For the Plains Indians, life revolved around two principal elements: ‘Hunting’ and ‘War’. One meant sustenance for the body, the other, honour to warm the soul.
Some tribes planted crops, others traded meant, fur and horses to those same farming Indians for foodstuffs their nomadic ways or horseman’s pride would not allow them to plant and grow for themselves.
Although the ‘hunters’ killed deer, antelope and smaller wild game for meat their greatest dependence was upon the largest walking beast to be found on the North American continent... The Buffalo.
The American Bison, more commonly called the ‘buffalo’ furnished most of the Plains tribes daily necessities; meat, warm robes for winter, skins to cover their tepees, leather for moccasins and leggings as well as coverings for war shields. The buffalo’s bones also provided glue for binding and could be fashioned into cooking and eating utensils, sewing implements and the frames for saddles. Buffalo hair was even woven into ropes or used to stuff saddle pads or any item that required cushioning.
The Indians used virtually everything from the animal... nothing was thrown away!
Once the horse was introduced, hunting became even easier and much more successful especially hunting the buffalo.
Bands of warriors would follow the herds in the Fall each year, carefully selecting which beasts to go after. Their families would follow the hunters, staying well back and downwind. Though the buffalo’s eyesight was poor, its sense of smell was strong.
As the hunters burst upon the grazing animals, the first goal was to make the animals run in a circle, creating what was called a ‘surround’. This confined the ‘kills’ to a limited area, a convenience for the following women who would do most of the butchering of the carcasses.
Every hunter had a special horse or pony that had been trained to ride close to the buffalo so the arrow or lance could be driven accurately into the animal.
When the hunt was complete a signal would be given for the women and followers to move in and begin harvesting the meat.
These latest K&C releases portray the herd under attack by some Sioux and Cheyenne warriors in a most dramatic fashion.