Crow Tribal Crafts

Published on July 1, 2011 by Amy

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Many Crow arts and crafts use the same patterns on different objects
Many Crow arts and crafts use
the same patterns on different objects

The Crow are a Native American tribe with a reservation in Montana and Wyoming. Today, there are approximately 11,000 members of the tribe. Most tribe members speak the Crow language as well as English. The Crow are part of the larger Siouan culture, which is made up of many tribes from the Great Plains of the United States. The Crow are known for several characteristic tribal art forms and crafts.

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Quillwork was practiced by the Crow and other Great Plains tribes long before European settlers discovered the Americas. It is a form of embroidery that uses porcupine quills instead of thread. The quills are dyed to create colorful patterns on clothing, baskets and other objects.


Beadwork became popular among the Crow in the mid 1800s when glass beads became more readily available through trade. Beadwork uses similar techniques to quillwork, and many of the old quill patterns were carried over into beading. Crow beadwork is unique among Plains tribes because it often features an extra stitch to secure beads.


A parfleche is a container made of folded rawhide that could take shapes as varied as suitcases and envelopes. It was common among Great Plains tribes to paint parfleches with designs that advertised which tribe the owner belonged to. Great Plains tribes, including the Crow, were mobile peoples so these containers often held their possessions while they traveled.


The Crow people also used knives to carve decorations. Pipes, which were central to rituals, were often highly decorated. They were carefully carved by Crow artists out of pipestone, which is also known as catlinite.

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Did You Know?

The smallest, by population, Federally Recognized Tribe in the United States is the “Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, California (formerly the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians of the Augustine Reservation)”. There were only 8 enrolled members as of 2002.

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