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Lewis and Clark
SHOWING RECORD: 20 of 24   Atsina Indians
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image: Atsina Indians
Photograph of Atsina man courtesy Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis's 'The North American Indian': the Photographic Images, 2001.
Atsina Indians
(Gros Ventre)


Overview
A band of Arapaho, the Atsina roamed the plains between the Missouri and Saskatchewan Rivers. This Algonquian-speaking band was sometimes confused with another tribe called Gros Ventre, a tribe of Minitari Hidatsa that lived nearby. French trappers interpreted the sign language for "Atsina" (hands moved along the torso) as the similar sign used for those neighboring Hidatsa. The sign for Atsina meant "hunger," while the sign for Minatari Hidatsa referred to the chest tattoos the men displayed.

A Plains tribe, the nomadic Atsina followed the bison herds, living in tepees and trading with other Indians for the trade goods and produce they needed. Guns and ammunition they had received from the British gave them an advantage over other Plains bands like the Shoshone.

Lewis and Clark often thought they were close to the Atsina or had encountered them. When the Corps met the Lemhi Shoshone, the tribe had been attacked recently by the Atsina, losing about 20 men in the raid. Later, on the return journey in 1806, Lewis mistakenly identified a group of Blackfeet Indians as "Minatarees of the Prairie," another name for the Atsina.

By 1888 the Atsina had been removed to a reservation at Fort Belknap, Montana, which they shared with the Assiniboin. According to the 1990 census there were 2,800 Atsina remaining.
 
image: Atsina Indians
Photograph of Atsina tepees courtesy Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis's 'The North American Indian': the Photographic Images, 2001.
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