Plains Native Americans - Mystery Dogs (the Horse) Illustration

Mystery Dogs
The Horse

Native Americans
in Olden Times for Kids

Most Plains people were not farmers. They were hunters and gatherers. The women took care of the children, made the clothes, and gathered wild vegetables. For most of the year, the men wandered the prairies in search of food. The men traveled great distances and hunted on foot. When they killed game, they cooked and dried food wherever they were, and carried home as much as they could on foot, dragging food behind them piled on buffalo skin.

The coming of the horse changed their life considerably.

Horses are not native to the United States. When the Spanish arrived in the New World, they brought horses with them. Some of those horses escaped. Some found their way into the Great Plains.

When the Plains People first saw horses, they called them mystery dogs. These early people were smart and adventurous. It did not take them long to realize that if they could catch a horse, they could ride a horse. It might have started as a game, but it soon became a way of life.

The Plains People could travel many miles in one day on horseback. They could hunt more effectively. They could haul skins and food home more easily, and in bigger quantities as horses could drag large loads.

Soon, each family had ample skins to make much larger teepees. They happily moved out of earth homes made of mud, and into huge tepees made of wood poles covered with buffalo skins. They loaded their families, their goods, and themselves on horseback, and followed the buffalo.

The Buffalo

Tepees (Tipis)

Daily Life

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