Primary links

Chapter 3: Historic Apsáalooke Culture

Apsáalooke Writing Tribal Histories Project

After establishing themselves in their homeland, the Apsáalooke people branched out from the Big Horn Mountains, covering an area that included much of Montana, into North and South Dakota, and down through Wyoming. While settling their new homeland, alliances and enemies were made as territorial boundaries were crossed and tested. The Shoshone people, then occupying some areas where the Apsáalooke settled, were displaced. The Kiowa, on the other hand, became allies with the Apsáalooke, the tribes remaining friendly even today. The Kiowas eventually migrated south, leaving the Apsáalooke with fewer allies than enemies to defend their home territory. But the territory was worth defending, as the Big Horn Mountains really was in the center of the world that the Apsáalooke lived in.

The Pryor Mountains, named after Nathaniel Pryor of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, rise from the heart of Apsáalooke territory. In Apsáalooke they are referred to as Baahpuuo Isawaxaawu, Hitting Rock Mountains, and were used frequently for fasting and hunting of bighorn sheep, which abounded in these rocky ridges. The Big Horn Mountains became heavily used by the tribe, for hunting, rituals and relief from the heat of the dry summer sun. The Big Horn Canyon, breathtaking both for its beauty and its depth, sits between the Big Horn and Pryor Mountains, the Big Horn River flowing hundreds, sometimes thousands of feet below. The Wolf Mountains occupy what is now the eastern perimeter of what is now the Apsáalooke reservation, provided yet another fertile hunting ground for the people. The Little Big Horn River flows through the flat, low floodplain that lies below the mountains the Apsáalooke came to call home. Such an area provided for travel and encampments with ease, and eventually would become excellent farming and grazing grounds. The combination of both plains and mountainous territory provided the Apsáalooke with an abundance of hunting and fishing grounds, fresh, clean water as well as natural production and gathering areas. The mountains were full of berries that would be picked and used year-round, while the Big Horn mountains provided and excellent manufacturing site, having an area where the rock was just right to make the tools needed for daily use, and a buffalo jump site nearby. The Apsáalooke had been guided to an area where everything that they needed to go about daily life was provided with relative ease.

« Back Contents Next »