General term applied to the many tribes that lived in the Plains and Prairie regions. Their more or less homogeneous culture was based economically on the hunting of bison, although some of the eastern tribes also grew maize. Principally nomadic, they used dogs and later horses for transportation, and were noted for their vigorous and constant warfare and for their mystical pursuit of visions and supernatural power. The popular conception of the heroic Indian brave—tall, muscular, and dignified, with braided hair, costume of skins, and feathered headdress, living in tepees and skilled in horsemanship—derives from contact with the Plains tribes. Among the most prominent of these were the Sioux, Comanche, Cheyenne, Pawnee, Black-foot, Osage, and Mandan. The Plains Indians figure in the writings of Cooper, Neihardt, Garland, Parkman, and Lewis and Clark, in Longfellow's Hiawatha and novels and nonfiction by Mari Sandoz, as well as in the more scientific descriptions by School-craft, Catlin, Grinnell, Dorsey, and Wissler.
Subjects: Literature — World History.