The Spanish introduced horses to America during the 17th century. Within 150 years they had spread through the entire continent and were a valuable trading article and sought-after spoils of war. The horse gave Native Americans a previously unknown mobility, allowing them to develop a completely new lifestyle. Many tribes gave up their fixed villages and lived in tepees that could be quickly put up and taken down again. The tribes therefore followed the migrations of the bison herds with small and agile pintos. With their impressively patterned coat, the pintos already have a natural form of “war paint” and were thus also ideal for surprise attacks.
The meat of the bison served the Native Americans as food, and they stitched the pelts to make cloths and tents. At the same time, however, bison was also considered a holy animal, and the Native Americans never killed more than they needed for their survival. The deliberate extinction of the enormous herds of bison only began when European immigrants settled in America. There are now only a few bison living wild, and the prairies of North America have almost completely become agricultural land.