• American West
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

Although their use can be traced back thousands of years and in various forms, The French -Canadian termed “Travois”, was an “A” or “H”-shaped, wooden frame used for hauling goods from on point to another. Without wheels, they were normally drug behind a Horse or Mule. Various Native American Tribes on The Northwest and Great Plains, adopted some form of Travois for such uses. The Sioux and Cheyenne Tribes, being among the foremost users. Originally, in Sioux Culture – their Travois were known as “Dog Sleds”, for thousands of years, prior to their becoming a “Horse Culture”,  The Sioux used domesticated Canines to serve as the animal of choice for The Travois. Albeit much smaller, the rudimentary “A”-frame design was constructed of Cotton or Pine wood Poles, tied with leather straping. A center bar, forming the characteristic shape, served as foundation. Hides  were placed over this to provide a base upon which goods were lashed or tied. With the advent of Horses, Lodge Poles were employed. This allowed for larger and heavier loads to be carried.


Much has been said of the effectiveness of The Travois with regards to  having no wheels. The rear end of the Poles, drug on top of the earth, thus creating drag difficulty. On reality, they were very effective, over rough terrain in which wheels would have created more of a problem. The effectiveness of The Travois was not lost on American Settlers . Many adopted it and used it in a similar fashion. In fact, even The US Army, used versions to transport wounded Soldiers on The Plains Wars of the 1870-1880s. The Travois is, like The Tipi still an important feature with Native American Traditionalists.