The Sioux Indians were divided into seven tribes and were referred to as one of the Plains Indian tribes. They were family-oriented, spiritual, and matriarchal, with the wives tending to the family and life in the community while the men provided for that family and went to war for the tribe. Being a warrior was a great honor to the Sioux Indians, and leaving home for the war was a rite of passage for young men in the tribe.
Sioux weapons were numerous and diverse. Primarily they used bows and arrows that were custom-made for each user. They were made of green ash and measured according to each archer's left arm as it was held parallel to the ground. The arrows were also made of wood, and the arrow-heads were made of stone and bone wrapped in sinew until such a time that Sioux began trading with settlers for steel. Another kind of bow used by the Sioux is the Dakota bow made from Hickory and double-curved, measuring 3 feet, 7 inches in length. Dakota Sioux arrows have bands of red and blue stripes which make them more identifiable. The quivers they used were made of two pieces of leather sewn together, also indicating a trade between white settlers and the Indians of steel needles to sew. The quivers were decorated with beadwork, dyed horsehair, and other decorative features. Women decorated with geometric designs while men decorated with likenesses of living things, usually animals.
Many Sioux hunters used spears for hunting, decorated with buffalo fur, feathers, and beads. These spears, or lances, would be five feet long and have a steel blade. The hunters would sometimes ride up beside the buffalo and drive the spear into it. Another tactic, however, would be to drive the buffalo off a cliff and then have hunters waiting at the bottom to spear the wounded animal when he falls. Often the Sioux Indians would put on an animal robe, sometimes wolf, to sneak up on the buffalo, due to the difficulty of hunting. During the Battle of Little Big Horn, the Sioux weapons of choice were also the lance which could be used from horseback and could pierce a body, or several bodies, clear through.
The Sioux Indians, as well as the other Plains Indian tribes, traded with the white settlers to obtain guns during the fur trapping period. They received 14 shot, .44 caliber Henrys, Spencers, Winchesters, and Sharps rifles. Pistols were rarely used by Indians, because they were not as effectively used as bows and arrows. Many Sioux tribesmen had rifles during the Battle of Little Big Horn.