Constructing Settlement Patter Essay

1338 words - 5 pages

Looking at the ethnohistoric sources of the Crow Indians can help construct the settlement and subsistence patterns of the prehistoric counterparts of the Crow. According to one source, Joseph Medicine Crow's book From the Heart of the Crow Country, the reader is informed that when the Absarokee separated from the main tribe, believed to be the Hidatsa, they abandoned the ways of agriculture and went back to the nomadic ways of hunting and gathering. Because of the hunting they were always on the move and this lead to constant warfare with other tribes of the Plains and the mountains for prime locations (Medicine Crow 1992: 4). As far as the social organization, the primary unit is the family, with the clan being the secondary unit. The clan is made up of distantly related families with membership based on matrilineal descent. This mens that a person belongs to his or her mother's clan, not the father's clan. Then as the tribe population increased, it divided into sub-tribes or bands for the convenience and travel. These bands were governed by band chiefs which were supported and advised by a body of other chieftains. These band chiefs managed the affairs of important ceremonies and maintenance of law and order. The tribe of the Crow consisted of two main bands, the River Crow - who lived along the Missouri, Milk and Yellowstone Rivers - and the Mountain Crow - who enjoyed the life along the high ranges of northern Wyoming and southern Montana. There is a third group, called Kicked in the Bellies, and these are closely related to the Mountain Crow (Medicine Crow 1992: 5). The economy of the Crow is based simply on the availability of game and the edible plants, and the tribes ability to find and procure them. In the Crow country, for both Mountain and River Crow, both game and plant food were abundant. Men were responsible for the hunting of game only, while the women cured the meat and also gathered roots and berried, and prepared them as supplies. Women were also responsible for the manufacture of clothes and household equipment, and they prepared the buffalo skins for the tipis (Medicine Crow 1992: 8). As far as hunting goes, the main prey was buffalo, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and some small game. The main type of hunting was the buffalo drive or buffalo jump. According to Medicine Crow, there are four main types of jumps. The first one is called the Classic type, which is characterized by a V-shaped line of stones, leading to the edge of the cliff (Illustration 1). This type of hunt involved only a few men to less than a dozen men to drive the prey off the cliff (Medicine Crow 1992: 91-93). The second type of jump is referred to as the Intermediate type. This is characterized by one line of rocks on one side, while the other side is lined with a natural barrier (Illustration 2). For this type of drive, the medicine man had some kind of role for making the drive successful, and the entire camp population was...

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