Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Ginger sings...Oh Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam...
This title to this post contains a familiar line from a famous old song...one which might have been more appropriately sang by the plains Indian tribes, among which the Sioux counted. Their very lives depended upon the shaggy beast that gradually disappeared from the prairies as white men took sport in killing this poor-sighted animal.
Ritualistic in thought and deed, each year throngs from the nomadic Indian tribes gathered for what was known as a Summer Sun Dance to pray, make offerings, visit, and prepare for a buffalo hunt. Stripped down to breechclouts and moccasins, and riding downwind because of the animals superior sense of smell, mounted warriors darted in and out of the herd, trying to drive a major number into a circle so they could easily be picked off with their bows and arrows. Many men lost their lives in pursuit of the massive prey.
The scraped skins served a variety of purposes: swaddling for the young, shrouds for the dead, and anywhere from six to 28 pelts sewn together to cover a tepee. Once tanned and softened the hides were made into shirts, leggings, dresses and moccasins. During autumn hunts, the longer haired pelts served the people well as blankets and robes. The animal was revered and thanks always given to the Great Spirit for prosperity in a hunt.
Even the sinew for bows and sewing came from buffalo tendons and rawhide. Woven hair served as strong rope, cradleboard stuffing, pillows and horse blankets. Horns were fashioned into spoons and vessels from which to drink, while even the bladder became a pouch sufficient for hauling water and the paunch, a cooking pot. Suspended over a fire on four sticks and filled with water heated by hot rocks, the stomach made a fine cooking kettle.
What meat left over from the celebratory feasts was dried into jerky or pounded together with fat and berries into something called pemmican which sustained the families through the winter months or nourished warriors who journeyed away from the village.
I'd be lost without my research source purchased years ago: America's Fascinating Indian Heritage. I've learned so much from this book from Reader's Digest and authored by James A. Maxwell, I've practically memorized it.
My love for the American Indian is endless. I can't explain the fascination or adoration, but I do know that my next book will be about an Indian heroine. You had to have been strong to have survived as a female, facing the hardships, expectations, and tribulations of what we know as the old west. There's just so much to tell.