National Geographic : 1944 Jul
Indians of Our Western Plains tion before the epidemic. Even those that recovered were disfigured, almost beyond rec ognition. Pottery was manufactured by the more sedentary, agricultural tribes such as the Caddo, the Pawnee, the Arikara, and the Man dan. Probably this art came into the Gulf States from Mexico and gradually worked its way northward. Most skillful of the pottery makers were the Caddo. Their decorative ware drew the praise of 16th-century Spanish explorers, who com pared it with the best in Spain (Plate XI). The Pawnee and the earth-lodge tribes of the Missouri made earthenware until the mid dle of the last century, when metal utensils were introduced. In 1833, Maximilian said of the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa: "They understand the manufacture of earthen pots and vessels, of various forms and sizes. The clay is of a dark slate color and burns a yellowish red, very similar to what is seen in the burnt tops of the Missouri hills. This clay is mixed with flint or granite, reduced to powder by the ac tion of fire. "The workwoman forms the hollow inside of the vessel by means of a round stone which she holds in her hand while she works and smooths. the outside with a piece of poplar bark. When the pot is made, it is filled and surrounded with dry shavings, and then burnt, when it is ready for use." Buffalo an Animal of Many Uses The thick woolly hair of the buffalo was used to stuff leather-covered balls for ball games and to pad saddles; for weaving bags and ornaments; for making rope; for cushion ing beds and back rests. The buffalo's beard was made into orna ments for clothing, bows, and lances. The tail became a decoration for tepees, a whip, or a fly swatter. The skin went into tepee covers, clothing, bags and other containers, cooking vessels, shields, saddles, and robes. From the ribs were made skin scrapers, ar row points, gaming dice, quill flatteners, and, when perforated, arrow straighteners. The shoulder blades were utilized for fleshing tools and axes, and by the agricultural tribes for making their principal implement, the hoe. They were even used as an artist's palette for mixing paints. The leg bones became knives, awls, fleshing tools, and hammers. The skull was utilized as a fetish, and the porous nose bones as "paintbrushes." From the horns were made spoons, bowls, cups, arrowheads, and head ornaments. Sinew was used for backing bows to increase their resilience, for sewing, and for making bow strings. From the scrotum were made rattles and stirrup covers; from the bladder, water bags. The intestines were used for string and for bow wrapping; the paunch for boiling water. All the flesh, the organs, and the marrow in the bones were food. The fat served as a base for mixing paint, and as a deodorant for traps. Along with the brain and the liver, fat was used for tanning. Hoofs were turned into rattles, fetishes, and glue; gallstones into yel low paint. Blood and intestinal juices were used for drink. The dried dung, famous "buffalo chips" of the prairie, was an important fuel. Three Ways of Hunting the Buffalo The buffalo hunt was of primary impor tance to the tribe. Success as a hunter was one of the principal means of gaining prestige for the individual. Buffalo hunting, however, was an organized affair subject to strict leadership and regula tion. When scouts found buffalo in the vicin ity, they took care not to be discovered by the animals, and reported at once to the village authorities. These men assigned particular roles to all the hunters, who were under mili tary discipline as long as the hunt lasted. Three methods of organized hunting were practiced. In the "surround" system, the animals were stampeded in a circle and shot by the horsemen, one by one, from the edge of the herd, until as many were killed as re quired. Skillful approach, clever utilization of the terrain where the herd was found graz ing, and daring riding were essential as the hunters closed in. This method was used in the south almost to the exclusion of all others, but was practiced to some extent in the north as well, particu larly in the summertime. In the northern Plains, the ground was covered a good part of the winter with heavy snow. Under these conditions the method of impounding was used. A strong corral was built with a narrow entrance, from which long fences in the form of wings extended out ward in a V-shape. The animals were herded into the wings of the funnel, and men sta tioned along the sides kept them converging until they entered the enclosure where they could be easily killed. Blackfeet and Crow practiced a third method of community hunting, based on a similar principle. Long converging wings were directed to the edge of a cliff and the animals driven over where they would be killed by the fall (Plate II).