Plains Indian, member of any of the Native American peoples inhabiting the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. This culture area comprises a vast grassland between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains and from present-day provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada through the present-day state of Texas in the United States. The area is drained principally by the Missouri and Mississippi rivers; the valleys of this watershed are the most reliable sites from which to obtain fresh water, wood, and most plant foods. The climate is continental, with annual temperatures ranging from below 0 °F (−18 °C) to as high as 110 °F (43 °C).
Distribution of North American Plains Indians.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
The Missouri River valley provides a reliable source of water and trees in the relatively arid …
Scott T. Smith/Corbis
Perhaps because they were among the last indigenous peoples to be conquered in North America—some bands continued armed resistance to colonial demands into the 1880s—the tribes of the Great Plains are often regarded in popular culture as the archetypical American Indians. This view was heavily promoted by traveling exhibits such as George Catlin’s Indian Gallery. “Wild West shows” such as the one directed by William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody. and a multitude of toys, collectibles, pulp novels, films, television shows, and other items marketed to consumers.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World. …
Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming/Gift of John S. Bugas and Glenn E. Nielson, Accession No. 1.69.1813