Page:The American Indian.djvu/64

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38
THE AMERICAN INDIAN

but we know that the use of the horse spread much faster than exploration, so that in many cases our first actual view of a tribe is as a horse user. The bison in the North and the guanaco in the South, supplanted later by wild cattle, presented almost parallel environments. In Europe at the time of Columbus, the horse was used almost exclusively by soldiers and aristocrats as a riding animal, mules for packing and bearing the common folk, while carts and plows were drawn by oxen. This horse-riding complex was thus readily adaptable to the native culture of these two areas. At least they seem to have taken it over as a whole, for saddles and other riding appliances are of the same European patterns both south and north.[1]

The important differences between the horse cultures of the two areas appear in the adaptations made to the original cultures. Thus, in the bison area the horse was also used with an enlarged dog travois and in some cases seems to have been so used before the art of riding was acquired. The native names of mysterious-dog, elk-dog, etc., indicate the apperceptive attitude in the northern continent. In South America there was nothing like this, but a unique weapon known as the bola was peculiarly adapted to mounted use. It is believed that this weapon soon entirely displaced the bow and quickly led to the invention of the lasso and its use by all Spanish ranchers north and south. In the bison area the bow was essential for killing buffalo even from horseback. In the Pampas a long lance became the other chief weapon, and though this and the lasso appeared among the Comanche on the southern borders of the bison area, they did not prevail among the other tribes of the North.

The use of the horse spread somewhat from these two continental centers. In the more open parts of the eastern maize area horses were common, but nowhere here except possibly in the Gulf States did they rise to a military level. In the greater part of California they were never used, but in some parts of the inland salmon area they rose to the importance attained in the bison area. The greater part of the caribou area was too cold for the horse.

  1. Wissler, 1915. I.