IntroductionThe Crow Indians, who were made up of many small clans, once inhabited the Yellowstone River Valley, which covers parts of Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. Today, many of these American Indians of the Great Plains reside in a reservation in Montana, although some live in major cities in the western U.S. One interesting fact about the Crow Indian culture is that women were held in high regard and played an important role within the clan. Read on to find out more about the rich history of these interesting Native Americans. This information is written for both kids and adults.
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Crow Indian Food
- Crow men hunted bison, sheep, deer, elk, and other game.
- The main source of food for these nomadic Indians was Bison. A popular Bison dish called pemmican, consisted of dried Bison meat mixed with berries and animal fat and could be preserved for months at a time.
- Women gathered nuts, berries, herbs and seasonal roots.
- Some clans not only hunted but also grew squash, beans, and corn.
Crow Indian Transportation
- Since the Crow Indians were not a coastal tribe, they often made simple rafts consisting of several logs tied together when they needed to cross water. Swimmers would grip onto ropes and pull the lead across the body of water.
- They relied largely on travois to transport everything from children to meats on land over long distances. Travois were a type of drag sled. The framework was built with a combination of netting and poles in such a way that it could be dragged by hand, horses or dogs.
- They would travel great distances on foot, hoping to steal horses from their enemies and ride them back home.
Crow Indian Traditions
- Death rituals sometimes consisted of the mourning family inflicting pain on themselves. As a means of grieving, they would cut themselves so it would leave a scar.
- Crow women were known to cut off their hair as a means of grieving.
- Warriors moved on to become chiefs of their clan only if they fulfilled several prerequisites and were then selected as chief by the council of chiefs. They needed to defeat another tribe through war, physically touch one of their enemies during battle, steal a horse from an enemy settlement and take a weapon from an enemy under fire.
- Tribe members customarily fasted up to three times in their life, in an attempt to bring themselves closer to the spirits.
- A sacred pipe was smoked and passed around by the chiefs before tribal meetings with the belief that it would help to solve problems. The pipe had to be passed in a specific manner. It was passed only to the left and was not to be rotated in any way during the pass.
Crow Indian Clothing
- The women generally dressed simply in long dresses made of deerskin, bison, or even sheepskin. They usually wore their hair short, sometimes with two braids. To dress up their clothing they decorated with elk teeth, bead jewelry and dyed porcupine quills.
- Men wore typical breechcloths with leggings made of leather, buckskin shirts and a belt. Unlike the women, their hair was usually kept very long and was a great source of pride.
- Footwear for both men and women were moccasins.
Crow Indian Gender Roles
- Women played an important role in this Matriarchal society where clan lineage is traced trough the mother's family. They held a lot of tribal power, their voices were always heard and sometimes women were even chiefs. Upon marriage the men would move into the woman's house and join her family instead of the reverse.
- Not only were the women in charge of home life, including looking after the children and doing household chores, but they physically built the houses, or tipis, each time the clan would move. They moved often to follow bison herds and had to have their tents disassembled and ready to go very quickly.
- The Crow men were hunters. They were skilled at using bows and arrows and spears to catch their prey. They were also responsible for defending their family against attack. They often used war clubs and shields made of hide for protection.
- Both men and women participated in art such as quill embroidery and carvings, music, and storytelling.