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Traditional culture

Linguistic organization

Six distinctive American Indian language families or stocks were stood for in the Plains. Those speak the exact same language are usually referred to together a people or nation, but this specify name convention frequently masks the existence of a number of fully autonomous political divisions, or bands, within a offered tribe. Because that instance, the Blackfoot (Blackfeet) tribe had three independent bands, the Piegan (officially order Peigan in Canada), Blood, and also Blackfoot suitable (Northern Blackfoot).

Each language family included groups that stayed in other society areas, and the speakers of the numerous languages in ~ a stock were not constantly geographically contiguous. Therefore the speaker of Algonquian languages included the Blackfoot, Arapaho, Atsina, levels Cree, and Saulteaux (Plains Ojibwa), every in the northern Plains, while Cheyenne, likewise an Algonquian language, was talked in the central Plains.


The speakers of Siouan languages had the Mandan, Hidatsa, Crow, Assiniboin, Omaha, Ponca, Osage, Kansa, Iowa, Oto, and also Missouri. Dakota, Lakota, and also Nakota were talked by the bands the the Santee, Teton, and also Yankton Sioux tribes, dong (see Sidebar: The Difference between a Tribe and also a Band; Sidebar: indigenous American Self-Names).

The Pawnee, Arikara, and also Wichita were Caddoan speakers, whereas the Wind flow Shoshone and the Comanche were of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Athabaskan (Na-Dené) share was represented by the Sarcee in the northern Plains, if the Kiowa-Tanoan stock was stood for by the Kiowa.

Two other interaction systems bear mention. The Métis of the Canadian plains spoke Michif, a trade dialect that linked Plains Cree, an Algonquian language, and French. Michif was talked over a vast area. In other areas many tribes offered Plains Indian sign language (PISL) together a method of communication. This was a system of addressed hand and also finger positions symbolizing ideas, the definitions of i beg your pardon were known to the bulk of the people of the area.

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The function of the horse in levels life

The introduction of the horse had actually a profound result on the product life of the levels peoples. Horses greatly increased person mobility and also productivity in the region—so lot so that numerous scholars division Plains history into two periods, one before and also one after ~ the come of the horse. Steeds became available gradually end the food of at the very least a century; prior to 1650 ce horses were reasonably rare, and by 1750 they had become reasonably common.