n the 1840s the Great Plains were sparsely inhabited by the Plains Indians. The Indians depended upon huge herds of buffalo that roamed the grasslands. To the few non-Indians who travelled across them, the Great Plains was seen as a useless desert.By 1895 the Great Plains were populated by thousands of homesteaders and ranchers. The once-empty grasslands were dotted with towns and cities and crossed by railroads. Those Plains Indians who still survived were confined to reservations and the buffalo had all been slaughtered. TOPIC 1 –THE PLAINS INDIANSNative Americans used to be more commonly known as American Indians or the Plains Indians. This is because when Columbus thought he’d reached Indian when he first got to America in 1492. He soon realised he hadn’t, but called the people Indians anyway. The Plains Indians weren’t a single group with a single culture –there were many different tribes. Each family lived in a home called a tipiThe tipi was the home of each Indian family. It was made from buffalo skins sewn together and supported by a circular frame of wooden poles. It was the responsibility of the women. They made it, owned it, put it up and moved it. It could be taken down and packed for transport in ten minutes. This made it an ideal home for people who were frequently on the move. In the summer the tipi bottom could be rolled up to let air in. In winter it could be banked with earth to keep the tipi warm. The conical shape of the tipi made it strong enough to resist the strong winds on the Great Plains. They relied on the buffalo?Plains Indians were nomadic hunter gatherers –they followed the buffalo around the Plains. Theyprovided the necessities of life:omeatoskins for wool, clothing, shoes, tipisosinews for thread, ropes, bowstringsobones for implementsodung for fuelThe horse increased the tribes’ power and efficiency?The lives of the Native Americans were transformed by the horse.?It became much easier to hunt, and to transport stored food and other belongingsacross the Great Plains.