described by First Boy - James Larpenteur Long, Fort Peck
Assiniboine-Sioux, in The Assiniboine: From Accounts of
the Old Ones Told to First Boy (James Larpenteur Long),
edited by Michael Stephen Kennedy , University of Oklahoma
Press, 1961, p 86-88(originally published as Land of the
Nakoda by the Montana Writer Program in 1942)
first white men known by most of the Assiniboine people
were the Hudson's Bay Company traders far up in the north
country in what is now Canada. Long before other white
men came, they traded in cloth, blankets, beads, knives,
and other articles. But before the agents of the Hudson's
Bay Company came, the tribe depended entirely on wild
game and nature to provide everything.
were then made from the tanned hides of matured buffalo
cows. The number of finished hides required depended on
the size of the lodge. An average lodge ranged from six
to fourteen hides in size. Twenty hides made an extra-large
lodge, usually owned by a well-to-do bachelor. There were
not many of that size, not because the material was scarce,
but because they were cumbersome to carry and to handle.
Feather gave this description of his bachelor lodge:
I was married, my mother, with the help of other women,
made a bachelor's lodge for my use. It contained nine-teen
tanned hides and was very heavy. When the poles were set
up and the covering was tied to the pole to be raised,
it took three women to raise and set the covering in place.
Of course, as you know, we men do not help with those
was thought that I lived alone in the lodge. I occupied
the whole of the back part as my lied, and the two sides
were also supplied with bedding. But my cousins and friends
who were also single were almost always with me, so usually
several of us slept there every night.
mother cooked for us and we ate in my large bachelor's
were erected with pine poles. A tripod was set up and
the rest of the poles were added. The number of poles
used depended upon the size of the lodge. The bottom of
a lodge was secured to the ground by wooden pegs made
from the choke-cherry tree. The front was laced together
below and above the entrance with pins made from the same
kind of wood. The butt ends of the pegs and pins were
carved, and bands of bark in various widths were left
intact as ornaments.
lodges always faced the south. Ventilation was regulated
by two large flaps on each side of the smoke hole. Two
extra poles governed the flaps from the outside. If there
was smoke in the lodge on account of a change in the wind,
one of the women went outside to regulate the draft.
man never attended to anything in connection with the
work in or about the lodge. If a man was seen helping
a woman with any of her tasks, other men remarked to each
other, "Since when has he become a woman? Hereafter
leave him out at gatherings of the men, for he may start
teaching us to make women's dresses."`
regulation of the smoke draft was an old excuse for young
unmarried women to go outside after dark to meet their
sweet-hearts. If the girl knew that her lover was near
her lodge, she would say, "It seems so smoky in here,
perhaps the wind has changed. I must go out to adjust
the flaps." And with that she attended to the chore
and at the same time met the man. But, as she was not
permitted to go very far away from the lodge, the two
lovers stood close together and whispered to each other.
winter the wall of a lodge was lined with tanned skins
of the yearling buffalo for about four feet up from the
floor. These skins were tanned like deer skins, the hair
being removed first.
lining of the lodges of well-to-do families who had guests
a great deal was decorated with pictures of war exploits.
Some-times these picture-stories told of the deeds performed
by the host.
these lodges several back rests were kept for special
guests. They were made of peeled willows about three-fourths
of an inch in diameter and two feet long. Laid horizontally,
the willow sticks were laced with hide or some other material
around the outside and down the center. The top of this
framework was then hung from a three-pole tripod, so that
the outside edges rested on the two front poles of the
tripod. The third pole, in the back, regulated the slant
of the back rest.
who took an active part in the social life of the tribe
decorated their lodges with objects made by the women.
These were sewed to different parts of the lodge on the
outside. The edges of the smoke flaps were usually fringed
with tassels cov-ered with porcupine quills. More quillwork
in large pieces was sewed to the back and sides. Sometimes
holes were bored through the tops of the smoke flap holes.
Buckskin strings were then laced through and tied so that
the two ends hung as a fringe.
of warriors were painted with pictures that showed the
war record of the owner. Medicine men painted their lodges
with symbols of their religion.
parents had a small lodge made for one of their children
and gave a fee to a warrior who decorated it with pictures
of one of his deeds.