- A piece of protective armor made of a rawhide covered frame which was
carried into battle by mounted Indians. In the days of the bow and
arrow and the lance, the shield was an important part of a warrior's equipment.
As shields were considered sacred objects
and were believed to bring good
luck, some were preserved by tribes even after the use of firearms became
general. These shields were hung on poles to the east of warriors'
lodges as charms to ward off danger.
A warrior prized his shield from the time
he first received it until his death, when it was laid under his head in
his final resting place - unless he had given it to some worthy younger
warrior before that.
In a dream or vision, the "shield spirit"
told a warrior exactly how his shield should be made, painted, and decorated.
The warrior then explained this to the medicine man who made the shield.
Enemy scalps might be added as a part of the decoration.
Shields were fashioned from the thick hide
of the neck or shoulder of the buffalo. To prepare the hide for a
war shield, it was staked down on the bottom of a hole six or eight inches
deep and covered with dirt. A fire was kept burning over it for several
days. After this processing, the hide would be shrunken and thick.
The shield was carried into battle on the
left arm by a band which was passed over the shoulder in such a way as
not to interfere with the use of the of the left hand in holding
the bow. When not in use it was swung around and hung down the back.
within this Site
][ Fire Making ][ Lance
][ Rawhide ][ Scalping