American Indians - Plains Tribes & Southeastern Tribes
Who Are the Plains Tribes?
The Plains Indians lived in the huge area between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. There were few trees but lots of wildlife. One of the most important animals to the Plains Indians was the buffalo. These tribes were well known for their religious ceremonies, hunting skills and warpath customs. A few of the Plains tribes include the Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche and Blackfoot.
Plains Tribes - Shelter
Since the Plains Indians followed the buffalo around, they needed shelter they could move quickly. They lived in teepees. A teepee was made from leaning poles together and covering them with buffalo hide. The few tribes that didn't move around lived in dome-shaped grass lodges covered in mud.
Plains Tribes - Food
The Plains tribes were hunters and gathers. Not everyone grew the same food so they often traded amongst tribes. There was plenty of buffalo meat to eat. They roasted it, made sausages from it and dried it out. They also grew pumpkins and other vegetables. Antelope was another common meal.
Plains Tribes - Clothing
Men usually wore animal skin leggings, a loin cloth (a small piece of cloth or skin worn between the legs) and a belt (to hold the loin cloth). When it was cold, they wore buffalo skin on their shoulders. Women and girls wore dresses made of deerskin.
Plains Tribes - Ceremonies
One of the important ceremonies was the Sun Dance. This was usually a four day celebration in the summer. Dancers all moved in sync and didn't eat or drink. Some men would even pierce their chests with wooden skewers. Ouch! Another important dance was the Ghost Dance that took place at night. The Plains Tribes believed they could speak to the gods and their ancestors during this ceremony.
Plains Tribes - Did U Know?
- The best way to earn respect was through battle. Warriors would bring scalps home to prove their success and wear them.
Southeastern tribes lived in states like Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama. They were hunters and gatherers. Some of them moved from one area to another but the majority stayed in the same area. It just depended on where they lived and how much food was available. Some of the Southeastern tribes include Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole.
Some of the tribes lived in round homes much like wigwams - made from logs and sticks, then covered with grass. There was a hole in the top so light could enter. A few tribes had two-storey frame houses covered with bark, others had thatch-roofed houses.
The food hasn't changed that much over the years. It's still the same typical diet of southeastern diets. They ate cornpones, corn bread, hominy grits, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes. They also had more possum, bear and most other available meats, but rarely pork. Turkey was a regular meal as well as veggies.
Some of the Southeastern tribes were into bright colors, while others probably didn't have that option. In the summer the woman usually went naked from the waist up. In the winter they wore moss and wool. One of the styles of clothing that became popular later on was a long skirt and a cloth that went over the shoulders.
The Green Corn Festival was one of the most important ceremonies. It happened in the fall. Chanting shamans and warriors circled a cooking fire, carrying corn. After the corn was boiled, it was hung up above the fire as a sacred offering to the Great Spirit. A new fire was built and enough corn for the entire village was made while people danced.
Southeastern tribes were famous for intermarriage. The Shawnee Chief, Blue Jacket, was an adopted Caucasian. There was even an African American, John Horse, who was a Seminole warrior. Many others were a mix of races and tribes. Nobody cared as long as the culture didn't change and was kept alive.