December 13th, National Day of the Horse (USA)
It wasn’t until Christopher Columbus brought 24 Andalusian horses on his second voyage to North America in 1493, horses were first introduced to Native American tribes. This was after what was an 1000 year absence of the creature on the continent.
The horse became an integral part of the lives and culture of Native Americans, especially to the Plains Indians, who viewed them as a source of wealth and used them for hunting, travel, and warfare.
The overall culture, along with everyday life, changed forever when horses entered the lives of Native Americans; they became more active because horses allowed them to be mobile and cover more ground, making hunting a focus of their lives. Horses were also incorporated into trading, quickly becoming prized possessions in Native American culture and used as a bargaining tool.
The horse transformed the Plains Indians way of hunting buffalo. The newfound speed and efficiency of hunting on horseback provided an abundance of high-quality meat, hides for tipis and clothing, and rawhide for shields and boxes. With the help of a draggable wooden sledge called a travois, horses could now transport entire villages and their possessions to follow the seasonal hunt. Furthermore, the horse was a symbol representing freedom and their token of war to many Native American Indian tribes.
Part of the expansion of the horse across North America to Native American Tribes came after the ‘Pueblo Uprising of 1680’. Where the Pueblo Indians took back their homeland and drove the Spanish from Santa Fe after a century of cruel Spanish Rule, capturing their prized horses in the process. They then traded horses with neighbouring tribes, with the mammal quickly moving across trade routes to the Navajo, Ute and Apache, then to the Kiowa and Comanche of the southern Plains, and the Shoshone of the Mountain West. By 1700, horses had reached the Nez Perce and Blackfoot of the far Northwest, and traveled eastward to the Lakota, Crow and Cheyenne of the northern Plains.
Today at SACANTICS we take this time to appreciate and look back at the amazing, beautiful and important contribution horses have made to the history of 14th-19th Century Native American Indians, as well as show our condolences to the terrible sacrifice many endured in warfare.