Crow are also called the Apsáalooke, Absaroka, and Apsaroke.
name was given them by the
meant "people [or children] of the large-beaked
bird." Historically, they lived in the Yellowstone River Valley. A
Siouan tribe, they once were part of theHidatsa,
living around the head waters of the upper
Mississippi River in northern
Minnesota and Wisconsin. Later, the Crow moved to the Devil’s Lake region
before splitting with the Hidatsa and
Montana, the tribe split once again into two divisions, called the
Mountain Crow and the River Crow. They were first encountered by two
Frenchmen in 1743 near the present-day town of Hardin, Montana.
Lewis and Clark
expedition came upon them in 1804, they estimated some 350 lodges with
about 3,500 members.
Like many other
Plains Indians, the Crow traditionally lived in teepees, though
theirs were often larger than other
Constructed of buffalo skins and wooden poles, flying from the poles
were not scalps, but strips of red cloth. Their main source of food
was bison, but they also hunted mountain sheep, deer, and other game.
The Crow men were extremely proud of their
long hair, which was allowed to grow extremely long, sometimes even
dragging the ground, and was usually decorated with various items.
Unlike the men, Crow women had short hair. While the men were known as skilled
horsemen and hunters, the women were accomplished at decorating both
the men’s and women’s clothing with beads, embroidery, and dyed
porcupine quills, making them particularly handsome.
Explorers described the wandering
tribe of hunters as extremely superstitious, skillful horsemen, and
despising of the whites, though they weren’t known to kill them,
usually preferring to plunder them. The Crow had more horses than any
other plains tribe, numbering some 10,000 in mid 1800’s and more than
40,000 by the beginning of the 20th century. They also had
hundreds of dogs, with one explorer counting more than 500.
Unlike some other tribes, they did not
The Crow were a matrilineal, with
descent following the maternal line and the husband moving in with the
wife’s family. Females held a significant role in the tribe, often
obtaining high ranking status, even including chief.
Today, the vast majority of the Crow live
on the Crow
Indian Reservation in south-central
The reservation, covering more than 3,600 square miles, is the
fifth-largest Indian reservation in the United States. It is bordered by
to the south and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation to the east.
The reservation encompasses approximately 2.3 million acres, which
includes the northern end of the Bighorn Mountains, the Wolf
Mountains, and the Pryor Mountains. The Bighorn River flows north from
Yellowtail Dam and joins the Little Bighorn River just outside Hardin,
The city of Billings is approximately 10 miles northwest of the
Membership in the
Apsáalooke Nation numbers about 11,000 with almost 8,000
residing on the Crow Indian
Reservation. Eighty-five percent speak Crow as their first language.
The Apsáalooke/Crow People are known for
the strength of their Apsáalooke ammaalaátuua, (Crow writing system)
and clan system. The Crow Indian language is a part of the greater
Siouan language family. The Apsáalooke Ashammalíaxxiia, Clan System
consists of several active clans:
Ashshitchíte/the Big Lodge, Ashhilaalíoo/
Newly Made Lodge
Uuwatashe/ Greasy Mouth, Ashíiooshe/ Sore Lip Clan
Xúhkaalaxche/ Ties the Bundle Clan
Biliikóoshe/ Whistling Waters Clan
Ashkápkawiia/ Bad War Deeds Clan
Aashkamne/ Piegan clan. The other name they are called is: Aashbatshua or