Before the Horse

(a.k.a. Dog Days to Horse Culture)



This presentation concerns lifestyle of the Northern Rockies before "Horse Culture." People on horseback are often the first mental pictures most people have of Plains Indians; but fewer than 75 years before Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery trekked West, the people of the Northern Rockies had never seen a horse. Fifteenth century European explorers brought the horse to North America when they arrived in the southern regions of the the continent—the Yucatan Peninsula. It took 200 years before the horse showed up in the Northern Rockies, making the horses' influence a very recent part of the societies that have lived here for thousands of years.

With use of maps and pictures, this program gives information about those millenia when extensive use of dogs as draft animals was more unique to this region than any other place on the Plains; hunting and social development was based on this. The many ancient kill sites and petroglyphs validate the thousands of years the people lived here without horses. As part of the presentation, replica animals are used--dogs with sledge and packs, and a horse (in scale) with sledge.

This program has been part of Humanities Montana Speakers' Bureau since 2004. Contact Kae Cheatham or Humanities Montana to sechedule a presentation.

Kae Cheatham developed this program from background research for her young-reader title, Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita.
Read how she came to write this story.


Spotted Flower reviews | Spotted Flower excerpt
Kae's home page