance, a vision would come to them. A vision in technical terms is a hallucination. The Sun Dance was meant to show the Natives' devotion and thanks to the gods for all they had received during the past year. All in all, the Sun Dance wasn’t as delightful as it sounds!

12: Bibliography: Cass, James. Mistatin, The Buffalo Hunter. D.C Heath Canada Limited, ©1983 | M. Speight. March 19 2003. April 23 2012. | |

13: Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed the book!

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