Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Crow Nation

Crow Nation

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Crow Nation'
Start a new discussion about 'Crow Nation'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Crow, also called the Absaroka or Apsáalooke, are a Siouan
Siouan languages
The Western Siouan languages, also called Siouan proper or simply Siouan, are a Native American language family of North America, and the second largest indigenous language family in North America, after Algonquian...

 people of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who historically lived in the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National...

 valley, which extends from present-day Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, through Montana and into North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

. They now live on a reservation south of Billings, Montana
Billings, Montana
Billings is the largest city in the U.S. state of Montana, and is the principal city of the Billings Metropolitan Area, the largest metropolitan area in over...

 and in several major, mainly western, cities. Tribal headquarters are located at Crow Agency, Montana
Crow Agency, Montana
Crow Agency is a census-designated place in Big Horn County, Montana, United States and is near the actual location for the Little Bighorn National Monument and re-enactment known as Custer's Last Stand...

.

History


The name of the tribe, Apsáalooke əˈpsaːloːke, was translated into French by interpreters as gens du corbeaux (people of [the] crows). It means "children of the large-beaked bird," a name given by their neighboring tribe, the Hidatsa
Hidatsa
The Hidatsa are a Siouan people, a part of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The Hidatsa's autonym is Hiraacá. According to the tribal tradition, the word hiraacá derives from the word "willow"; however, the etymology is not transparent and the similarity to mirahací ‘willows’ inconclusive...

. The bird, perhaps now extinct, was defined as a fork-tailed bird resembling the blue jay
Blue Jay
The Blue Jay is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It is resident through most of eastern and central United States and southern Canada, although western populations may be migratory. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common near and in...

 or magpie
Black-billed Magpie
The Black-billed Magpie is a bird in the crow family that inhabits the western half of North America. It is notable for its domed nests, and for being one of only four North American songbirds whose tail makes up half or more of the total body length The Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) is a...

. In 1743 the Absaroka first encountered people of European descent - the two La Vérendrye
Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye
Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye was a French Canadian fur trader and explorer who took part in extending these activities westerly from the Great Lakes during the eighteenth century, an enterprise for which he and other members of his family were largely responsible...

 brothers from French Canada
French Canada
French Canada, also known as "Lower Canada", is a term to distinguish the French Canadian population of Canada from English Canada.-Definition:...

. The explorers
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

 called the Apsáalooke beaux hommes (handsome men). The Crow called the French Canadians baashchíile (persons with yellow eyes).

Migration onto the Northern Plains


Some historians believe the early home of the Crow-Hidatsa ancestral tribe was near the headwaters of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 in either northern Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 or Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

; others place them in the Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

 area of Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

. Later the people moved to the Devil's Lake
Devil's Lake (North Dakota)
Devils Lake is a lake in the U.S. state of North Dakota. It is the largest natural body of water and the second-largest body of water in North Dakota after the artificially created Lake Sakakawea. In 2011, it reached an unofficial historical high elevation of 1454.20 feet. Additional rises above...

 region of North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

 before the Crow split from the Hidatsa and moved westward. The Crow were largely pushed westward by the intrusion and influx of the Sioux
Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

, who had been pushed westerly by European-American expansion.

Once established in the Valley of the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National...

 and its tributaries on the Northern Plains in Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 and Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, the Crow eventually divided into three groups: the Mountain Crow, River Crow and Kicked in the Bellies. Formerly semi-nomad hunters and farmers in the northeastern woodland, they picked up the nomadic lifestyle of the Plains Indians
Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their colorful equestrian culture and resistance to White domination have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.Plains...

 as hunters and gatherers and went bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

 hunting, using dog travois
Travois
A travois is a frame used by indigenous peoples, notably the Plains Indians of North America, to drag loads over land...

 for carrying goods.

Enemies and allies


After Plains tribes rapidly adopted the horse from about 1740, various eastern and northern tribes pushed on the Plains, in search of game, bison and more horses. Because the Crow, Hidatsa, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Shoshone were noted as horse breeders and dealers, and had large horse herds, they were subject to raids and horse thefts by neighboring horse-poor tribes. Because the Indians on the northern and northeastern Plains owned fewer horses than those on the southern Plains, they remained more dependent upon dogs for transporting goods, and hunted bison on foot. The scarcity of horses in the north encouraged raiding and warfare in competition for the relatively small number of horses that survived the severe winters. This brought them into conflict with the powerful Blackfoot Confederacy, Gros Ventre
Gros Ventre people
The Gros Ventre people , also known as the A'ani, A'aninin, Haaninin, and Atsina, are a historically Algonquian-speaking Native American tribe located in north central Montana...

, Assiniboine, Pawnee, Ute, and later the Lakota and their allies, the Arapaho and Cheyenne, who stole the horses rather than to acquire them through trade. However, their greatest enemies were the tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Lakota-Cheyenne-Arapaho alliance, they counted as allies (sometimes enemies) Flathead
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation are the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai and Pend d'Oreilles Tribes. The Flatheads lived between the Cascade Mountains and Rocky Mountains. The Salish initially lived entirely east of the Continental Divide but established their...

, Nez Perce, Kutenai, Shoshone, Kiowa and Kiowa Apache - with the mighty Iron Confederacy or Nehiyaw-Pwat (in Plains Cree
Plains Cree language
Plains Cree is a dialect of the Algonquian language, Cree, which is the most common Canadian indigenous language. Plains Cree is sometimes considered a dialect of the Cree-Montagnais language, or sometimes a dialect of the Cree language, distinct from the Montagnais language...

: Nehiyaw - ‘Cree’ and Pwat or Pwat-sak - ‘Sioux, i.e. Assiniboine’ - named after the dominating Plains Cree
Cree
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations / Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. In Canada, the major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although...

 and Assiniboine - including Stoney, Saulteaux
Saulteaux
The Saulteaux are a First Nation in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.-Ethnic classification:The Saulteaux are a branch of the Ojibwe nations. They are sometimes also called Anihšināpē . Saulteaux is a French term meaning "people of the rapids," referring to...

 and Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

) as the most powerful.

Tribal Territory


Their tribal territory stretched from what is now Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

 and the headwaters of the Yellowstone River (E-chee-dick-karsh-ah-shay - 'Elk River') in the west, north to the Musselshell River
Musselshell River
The Musselshell River is a tributary of the Missouri River, long from its origins at the confluence of its North and South Forks near Martinsdale, Montana to its mouth on the Missouri River. It is located east of the Continental divide entirely within Montana in the United States...

, then northeast to its mouth into the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

, then southeast to the confluence of the Yellowstone and Powder River
Powder River (Montana)
Powder River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, approximately long in the southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming in the United States. It drains an area historically known as the Powder River Country on the high plains east of the Bighorn Mountains.It rises in three forks in eastern...

s (Bilap chashee - 'Powder River' or 'Ash River'), south along the South Fork of the Powder River, confined in the SE by the Rattlesnake Mountains and westwards in the SW by the Wind River Range
Wind River Range
The Wind River Range , is a mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in western Wyoming in the United States. The range runs roughly NW-SE for approximately 100 miles . The Continental Divide follows the crest of the range and includes Gannett Peak, which at 13,804 feet , is the highest peak...

. Their tribal area included the river valleys of the Judith River
Judith River
The Judith River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 124 mi long, running through central Montana and the United States. It rises in the Little Belt Mountains and flows northeast past Utica and Hobson...

 (Buluhpa'ashe - 'Plum River'), Powder River, Tongue River
Tongue River (Montana)
The Tongue River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, approximately 265 mi long, in the U.S. states of Wyoming and Montana. The Tongue rises in Wyoming in the Big Horn Mountains, flows through northern Wyoming and southeastern Montana and empties into the Yellowstone River at Miles City,...

, Big Horn River and Wind River
Wind River (Wyoming)
The Wind River is the name applied to the upper reaches of the Bighorn River in Wyoming in the United States. The Wind River is long. The two rivers are sometimes referred to as the Wind/Bighorn.-Course:...

 as well as the Bighorn Mountains (Iisiaxpúatachee Isawaxaawúua), Pryor Mountains
Pryor Mountains
The Pryor Mountains are a mountain range in Carbon County, Montana and Big Horn County, Montana. They are located on the Crow Indian Reservation and the Custer National Forest, and portions of them are on private land...

 (Baahpuuo Isawaxaawúua), Wolf Mountains
Wolf Mountains
The Wolf Mountains, el. , is a small mountain range southeast of Lodge Grass, Montana in Big Horn County, Montana....

 (Cheetiish - ‘Wolf Teeth Mountains’) and Absaroka Range
Absaroka Range
The Absaroka Range is a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. The range stretches about 150 mi across the Montana-Wyoming border, forming the eastern boundary of Yellowstone National Park and the western side of the Bighorn Basin. The range borders the Beartooth Mountains...

 (also called Absalaga Mountains).

To acquire control of this area, they warred against Shoshone
Shoshone
The Shoshone or Shoshoni are a Native American tribe in the United States with three large divisions: the Northern, the Western and the Eastern....

 bands (called Bikkaashe - 'People of the Grass Lodges'), and drove them westward, but allied themselves with local Kiowa
Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

 and Kiowa Apache bands.
The Kiowa and Kiowa Apache bands migrated southward, and the Crow remained dominant in their established area through the 18th century, 19th century and the era of the fur trade
North American Fur Trade
The North American fur trade was the industry and activities related to the acquisition, exchange, and sale of animal furs in the North American continent. Indigenous peoples of different regions traded among themselves in the Pre-Columbian Era, but Europeans participated in the trade beginning...

.

The Ashalaho or Mountain Crow, the largest Crow group, split from the Awatixa Hidatsa and were the first to travel west (McCleary 1997: 2-3)., (Bowers 1992: 21), because their leader No Intestines had received a vision and led his band on a long migratory
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

 search for sacred tobacco, finally settling in southeastern Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

. They lived in the Rocky Mountains and foothills on the Wyoming-Montana border along the Upper Yellowstone River, in the Big Horn and Absaroka Range (also Absalaga Mountains) with the Black Hills
Black Hills
The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, USA. Set off from the main body of the Rocky Mountains, the region is something of a geological anomaly—accurately described as an "island of...

 on the eastern edge of their territory.

The Binnéessiippeele or River Crow split from the Hidatsa proper, according to tradition, because of a dispute over a bison stomach so that the Hidatsa called the Crow Gixáa-iccá - 'Those Who Pout Over Tripe' (Bowers 1992: 23; Lowie 1993: 272-275). They lived along the Yellowstone River and Musselshell River south of the Missouri River and in the river valleys of the Big Horn, Powder River and Wind River, (historically known as the Powder River Country
Powder River Country
The Powder River Country refers to an area of the Great Plains in northeastern Wyoming in the United States. The area is loosely defined between the Bighorn Mountains and the Black Hills, in the upper drainage areas of the Powder, Tongue, and Little Bighorn rivers.During the late 1860s, the area...

), sometimes travelling north up to the Milk River.

The Eelalapito or Kicked In The Bellies split off from the Ashalaho or Mountain Crow (Lowie 1912: 183-184). They claimed the area known as the Bighorn Basin
Bighorn Basin
The Bighorn Basin is a plateau region and intermontane basin, approximately 100 miles wide, in north-central Wyoming in the United States. It is bounded by the Absaroka Range on the west, the Bighorn Mountains on the east, and the Owl Creek Mountains and Bridger Mountains on the south...

, from the Bighorn Mountains in the east to the Absaroka Range to the west and south to the Wind River Range in northern Wyoming. Sometimes they settled in the Owl Creek Mountains
Owl Creek Mountains
The Owl Creek Mountains are a subrange of the Rocky Mountains in central Wyoming in the United States, running east to west to form a bridge between the Absaroka Range to the northwest and the Bridger Mountains to the east. The range forms the boundary between the Bighorn Basin to the north and the...

, Bridger Mountains
Bridger Mountains (Montana)
The Bridger Range is a subrange of the Rocky Mountains, in southern Montana in the United States. The range runs mostly in a north - south direction between Bozeman and Maudlow and is separated from the Gallatin Range to the south by Bozeman Pass...

 and along the Sweetwater River
Sweetwater River (Wyoming)
The Sweetwater River is a tributary of the North Platte River, long, in the U.S. state of Wyoming. Its waters eventually reach the Atlantic Ocean. The Sweetwater rises in southwestern Fremont County, at the continental divide near South Pass Wyoming, on the southern end of the Wind River Range...

 in the south.

Gradual displacement of tribal lands


The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 confirmed a large area centered on the Big Horn Mountains as Crow lands — the area ran from the Big Horn Basin on the west, to the Musselshell River
Musselshell River
The Musselshell River is a tributary of the Missouri River, long from its origins at the confluence of its North and South Forks near Martinsdale, Montana to its mouth on the Missouri River. It is located east of the Continental divide entirely within Montana in the United States...

 on the north, and east to the Powder River
Powder River (Montana)
Powder River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, approximately long in the southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming in the United States. It drains an area historically known as the Powder River Country on the high plains east of the Bighorn Mountains.It rises in three forks in eastern...

, and included the Tongue River basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

. However, for two centuries, the Cheyenne and many bands of Lakota Sioux had been steadily migrating westward across the plains, and by 1851 they were established just to the south and east of Crow territory in Montana. These enemy tribes coveted the fine hunting lands of the Crow and conducted tribal warfare against them and boldly appropriated their eastern hunting lands, including the Powder and Tongue River valleys, pushing the less numerous Crow to the west and northwest along the Yellowstone
Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National...

.

After about 1860 these Lakota Sioux bands claimed all the former Crow lands lying east of the Big Horn Mountains
Big Horn Mountains
The Big Horn Mountains are a mountain range in northern Wyoming and southern Montana in the United States, forming a northwest-trending spur from the Rocky Mountains extending approximately 200 miles northward on the Great Plains...

 and required the whites to deal with them regarding any intrusion into these areas. Red Cloud's War
Red Cloud's War
Red Cloud's War was an armed conflict between the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho and the United States in the Wyoming Territory and the Montana Territory from 1866 to 1868. The war was fought over control of the Powder River Country in north central present day Wyoming...

 (1866 to 1868) was a challenge by the Lakota Sioux to the military presence on the Bozeman Trail
Bozeman Trail
The Bozeman Trail was an overland route connecting the gold rush territory of Montana to the Oregon Trail. Its most important period was from 1863-1868. The flow of pioneers and settlers through territory of American Indians provoked their resentment and caused attacks. The U.S. Army undertook...

, which went to the Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 gold fields along the eastern edge of the Big Horn Mountains
Big Horn Mountains
The Big Horn Mountains are a mountain range in northern Wyoming and southern Montana in the United States, forming a northwest-trending spur from the Rocky Mountains extending approximately 200 miles northward on the Great Plains...

. Red Cloud's War ended in a complete victory for the Lakota Sioux, and the 1868 Treaty of Ft. Laramie confirmed their control over all the high plains from the crest of the Big Horn Mountains eastward across the Powder River Basin
Powder River Basin
The Powder River Basin is a geologic region in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming, about east to west and north to south, known for its coal deposits. The region supplies about 40 percent of coal in the United States. It is both a topographic drainage and geologic structural basin...

 to the Black Hills
Black Hills
The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, USA. Set off from the main body of the Rocky Mountains, the region is something of a geological anomaly—accurately described as an "island of...

. Thereafter bands of Lakota Sioux led by Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull Sitting Bull Sitting Bull (Lakota: Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake (in Standard Lakota Orthography), also nicknamed Slon-he or "Slow"; (c. 1831 – December 15, 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux holy man who led his people as a tribal chief during years of resistance to United States government policies...

, Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the U.S...

 and others, along with their Northern Cheyenne allies, hunted and raided throughout the length and breadth of eastern Montana
Eastern Montana
Eastern Montana is a loosely-defined region of Montana. Some definitions are more or less inclusive than others, ranging from the most inclusive, which would include the entire part of the state east of the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains...

 and northeastern Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

 - ancestral Crow territory. Although early in the war on June 25, 1876 the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne enjoyed a major victory over army forces under General George A. Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the Great Sioux War (1876 - 1877) ended in the defeat of the Sioux and their Cheyenne allies, and their exodus from eastern Montana and Wyoming, either in flight to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 or by forced removal to distant reservations.

Groups of the Crow


The Apsaalooke were divided into three independent groupings, that only came together for common defense:
  • Ashalaho (‘Many Lodges’, today called Mountain Crow), Awaxaawaxammilaxpáake (‘Mountain People’) or Ashkúale (‘The Center Camp’)
  • Binnéessiippeele (‘Those Who Live Amongst the River Banks’), today called River Crow or Ashshipíte (‘The Black Lodges’)
  • Eelalapito (Kicked In The Bellies) or Ammitaalasshé (‘Home Away From The Center’, i.e. the Ashkúale - Mountain Crow)


The oral tradition of the Apsaalooke also mentions a fourth group, the Bilapiluutche (‘Beaver Dries its Fur’), which probably merged with the Kiowa
Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

 in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Culture





Traditional Crow shelters are tipi
Tipi
A tipi is a Lakota name for a conical tent traditionally made of animal skins and wooden poles used by the nomadic tribes and sedentary tribal dwellers of the Great Plains...

s made with bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

 skins stretched over wooden poles. The Crow are historically known to construct some of the largest tipis. Inside the tipi, mattresses and buffalo-hide seats were arranged around the edge, with a fireplace in the center. The smoke from the fire escaped through a hole in the top of the tipi. Many Crow families still own and use the tipi, especially when traveling. The annual Crow Fair has been described as the largest gathering of tipis in the world.

The Crow wore clothing distinguished by gender. Women wore simple clothes - dresses made of deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 and buffalo
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

 skins, decorated with elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 teeth. They covered their legs with leggings during winter and their feet with moccasin
Moccasin
A Moccasin is a form of shoe worn by Native Americans, as well as by hunters, traders, and settlers in the frontier regions of North America.Moccasin may also refer to:* Moccasin , an American Thoroughbred racehorse-Places:...

s. Crow women wore their hair in two braids, unlike the men. Male clothing usually consisted of a shirt, trimmed leggings with a belt, a robe, and moccasins. Their hair was long, in some cases reaching or dragging the ground, and often part was styled into a pompadour
Pompadour (hairstyle)
Pompadour is a tall style of men's haircut which takes its name from Madame de Pompadour.There are Latin variants of the hair style more associated with European and Argentine tango fashion trends and occasionally with late 20th century musical genres such as rockabilly and country.The pompadour...

.

The Crows' main source of food was bison, but they also hunted mountain sheep, deer, and other game. Buffalo meat was often roasted or boiled in a stew with prairie turnips. The rump, tongue, liver, heart, and kidneys all were considered delicacies. Dried bison meat was ground with fat and berries to make pemmican
Pemmican
Pemmican is a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious food. The word comes from the Cree word pimîhkân, which itself is derived from the word pimî, "fat, grease". It was invented by the native peoples of North America...

.

The Crow had more horses than any other Plains tribe; in 1914 they numbered approximately thirty to forty thousand head. By 1921 the number of mounts had dwindled to just one thousand. They also had many dogs; one source counted five to six hundred. Unlike some other tribes, they did not eat dog but used them as guards, to carry burdens and to hunt. The Crow were a nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic people.

The Crow had a matrilineal system. After marriage, the couple was matrilocal (the husband moved to the wife's mother's house upon marriage). Women held a significant role within the tribe.

Crow kinship
Crow kinship
Crow kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Crow system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The system is somewhat similar to the Iroquois system, but...

 is a system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Crow system is one of the six major types among indigenous people which he described: Eskimo
Eskimo kinship
Eskimo kinship is a concept of kinship used to define family in anthropology. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Eskimo system was one of six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The Eskimo system places no...

, Hawaiian
Hawaiian kinship
Hawaiian kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Louis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Hawaiian system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:Within common typologies, the...

, Iroquois
Iroquois kinship
Iroquois kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Iroquois system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The system has both classificatory and...

, Crow, Omaha
Omaha kinship
Omaha kinship is the system of terms and relationships used to define family in Omaha tribal culture. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Omaha system is one of the six major kinship systems which he identified...

, and Sudanese
Sudanese kinship
Sudanese kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Sudanese system is one of the six major kinship systems .The Sudanese kinship system is the most complicated...

.

Geography


The Crow Indian Reservation in south-central Montana is a large reservation covering approximately 2300000 acres (9,307.8 km²) of land area, the fifth-largest Indian reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

 in the United States. The reservation is primarily in Big Horn
Big Horn County, Montana
- National protected areas :* Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area * Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument- Economy :Coal Mining and Agriculture both play major roles in Big Horn County’s economy...

 and Yellowstone
Yellowstone County, Montana
-National protected areas:* Nez Perce National Historical Park * Pompeys Pillar National Monument-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 129,352 people, 52,084 households, and 34,219 families residing in the county. The population density was 49 people per square mile . There were...

 counties with ceded lands in Rosebud
Rosebud County, Montana
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 9,383 people, 3,307 households, and 2,417 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 people per square mile . There were 3,912 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile...

, Carbon
Carbon County, Montana
-National protected areas:* Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area * Custer National Forest * Gallatin National Forest -Economy:During the early history of Carbon County, coal mining was the predominant industry...

, and Treasure
Treasure County, Montana
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there were 861 people, 357 households, and 242 families residing in the county. The population density was - Demographics :...

 Counties. The Crow Indian Reservation's eastern border is the 107th meridian
107th meridian west
The meridian 107° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 line, except along the border line of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation
Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation
The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, formerly named the Tongue River Indian Reservation, is an Indian reservation that is home to the Northern Cheyenne tribe of the Native Americans. It is located around the small towns of Lame Deer and Ashland, Montana, in parts of Rosebud and Big Horn...

. The southern border is from the 107th meridian line west to the east bank of the Big Horn River. The line travels downstream to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, following the construction of the Yellowtail Dam by the Bureau of Reclamation. This dam, named after the famous Crow chairman Robert Yellowtail, harnessed the waters of the Bighorn River and turned...

 and west to the Pryor Mountains
Pryor Mountains
The Pryor Mountains are a mountain range in Carbon County, Montana and Big Horn County, Montana. They are located on the Crow Indian Reservation and the Custer National Forest, and portions of them are on private land...

 and north-easterly to Billings. The northern border travels east and through Hardin, Montana
Hardin, Montana
Hardin is a city in and the county seat of Big Horn County, Montana, United States. The population was 3,384 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Hardin is located at ....

, to the 107th meridian line. The 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

 reported a total population of 6,894 on reservation lands. Its largest community is Crow Agency.

Government


The seat of government and capital of the Crow Indian Reservation is Crow Agency, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

.

Prior to the 2001 Constitution, the Crow Nation was governed by a 1948 Constitution. The former constitution organized the tribe as a General Council (Tribal Council
Tribal Council
A Tribal Council is either: an association of Native American bands in the United States or First Nations governments in Canada, or the governing body for certain tribes within the United States or elsewhere...

). The General Council in essence held the executive, legislative, and judicial powers of the government, and was composed of all enrolled members of the Crow Nation, provided that females were 18 years or older and males were 21 or older. The General Council was a direct democracy
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

, comparable to that of ancient Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

.

The Crow Nation, or Crow Tribe of Indians, established a three-branch government at a 2001 Council Meeting. The new government is known as the 2001 Constitution. The General Council remains the governing body of the tribe; however, the powers were distributed to a three-branch government. In theory, the General Council is still the governing body of the Crow Nation, yet in reality the General Council has not convened since the establishment of the 2001 Constitution.

The Executive Branch has four officials. These officials are known as the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary
Secretary
A secretary, or administrative assistant, is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication & organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit...

, and Vice-Secretary. The Executive Branch officials are also the officials within the Crow Tribal General Council, which has not met since July 15, 2001. These officials established the 2001 Constitution.

The Legislative Branch consists of three members from each district on the Crow Indian Reservation. The Crow Indian Reservation is divided into six districts known as The Valley of the Chiefs, Reno, Black Lodge, Mighty Few, Big Horn, and Pryor Districts. The Valley of the Chiefs District is the largest district by population.

The Judicial Branch consists of all courts established by the Crow Law and Order Code and in accordance with the 2001 Constitution. The Judicial Branch has jurisdiction over all matters defined in the Crow Law and Order Code. The Judicial Branch attempts to be a separate and distinct branch of government from the Legislative and Executive Branches of Crow Tribal Government. The Judicial Branch consists of an elected Chief Judge and two Associate Judges. The Crow Court of Appeals, similar to State Court of Appeals, receives all appeals from the lower courts. The Chief Judge of the Crow Nation is Angela Russell.

Constitution controversy


According to the 1948 Constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

, Resolution 63-01, all constitutional amendments must be voted on by secret ballot or referendum vote. In 2001, major actions were taken by the former Chairperson Birdinground without complying with those requirements. The quarterly council meeting on July 15, 2001 passed all resolutions by voice vote, including the measure to repeal the current constitution and approve a new constitution. An opposition has arisen to challenge the new constitution's validity. The challenge is now in Crow Tribal Courts awaiting a decision.

Critics contend the new constitution is contrary to the spirit of the Crow Nation, as it provides authority for the US Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the US Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans in the United States, Native American...

 (BIA) to approve Crow legislation and decisions. The Crow people have guarded their sovereignty and Treaty Rights. The alleged New Constitution was not voted on to add it to the agenda of the Tribal Council. The former constitution mandated that constitutional changes be conducted by referendum vote, using the secret ballot election method and criteria. In addition, a constitutional change can only be conducted in a specially called election, which was never approved by council action for the 2001 Constitution. The agenda was not voted on or accepted at the council.

The only vote taken at the council was whether to conduct the voting by voice vote or walking through the line. Critics say the Chairman ignored and suppressed attempts to discuss the Constitution. This council and constitutional change was never ratified by any subsequent council action. The Tribal Secretary, who was removed from office by the BirdinGround Administration, was the leader of the opposition. All activity occurred without his signature.

When the opposition challenged, citing the violation of the Constitutional Process and the Right to Vote, the Birdinground Administration sought the approval of the United States Department of the Interior
United States Department of the Interior
The United States Department of the Interior is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native...

 (USDOI), Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the US Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans in the United States, Native American...

 (BIA). The latter stated it could not interfere in an internal tribal affair. The federal court also ruled that the constitutional change was an internal tribal matter.

Leadership



The Crow Nation has traditionally elected a chairperson of the Crow Tribal Council biennially; however, in 2001, the term of office was extended to four years. The previous chairperson was Carl Venne
Carl Venne
Carl Venne , whose Crow name was Aashiise Dakatak Baacheitchish, was, until his death, the chairman of the executive branch of the Crow Nation. He was originally elected after the resignation of Chairman Clifford Birdinground in November 2002 and served until his death in 2009...

. The chairperson serves as chief executive officer, speaker of the council, and majority leader of the Crow Tribal Council. The constitutional changes of 2001 created a three-branch government. The chairperson serves as the head of the executive branch, which includes the offices of vice-chairperson, secretary, vice-secretary, and the tribal offices and departments of the Crow Tribal Administration. Notable chairs are Clara Nomee, Edison Real Bird, and Robert "Robie" Yellowtail.

On May 19, 2008, Hartford and Mary Black Eagle of the Crow Nation adopted U.S. Senator (now President) Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 into the tribe on the date of the first visit of a U.S. presidential candidate to the nation. Crow representatives also took part in President Obama's inaugural parade. In 2009 Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow
Joe Medicine Crow
Joseph Medicine Crow is a Crow historian and author. He is also an enrolled member of the Crow Nation of Native Americans...

 was one of 16 people awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

.

Popular culture


Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

's 1838 novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is the only complete novel written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The work relates the tale of the young Arthur Gordon Pym, who stows away aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus...

features a character, Dirk Peters, who is the son of an Upsaroka (Absaroka) mother and a French father.

The cover of the popular music album America, which contained the Top Ten song, "Horse With No Name," featured the three group members sitting on the floor in front of a mural of Eight Crows.

The tribe hosts a large pow wow
Pow woW
Pow woW is French musical group. Their biggest hit was "Le Chat" in 1992. Their next single was the French version of song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", titled "Le lion est mort ce soir".- Albums :* Regagner les plaines...

, rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

, and parade
Parade
A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind...

 annually; the 86th Crow Fair
Crow Fair
The Crow Fair was created in 1904 by an Indian government agent to bring the Crow Tribe of Indians into modern society. It welcomes all Native American tribes of the Great Plains to its festivities, functioning as a "giant family reunion under the Big Sky." Indeed, it is currently the largest...

 was held in Crow Agency from August 17–21, 2006. Called Baasaxpilue (to make much noise), it is the largest and most spectacular of Indian celebrations in the northern Plains. The photographer Elsa Spear Byron
Elsa Spear Byron
Elsa Spear Byron was a renowned photographer born in Big Horn, Wyoming in 1896. As a young child, she learned to help her mother make photographic prints from a plate camera purchased in 1900. Her photographs were sold all over the country and greatly enlarged prints were used by the railroads to...

 photographed the Crow Fair from 1911 to the 1950s.

Angus Young, a Crow elder and historian, and professor at Little Big Horn College
Little Big Horn College
Little Big Horn College is a Native American tribal college based in Crow Agency, Montana. Little Big Horn College is a two-year, tribally owned community college, serving the people of the Crow Indian Reservation. The college is directed by the Board of Trustees elected by districts within the...

, was featured on the 2006 installment of the PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 television series Frontier House
Frontier House
Frontier House was an educational reality TV series that originally aired on PBS in April 2002. The show, which was filmed over the course of five months, followed the lives of three family groups that agreed to live as homesteaders did on the American frontier in 1883. Each family was given a ...

.

In the documentary Native Spirit and the Sun Dance Way (2007), Thomas Yellowtail
Thomas Yellowtail
Thomas Yellowtail was a Medicine Man and Sun Dance chief of the Crow tribe for over thirty years prior to his death. Thomas Yellowtail's adult life was dedicated to the adherence to, and preservation of, the Sun Dance religion....

, a Crow medicine man
Medicine man
"Medicine man" or "Medicine woman" are English terms used to describe traditional healers and spiritual leaders among Native American and other indigenous or aboriginal peoples...

 and Sun Dance
Sun Dance
The Sun Dance is a religious ceremony practiced by a number of Native American and First Nations peoples, primarily those of the Plains Nations. Each tribe has its own distinct practices and ceremonial protocols...

 chief for more than 30 years, describes and explains the ancient Sun Dance ceremony, which is sacred to the Crow tribe. In the 1994 film Legends of the Fall
Legends of the Fall
Legends of the Fall is a 1994 epic drama film based on the 1979 novella of the same title by Jim Harrison. It was directed by Edward Zwick and stars Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn. The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction , and Best...

, based on the 1979 novella of the same name by Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison
James "Jim" Harrison is an American author known for his poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and writings about food. He has been called "a force of nature", and his work has been compared to that of William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway...

, actor Gordon Tootoosis spoke Yellowtail's words to examine the preservation of a cultural and spiritual world before the coming of European settlers.

In 2007 Medicine Crow's grandson Joe Medicine Crow
Joe Medicine Crow
Joseph Medicine Crow is a Crow historian and author. He is also an enrolled member of the Crow Nation of Native Americans...

 appears on Ken Burns
Ken Burns
Kenneth Lauren "Ken" Burns is an American director and producer of documentary films, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs...

 PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 series The War (documentary)
The War (documentary)
The War is a 2007 American seven-part documentary television mini-series about World War II from the perspective of the United States that premiered on September 23, 2007...

.

See also

  • Crow language
    Crow language
    Crow is a Missouri Valley Siouan language spoken primarily by the Crow Nation in present-day southeastern Montana...

  • Crow religion
  • Pine Leaf
    Pine Leaf
    Pine Leaf was a woman and chief of the Crow tribe who counted coup in the 1830s. She is described in the autobiography of James Beckwourth as well as in Edwin T. Denig's chronicle on the tribes of the upper Missouri River....

     was a woman and chief of the Crow tribe
  • Plenty Coups
    Plenty Coups
    Plenty Coups was a Crow chief and visionary leader. He allied Crow with the whites when the war for the West was being fought, because the Sioux and Cheyenne were the traditional enemies of the Crow...

     was the last of the great chiefs of the Crow tribe

External links