Remembering the Native American Indians U. S. History Name: E. Napp Date



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Remembering the Native American Indians

U.S. History Name: ________________________

E. Napp Date: ________________________

Zitkala-Ša was born a Sioux in 1876. As she grew up on the Great Plains, she learned the ways of her people. When Zitkala-Ša was eight years old she was sent to a Quaker school in Indiana. Though her mother warned her of the ‘white men’s lies,” Zitkala-Ša was not prepared for the loss of dignity and identity she experienced, which was symbolized by the cutting of her hair. ‘I cried aloud…and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities…And now my long hair was shingled like a coward’s! In my anguish I moaned for my mother, but no one came…Now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.’ [The School Days of an Indian Girl]


Zitkala-Ša experienced firsthand the clash of two very different cultures that occurred as ever-growing numbers of white settlers moved onto the Great Plains. In the resulting struggle, the Native American way of life was changed forever. Zitkala-Ša knew very little about the world east of the Mississippi River. Most Easterners knew equally little about the West, picturing a vast desert occupied by savage tribes. That view could not have been more inaccurate. In fact, distinctive and highly developed Native American ways of life existed on the Great Plains, the grassland extending through the west central portion of the United States.
After the Spanish brought horses to New Mexico in 1598, the Native American way of life began to change. As the native peoples acquired horses – and then guns – they were able to travel farther and hunt more efficiently. By the mid-1700s, almost all the tribes on the Great Plains had left their farms to roam the plains and hunt buffalo. Their increased mobility often led to war when hunters in one tribe trespassed on other tribes’ hunting grounds. For the young men of a tribe, taking part in war parties and raids was a way to win prestige. A Plains warrior gained honor by killing his enemies, as well as by ‘counting coup.’ This practice involved touching a live enemy with a coup stick and escaping unharmed. And sometimes warring tribes would call a truce so that they could trade goods, share news, or enjoy harvest festivals. Native Americans made tepees from buffalo hides and also used the skins for clothing, shoes, and blankets. Buffalo meat was dried into jerky or mixed with berries and fat to make a staple food called pemmican. While the horse gave Native Americans speed and mobility, the buffalo provided many of their basic needs and was central to life on the Plains.” ~ The Americans




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