- The only animal the Indian domesticated. Biologists have determined
that the Indian brought the dog with him from Asia. Bones of dogs
have been found with some of the earliest remains of American Indians.
The dog was a companion, a beast of burden,
and a food. He was eaten at times as part of a ceremonial feast and
at other times when game was scarce. White dogs were sacrificed to
their gods by Iroquois, the Cree, the Ottawa, and related tribes.
Before the plains Indian acquired the horse,
the dog did all the hard work of transporting. With two poles, later
termed travois, lashed to his sides a dog could trot along with
forty or more pounds of baggage. The Eskimo may have been the first
to use dogs for transport purposes.
Dogs usually led hard lives with little
to eat. Some tribes held great feasts, but dogs were not allowed
to share even the scraps of bones. These were burned, since the Indians
believed that if any part was given to dogs the spirits of the animals
would be angry and would warn their living relatives not to let the Indian
trap or kill them.
The Arapaho claimed the dog came from a
cross of the coyote, the big gray wolf, and the fox. The Blackfoot,
Crow, Flatheads, Nez Perce, Shoshoni, Bannock, and Ute did not eat dogs,
but the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Apache gave special
feasts where dog meat was the main dish.
Among the Pawnee and Arikara a Dog Dance
was followed by a feast of dog meat. Nearly every tribe on the Plains
had a warrior group known as Dog Soldiers. Yet when an Indian wanted
to say something to hurt a person, he said, "You dog!"
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