In a follow-up to their acclaimed The Buffalo and the Indians (2006), Patent and Munoz discuss how the Plains Indians’ relationship with horses enriched them.
For a very long time, the Native American tribes living on the Western prairies relied on dogs pulling travois as their beasts of burden. They hunted buffalo on foot, a dangerous pursuit only possible when many people worked together. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers brought horses to the New World in order to dominate and frighten the Indians, but gradually, as the horses reproduced, escaped and spread, the Indians used horses to transform their world. Horses gave them power and freedom: They could carry much larger loads much faster than dogs. Better still, they could be used in battle. A single warrior on horseback could bring down a buffalo. A mounted raiding party could attack suddenly and retreat with equal swiftness. Horses transformed Indian art and spirituality as well, and, in fact, are still an important part of Plains Indian tribal culture. Patent's prose is, as always, clear and readable. Munoz's color photographs show the prairie and tribes as they exist today; in addition, the book uses black-and-white historic photographs that, while grainy, show the West the way it used to be.
Very well done; an important resource. (Nonfiction. 8-12)