Native American Photographs by Edward S. Curtis

Atsina Indians

Atsina Indian Photos by Edward S. Curtis

Tribal Summary

Dress

Atsina Indian men wore shirts and leggings of deerskin or antelope-skin, moccasins of buffalo skin, and loin-cloth of old soft lodge-cover. The shirt was not sewn along the sides and under the arms, but only tied at intervals with cords. Like the leggings, it was frequently ornamented with dyed porcupine-quills. The hair was roached in front, and a braid hung at each temple. The single long braid at the back was usually spotted with orange paint. Warriors entering battle tied the hair in a mass on the top of the head.

Women used the one-piece dress reaching nearly to the ankles, the full sleeves falling to the elbow. Their moccasins were like those of the men, and the leggings extended to the knee. Gala dresses were ornamented with elk teeth and with paint. The hair of women was parted in the middle, and combed out with a porcupine-tail brush, but it was never braided. Both sexes wore shell pendants in the ears.

Dwellings

The skin tipis of the Atsina Indians consisted, in later times, of twenty buffalo skins and twenty-four poles, the latter about thirty feet in length. From entrance to smoke hole the covering was held together with forty wooden pins about eighteen inches long. The flap covering the entrance was a piece of rawhide, which as a rule was painted symbolically; but chiefs and medicine-men were permitted to use a bear-skin for that purpose. Four buffalo skins formed the inner curtain, which extended upward from the ground to the height of six or seven feet.

Food

The flesh of the buffalo, deer, antelope, and elk, fruits such as buffalo-berries, choke-cherries, and service-berries, and roots of several species, chief of which was the turnip (pomme blanche), formed the principal diet of the Atsina Indians.

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