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Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains were home to some of the most colorful native American tribes such as the fierce Blackfoot, the picturesque Crow, the wily Arapaho, the friendly Flatheads and the stoic Utes. The beaver rich streams attracted intrepid fur trappers known as the mountain men. Famous mountain men included Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, James Beckwith, and the infamous Joe Johnston. Hardy and self - reliant the mountain men learned to survive in the wilderness and to co-exist with the various Native American tribes both fighting and trading with them. The Rocky Mountain West of the muzzle-loading period offers some very rich skirmish gaming opportunities. All three of my war bands were painted by Marc Williams of West Midlands, U.K.


The Arapaho were Algonquian speakers who migrated onto the Great Plains near the end of the 17th century. They called themselves "Our People" (Hinnunena). They were a tall, gaunt, religious race, brave in war, reknowned traders, but overshadowed by their more colorful Cheyenne allies. The Arapaho divided into three nations (all of which I use my band to represent); the Atsina (or Gros Ventres), the Northern Arapaho, and the Southern Arapaho. They were at war with the Crow, Shoshone, Navajo, Pawnee, Utes, and Sioux. They were usually friendly with the Cheyenne and Kiowas. The Atsinas were both allied to and at war with the Blackfeet. They hated the Mountain Men and Trappers (especially true of the Atsinas) and raided the Santa Fe trail constantly. They also made war upon the Mexicans. Unusually for the Plains tribes, the Arapahoes' warrior societies were age-graded, a custom they shared with the Blackfeet.


the Crow, or Absaroka, had separated from the Hidatsa after moving into the Missouri River country from the Ohio Valley. The Crows were Siouan speakers. They are well known from the Mountain Man days, often depicted in movies like "Jeremiah Johnson", and "The Mountain Men". They were a tall, handsome race, the "dandies" of the Plains tribes and also fine warriors and excellent horse thieves. Crow horse raiders often came as far south as the Cimmarron to steal horses from the southern Plains tribes. Unfortunately they also had a reputation for being sexually promiscuous and adulterous. They were deadly enemies of the Sioux and Blackfoot and, despite their small numbers, held their Powder River hunting grounds against both these tribes until well into the 19th century. They must have been formidable warriors indeed to have held off the two most numerous Plains tribes for so long. The Crow also fought the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Gros Ventre, Shoshone, Nez Perce, and Flathead. They didn't usually fight the Mountain Men, but that didn't stop them from stealing their horses! The Crow were friendly with the Kiowas from early days and often travelled to the southern Plains to visit them. They also got on with the Assiniboine and, sometimes the Nez Perce and Flatheads with whom they would venture into Blackfoot territory to hunt buffalo. Crow should often be allied with the trappers but could also fight them. Their great hatred of the Sioux led them to side with the Army, for whom they often scouted, against them in the Indian Wars. The Crows never fought the United States. Their two main soldier societies; the Foxes and the Lumpwoods (which they shared with the Hidatsa), had a running rivalry which included trying to outdo one another in battle (an interesting optional rule to build into games) and stealing each other's wives!

The Mountain Men

The mountain men were the first pioneers of the Far West. Many of them came from the Western States like Kentucky or Tennessee or from New England. Some were Frenchmen. A hardy breed they were good with their favorite weapon the Hawken Plains rifle, favoring a larger than .50 caliber bore weapon which could bring down the largest game animals. They learned to survive in the mountains by adopting the ways of the native American tribes. They usually got along with the Utes and the Flatheads. The Blackfeet and Arapahos were their deadly enemies and they both traded with and warred on the Crows.