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Indians of the Great Western Prairies

Upon the Yellowstone, and about the headwaters of the Missouri, the most noted tribes are the Crows and Blackfeet. Bordering upon them at the north and northeast are their enemies, the Ojibbeways, Knisteneaux, and Assinaboins, of some of whom brief mention has been made in former chapters. In 1834 the Blackfeet were computed to number over thirty thousand, but when the small-pox swept over the western country, in 1838, they were frightfully reduced. By the returns of 1850, they were represented as amounting to about thirteen thousand. As these Indians are among the farthest removed from the contaminating influence of the whites, and as the prairie abounds in all that is requisite for their subsistence, viz., horses and buffalo, they present fine specimens of the aboriginal race. They are of manly proportions, active, and capable of great endurance: their dress is particularly comfortable and ornamental, bedecked with all the embroidery and fringes characteristic of savage finery. The style of dress, dwellings, means of subsistence, &c., among the Indians of the western prairies, is in many respects so similar, that we shall only avoid wearisome repetition by omitting minute descriptions in speaking of the different tribes. Their Summer and Winter Lodges The summer lodge, necessarily made movable to suit their migratory habits, is a tent of buffalo-skins, supported by pine poles brought from the distant mountains. These skins are neatly and substantially stitched together, and often highly painted and ornamented. The tent is trans ported by tying the poles in two bundles, the small ends of which, bound together, are hung over the shoulders of a horse, while the butts...

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