A CROW was not happy without a diet of the flesh of ruminants. Boys went out shooting rabbits for fun, but that would be starvation fare for adults. I have never met a reference to eating of fish; berries, and roots dug up by the women formed a regular part of the ancient bill of fare but only as seasoning or dessert; and the corn traded in from the Hidatsa was eaten for the sake of variety rather than as a substitute for meat. Even nowadays an old-fashioned woman will disdain excellent maize and clamor for mediocre beef as the nearest approximation to buffalo. Mythical heroes easily insinuated themselves into the good graces of potential helpers by leaving at their doors the carcass of an elk, deer, antelope, or buffalo. And one of my informants once worked himself into a veritable orgy over a legendary buffalo hunt, dwelling with such relish on the details of the butchering that my interpreter and I were bored to tears. "It is like the description of scenery in a novel," the interpreter volunteered by way of explanation.
Hunting of big game was man's chief task, and it was basic for many other aspects of life. Without it there would have been no horn cups or spoons, no rawhide or leather, hence no robes or tipi covers or containers, not even for the boiling of food.
Men hunted individually and in small groups, sometimes disguised in horned buckskin masks to stalk deer at their watering-places. But the communal hunt was far more important. Mounted on horseback the Crow were able to surround a large herd and shoot the game with relative ease. The earlier method was far more arduous: they had to get behind a herd and drive it down a cliff. If this was high enough, the animals were killed outright; otherwise they were impounded in a corral at the foot of the bank, where they could then be slaughtered at will. Deer or antelope were also driven into such enclosures on level ground. In order to keep the startled animals running in the desired direction, two lines of rock piles were erected to lead to the bank or pound, and between them men and women were strung out to