Plains Indians Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Do you know where the Plains Indians lived? In this lesson, discover what the Plains Indians made their homes out of, find out what they ate, and explore what special ceremonies they held.

The Plains Indians

Where do you live? Maybe your home is located in a town, city or even in the country. People tend to adjust to the environment they live in. People living in a large city have a different lifestyle than those living in the country.

The Plains Indians adjusted to their environment too. The Plains Indians were the Native American people who lived in the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. They learned to live off the land and survived this way until the late 1800s. Let's discover more about them, including the type of homes they built and the food they ate.

Life on the Plains

Have you ever traveled across the United States? If so, you know that the plains are flat with very few trees. This region, known as the Great Plains, is covered with grasslands and located in the center of America, extending from Texas up to Canada and from the Rocky Mountains across to the Missouri River.

Map of Great Plains

Many of the Plains Indians traveled across the plains hunting buffalo. They needed a home that was easy to travel with. They also had to use the materials available to them on the plains.

The tipi, made of poles and animal hides, was similar to a tent and easy to set up and break down. It could be packed up in one hour and the poles could be used many times, making it a very efficient home. The Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow and Comanche tribes all used tipis.

When tribes weren't hunting, some lived in earth lodges, which were circular homes built with a log frame and covered with mud or sod. The Pawnee were a Native American tribe known for living in earth lodges. They hunted but were also farmers.

Pawnee Earth Lodge
earth lodge


Plains Indians ate a lot of buffalo. Common dishes included boiled buffalo meat, buffalo soup thickened with brains and roasted buffalo intestines. Buffalo kidneys, livers and tongues were eaten fresh after the hunt. On the sweeter side, pemmican, which is pounded strips of meat, fat and berries mixed together in a bag, was eaten by many tribes.

Obviously, the buffalo were important to the Plains Indians. Everything the Native Americans needed was provided by the buffalo, including food, clothes and shelter. A good hunt was kind of like going to your favorite shopping mall.

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