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: c.7000 B.C.E
: Ancient World

About Invention

A travois (Canadian French, from French travail, a frame for restraining horses; also obsolete travoy or travoise) is a historical frame structure that was used by indigenous peoples, notably the Plains Indians of North America, to drag loads over land.

The basic dog travois consists of two aspen or cottonwood poles notched and lashed together at one end with buffalo sinew, the other ends rest splayed apart. Cross-bars are lashed between the poles near the splayed ends, and the finished frame looks like a large letter A with extra cross-bars. The apex of the A, wrapped in buffalo skin to prevent friction burns, rests on a dog’s shoulders, while the splayed ends drag over the ground.First Nations women both built the travois and managed the dogs, sometimes using toy travois to train the puppies. Buffalo meat and firewood were typical travois loads.

The dog travois of pre-European times was small, capable of pulling not more than 20 to 30 kg."" Travel by dog travois was slower in hot weather, which is tiring for dogs.By the mid-19th century, the dog travois had given way to the horse travois. When dogs were replaced by horses, the greater pulling power allowed tipis to increase in size and household goods to multiply.""

After horses were introduced to North America, many Plains Indian tribes began to make larger horse-drawn travois. Instead of making specially constructed travois sleds, they would simply cross a pair of tepee poles across the horse's back and attach a burden platform between the poles behind the horse. This served two purposes at once, as the horses could then simultaneously carry the tepee poles and some additional baggage. Horses, of course, could pull much greater weight than dogs. Children often rode in the back of horse travois.

When traveling with a travois, it was traditional for Salish people to leave the tipi poles behind at the camp ""for use by the next tribe or family to camp there.""

A horse travois can be made with either A-frame or H-frame construction.


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