Crow Indian Tribe

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Crow Indian Tribe


The Crow or Apsaalooke have always been an intriguing people, and once the expansion of Euro-Americans intensified, they were sought after for their fine robes and ornaments by traders and trappers. The Grand Entrance they exhibited when they approached a village or post set them apart from other tribes. Many of the early explorers that encountered the Crow were greatly impressed with their stature and ability as warriors. As a result, many of the literate explorers kept detailed accounts of the Crow and their customs. One glaring question many of them had was where did the Crow come from? Not much however, had been ascertained since the Crow worldview was contained within the geographic boundaries they were constantly hunting and living within. In essence, it appeared the Crow had come from the ground which they stood upon.


Estimates suggest the Crow split from a parent tribe around 1450 to 1550 and moved onto the plains to become one of the most historically recognized tribes on the northern plains." They were not originally known as Crows before the move onto the plains, but oral history suggests that they were part of a parent tribe that moved from the eastern woodlands, and finally made it to what is now Devil's Lake in North Dakota. Once the Crow split from the parent tribe they formed what is now known as the Crow Nation, and from there began to develop a unique and distinct identity that set them apart from the other plains tribes. Like many of the surrounding tribes, they relied on the buffalo for their existence for everything including food, clothing, shelter and tools. The buffalo was an animal that moved about the plains in search of forage, which allowed tribes to follow the animal as it moved.

As other tribes began to recognize the importance of the buffalo, they, too, began to move onto the plains. This eventually resulted in tribes coming across one another as they followed the herds, resulting in inter-tribal warfare. This culture, known as the buffalo culture, soon emerged, slowly forcing the Indians to live a certain way, usually dictated by the movements of the buffalo. The animal continued to be the focal point of plains tribes until their near extinction in the latter part of the nineteenth century." Like many other tribes, the Crow took the animal and made it the center of their lives, culturally, socially, economically and spiritually.

By the mid-seventeenth century, a new introduction onto the plains added and accelerated the culture that was in place. The horse, a European introduction, slowly made its way to the Crows and other northern tribes from the south. The Comanche, a relative of the Shoshone Indians, quickly realized the importance of the animal and moved southward, becoming a major part of the introduction of the horse onto the northern plains. By 1735, the Crow had obtained the horse and fully incorporated the animal into their society.' The animal immediately impacted the Crows in every aspect of ...
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