The Horse in the Plains Culture of Native America Essay

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The Horse in the Plains Culture of Native America A symbol of the great American western frontier, the powerful beast known as the horse is one of the most diverse animals on our planet. Its speed being able to reach up to fifty miles per hour, it is an animal of raw intensity and vigor that is as strong as a bear and as sturdy as an ox. Famous for its grace and fervor, the horse is used worldwide for a vast range of purposes. The introduction of horses to the Native Americans of the plains thoroughly transformed their culture and enabled them to establish a new identity. In order to discuss the impact that the horse made on these people, one must first understand the history of how they were introduced. Horses were in fact native to North America. Approximately one million years ago the horse roamed the woodlands and grassy plains but ceased to exist between thirteen thousand and eleven thousand years ago. Fortunately by that time the species had already spread to Eurasia, possibly via the Bering Land Bridge. The horses that escaped to Eurasia became domesticated and then reintroduced to North America by the Spanish. Many of these horses were either traded to Native Americans or had escaped to form wild herds able to spread throughout North America. A popular legend says that Indians first obtained horses through lost or abandoned horses by the Spanish explorer expeditions led by De Soto and Coronado in 1541. More recent studies have proven that this was not the case. They were truly introduced by 17th century Spanish stock-raising settlements of the Southwest, especially in Santa Fe and San Antonio. They supplied horses to the Indians through friendly trade. This led to the northward spread to the Plains and Plateau tribes. The Ute, Comanche, Apache, Kiowa, and Caddo tribes all had acquired horses by approximately 1640. By 1800 horses had successfully

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