The Assiniboine Tribe is a group of Native Americans from the Northern Great Plains area of North America. Their home lies along the present day border of the United States and Canada in Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Well known in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Assiniboine are best known for their encounter with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their famous expedition to explore the new land of the Louisiana Purchase.
The word Assiniboine is derived from the Ojibwe name given to the tribe, which translates as “stone water people.” Historians conclude that the Ojibwe called them this because they boiled the majority of their food with hot stones. The same rationale explains why the Assiniboines are called the Stoney Indians in Canada. They refer to themselves as Nakoda, which is also the name of their native language and translates to “the allies.” Assiniboines who lived in Canada spoke a different dialect of Nakoda than those who resided in the United States. Although the language has been preserved, all modern day Assiniboines speak English.
Because the Assiniboine are sometimes referred to as the Stony Sioux, many people assume they are Sioux Indians. The Assiniboine are related to the Sioux tribes of Lakota and Dakota because their languages are similar. However, the Sioux Indians and the Assiniboine tribe have historically been enemies who often fought one another.
The people of the Assiniboine Tribe were big game hunters and gatherers who lived in teepees. They were able to disassemble their village within one hour because of their semi-nomadic lifestyle that involved following herds of bison. The Assiniboine regularly traded with Europeans and other Native American tribes such as the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara. They used dogs and horses, introduced by the Europeans, to move their belongings across the land.
The traditional culture of the Assiniboine tribe was patriarchal, because only men could be chiefs, hunters and warriors. However, women had very important roles within the tribe. Women owned the homes and were responsible for building the home after a move, cooking and cleaning. The Assiniboine have a rich culture that includes storytelling, artwork, music and indigenous medicine.
Members of the Assiniboine tribe wore traditional Indian garb depicted in stereotypical images of Native Americans. Women wore long dresses made of animal skins and men wore loincloths, war-bonnets and buffalo headdresses. Both wore moccasins and additional coverage was added during the cold months of winter.