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Household Utensils of the Plains Indians

In a preceding section, reference was made to baskets, which in parts of the Plateau area on the west, often served as pots for boiling food. They were not, of course, set upon the fire, the water within being heated by hot stones. Pottery was made by the Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara, and probably by all the other tribes of the Village group. There is some historical evidence that it was once made by the Blackfoot and there are traditions of its use among the Gros Ventre, Cheyenne, and Assiniboin; but, with the possible exception of the Blackfoot, it has not been definitely credited to any of the nine typical tribes. We have no definite information as to how Plains tribes foods were boiled among these non-pottery making tribes before traders introduced kettles. Many tribes, however, knew how to hang a fresh paunch upon sticks and boil in it with stones (Fig. 30). Some used a fresh skin in a hole. Thus Catlin says: There is a very curious custom amongst the Assinneboins, from which they have taken their name; a name given them by their neigh bors, from a singular mode they have of boiling their meat, which is done in the following manner: when they kill meat, a hole is dug in the ground about the size of a common pot, and a piece of the raw hide of the animal, as taken from the back, is put over the hole, and then pressed down with the hands close around the sides, and filled with water. The meat to be boiled is then put in this hole...

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