How did horses change the lives of the Plains Indians?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Horses changed the lives of the Plains Indians in many ways.  Two of the most important have to do with transport and economics.  The coming of horses allowed the Indians to transport larger amounts of goods.  The horses could pull much larger loads on travois than dogs or people could.  The horses also changed the Indians' economies.  Many of them bred horses as an economic activity.  The horses also made it much easier to hunt bison.  In these ways, horses improved the material culture of the Plains Indians in a number of ways.

mrkirschner's profile pic

mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The introduction of the horse to the plains Indians had a dramatic effect on Indian culture. Indians quickly adapted to using horses for warfare and hunting. Indians relied on the buffalo to survive. With the horse, they improved their ability to hunt to the point that they were able to create a surplus. They used the surplus of buffalo hides to trade with Europe and the United States. This allowed them to acquire goods that would not have otherwise been available to them.

The Indians quickly learned to use the horse to make their daily jobs easier. This was especially true when moving. Many tribes evolved to become more nomadic, which made it easier to find food sources. It was much more convenient to load their belongings on horses or on carts that were pulled by horses.

Native Americans also became much better warriors through the utilization of horses. The tribes that adapted to riding horses for warfare had an advantage over others. Warfare became more common, but so did the expansion of their territories.