THE PLAINS INDIANS: Their Origins, Migrations, and Cultural Development by Francis Haines

THE PLAINS INDIANS: Their Origins, Migrations, and Cultural Development

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The North American Indians apparently crossed from Asia to Alaska during the last Ice Age, reaching Texas about 40,000 years ago, nomadic hunters who gradually became farmers as the plains dried up and their prey followed the disappearing streams into the forest. But drought and overcrowding drove the Indians back onto the plains around 1200 A.D. where they hunted the bison on foot until the arrival of the white man who brought with him horses, guns and smallpox. Haines devotes most of this book to tracing the tribes' restless migrations and other aspects of tribal life--feasting, war and hunting--are sometimes slighted. With the coming of the European intruder the traditional economy of the Indians was disrupted. A ripple effect was created by which the eastern Indians who lived near the traders could easily conquer the unarmed and unmounted western tribes. Even the object of the raiding parties changed, since the more horses the Indians had, the more buffalo hides they could obtain to trade for the white man's goods. A vicious circle was created which kept the tribes in continual warfare, decimated the buffalo herds and left the Indians themselves increasingly vulnerable to the dubious blessings of civilization. Aimed at the general reader, Haines' book is too often a confusion of place names but it does explain some of the underlying social and economic forces which brought about the decline of the Indian nations of the West.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1975
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell