What Did the Sioux Indians Use to Make Pottery?

Published on August 10, 2014 by Amy

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Sioux Pottery
Sioux Indian Pottery

The Sioux Nation is comprised of several tribes that originally inhabited the the Great Plains area of the United States. The Sioux were originally woodland people, who hunted, fished and farmed for sustenance. Pottery was important to the Sioux culture, as it was to many cultures of the past, because it provided a method for storing food. Pottery was created with primitive methods, using the clay that was native to the area, and Sioux pottery is no exception.

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The Importance of Pottery

Pottery was extremely important to the native farming tribes of North America as a form of food storage. The Sioux became more nomadic, as did many tribes, after they obtained horses from European settlers, and many tribes abandoned the practice of using pottery because it was not easy to carry while traveling.

Materials Used

The Sioux created pottery using whatever clay could be found locally. For the Sioux people, this meant clay found in the Great Plains area, including the red clay of the Black Hills, which was a sacred area to the Lakota Sioux tribe. Once clay was located and harvested, the potters soaked it to remove debris like twigs and rocks. The clay was then allowed to dry. The clay was mixed with water once it was ready to be shaped into pottery.

Tools Used

Native American people did not use pottery wheels or other tools to create their pottery. Instead, they made pottery using what is now known as the pinch pot or coiling methods, which require only a pair of hands. The coil method involves rolling clay using your hands to form a rope, which is then scored and coiled to form the pottery shape. The Sioux would then allow the pottery to dry, then sand it using any coarse surface, such as corn cobs or lava rock. The pottery was fired over a flame in a mounded fire pit. Pottery was painted using pigments created from boiled plants or ground metallic rocks that were found in the area.

Contemporary Pottery

The Sioux people continue to make pottery today. Some of the better known pieces are created by the Lakota People in Rapid City, South Dakota, using red clay from Black Hills, or as the Lakota call it, the Paha Sapa of South Dakota. This clay is often combined with white clay from Kentucky and is decorated using paintbrushes with symbols important to the Sioux culture. Modern potters may use newer methods of creating pottery, such as a pottery wheel, or create their work using primitive pottery methods.

Source: ehow

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