Plains Indians have traditionally eaten diets rich in protein, including buffalo, deer, duck, elk and beaver. These nations have also relied heavily upon vegetables and legumes, such as choke cherries, beans, buffalo berries, currants and plums.
The predominant food source for Plains Indians has historically been buffalo, an animal that also supplied Plains communities with furs and other valuable materials and commodities. Buffalo meat is typically cooked plain or made into soups and pemmican. For pemmican, the meat is sliced, pounded thin and dried similar to jerky. To ensure food was always available, Plains tribes adjusted their lives around the migratory patterns of buffalo and used every last portion of their flesh. Plains tribes ate the kidneys, liver and intestines, and may have used the brains to thicken soup.
For alternative sources of meat, Plains tribes also hunted animals such as moose, wolves, rabbits and prairie chickens. Turnips were likely their most common vegetable and were therefore a staple. Baked goods were rarer, but Plains tribes did prepare a signature bread called Bannock, which they cooked over fire. Women harvested wild fruits, particularly berries, and served them both fresh and dried. Among the Plains Ojibwa and Plains Cree, fishing was also common.