Plains Indians

The Plains Indians is an overarching term for the Native Americans who lived on the Great Plains, stretching from part of northern Mexico, a large portion of central United States, and a region of southern Canada. These tribes originated from a nomadic culture of following herds of bison through the plains, however some did start up agricultural efforts over the years. Among the Plains Indians are tribes such as the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Lakota, and the Arapaho.

As a whole, the Plains Indians did not share one unified set of religious ceremonies and celebrations; however Animism, the belief in spirits that exist in humans, animals, plants, and rocks, was a common and important thread amongst them. One central god, the Great Spirit, was also important to many or all of the Plains Indians, as well as worship of the Earth as the mother of all other spirits. Another shared ritual amongst Plains Indians was the Sun Dance, a ceremony where those involved would dance around a ceremonial item for four days, sometimes purposely injuring themselves in the process, asking for strength from the spirits in exchange for this self-sacrifice. Shaman, also known as medicine men, often guided the spiritualism of each tribe.

The gender roles of the Plains Indians were fairly rigid. The men would go out in groups to hunt, traveling with shields, knives, and bows and arrows, their weapons often decorated with symbols that represented protection. Women remained in the camp, where they would weave blankets, cook the food, and care for the children. The arrival of Europeans on North American land caused major change for the Plains Indians over the following centuries, however many still exist in some form and strive to maintain their traditions from generation to generation.

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