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A Free Reading Passage on Horses in the Great Plains for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 27

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The presence of horses in the Great Plains is a referenced topic in the Transatlantic Trade topic in Period 2 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.


horse in the Great Plains

206492443/Shutterstock

Horses, introduced to North America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, profoundly transformed the cultures and lifestyles of Native American tribes on the Great Plains. Initially brought to the continent during expeditions led by conquistadors such as Hernán Cortés and Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, horses eventually spread northward through trade, theft, and gradual diffusion among Indigenous groups.


By the late 17th and early 18th centuries, horses had reached the Great Plains, a vast region encompassing present-day states like Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. The arrival of horses revolutionized the way of life for many Plains tribes, including the Comanche, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow. These tribes quickly adapted to the new animals, incorporating them into their cultures and economies.


Mobility and Hunting: Horses significantly increased the mobility of Plains tribes, allowing them to follow and hunt the vast herds of buffalo more efficiently. With the speed and endurance provided by horses, hunters could cover greater distances and more effectively manage large-scale hunts. This led to an increase in the availability of food, materials for clothing, and other necessities derived from buffalo.


Trade and Warfare: Horses also enhanced trade and warfare capabilities. Tribes with access to horses could travel further to trade goods with distant groups, establishing extensive trade networks. In warfare, horses provided a tactical advantage, enabling swift attacks and retreats. Tribes like the Comanche became known for their exceptional horsemanship and formidable presence in battle, which allowed them to expand their territories and influence.


Social and Cultural Changes: The introduction of horses brought about significant social and cultural changes. Equestrian skills became highly valued, and a person’s wealth and status were often measured by the number of horses they owned. This led to the development of new social hierarchies and practices centered around horsemanship and horse breeding.


One notable example of the transformative impact of horses is the Comanche tribe. Originally a Shoshonean people from the Rocky Mountains, the Comanche acquired horses in the early 18th century and migrated onto the southern Great Plains. Their mastery of horseback riding enabled them to dominate the region, earning them the nickname “Lords of the Plains.” The Comanche developed a powerful equestrian culture, and their influence extended over vast areas of what is now Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.


In summary, the introduction of horses to the Great Plains by Spanish explorers brought about a dramatic transformation in the lives of Native American tribes. Horses revolutionized hunting, trade, warfare, and social structures, profoundly shaping the cultures and histories of the Plains tribes.




PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON HORSES IN THE GREAT PLAINS

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Horses in the Great Plains FREE Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video on horses in the Great Plains?







Transatlantic Trade


Period 2


AP US HISTORY




Horses in the Great Plains



Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 27

10

0

0

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