Life on the Plains
Until the 1800s, buffalo roamed the prairies and hills of the
Great Plains, as did wild horses. The Lakota tamed the horses
and used them to hunt buffalo for food, and for skins which
provided clothing and shelter. Many Lakota became expert
riders, breeders, and trainers.
"The heart of everything that is," the Black Hills of South
Dakota's Great Plains were sacred to the Lakota and were used
for religious and social gatherings. There they built teepees and
taught values of courage, fortitude, wisdom, and generosity to
their children. Important events were tracked by using a calendar called the winter count.
Importance of the Buffalo
The people of the Great Plains so relied on the buffalo for
food, clothing, shelter, and even tools and weapons that they
created songs, stories, and dances in the buffalo's honor. In the
1700s, 30 to 100 million buffalo roamed the Plains. Each part of
the buffalo was put to use. Nothing was wasted. Horns became
spoons, cups, and toys. Bones made tools and weapons. Tails
became fly brushes or whips.