Meaning of CROW in English


North American Plains Indian people of Siouan linguistic stock, historically affiliated with the Hidatsa (q.v.) of the upper Missouri River; they occupied the area around the Yellowstone River and its tributaries, particularly the valleys of the Powder, Wind, and Bighorn rivers. Probably lured by the trade in horses, the Crow broke with the Hidatsa and moved westward early in the 18th century. By 1740 they had emerged as middlemen engaged in the trading of horses, bows, shirts, and featherwork to the village Indians in return for guns and metal goods that they carried to the Shoshoni in Idaho. They were divided into three bands known as the Mountain, River, and Kicked-in-Their-Bellies; the last was most likely a recent offshoot from the Mountain band and was never fully independent. Much of Crow life revolved around the buffalo and the horse. The former provided them with food, clothing, robes, tepee covers, sinew thread, containers, and shields. In Crow society, the processing and preparation of food, housing, and clothing were women's tasks. Warfare was carried on by men and was largely a matter of raiding for horses. For a man to be ranked as a chief, performance of four coups was required: (1) leading a war party without loss of life, (2) taking a tethered horse from an enemy camp, (3) striking an enemy with a coupstick, and (4) wresting a weapon from an enemy. One man from the chief class became the head of the camp. A basic element in Crow religious life was the supernatural vision, induced by fasting in isolation, waiting, and tormenting the body with skewers. The man who attained a vision was adopted by a supernatural guardian who instructed him in gathering objects into a medicine bundle. He was permitted to sell part of his power to other men who had not received visions and to create replica bundles for them. The Crow grew tobacco ceremonially; according to myth, it had been given to them to overcome their enemies. Unlike other clubs and societies among the Crow, tobacco societies involved an entrance fee and an elaborate initiation rite; they were joined both by men and by their wives. The Crow continually suffered losses from wars with the Blackfoot and Dakota tribes and sided with the whites in the Indian wars of the 1860s and '70s. In 1868 they accepted a reservation carved from former tribal lands in southern Montana. In the late 20th century they numbered about 5,000, many living off the reservation.

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