Facts about the Arikara Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Arikara Native
American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions
did the Arikara tribe live, what clothes did they wear, what
did they eat and who were the names of their most
famous leaders? Discover what happened to the
Arikara tribe with facts about their wars and
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Arikara
Most of the Great Plains tribes gave up their
permanent villages after they got horses, but
this was not the case of the Arikara tribe. The Arikara lived in permanent villages
of earthlodges near the Missouri River.
The Arikara tribe were traders, hunters and farmers who
cultivated their lands raising crops of corn,
beans, sunflowers, squashes, and pumpkins. They
supplemented their crops with food obtained by
hunting. The name Arikara means "horn, in
reference to the tribe’s former tradition of
wearing the hair with two pieces of bone
standing up like horns on each side of their
fortified villages became commercial trading centers
during the fur trade of the 18th and 19th
centuries. The Arikara became
closely associated with the Mandan and the
Hidatsa people who collectively became known as
the 'Three Tribes'.
Picture of an Arikara Chief
picture of the Aricara Native Indian is of
Stan-au-pat (Chief Bloody Hand). It was painted
by George George Catlin, who wrote the following
to accompany this picture:
face painted with red vermilion, scalping-knife
in his hand,” and “wearing a beautiful dress.”
The Arikara Tribe took Scalps
The words of George Catlin make it very clear
that the Arikara were extremely war-like and
used war-paint to intimidate their enemies. They
also practised the tradition of taking a scalp
from their enemies. A scalp was cut and torn
from the head of wounded or dead enemy during
warfare. The scalp was then carefully cleaned
and stretched on a hoop and was mounted on a
stick for carrying as a sign of victory in
battle - refer to practise of
Taking Scalps in Indian Warfare.
Where did the Arikara tribe live?
The Arikara are people of the Great Plains Native
American cultural group. The location of their
tribal homelands are shown on the map. The
geography of the region in which they lived
dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Arikara
The American Great Plains region mainly extended across states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota
Tribal Territories: North Dakota and South
Land: Grass covered prairies with some
streams and rivers
Climate: Hot summers and cold winters
Animals: The animals included the
Bison (Buffalo), deer, elk, bear,
porcupine, antelope, prairie dogs,
eagles and wolves
Fish: Various fish including sturgeon,
crayfish and mussels
Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn, beans, sunflower seeds,
Map showing location of
Great Plains Native American Cultural Group
What did the Arikara tribe live in?
The Arikara tribe lived in
Earth lodges, which was a type
of permanent home for Native American
Indians who lived in harsh climates without
large forests. They also used tepees as a
form of temporary shelter when they went on
Earth lodges were semi-subterranean
dwellings which were dug from the earth,
with a wooden domed mound built over the top
that was covered with earth or reeds. The
Arikara built their earth lodges near their
fields, usually on bluffs overlooking the
Missouri River. Among the early Plains
tribes that also lived in earth lodges were
the Mandan, Hidatsa, Pawnee, Omaha and the
What transport did the Arikara Tribe use?
The main form of transport for the Arikara was
the horse. However, the village tribes like the
Arikara, who lived along the Missouri River,
also used a bowl-shaped bullboat. They made the
small boat by stretching a buffalo hide over a
wooden frame. It was too clumsy for water
travel, but it could be used to ferry people and
produce across the river. The above picture
shows Arikara Indians being ferried across the
What clothes did the Arikara men wear?
The clothes worn by the Arikara men
consisted of breechcloths, fringed buckskin
tunics or shirts and leggings. Warm buffalo
robes or cloaks were also worn to protect
against the rain and the cold.
men also wore beaded, straight-up feathered war
bonnets in a halo style decorated with eagle feathers and
beadwork as a symbol of courage and
accomplishments. They wore moccasins as their
shoes. Moccasins were a soft, light beige,
slip-on shoe, consisting of a sole and sides
made of one piece of leather.
women of the Arikara tribe were responsible for
making the clothes worn by the
people. Most garments were sewn from the soft, tanned
skins of deer (buckskin) and buffalo hide. Clothes
was often decorated with paint, porcupine quills
or beadwork. Arikara clothing for both men and
women were adorned with ornaments, especially
necklaces and earrings.
What clothes did the Arikara women wear?
type of clothes worn by the Arikara women were knee-length dresses and leggings. The
women also wore the buffalo robes to keep warm
and dry. The dresses of the Arikara women that
were used for special ceremonies were intricately
decorated with beads. Dresses were also painted with symbols that reflected their tribal identity and
family values celebrating acts of courage by their
men or sacrifices made for the well-being of the
family and tribe. Arikara women wore their hair
long worn in
two, thick braids that were often decorated with beads.
What language did the Arikara tribe speak?
The Arikara tribe spoke in the Caddoan language.
The Arikara Star Charts
The Arikara, like the Skidi band
of Pawnee Native Indians, believed that the
stars signaled times to plant crops and revealed
the timing of sacred ceremonies. They developed
their mapping tradition by creating sky charts
that were used in rituals and to teach
about the constellations. The Sky chart also
told the story of the creation of the universe
and of the Arikara people.
What did the Arikara tribe eat?
The food that the Arikara tribe ate included the
crops they raised of corn, sunflower seeds,
and squash. The food from their crops was
supplemented by fish and meat, especially bison, that was
acquired on the hunting trips. The meats also
included deer, elk, bear and wild turkey. These
foods were supplemented with roots and wild
vegetables such as spinach, prairie turnips and
potatoes together with berries and fruits such
as melon. When food was scarce the Arikara tribe
ate dried buffalo meat, called pemmican. The
Arikara tribe were often called “corn-eaters,”
and are represented in Native Indian sign
language by imitating the shelling of corn, by
holding the left hand still, the shelling being
done with the right.
What weapons did the Arikara use?
The weapons used by the Arikara tribe included bows and arrows, stone ball
clubs, hatchet axes, spears,
knives. Painted war shields were used on horseback as a
means of defence.
Who were the most famous leaders and chiefs of
the Arikara tribe?
The most famous leader and chief of the Arikara
tribe was Stan-au-pat (Chief Bloody Hand). The
Arikara tribe became allies of the Mandan and
Hidatsa Native Indian Tribes. The tribe were
enemies of the Lakota Sioux and the Assiniboine