Native American Photographs by Edward S. Curtis

Arikara Indians

Arikara Indian Photos by Edward S. Curtis

Tribal Summary

Dress

Men wore deerskin leggings and moccasins, but a buffalo-robe thrown over the shoulders served the purpose of a shirt. The loin-cloth was of the thin buffalo-skin taken in the summer, smoked to render it soft and pliable, and not depilated. He Hawk says that when he was eleven years old, that is, about 1850, the loin-cloth was not universally used.

The hair of the men hung in front of their shoulders in two braids wrapped with strips of buffalo-fur, or with otter-skin if that could be procured. The lock hanging in the front was cut rather short, and sometimes the hair at the sides was trimmed to shoulder-length, and here, as well as in front, it might be curled upward by means of a heated stick. A small plaited lock depended from the crown. Tradition knows of no period when the hair was arranged in the well-known Pawnee fashion. Large clamshells were frequently worn in the ears. Tattooing was not practiced.

Women were clad in a one-piece garment reaching to the ankles, and made of two deerskins, one for the front and one for the back. Each sleeve required the use of half a hide, and was unsewn along the under side. The bottom of the skirt was fringed and scalloped, and at the shoulders were hung rattles of mountain-sheep hoof. Moccasins were of deerskin or buffalo-skin, a single piece doubled over and sewed along one side, while the leggings extended to the knees. The hair of females, parted in the middle, hung down behind in two braids, which were wrapped with deerskin thongs, these being sometimes ornamented with porcupine quills. As with the men, the favorite ear-pendant was the blue clam shell.

Dwellings

The Arikara built houses of the roughly hemispherical, earth-covered type exactly like those used by their neighbors. On hunting excursions the skin tipi was used.

Food

Besides the usual game animals and indigenous berries and roots, the Arikara ate, as occasion permitted or demanded, such animals as coyotes, wolves, wildcats, and dogs, and other smaller quadrupeds not ordinarily considered fit for food. Their main dependence was, of course, corn, beans, squash, and sunflower seeds.

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