Native American Crafts Plains



Background Information
A parfleche was used by the Plains Indians to carry their possessions. It was made from a buffalo hide. The hide was cut into a large rectangular shape. Belongings were placed on the center of the hide. Next the hide was folded like and envelope and tied with rawhide straps. The parfleche was made water proof by covering it with a glue made by boiling the tails of  beavers.

This parfleche was made after reading the book Quillworker: A Cheyenne Legend. Students used colored toothpicks to represent quills.
Peace Pipe

Background Information
Some of the ancient pipes were as long as a man’s arm. Many pipes were like a huge cigarette holder. Some of the pipes were made of wood and others were made of a special kind of stone. The pipes were decorated with carving. Two types of pipes were made. The peace pipe could be carried across enemy territory and would assure safe passage for the carrier. The war pipe had red feathers signifying blood and was passed around and smoked before a battle was to take place.

Directions for Making a Peace Pipe or War Pipe

  1. Gather these materials:
    • 2 wooden paint stirrers per student
    • clay
    • 2 straws per student
    • feathers
    • raffia
    • markers
  2. Mold the bowl of the pipe with a small amount of clay. Insert a straw to shape the hole through the base of the bowl. Allow to dry overnight.
  3. Have students use the markers to color Plains Indian designs on one side of each of the paint stirrers.
  4. Next take two drinking straws and slide them together at one end.
  5. Glue the straws in between the two paint stirrers making sure the designs are showing on both the top and the bottom. One/half inch of the straw should hang over one end and two inches of straw show hang over the other end.
  6. Glue the bowl of the pipe onto the end with 2 inches of straw.
  7. Tie short pieces of raffia around the pipe for decorations.
  8. Glue feathers to the pipe.
War Shield shield




Click the images to go to the individual Native American craft pages.