Facts about the Gros Ventre Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Gros Ventre Native
American Indian tribe aka the Atsina. Find answers to questions
did the Gros Ventre 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
Gros Ventre tribe with facts about their wars and
Picture of the Gros Ventre Native Indian
above picture depicts a Gros Ventre Native Indian
wearing a blanket cloak and his finest jewelry
of various ear piercings and
earrings. It was painted by Karl Bodmer (1809 –
1893) a French-Swiss artist who accompanied
German explorer Prince Maximilian zu
Wied-Neuwied from 1832 through 1834 on his
Missouri River expedition. The brave is wearing
a horizontal stripe of blue paint on his lower
face by the application of indigo, a dye that
was plentiful in North America. The Gros Ventre
also has tattoos on the chest and right arm.
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Gros Ventre
The Gros Ventre tribe migrated from their
original homelands along the Saskatchewan River.
The French name Gros Ventre means "Big Belly"
but does not infer the greediness of the people.
The name derives from a French misunderstanding
of Native Indian sign language. The Cree tribe
referred to the Gros Ventres as the 'Water Falls
People', when they lived by the Saskatchewan
River and the sign for this was misinterpreted.
The Gros Ventre referred to themselves as 'Ahahninin'
meaning "White Clay People."
What was the religion and beliefs of the
Gros Ventre tribe?
religion and beliefs of the Gros Ventre tribe was based
that encompassed the spiritual or
religious idea that the universe and all
natural objects plants, animals, trees,
rivers, mountains, rocks etc have souls or
spirits. The Great Plains tribes such as
the Gros Ventre believed in the Great Mystery.
The Gros Ventre tribe: Medicine Bundles
Gros Ventre had two tribal medicine bundles or
pouches which were symbols of creation and
represented the Gros Ventres’ special
relationship with the Great Mystery. The oldest
of the medicine bundles was the Flat Pipe which
was given to them when the world was created.
The Feathered Pipe medicine bundle was used in
rituals and ceremonies in relation to weather
control and protecting the people from illness.
The medicine bundles contained various herbal
remedies and items used in Smudging Rituals and
many sacred items representing sacred animal
spirits for good luck, protection and strength
Where did the Gros Ventre tribe live?
The Gros Ventre 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 Gros Ventre
The American Great Plains region mainly extended across states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota
Land: Grass covered prairies with some
streams and rivers
Climate: Hot summers and cold winters
Animals: The animals included the
Bison (Buffalo), deer, cougars, elk, bear,
beaver, porcupine, antelope, prairie dogs,
eagles and wolves
Map showing location of
Great Plains Native American Cultural Group
What did the Gros Ventre tribe live in?
The Great Plains Gros Ventre tribe tepees that
from wooden poles that were covered with
weather resistant animal skins such as
buffalo hides. The
Tepee was pyramid shaped,
with flaps and openings, rounded at the base and
tapering to an open smoke hole at the top.
Most tepees were approximately 12 to 16 feet in
diameter at the base. Tepees had hearth
that was in the center of the tepee for cooking
and heating. This type shelter suited the nomadic
lifestyle of the Gros Ventre tribe as tepees were quick
to put up and easy to take down.
What language did the Gros Ventre tribe speak?
The Gros Ventre tribe spoke in the Gros Ventre
dialect (Atsina) of the Algonquian language
What food did the Gros Ventre tribe eat?
The food that the Gros Ventre tribe ate included
meat from Buffalo, elk, deer
(venison), bear and
wild turkey. These meats were supplemented with roots
and wild vegetables such as spinach, prairie
turnips and potatoes and flavored with wild
herbs. Wild fruits, such as rhubarb, and berries
were also added to the food supply. When food was scarce the tribe ate dried buffalo
What weapons did the Gros Ventre use?
The weapons used included bows and arrows of
ash, cherry wood and horn. The horn bows were
covered with the skin of a rattlesnake. Other
weapons included spears, stone ball clubs,
hatchets, lances and knives.
What clothes did the Gros Ventre wear?
The men of the Gros Ventre tribe wore
breechcloths, fringed buckskin tunics or shirts
and leggings. Warm buffalo robes or cloaks were
also worn to protect against the cold and the
rain. The Gros Ventre women wore buckskin
knee-length dresses and leggings and buffalo
robes during bad weather. The men and women also
wore mittens and caps made from buffalo skin
during the cold winter months.