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Study notes

Survival on the Great Plains

  • Levels: GCSE
  • Exam boards: Edexcel

The Great Plains is the area of North America that stretches from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Mississippi River in the east. This is where Plains Indian’s lived. 

The Great Plains is the area of North America that stretches from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Mississippi River in the east. This is where Plains Indian’s lived.

 

Conditions on the Great Plains were harsh. Temperatures were extreme with freezing cold winters and incredibly hot summers. Lighting flashes could cause the grass to set alight, causing huge grassfires that spread across the Plains. The land was dry and unproductive making it difficult to grow crops. Furthermore, dangerous animals, such as buffalo, roamed free.

 

The Plains Indians had adapted their way of life in order to live in these difficult conditions. Their survival depended on hunting buffalo. The Plains Indians acquired the vast majority of their food and materials from these animals. They therefore developed a nomadic (travelling) lifestyle in which they would follow the buffalo migrations across the Plains.

 

Plains Indians lived in tipis, which could easily be taken down and transported when necessary. They had incredible horse-riding and archery skills, which allowed them to effectively hunt buffalo and travel across the Plains. Finally, they developed skills which allowed them to utilise every part of the buffalo. 

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