Foods of Plains Tribes

Arikaras, Assiniboines, Blackfeet, Cheyennes, Comanches, Crees, Crows, Dakotas, Gros Ventres, Hidatsas, Ioways, Kiowas, Lakotas, Mandans, Missourias, Nakotas, Ojibwas, Omahas, Osages, Otoes, Pawnees, Poncas, Quapaws, Tonkawas, Wichitas consumed plants such as beans (some taken from mice nests), buffalo berries, Camas bulbs, chokecherries, currants, plums, turnips, and animals such as antelopes, beavers, buffalo, deer, ducks, elk, hackberries, muskrats, prairie dogs, rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, prairie chickens, skunks, wolf pups. Bison supplied a variety of dishes: boiled meat, tripe soup perhaps thickened with brains, roasted intestines, jerked/smoked meat, and raw kidneys, liver, tongue sprinkled with gall or bile were eaten immediately after a kill. One version of Plains pemmican consisted of thin strips of meat, marrow fat and chokecherries pounded together.

Richard Irving Dodge, a career officer who in the late 1870s wrote his decidedly one-sided ideas about Natives in The Plains of North America and Their Inhabitants, had some interesting observations about plains wildlife. A hunter with no apparent concern about environmental management, Dodge tells about the plethora of animals he killed in a two-week period in 1872: badgers, various birds (cranes, grouse, hawks, herons, meadowlarks, owls, robins, quail, turkeys), buffalo, deer, doves, ducks (teal, Mallard, shovel-bill, Widgeon, butter-ducks, Shell drakes) elk, owls, raccoons, rattlesnakes. He also encountered bears (blacks and grizzles), cougars, pumas and panthers.1

1. Richard Irving Dodge, The Plains of North America and Their Inhabitants (ed. Wayne R. Kime, Newwark: University of Delaware Press, 1989)

Taken from Devon A. Mihesuah, Recovering Our Ancestors’ Gardens: Indigenous Recipes and Guide to Diet and Fitness (University of Nebraska Press, 2005)