He Impact of the Horse on Plains Indians

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The Impact of the Horse on Plains Indians: A Historiographical Analysis The horse was extinct in North America 11,000 years ago. However, horses were reintroduced with the colonization of the New World by Spain in the 16th century. These Spanish horses would eventually come to dominate the continent of North America, forming the base of the wild mustang herds that by the 19th century occupied a larger region of North America than the bison.[1] These mustang herds were originally created, most historians agree, by abandoned and runaway horses and were later complimented by horses set loose after Popé’s Rebellion in 1680, when, in their rush to evacuate northern New Spain, most colonists left behind excess property, including horses. These horses fell under the control of the Pueblo Indians who traded them off to the Apache and Comanche. Following the construction of this early trade system, the Comanche began to funnel horses into the ancient Rocky Mountain trade network that connected them with their relatives, the Shoshone, in present day Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.[2] This explains how horses arrived on the northern Plains during the early 18th century. The major question that this paper is concerned with is: How did the acquisition of the horse change Plains Indian tribes? Certainly, Indians of the Great Plains region experienced fundamental changes after the horse was introduced to their societies. This paper examines the major changes in historiography that took place from 1914 to 2003. In researching the horse for this paper, three topics emerged as the most studied and documented areas of change by scholars. The first topic is the concept of the mounted warrior and the research question of how the horse changed Plains warfare. The second involves how the horse affected many societies by attacking egalitarianism, leading to the creation of a rank-social

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