Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Assiniboine Indian
tribe for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students
and teachers to visit our Assiniboine language and culture
pages for in-depth information
about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with
Assiniboine pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.
How do you pronounce the word "Assiniboine"? What does it mean? Assiniboine is pronounced "ah-SIN-uh-boin." It comes from the Ojibwe name for the tribe, Assinipwan, which means "stone water people."
The Ojibwe probably called them this because they used heated stones to boil most of their food.
In Canada, the Assiniboines are also known as the Stoney Indians, for the same reason.
In their own language, the Assiniboines call themselves Nakota or Nakoda, which means "the allies."
Are the Assiniboines Sioux people?
The Assiniboines are relatives of the Lakota and Dakota tribes,
and they speak a similar language. However, they have always been politically distinct from the Sioux. In fact, they were often at
war with each other.
Where do the Assiniboines live?
The Assiniboine Indians are original people of Montana,
Saskatchewan. Most Assiniboine people are still living there today.
How is the Assiniboine Indian nation organized?
In the United States, the Assiniboine Indians live on two reservations, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck.
A reeservation is land that belongs to an Indian tribe and is under their control. The Assiniboines at Fork Belknap share a
reservation with the Gros Ventre, and the Assiniboines at
Fort Peck share a reservation with the with the Sioux.
In Canada, there are eight separate bands of Stoney Assiniboines, each with its own reservation (known as a reserve in Canada.)
Each of these tribes has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country. However, the
Assiniboines are also US or Canadian citizens and must obey the laws of those countries too.
In this past, each Assiniboine band was led by a chief elected by a tribal council. Some Assiniboine bands in Canada still operate this way today.
In the United States, because the Assiniboines share reservations with the Gros Ventre and Sioux tribes, they
are ruled by councils which are elected by all the citizens and include members from both tribes.
What language do the Assiniboine Indians speak?
The Assiniboine people speak English today. Some Assiniboines, mostly elders, also speak their native
Nakoda language. The Nakoda language spoken in Canada is significantly different than the one spoken in the
United States. Most linguists consider them two distinct languages,
and Assiniboine (American.)
Like Spanish and Italian, they share many similarities and speakers
of one language can often guess what speakers of the other language are saying.
If you'd like to know an easy Assiniboine word,
"hau" (pronounced similar to the English word "how") is a friendly greeting.
You can read an Assiniboine picture glossary here.
What was Assiniboine culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here's a link to the homepage of the Fort Belknap Community College.
On their site you can find information about the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine people in the past and today.
How do Assiniboine Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house.
Many Assiniboine children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more
chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have
dolls, toys, and games to play.
Here is a picture of a hoop game
played by Plains Indian kids.
Older boys also liked to play lacrosse.
An Assiniboine mother traditionally carried a young child in a
on her back--a custom which many American parents have
What were men and women's roles in the Assiniboine tribe?
Assiniboine women were in charge of the home. Besides cooking and cleaning, an Assiniboine woman built her family's house and dragged the heavy
posts with her whenever the tribe moved. Houses belonged to the women in the Asiniboine tribe. Men were hunters and warriors, responsible for feeding
and defending their families. Only men became Assiniboine chiefs, but both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.
What were Assiniboine homes like in the past?
The Assiniboine people lived in large buffalo-hide tents called
tipis (or teepees). Tipis were carefully designed to set up
and break down quickly. An entire Assiniboine village could be packed up and ready to move within an hour. Originally tipis were only about
12 feet high, but after the Assiniboines acquired horses, they began building them twice that size.
Here are some tipi pictures.
Today, Native Americans only put up a tepee for fun or to connect with their heritage.
Most Assiniboine families live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.
What was Assiniboine clothing like? Did the Assiniboines wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Assiniboine women wore long dresses made of mountain goat skin or deerskin.
Assiniboine men wore breechcloths with leather leggings
and Plains or Plateau-style shirts. The Assiniboines wore moccasins
on their feet, and in cold weather, they wore long buffalo-hide robes.
A Assiniboine lady's dress or warrior's shirt was fringed and often decorated with porcupine quills, beadwork, painting,
and elk's teeth. Later, Assiniboine people adapted European costume such as cloth dresses and colorful blanket robes.
Here is a site about the symbolism of Plains Indian war shirts,
and some photos and links
about Indian clothing in general.
Assiniboine Indian leaders sometimes wore the long warbonnets that
Plains Indians are famous for. Other Assiniboine men wore buffalo headdresses,
which were buffalo fur caps with horns attached to the side and a tail trailing behind. Traditionally, Assiniboine people only cut their hair when they were in mourning.
Usually they wore their hair long and loose, though warriors sometimes wore their hair in braids or coiled on top of their
heads. Here is a website with pictures of these Indian hair styles.
The Assiniboines also painted their faces for special occasions.
They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration. Assiniboine men also wore
tribal tattoos on their chests and arms, while the women
tattooed spirit lines on their faces.
Today, some Assiniboine people still have moccasins or a buckskin dress, but they
wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths...
and they only wear traditional regalia on special occasions like a wedding or a dance.
What was Assiniboine transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No--the Assiniboine Indians weren't coastal people, and usually traveled over land. Originally the Assiniboines used
dogs pulling travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings.
Here is an article with pictures of dog travois.
Once Europeans introduced horses to
North America, the Assiniboines became known as expert riders and traveled greater distances. Horse riding is still popular in the Assiniboine nation today,
but like other Americans, Assiniboine people also use modern vehicles like cars now.
What was Assiniboine food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Assiniboines were big game hunters. Assiniboine men worked as a group to hunt buffalo and elk herds. (Women would go along on these
group hunts too, to carve and pack the meat.) Assiniboine hunters also shot smaller game such as deer, bighorn sheep, and rabbits,
and sometimes went fishing in the river.
Besides meat, Assiniboine people ate fruits, nuts, and corn. They got the corn by trading with farming tribes. Here is a website with more information
about American Indian food.
What were Assiniboine weapons and tools like in the past?
Assiniboine hunters used bows and arrows. In war, Assiniboine men fired their bows or fought with
war clubs and buffalo-hide shields.
Here is a website with Native American weapon pictures and information.
What other Native Americans did the Assiniboine tribe interact with?
The Assiniboines traded regularly with other tribes of the Great Plains. They particularly liked to trade
buffalo hides and meat to tribes like the Hidatsa
in exchange for corn.
These tribes usually communicated using the Plains Sign Language.
The Assiniboines also fought wars with other tribes. Plains Indian tribes treated war differently than
European countries did. They didn't fight over territory but instead to prove their courage, and so Plains Indian war parties
rarely fought to the death or destroyed each other's villages. Instead, their war customs included
counting coup (touching an opponent in battle without harming him),
stealing an enemy's weapon or horse, or forcing the other tribe's warriors to retreat.
Some tribes the Assiniboines frequently fought with included the
What kinds of stories do the Assiniboines tell?
There are lots of traditional Assiniboine legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the
Assiniboine Indian culture. Here is one story about the
adventures of the Assiniboine hero Icmá.
What about Assiniboine religion?
Sorry, but we cannot help you with religious information. Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately
in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. If you are interested, here is an online book about the
sweat lodge ceremony,
which was important to the Assiniboines as well as other Sioux tribes, or another site about
Native American religion in general.
How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and
Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization
working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization
here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in
Thanks for your interest in the Assiniboine Indian people and their language!