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Weapons used by Plains Tribes

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Fig. 33. A Buffalo Hide Shield from the Northern Blackfoot
Fig. 33. A Buffalo Hide Shield from the Northern Blackfoot

Reference has been made to bows, clubs, and lances for killing buffalo; hence, it is only necessary to add that they were also the chief weapons in war. Among nearly all the tribes a circular shield of buffalo hide was used, though with so many ceremonial associations, that it is not clear whether the Indian prized it most for its charm value or for its mechanical properties, since in most cases he seems to have placed his faith in the powers symbolized in the devices painted thereon. No armor seems to have been used. The typical Plains Indian rode into battle, stripped to breechcloth and moccasins, with whatever symbolic headgear, charms, and insignia he was entitled to. However, the Blackfoot have traditions of having protected themselves from arrows by several skin shirts, one over the other, while among the Northern Shoshoni, both men and horses were protected by “many folds of dressed antelope skin united with glue and sand.” The Pawnee have also been credited with hardened skin coats. Since armor and helmets were used in some parts of the North Pacific Coast area and in parts of the Plateaus, it is natural to encounter armor on the northwestern margin of the Plains.

Poisoned arrows have been credited to the Plateau tribes and a few of those in the western Plains.

 

 


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