Section 1: Culture of the Plains Indians

Culture is the way of life of a group of people. It includes livelihood (how they make their living), family life, foods, clothing, religion, entertainment, and other ways of living.

Plains Indians are Indians who live on the plains, so all of North Dakota’s Indian tribes would be called “Plains Indians.” Even though each early Plains Indian tribe had its own culture, all of the tribes were alike in some ways.


Each tribe had its own culture. Language, religion, customs, clothing and lifeways were distinct for each tribe.

For example, the Mandan raised crops and traded corn and other goods with tribes who did not raise crops. The Métis also traded with others, but bison hides and meat were their main trade goods. Even clothing styles identified each tribe. The Chippewa were sometimes called the “People of the Puckered Moccasins” because of the way their moccasins were made. The Chippewa also used designs of flowers and vines on their beaded clothing. The Lakota usually used geometric designs on their moccasins.

Though there were many differences among the tribes of North Dakota, the people learned a lot from each other when they exchanged ideas.