THE CROW INDIANS

I. Tribal Organization

SOUTHEAST of Billings, Montana, and northwest of Sheridan, Wyoming, about 1,800 Crow Indians are now living on a reservation rather near the core of their old tribal territory. The Reservation is locally subdivided, the Lodge Grass, Bighorn and Pryor districts being the most important. However, there has been free intercourse back and forth, and such local differences as evolved were due to the influence of individual personalities, say, Medicine-crow at Lodge Grass. The Crow name for themselves is "Apsāruke," which early interpreters mistranslated as "gens de corbeaux," "Crow (or Kite) Indians." To me the word was explained as the name of a bird no longer to be seen in the country. The squaw-man Leforge defines it as "a peculiar kind of forked-tail bird resembling the blue jay or magpie" which tradition assigns to the fauna of eastern Nebraska and Kansas at the time the Crow lived there. Apart from this fanciful localization, his and my data thus agree well enough.

In speech the Crow are "Siouan," i.e. related to the Sioux (Dakota) in the sense that English and Russian are both "IndoEuropean," for in either case only a philologist could prove any connection. On the other hand, the veriest layman can hear that English bears some relationship to Dutch or German, and that Crow and Hidatsa are still closer to each other, -- the affinity being probably something like that of, say, Danish with Swedish. A Crow visitor does not at once follow the conversation of Hidatsa hosts, but he can recognize dozens of words that are quite or almost identical in the sister tongues, and he soon gets his bearings. Compared with Crow and Dakota, Hidatsa, though much nearer to the former, proves intermediate; that is, Crow has deviated farther from the common parental language. Hidatsa and Crow are so similar that the tribes now speaking them cannot have separated in dim antiquity. According to my

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The Crow Indians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • I - Tribal Organization 3
  • II - Kinship and Affnity 18
  • III - From Cradle to Grave 33
  • IV - The Workaday World 72
  • V - Literature 104
  • VI - Selected Tales 119
  • VII - Old Woman's Grandchild 134
  • VIII - Twined-Tail 158
  • IX - Club Life 172
  • X - War 215
  • XI - Religion 237
  • XII - Rites and Festivals 256
  • XIII - The Bear Song Dance 264
  • XIV - The Sacred Pipe Dance 269
  • XV - The Tobacco Society 274
  • XVI - The Sun Dance 297
  • XVII - World-View 327
  • Appendix I - Sources 335
  • Appendix II - Clan Names 340
  • Glossary 343
  • Index 345
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