Crow Nation

The Crow nation is a tribe of Native Americans who now predominantly have on a reservation in the vicinity of Billings, Montana. Unlike many tribes, the women’s role in the Crow nation was one of dignity and leadership.

As a matrilineal society, a person’s descent was traced through the maternal line. Contrast this with the European view, where lineage is traced back through the forefathers rather than the foremothers. The Crow were also matrilocal, with the husband moving into the wife’s home upon marriage. Finally, women were permitted to hold very high status within the tribe, and even became chief. This matriarchal society guaranteed that women had power within the tribe.

Traditionally, the Crow lived in teepees of bison skins draped over wooden poles. They made some of the largest teepees seen on the plains. A fireplace was placed in the center, with the smoke escaping upward through a small hole in the top of the tepee. Mattresses and bedding were arranged around the outside, providing ample living space.

Crow women wore simple dresses made of the hides of deer, buffalo, and mountain sheep, often decorated with elk teeth. Leggings kept them warm, and moccasins protected their feet. Unlike the men, women wore their hair short. By contrast, men usually wore a shirt, leggings, and moccasins, topped off with a warm robe. Men wore their hair very long, and often decorated it.

The Crow were dedicated and respected horsemen. Horses were vitally important to this nomadic tribe, both for transportation and for trade. The Crow also enjoyed the company of dogs; unlike other tribes, they did not eat their dogs. Like many other tribes, once the Crow were herded onto reservations, their horse-based economy disappeared into history.

Pauline Small on horseback. She carries the flag of the Crow Tribe of Indians. As the first woman official, she is entitled to carry the flag during the Crow Fair Parade. Courtesy Wikipedia.