Collection Description

Culture Name

Gros Ventre

Culture Description

The Gros Ventre are an Algonquian-speaking Native American group closely related to the Arapaho. Originally nomadic hunter-gatherers, subsistence was largely based on the hunting of buffalo (bison) and the gathering of wild food plants. Historically believed to have originated in the Great Lakes region, the Gros Ventre eventually spread to large areas of the Great Plains, but under intense pressure from neighboring tribal groups throughout the eighteenth century, and with the decline of the buffalo herds in the late nineteenth, economic help was sought from the U.S. government. Under the terms of the Fort Belknap agreement of 1888, the Gros Ventre gave up there land claims in the region and were subsequently placed on a reservation in northern Montana (the Fort Belknap Reservation), where they were soon joined by the Assiniboine.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Plains and Plateau



United States

OWC Code


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Culture collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The NQ13 Gros Ventre collection describes primarily the traditional culture of the Gros Ventre from approximately the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth. They now live principally on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana, the locale of most of the field work in this collection. The basic documents in this collection which give a general over-view of the traditional culture are: Kroeber (1901, no. 1), Flannery (1953, no. 2), and supplemented by the concise culture summary in Fowler & Flannery (n. d., no. 10). Cooper (1956, no. 3) is an analysis of religion and ritual as he observed it during his fieldwork between 1931 and 1940. Fowler (1987, no. 9) is a study of the contemporary Gros Ventre at the Fort Belknap Reservation with a focus on cultural identity and the different ways it is manifested in their society. This study also provides information on the relationship of the Gros Ventre to Euro-American society, with other tribal groups in the region, and between generations in their own society. There are two linguistic studies in this collection, dealing with slightly different phonetic system and speech patterns used by males and females in Gros Ventre society, these are: Taylor (n. d., no. 11), and Flannery (n. d., no. 12).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle

Bax’aa” –water monsters– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776)

Be:tanhehi –a powerful medicine man– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756)

Black Lodges:Mountain Crows Use AGE STRATIFICATION ( 561)

Companies –age grades– Use AGE STRATIFICATION ( 561)


Education clique/militant youths Use AGE STRATIFICATION ( 561) with SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS ( 571)

Enemy –Friend– Use FRIENDSHIPS ( 572) and/or MOIETIES ( 616)

Ixtcibni:hahat –The Supreme Being– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776)

Keepers of the pipe; priests Use PRIESTHOOD ( 793)

Men’s Societies Use SODALITIES ( 575) with MOIETIES ( 616)

Näta:nhehi –a professional doctor– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756) and/or MEDICAL PERSONNEL ( 759)

Powwows Use REST DAYS AND HOLIDAYS ( 527) and/or SPECTACLES ( 541)

Tsätsuwa’a –ancestral or ghost helpers– Use ESCHATOLOGY ( 775)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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