At the same time, Shoshones moved east from the Great Basin to eastern Montana.

And while the images can be easily moved to the Hollywood backlot, those real people are not so easily detached from the Great Plains themselves, for this difficult environment framed ongoing historical transformations in Native political organization, social relations, economy, and culture.

Along with the nomadic bison hunting popularized in the movies, Native Americans engaged in raiding, trading, pastoralism, agriculture, diplomacy, politics, religious innovation and syncretism, warfare, migration, wage labor, lawsuits, lobbying, and gaming.

Plains hunters used buffalo jumps like the Head-Smashed-In site in southwestern Alberta as early as 5,500 years ago.

Along with the bison, Indian hunters' prey included deer, elk, and other smaller game.

These villages generally ranged in size from ten to ninety lodges and were built from bracing poles and packed earthen cover.

Between spring planting and fall harvest, the villagers probably left the river's bottomland to hunt bison.Through these adaptive strategies, the Plains peoples worked to protect and enhance their political power and their ability to sustain themselves economically, and to maintain their cultural distinctiveness.Although some peoples came to the Plains earlier than others, Native Americans have lived there for a long time.The groups that came to be known as Apaches, for example, separated from people in the Northern Plains as early as 600 A. They moved south, sojourning in Nebraska before moving into the Southern Plains between 14.By the late 1600s they and their Kiowa allies had staked out a territory ranging from northwestern Texas to Wyoming and the Black Hills.Almost without effort, the image conjures up full-blown narratives of buffalo hunts and mounted warfare.