- Mary Riemer-Weller
Native American tribe of the northern plains whose language is part of the Siouan family. The name Absaroke means “children of the large-beaked bird.” Formerly sedentary farmers of the Northeast, the Crow migrated westward during the 18th century and became nomadic buffalo-hunters. Their culture, based on the horse and buffalo, was typical of Plains Indians; it came to an end in 1878 when the Crow were moved to the reservation they now occupy in Montana.
Central to the traditional Crow world view was the belief that every natural phenomenon had its spirit and that some of these spirits could exert supernatural power. Contact with a spirit was sought through visions, during which an individual received its “medicine”; this usually took the form of a song, which was peculiar to the individual and would aid him in a specific aspect of life. Thus men with appropriate power sang game-charming songs before a buffalo hunt, and a warrior always sang his personal medicine song before encountering the enemy. The Crow viewed all songs as having supernatural origins. Received either in dreams or visions, they became an individual’s personal property. Songs were also borrowed, proper recognition being always given to the tribe of origin....