Plains Indians Vs Native Americans Essay

624 Words3 Pages
Discussion Question #3

Andrew Isenberg cites the horse, fur trade, and epidemic disease as the main factors for Plains Indians shifting from semi-sedentary nomadic hunters by the start of the 19th century.
The largest impact on the Plains Indian way of life was the reintroduction of the horse to the Americas by Spanish colonists. Before having the extended range to more easily and efficiently hunt bison, Plains Indians had diverse methods of food procurement. These methods, called ecological “safety nets” by William Cronon and Richard White, included gathering numerous plants, hunting different types of animals, and raising crops (65). By having a varied approach to subsistence, the Indians could mitigate setbacks like drought, crop failure, and animal population fluctuations. However, as some of the Plains Indians familiarized themselves with horses, they forwent the varied approach in favor of solely hunting bison on horseback.
Eschewing a sedentary lifestyle for a nomadic one was one of the main differences between the Plains Indians and the Indians of the Northeast and Southwest; the Southwestern tribes were mostly sedentary, while the Northeastern tribes were semi-sedentary. Relying heavily on trade and raids and a shift in gender roles were other big differences formed in nomadic tribes. Focusing exclusively on bison
…show more content…
By living in roaming bands that would splinter off into smaller groups to mimic the movement patterns of bison, the nomadic Indians somewhat staved off the epidemic diseases that decimated the numbers of their sedentary counterparts. Despite still losing 45 percent of their population to European pestilence, most of the deaths occurred in the latter half of the century. Compared to the near 80 percent decline of the Plains horticulturist tribes, the nomadic lifestyle was definitely advantageous

More about Plains Indians Vs Native Americans Essay

Open Document