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Cheyenne

Cheyenne

ETHNONYMS: Sha-hi'ye-la, Itasi'na, Chien, Schian, Chayenne, Shyenne


Orientation

Identification. The name "Cheyenne" derives from the Dakota word sha-hi'ye-la, meaning "red talkers" or "people of an alien speech." The Cheyenne refer to themselves as "Tsetsehese-staestse" (People), although today the Northern Cheyenne also are known as the "Notame-ohmeseheetse" (Northern-eaters) and the Southern Cheyenne are called "Heevaha-tane" (Rope-people).

Location. Throughout the late-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries, the Cheyenne occupied a region that extended from the Yellowstone River, Montana, to the upper Arkansas River in present-day Colorado and Kansas. In all, their territory extended over 500,000 square miles, covering nearly eight states. The high plains is characterized by shortgrass vegetation, occasionally interrupted by riparian forests and shrubs along the more perennial waterways. Evergreen stands predominate at higher elevations. The climate is one of hot summers and harsh, cold winters, with an average annual precipitation of ten to fourteen inches. Although the Region was not conducive to horticulture, it did support a large bison population.

Demography. At contact (c. 1780) population estimates indicate that there were about 3,500 Cheyenne. Despite four known major epidemics and a number of massacres inflicted by the U.S. military forces, the 1888 Cheyenne reservation population was 3,497. Of that number, 2,096 were Southern Cheyenne living in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) and 1,401 were Northern Cheyenne residing on the Tongue River Reservation, Montana, and the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. In 1989, the Northern Cheyenne numbered 5,716. An exact Southern Cheyenne population figure is more difficult to obtain. Currently 9,525 Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho are enrolled at Concho Agency; at least 50 percent identify themselves as Southern Cheyenne.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Cheyenne language is one of five main Algonkian languages spoken on the Great Plains. In the postcontact period, there were at least two major Cheyenne dialects, Tse-tsehese-staestse and So'taa'e, the latter spoken by a tribe incorporated into the Cheyenne. Today only Tse-tsehese-staeste is spoken, but So'taa'e words have been adopted into the language.


History and Cultural Relations

Cheyenne history and cultural relations are linked to their shifting adaptations from a woodland people to equestrian nomads on the Great Plains. Although the Cheyenne have never been associated with a specific archaeological focus, oral tradition and ethnohistorical evidence confirm that the protohistoric Cheyenne occupied the woodland-prairie Country of the upper Mississippi Valley, where they inhabited semisedentary villages located along lakes and rivers. As early as 1680, the Cheyenne initiated contact with the French in an attempt to establish trade relations. Their desire for trade provoked attacks from the Sioux and Chippewa, who were competing for domination. Outnumbered and possessing no firearms, the Cheyenne were forced westward into the Minnesota Valley and eventually onto the northeastern plains. On the plains, the Cheyenne established at least twelve fortified earthlodge villages along the Sheyenne and Missouri rivers. Allied with the Mandan and Arikara, they continued to war with the Chippewa, Assiniboin, and expanding Sioux. During this period, the Cheyenne incorporated the So'taa'e, intermarried Arikara, and the Moiseyu, a Siouan group from Minnesota. Although forced out of the Great Lakes fur Market, the Cheyenne continued to trade, serving as middlemen between more westwardly nomadic Plains groups and the Missouri River village people. Between 1742 and 1770, the Cheyenne acquired horses and became equestrian nomads. By 1820, the Cheyenne had stabilized their geographical and political position in the Black Hills region, allying themselves with the Arapaho and Oglala. From here, the tribe expanded in a southwesterly direction. Their separation into northern and southern divisions began as early as 1790 and was accelerated in the 1830s by the establishment of Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River and Fort William on the North Platte River.

Formal relations with the U.S. government was marked by the signing of the 1825 Friendship Treaty and White-Cheyenne relations were generally amicable until the 1840s. During this decade, the Cheyenne witnessed a flood of Whites migrating along the Oregon Trail and the destruction of their environment and bison herds; they also contracted infectious diseases at this time. The Cheyenne and their allies responded by conducting a series of minor raids. To end Indian-Indian and Indian-White hostilities, the U.S. government negotiated the Treaty of 1851, making the division Between the Northern and Southern Cheyenne permanent. The reduction of their land base, the continuing invasion of Whites, and the construction of forts prompted the Cheyenne to fight. For the next twenty-five years, they waged war against the U.S. military and White settlers; the Southern Cheyenne surrendered in 1875 and Northern Cheyenne resistance ended in 1879. With the Southern Cheyenne settled on their reservation, the U.S. government attempted to reconsolidate the tribe by forcibly removing the Northern Cheyenne to Indian Territory. Culturally alienated, starving, and infected with dysentery, measles, and malaria, 257 Northern Cheyenne broke out and avoided capture until crossing the North Platte River. There they divided into two bands, both of which were eventually captured, with the remnants allowed to relocate in 1881 from Indian Territory to Pine Ridge Agency. In 1884, the Tongue River Reservation was established by executive order in southeastern Montana and all the Northern Cheyenne were reunited. In 1892 the Southern Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation was dissolved through allotment. The Northern Cheyenne Reservation was allotted in 1932, although the land was never opened to White homesteading, thus preserving the integrity of the Reservation. Presently, both tribes continue to struggle to establish the legal and cultural rights they have lost over the centuries.


Settlements

For most of the year, the ten Cheyenne bands traveled independently throughout their territory. Camping locations were usually near the confluence of two waterways, near adequate game, wood, and grazing land for the horses. During the early summer, the bands congregated to conduct tribal ceremonies. Afterwards, the bands dispersed to their territories, settling in wooded areas along waterways for winter. After being placed on their reservations the Cheyenne continued to settle along waterways, although eventually communities were formed near government buildings or White towns. Aboriginal Cheyenne housing on the plains was a three-pole tipi replaced during the reservation period by cabins. Today, most Cheyenne live in governmental housing, mobile homes, or converted older reservation structures. Some of the homes are subStandard, although improvements have been made since the 1960s.


Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Although casual gardening continued among some bands as late as 1850, the primary focus was the bison. Besides meat, the bison provided materials for shelter, clothing, and manufactured goods and was a trade item. Of over forty food plants gathered, the most important were the Indian turnip, chokecherries, and plums. European contact resulted in the adoption of trade foods into the Cheyenne diet. Coffee, sugar, bacon, and bleached flour became important commodities, especially during the dramatic decline of the bison. Cheyenne involvement in the nineteenth-century bison robe trade resulted in a further dependency on European goods. On reservations, rations, gardening, and marginal wage labor became the mainstay of the Cheyenne economy. Today the majority of the Southern and Northern Cheyenne income is derived through the federal government. Among the Northern Cheyenne, Tribal enterprises such as logging, ranching, growing alfalfa, seasonal wage labor, and governmental assistance provide most of their income. The Southern Cheyenne are involved in wheat raising, oil exploitation, some ranching, and governmental work projects. Both tribes continue to be underemployed and dependent on governmental support. The most important domesticated animal was the horse, which was used for transportation, warfare, and hunting, and became a source of wealth in Cheyenne society.

Industrial Arts. Cheyenne skills included leatherworking, woodworking, quillworking, featherworking, and stone carving. After direct trade with Europeans, metal objects, glass beads, cloth, and other items to decorate replaced articles of native manufacture. Today the Cheyenne continue to make objects for personal use, powwows, ceremonial purposes, and sale to non-Indians.

Trade. The extent of precontact trade is not fully known, but by the historical period the Cheyenne were involved in a complex trading network. As middlemen, the Cheyenne traded horses, dried bison meat, pemmican, dehydrated pomme blanche, and decorated robes, shirts, and leather pouches with the Missouri River tribes. In exchange, the Cheyenne obtained European items such as guns, powder, and foodstuffs as well as native maize and tobacco. By 1830, they had become involved in the bison robe trade with Europeans, which ended in the 1880s, leading to complete Economic dependency on the U.S. government.

Division of Labor. The division of labor was based on age and sex. Men's work included hunting, raiding, ceremonial activities, and manufacturing all items associated with these pursuits. Young boys and elder men in the household were often in charge of caring for the horse herd. Women's tasks were associated with domestic activities: gathering food and fuel, caring for children, butchering meat, making pemmican, erecting and dismantling the lodge, manufacturing all Household objects, and preparing bison hides for use or trade. Young girls assisted their mothers with these tasks, and elder women relieved the mother of child-care duties. During the bison hide trade period, men's and women's labor focused on acquisition and production of hides. During the reservation period, the division of labor was altered radically with Women's work increasingly devalued and confined to the Household. Since World War II, Cheyenne men and women have been employed in a variety of occupations ranging from trapping to law.

Land Tenure. Aboriginally, any Cheyenne had the right to resources within their territory. Although portions of their territory were contested by other Plains Indians, the Cheyenne claimed and actively defended the region from the yellowstone River to the Arkansas River. Within this territory, each band occupied and utilized a favored location, usually near major rivers.


Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Descent was bilateral. Although clans probably existed when the Cheyenne resided in sedentary earthlodge villages during the 1700s, clans no longer existed after they became equestrian nomads.

Kinship Terminology. Prior to the alteration of the Kinship system during the reservation period, terminology followed the Hawaiian system, emphasizing horizontal classification along generational levels.


Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage was a formal matter. Premarital sex was strictly prohibited and a girl's virginity was carefully guarded by her family. Because a young man postponed Marriage until he had horses and a respectable war record, Courtship often lasted for several years. The most respectable Marriages were arranged between families, although elopement took place. Until the pattern was interrupted by epidemic disease and warfare, marriage was forbidden to a relative of any degree. Most marriages were monogamous, but polygyny was permitted, often of the sororal type, with the levirate also practiced. Today there is still concern about the degree of relatedness between a couple wanting to marry. Traditionally, postmarital residence was uxorilocal. With the incorporation of the Dog Soldiers into the tribal circle, residence shifted in that portion of Cheyenne society to patrilocality, resulting in two residence patterns after 1860. Divorce could be initiated by either the husband or wife for mistreatment, adultery, or other marital transgressions. A man could publicly disgrace his wife by "throwing her away" at a public gathering.

Domestic Unit. The primary unit of cooperation and Subsistence was the vestoz, a residential extended family of related women and their conjugal families. Although the Nuclear family is the predominant pattern today, extended families still exist, often as an adaptation to the high unemployment rates, poverty, illegitimacy, and other socioEconomic factors associated with social disadvantage.

Inheritance. Some of a man's personal possessions were buried with him, but all the remaining property was given to nonrelatives. The widow and her children retained nothing. At funerals today, give-aways are still held before the body is buried and one full year after the death. Contemporary inheritance patterns are defined by legal stipulation and kinship.

Socialization. Children were generally raised permissively. Social ideals were taught through advice, counsel, and demonstration. Although physical punishment was rarely used, gossip, teasing, and sometimes ostracism acted as negative sanctions if the child misbehaved. Many of these mechanisms are used today, but physical punishment is also now used to correct undesirable behavior.


Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Although kinship was the foundation of Cheyenne society, there coexisted four types of social organization: the vestoz (a camp), the manhastoz (a bunch), the notxestoz (military society), and the manhao (a sacred band). The manhastoz was structurally similar to the vestoz, but was larger and usually organized around a chiefs Household; it was organized for trade rather than strictly Subsistence pursuits. The manhao, the largest traditional Cheyenne social unit, was composed of numerous vestoz and manhastoz led by council chiefs. Most important, these ten "sacred bands" were recognized as having a camping position in the Cheyenne tribal circle when they came together to conduct ceremonies. The 1849 cholera and 1850-1851 smallpox epidemics and White expansion resulted in three "sacred bands" becoming extinct and others being depopulated. In response, a notxestoz, the Dog Soldier Military Society, merged with the remnant Mas'kota band and was added to the Cheyenne tribal circle. Aside from kin-based groups, there were various sodalities for men and women. The most famous male sodality was the Contraries; other male sodalities included the Buffalo Men and Horse Men. Women's sodalities focused on skill and achievement in manufactured articles, the most important being the Quillwork Society. In modern times, the War Mothers Association was organized to honor Cheyenne veterans.

Political Organization. Cheyenne political organization was unique among Plains equestrian peoples. They maintained a Council of Forty-four, leaders who made decisions for the entire tribe consisting forty headsmen (four from each of the ten bands) and four councilmen known as the old man chiefs. They were considered the wisest men and were often the tribal religious authorities. Each council member had equal authority and served for ten years. The Council of Forty-four met during the summer when the tribe congregated for ceremonies and decided on future tribal movements, relations with other tribes, the schedule of tribal Ceremonies, and important internal tribal matters. To carry out their decisions, the Council of Forty-four relied upon the six Cheyenne military societies. Membership in any of the military societies was open to all young men, although most boys joined their father's society. In addition, each society selected several young women, known for their chastity and virtue, who served as assistants in society ceremonial functions.

Social Control. The mechanisms of social control ranged from public ridicule, social withdrawal, songs, and ostracism to physical punishment carried out by the military societies. Such mechanisms were replaced during the reservation period. After allotment and Oklahoma statehood in 1906, the Southern Cheyenne came under the legal jurisdiction of state law enforcement agencies. Since that time, the Southern Cheyenne, like the Northern Cheyenne, have instituted a Tribal police force and tribal court system.

Conflict. Forced onto the plains through conflict, the Cheyenne, between 1790 and 1850, warred against the Crow, Shoshone, Pawnee, and numerous other tribes to establish hunting territories, to acquire new land, and to maintain an advantageous position in their trade relations with other tribes and Europeans. Other reasons for going to war were more individualistic, usually to acquire horses, take captives, or gain revenge. After 1850, the nature of warfare changed and the growing conflict with Whites became a fight for survival.


Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The Cheyenne world was a dynamic, operative system with interrelated components. Within the Cheyenne universe (Hestanov), the world was divided into seven major levels. Spirit-beings (maiyun ) reside in this universe and their sacredness is relative to their relationship to Ma'heo'o, the creator of all physical and spiritual life in Hestanov. These levels are intersected by the Maiheyuno, a Personal spirit residing at each of the cardinal directions. Ri-ous animals, birds, and plants are manifestations of these spirit-beings. In Cheyenne religious expression, aspects of these spirit-beings or the spirit-beings themselves are entwined symbolically with plant and animal forms portrayed in Cheyenne ceremonies. Many Cheyenne today view the world's ecological crisis as an end to Hestanov. Christian missionary activity has been continuous among the Cheyenne for a century, especially the Mennonites and Catholics. Today there is a variety of religious beliefs and expressions including Christianity and the American Indian church, although Sacred Arrows (Mahuts ) and the Medicine Hat (Isiwun ) remain the most venerated sacred objects.

Religious Practitioners. Aside from the Keepers of Mahuts and Isiwun and the arrow priests, there were numerous Cheyenne shamans and doctors, each possessing a particular religious or healing power.

Ceremonies. There were four major religious ceremonies: the renewal of Mahuts, the Hoxehe-vohomo' ehestotse (New Life Lodge or Sun Dance), the Massaum (Animal Dance), and Isiwun. Mahuts was given to the Cheyenne by their cultural hero, Mutsoyef (Sweet Medicine). The four Sacred Arrows included two "Man Arrows" for warfare and two "Bison Arrows" for hunting. The Arrows were renewed every few years, unless a murder took place or a pledger needed their blessing. Presently, the renewal of the Mahuts, the New Life Lodge, and ceremonies surrounding Isiwun are still performed.

Arts. Aboriginal arts featured a particular musical style, songs, and an artistic tradition, all important parts of Cheyenne social and ceremonial life. The Cheyenne artistic tradition reflected not only the sacred but the socioeconomic pursuits of men and women. Presently, there are a number of prominent Cheyenne artists, and Cheyenne songs are still performed at various functions.

Medicine. Disease arose from both natural and supernatural causes. Curing techniques involved the use of herbal and root remedies, ritual purification, the sweat lodge, smoking, prayer, and sometimes surgery. Both men and women were healers. Treatment of sickness was designed to restore the patient not only biologically but spiritually as well. Presently, most Cheyenne use Western clinical medicine to cure afflictions, but native healers are still used by many people.

Death and Afterlife. Cheyenne believed that death, like disease, could have a natural or spiritual causation. As a cultural phenomenon, death was a spiritual process. At birth, Ma'heo'o provided the child with the "gift of breath/power" (omotome ) and "spiritual potential" (mahta'sooma). These two gifts are developed through life. As a person ages, the process is reversed. Mahta'sooma leaves the body, resulting in behavior and cognitive changes. Next omotome departs, bringing on death. The spirit of the deceased then travels up the long fork of the Milky Way to Seana, the camp of the dead. If the dead individual was an outcast, died in a violent accident or by suicide, or was an unredeemed sinner, he or she would travel the "suicide road," the short fork of the Milky Way. Others would return to earth as malevolent spirits. The concern for following the "good life," and so to have a "good death," is still prevalent among the Cheyenne.


Bibliography

Grinnell, George Bird (1923). The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life. 2 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Moore, John H. (1987). The Cheyenne Nation: A Social and Demographic History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Schlesier, Karl H. (1987). The Wolves of Heaven: Cheyenne Shamanism, Ceremonies, and Prehistoric Origins. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Weist, Tom (1977). A History of the Cheyenne People. Billings: Montana Council for Indian Education.

GREGORY R. CAMPBELL

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Cheyenne

CHEYENNE

CHEYENNE. The word "Cheyenne" is Siouan in origin, and traditional Cheyennes prefer the term "Tsistsistas." As a tribal nation, the Cheyennes were formed from several allied bands that amalgamated around the Black Hills in the early eighteenth century to become one of the most visible Plains Indian tribes in American history.

Their political unity has been based on respect for four Sacred Arrows that were brought to them"444 years ago" by the prophet Sweet Medicine. Each year, the Cheyennes conduct an arrow ceremony in honor of their prophet and a sun dance that allows tribal members to fast and sacrifice to secure blessings for themselves and their tribe. Their politico-religious structure, unlike that of any other Plains tribe, could require all bands to participate in military actions. Consequently, Cheyenne military leaders were able to mobilize their warriors to carve a territory for the tribe that reached from the Arkansas River to the Black Hills, a large territory for a nation of only 3,500 persons.

The Cheyennes first entered American documentary history as potential trading partners for U.S. interests, in the narratives of Meri wether Lewis and William Clark in 1806. Within a few decades, however, military confrontations had begun, ultimately resulting in Cheyenne victories at Beecher Island in 1868 and the Little Bighorn in 1876, and tragic defeats at Sand Creek in 1864 and Summit Springs in 1869.

In their long history, the Cheyennes mastered three different modes of subsistence. As foragers in Minnesota during the seventeenth century, they lived in wigwams. As corn farmers on the middle Missouri River, they lived in earthen lodges surrounded by palisades. As full-time nomadic buffalo hunters, they rode horses and lived in tipis. Each of these lifestyles had a characteristic social structure. As foragers, they lived in chief-led bands where both sexes made equal contributions to the economy. During the farming period, women came to dominate the economy, doing most of the agricultural work and preparing buffalo robes for trade. A council of chiefs comprised men who were important because they had many wives and daughters. About 1840, some Cheyenne men became oriented toward military societies, who emphasized raiding rather than buffalo hunting for subsistence. War chiefs began to challenge the authority of the peace chiefs.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Cheyennes occupied two reservations, one in Oklahoma, which they shared with the Southern Arapahos, and another in Montana. The Cheyenne language was spoken


on both reservations, and they retained their major ceremonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Grinnell, George Bird. The Cheyenne Indians. 2 vols. Reprint of the 1923 edition. New York: Cooper Square, 1962.

Moore, John H. The Cheyenne. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.

John H.Moore

See alsoLittle Bighorn, Battle of ; Sand Creek Massacre ; Tribes: Great Plains ; andvol. 9:A Century of Dishonor ; Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 ; Account of the Battle at Little Bighorn .

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Cheyenne (indigenous people of North America)

Cheyenne (shīăn´, –ĕn´), indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). The Cheyenne abandoned their settlements in Minnesota in the 17th cent., leaving the region to the hostile Sioux and Ojibwa. Gradually migrating W along the Cheyenne River and then south, they established earth-lodge villages and raised crops. After the introduction of the horse (c.1760) they eventually became nomadic buffalo hunters. The tribe split (c.1830) when a large group decided to settle on the upper Arkansas River and take advantage of the trade facilities offered by Bent's Fort. This group became known as the Southern Cheyenne. The Northern Cheyenne continued to live about the headwaters of the Platte River. For the next few years the Southern Cheyenne, allied with the Arapaho, were engaged in constant warfare against the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache. Peace was made c.1840, and the five tribes became allies.

The Cheyenne were generally friendly toward white settlers until the discovery of gold in Colorado (1858) brought a swarm of gold seekers into their lands. By a treaty signed in 1861 the Cheyenne agreed to live on a reservation in SE Colorado, but the U.S. government did not fulfill its obligations, and they were reduced to near starvation. Cheyenne raids resulted in punitive expeditions by the U.S. army. The indiscriminate massacre (1864) of warriors, women, and children at Sand Creek, Colo., was an unprovoked assault on a friendly group. The incident aroused the Cheyenne to fury, and a bitter war followed. Gen. George Custer destroyed (1868) Black Kettle's camp on the Washita River, and fighting between the whites and the Southern Cheyenne ended, except for an outbreak in 1874–75. The Northern Cheyenne joined with the Sioux and overwhelmed Custer and his 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. They finally surrendered in 1877 and were moved south and confined with the Southern Cheyenne in what is now Oklahoma. Plagued by disease and malnutrition, they made two desperate attempts to escape and return to the north. A separate reservation was eventually established for them in Montana. There were almost 12,000 Cheyenne in the United States in 1990.

Bibliography

See G. B. Grinnell, The Fighting Cheyennes (1915, repr. 1956) and The Cheyenne Indians (2 vol., 1923, repr. 1972); E. A. Hoebel, The Cheyennes (1960); D. J. Berthrong, The Southern Cheyennes (1963); J. Millard, The Cheyenne Wars (1964); John Stands in Timber and M. Liberty, Cheyenne Memories (1967); P. J. Powell, Sweet Medicine (2 vol., 1969); J. H. Moore, The Cheyenne Nation (1987).

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Cheyenne

Cheyenne Native North American tribe. During the 18th century, many abandoned sedentary farming for hunting buffalo. The tribe split in c.1830, with the Northern Cheyenne remaining near the Platte River, and the Southern Cheyenne settling near the Arkansas River. The Colorado Gold Rush (1858) brought rapid white migration and the Cheyenne were restricted to a reservation. War broke out following a US army massacre of Cheyenne (1864). General George Custer crushed Southern Cheyenne resistance, but the Northern Cheyenne helped in his defeat at Little Bighorn. They eventually surrendered in 1877. Today, there are c.2000 Cheyenne.

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Cheyenne

Chey·enne • n. (pl. same or -ennes ) 1. a member of an American Indian people formerly living between the Missouri and Arkansas rivers but now on reservations in Montana and Oklahoma. 2. the Algonquian language of this people. • adj. of or relating to the Cheyenne or their language.

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Cheyenne

Cheyenne

Cheyenne: Introduction
Cheyenne: Geography and Climate
Cheyenne: History
Cheyenne: Population Profile
Cheyenne: Municipal Government
Cheyenne: Economy
Cheyenne: Education and Research
Cheyenne: Health Care
Cheyenne: Recreation
Cheyenne: Convention Facilities
Cheyenne: Transportation
Cheyenne: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1867 (incorporated, 1867)

Head Official: Mayor Jack R. Spiker (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 47,283

1990: 50,008

2000: 53,011

2003 estimate: 54,374

Percent change, 19902000: 6%

U.S. rank in 1980: 451st

U.S. rank in 1990: 504th

U.S. rank in 2000: 520th

Metropolitan Area Population (Laramie County)

1980: 68,600

1990: 73,142

2000: 81,607

Percent change, 19902000: 11.6%

U.S. rank in 2000: 637th

Area: 21.19 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 6,062 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 45.6° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 14.1 inches of rain; 51.3 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Public administration, wholesale and retail trade, services

Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $19,809 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 2,476

Major Colleges and Universities: Laramie County Community College, University of Wyoming-Laramie

Daily Newspaper: The Wyoming Tribune Eagle

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Cheyenne

Cheyenne State capital of Wyoming and county seat of Laramie County. Founded in 1867 as a centre for transporting goods and livestock by railway, it became famous for its lawlessness and connections with figures such as Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok. Industries: packing plants, oil refineries. Pop. (2000) 53,001.

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Cheyenne

CheyenneAberfan, Adrianne, an, Anne, artisan, astrakhan, ban, began, Belmopan, bipartisan, bran, can, Cannes, Cézanne, Cheyenne, clan, courtesan, cran, dan, Dayan, Diane, divan, élan, Elan, fan, flan, foreran, Fran, Friedan, Gell-Mann, gran, Han, Hunan, Ivan, Jan, Japan, Jinan, Joanne, Kazan, Klan, Kordofan, Lacan, Lausanne, Leanne, Limousin, Louvain, man, Mann, Marianne, Milan, Moran, nan, Oran, outran, outspan, Pan, panne, parmesan, partisan, pavane, pecan, Pétain, plan, Pusan, ran, rataplan, rattan, Rosanne, Sagan, Saipan, saran, scan, scran, sedan, span, spick-and-span, Spokane, Suzanne, Tainan, tan, than, tisane, trepan, van, vin, Wuhan, Xian, Yerevan, Yunnan, Zhongshan •koan • kanban • Seremban •Cardin, Teilhard de Chardin •Rodin • Ramadan • dauphin •turbofan • Afghan • Gauguin •Callaghan

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Cheyenne

Cheyenne

Name

The name Cheyenne (pronounced shy-ANN ) is derived from the Sioux word shyela or Shaiena. meaning “red talkers” or “people of different speech.” Other sources suggest the Dakota word Šahiyenan, meaning “relatives of the Cree” or “little Cree,” gave the tribe their name. The Cheyenne call themselves Tsitsistas or Bzitsiistas, meaning “beautiful people,” “like-hearted people,” or “our people.” Another name for one of the Cheyenne groups is Sotaeo’o (no translation available).

Location

Originally from the Great Lakes area in present-day Minnesota, the Cheyenne moved westward as other tribes took over their land. They settled in North and South Dakota. Later they were forced into the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. When the tribe split in the early 1800s some Cheyenne moved to Colorado along the Arkansas River. In the late 1800s both Southern and Northern Cheyenne were sent to Oklahoma reservations. The Northern Cheyenne fled to Nebraska and were later moved to Montana. In the early twenty-first century most Cheyenne people live on the Great Plains, mainly in Montana and South Dakota, and in Oklahoma.

Population

Although early estimates of the Cheyenne population varied widely, one estimate says that 3,500 Cheyenne lived on the Great Plains in 1800. In the 1990 U.S. the Census, 7,104 people identified themselves as members of the Cheyenne tribe. By 2000 that number had increased to 11,426, and 19,704 people said they were at least part Cheyenne.

Language family

Algonquian.

Origins and group affiliations

The Cheyenne people, who once lived near the Great Lakes, were forced to move west by other eastern tribes who used guns obtained from the Europeans. In the Great Plains the tribe united with another tribe, the Sutaio, who had also been forced out of their Great Lakes home. The Sioux referred to the union of the two groups as ha hiye na, meaning “people of alien speech.”

The Cheyenne traded with all the Great Plains tribes, but their closest ally was the Arapaho. Though they often got along well with the Kiowa, the Lakota, and the Comanche; at other times the tribes fought. In modern times, the two main groups of Cheyenne live on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana and the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation in Oklahoma.

The story of the Cheyenne people is one of relocation. They were forced to move westward by their constant search for stable food sources and by pressure from other tribes who were being pushed into the West by the gradual expansion of the European-American population. The Cheyenne were known for having one of the most highly organized governments among Native American groups. They were also renowned for their mighty warriors, their ethics, and their spiritual ways.

History

The Cheyenne move West

The Cheyenne probably had their origins in the western Great Lakes region of present-day Minnesota. In the early 1600s they had occasional contact with French and British fur traders. The first Europeans to encounter them were probably French explorers who were building Fort Crevecoeur at a site on the Illinois River in present-day Minnesota. The Cheyenne lived nearby in farming communities. During the late 1600s the Cheyenne moved into what is now North and South Dakota where they built villages of earthen dwellings and farmed the land.

In time pressure from the Sioux tribes and the Ojibway (see entries) drove the Cheyenne even farther west into the area of the Black Hills. By the 1800s the Cheyenne were able to hunt for food on horseback. (Horses were introduced to the Americas by the Spanish.) Many left their villages to follow the buffalo herds across the Great Plains. In the first quarter of the nineteenth century the tribe split up into two groups. The Northern Cheyenne preferred to roam the northern country in search of horses and buffalo. The Southern Cheyenne chose to take up permanent residence along the Arkansas River in Colorado.

Important Dates

1825: The Cheyenne divide into Northern and Southern groups.

1851: The Cheyenne are one of eleven tribes to sign the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which promises annual payments to the tribes for their land.

1864: More than one hundred sleeping Cheyenne and Arapaho are killed by U.S. soldiers in the Sand Creek Massacre.

1876: The Northern Cheyenne join with the Sioux in defeating General George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

1884: The Northern Cheyenne Reservation is established in eastern Montana.

1989–90: Passage of the National Museum of the American Indian Act and the Native American Grave Protection and Reparations Act brings about the return of their burial remains to Native tribes.

2004: Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief W. Richard West Jr. becomes director of the newly opened National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Conflict

During the mid-nineteenth century the fortunes of the Cheyenne underwent great change. The United States took much of the land in the West, and white settlers streamed westward. They traveled on trails that led through the land of many Great Plains tribes, including the Cheyenne. The increasing white population caused a rapid decline in the number of buffalo. As a result armed conflicts between the Native Americans and settlers (and U.S. soldiers who came to protect them) grew more and more common. The federal government tried to safeguard white settlers and to pay tribes for their losses of buffalo and land.

The Sand Creek Massacre

In 1851 the U.S. government and 11 tribes, including the Cheyenne, signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which provided that the federal government give annual payments to the Great Plains Indians. It also clearly defined the boundaries of the territory belonging to each tribe. In return the Native Americans agreed that the United States could build roads and military posts in their territories. They also agreed to end warfare among themselves and stop their attacks on white settlers. However, by 1856 tensions began again as the numbers of whites crossing Indian Territory (in present-day Oklahoma) grew. From 1857 to 1879 a war broke out between the Cheyenne and the U.S. Army. The bloodiest encounter of that war was the Sand Creek Massacre.

In 1861 the Southern Cheyenne chief Black Kettle (died 1868), who tried to secure peace with honor for his people, signed a treaty giving up all their lands to the United States, except the small Sand Creek Reservation in southern Colorado. The barren land could not support the Native American people, and in time many young Cheyenne men had to prey upon the livestock and goods of nearby white settlers to survive. After one of the Cheyenne raids, white Coloradans sent an armed force that opened fire on the first group of Cheyenne they met.

Black Kettle spoke with the local military commander and was told he and his people would be safe if they stayed at the Sand Creek Reservation. But on November 29, 1884, a large group of Cheyenne and Arapaho (see entry) people lay sleeping at their camp at Sand Creek. In short order, Colonel John M. Chivington (1821–1894) and his Colorado Volunteers slaughtered 105 women and children and 28 men. Women were mercilessly attacked, children beheaded, and old people dismembered.

Chief Black Kettle rode into the gunfire waving his American flag to show he was under the protection of the American government, but it was no use. Then the Native Americans’ horses were scattered across the Plains, and their settlement was destroyed by fire. In the conflict only nine soldiers were killed and thirty-eight were wounded. Soon after the soldiers paraded through the streets of Denver with body parts of the victims displayed on the ends of their daggers.

Following the massacre the U.S. Congress held a series of hearings, then formally condemned the event and the men who were in charge of it.

Native Americans defeat Custer

The Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 created a reservation for the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho in northern Oklahoma. The Northern Cheyenne continued fighting the Americans. The conflict peaked with the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn, when the tribe helped the Sioux defeat Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer (1839–1876). In retaliation, U.S. troops rounded up the Northern Cheyenne who had participated in the battle and forced them to move onto the Cheyenne reservation in Oklahoma. The people missed their northern homeland and found conditions on the reservation unbearable. In 1878 they escaped and fled north. U.S. troops captured them in Nebraska, and many perished from gunfire and ill treatment by the soldiers. The survivors were sent to Montana, and six years later, in 1884, were given a small reservation of their own there.

Tribe fragmented

By the 1880s the buffalo had been hunted to near extinction. As a result the Cheyenne grew dependent on the government for food, shelter, and clothing. State officials in both Oklahoma and Montana attempted to introduce cattle raising and encouraged the Cheyenne to become ranchers. U.S. officials, however, opposed this. They preferred to make the Cheyenne into farmers, but their plans did not prove successful.

In 1887 the General Allotment Act (also known as the Dawes Act) was passed. Under this legislation the reservations were divided into small plots of land, called allotments, that were to be owned and farmed by individual Native Americans; the remaining land on the reservations was opened to white settlement. The breakup of their reservations divided the people and led to the breakdown of the Cheyenne culture. In the mid-2000s, though, the Cheyenne people are working hard to revitalize their cultural heritage.

Religion

The Cheyenne people believed that plants, animals, and people all had spirits and that they were direct descendants of the creator-god, Heammawihio, who taught the people how to hunt, when to plant and harvest corn, and how to use fire. The Cheyenne prayed to the spirit of the Earth to keep the crops growing, provide herbs, and heal the sick. The people also prayed to the north, south, east, and west. The west, where the Sun set and rain and storms originated, was the most important of the four directions.

The Sun Dance, a ceremony common among many Plains Indians, was the central religious ceremony of the Cheyenne. It lasted eight days. During the first four days the Cheyenne built the dance lodge and performed secret rites in the Lone Tepee. During the last four days they held a public dance in the Sun Dance Lodge.

In the late 1800s the U.S. government banned the Sun Dance. The Cheyenne continued to perform the ceremony, but renamed it the Willow Dance. In 1911 the Willow Dance was forbidden, and repeated efforts by the Cheyenne to reinstate it were rejected.

Language

The Cheyenne spoke a musical language that was part of the Algonquian family. (Other Algonquian languages include Cree, Menominee, Fox, Delaware, and Micmac; see entries.) The language had 14 letters that they combined to create very long words. While the Cheyenne nation was strong, its language was widely spoken.

However, as the tribe was influenced by the Sioux, the Cheyenne language changed and became a mix of the two languages. Because there were so many variations of the language, it is difficult for historians to track the names of groups and determine how many groups of Cheyenne there were. The Cheyenne language is spoken in southeastern Montana, in central Oklahoma, and on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

Cheyenne Words

  • emese … “eat”
  • enemene … “sing”
  • enesta … “hear”
  • enoohta … “leave”
  • epeva’ … “It is good.”
  • evoohta … “see”
  • hetane … “man”
  • hotame … “dog”
  • ma’eno … “turtle”
  • mahpe … “water”
  • Netonêševehe? … “What is your name?”
  • vee’e … “tepee”
  • ve’keso … “bird”

Government

From early times the Cheyenne had a highly organized government. The governing body of the Cheyenne, the Council of Forty-Four, met annually during the summer. It was comprised of forty-four men who were elected from ten Cheyenne groups to serve ten-year terms. Chiefs discussed problems within the tribe and planned how to deal with other tribes. The head of the Council, the Sweet Medicine Chief, performed religious and political duties. He kept the Chief’s Medicine, a sacred bundle of grass, and devised a code establishing how tribal members were to behave. The chiefs shared power; there was no one absolute authority. They made all decisions by consensus, which meant everyone had to agree.

In the mid-2000s Montana’s Northern Cheyenne tribe was governed by a tribal council made up of the president and 24 council members. Council members from five separate districts are elected to two-year terms. The president serves a four-year term. In spite of the changes to their government structure over the years, the Cheyenne still believe in making their decisions by consensus.

A joint tribal business committee governs the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation in Oklahoma. Four members from each tribe are elected to serve four-year terms. The reservation also has a tribal council that includes all members age 18 and older. The tribal council approves the budget, land leases or changes, and laws about membership. They also propose amendments to the constitution, change district boundaries, and override business committee decisions. To veto committee decisions, at least 75 members must vote against the plans.

Population of Cheyenne: 2000 Census

There are four groups of people in the United States who identify themselves as Cheyenne. Their two major reservations are the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana and the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation in Oklahoma. The Northern Cheyenne Reservation spans nearly 450,000 acres in southeastern Montana. The Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal Jurisdiction Area spreads across an eight-county area in northwest and north central Oklahoma. In the 2000 U.S. Census members of the various Cheyenne groups identified themselves this way:

Population of Cheyenne: 2000 Census
TribePopulation
Cheyenne11,426
Northern Cheyenne5,543
Southern Cheyenne340
Cheyenne-Arapaho3,604

“2000 Census of Population and Housing. Matrix 7: American Indian and Alaskan Native summary file.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Data User Services Division, American FactFinder, 2004.

Economy

Cheyenne women contributed to the tribe by picking berries and digging up edible roots. They cooked and dried meat brought home by hunters. They tanned hides, made tepees, and sewed leather clothing and moccasins. Men hunted antelope, buffalo, deer, elk, and wild sheep. They trapped foxes and wolves for their fur.

In the early twenty-first century Northern Cheyenne are employed in many fields. Some work on ranches or for coal companies. Some are trained firefighters who help control fires throughout the West. There are also professionals in fields such as law and teaching. More than forty small businesses operate on the reservation, among them laundromats, gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. The tribe leases almost all of its rangelands to the Northern Cheyenne Livestock Association, while individuals own between twelve thousand and fifteen thousand head of cattle. They also manage a buffalo herd that provides food and draws tourists. In 2001 the tribe formed an economic development administration and adopted a business plan to improve reservation economy. Many tribe members hold jobs in the tribal government, tourism, forestry, mining, construction, manufacturing, or farming.

The Cheyenne-Arapaho people in Oklahoma earn money from leasing farming and grazing lands, from oil and gas royalties, and from four gaming facilities. Nevertheless, the reduction of federal funds for Native American tribes has become a serious problem for all Cheyenne, who are striving to become financially self-sufficient.

Daily life

Families

The chief duties of the women of the tribe were to care for their homes, raise their children, and gather food. They made furnishings for their tepees using grass, earth, and buffalo hides. They also packed up belongings when the tribe changed camps. Men hunted and protected their territory from enemies.

Buildings

The Cheyenne lived as farmers in Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas from the 1600s to the early 1800s. They lived in earthen lodges made of wooden frames covered with sod. As they moved to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo, they adopted the tepee. This was a dwelling made of wooden poles and buffalo hides that could be moved easily with the aid of horses. They built fires in the center of the tepees, and beds of buffalo robes lined the walls. Men sometimes painted their tepees with designs they had seen in a vision. Dome-shaped sweat lodges were used for bathing and purification rituals.

Clothing and adornment

Cheyenne clothing was designed to permit freedom of movement. In warm weather most men wore only moccasins and breechcloths (material that goes between the legs and fastens at the waist). In colder weather they also wore leggings and shirts. Women wore dresses and moccasins, adding leggings in winter. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries these items were made of animal skins, usually deer or elk.

Everyday clothing was usually very plain, but clothing for ceremonial occasions could be very elaborate. It might be decorated with beads, quillwork, bells, and fringes. Designs for men’s clothing were determined by their status as warriors. Often the design told a story about the wearer. The most spectacular were the knee-length shirts of warriors, adorned with beads and quillwork.

The Northern Cheyenne favored heavily beaded shirts, while the Southern Cheyenne shirts had dark-green fringes and relied more on color for effect. Medicine bags, eagle feathers, and berry beads also provided decoration. Men wore handsome robes during cold weather or to impress visitors.

Tribal leaders wore tall feather headdresses. Only the most well-respected men had long war bonnets with trailing eagle feathers. Men wore their hair either in braids with a topknot or pompadour (high puffed up hair at the forehead). Women braided their hair or left it loose. The Cheyenne painted designs on their faces, and the patterns were different for war than for religious or festive celebrations.

Food

When the Cheyenne lived in Minnesota and the Dakotas they raised corn, beans, and squash, supplementing the crops with deer and bear meat. When they moved to the Great Plains Cheyenne men hunted buffalo. Women used all parts of the buffalo for food, tepee coverings, and other necessities. Later the Cheyenne traded with Americans for new food items, including coffee, sugar, and flour, plus needles and other metal items and beads.

Women planted and prepared vegetables from their gardens, such as turnips, which were sliced, boiled, and dried in the sun. They collected fruit from the prickly pear cactus, an especially difficult task because the fruit had prickly spines. The dried fruit was used as a thickener for stews and soups. Women made pemmican balls from dried ground animal meat, dried berries, and animal fat. They made similar balls substituting ground corn for the meat.

Cheyenne Bread

The Cheyenne once lived as an agricultural people in fixed villages. Later they became wandering buffalo hunters. Their rituals still reflect the period when they lived in permanent villages and grew corn before moving to the Great Plains. Their use of cornmeal to make various breads is related to a time when young women were taught home economics at boarding schools near the reservation.

  • 1 quart milk or water
  • 2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

>Bring milk to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gradually stir in cornmeal and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until thickened.

Beat in egg yolks, butter, and seasonings.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Fold whites into corn mixture and pour into a 2-quart baking dish.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown on top.

Serves 6.

Cox, Beverly, and Martin Jacobs. Spirit of the Harvest. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1991, p. 109.

Education

Cheyenne girls learned the daily tasks of women by watching their mothers and other women work, and they played with deerskin dolls and had miniature cradleboards to imitate the way their mothers took care of their babies. Boys used small bows and arrows and practiced shooting arrows until they never missed a target. They also learned to hunt rabbits, turkey, and fowl. Boys and girls learned to ride horses, and older boys were taught to tend the tribe’s horses. When a boy reached the age of twelve, his grandfather instructed him in men’s duties, including buffalo hunting and horse raiding.

In the mid-2000s Dull Knife Memorial College, a modern facility on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana, served more than three hundred students. It offers associate degrees in arts and in applied science. Programs are available in office skills and entrepreneurial training (learning how to create a new business).

Healing practices

Cheyenne medicine men called shamans (pronounced SHAH-munz or SHAY-munz ) performed healing rituals. They sucked out the evil that was causing the illness and spit it out onto the ground. Shamans also said prayers, blew whistles, beat on drums, and used rattles made of gourds, animal bladders, or eagle’s heads as part of their healing rituals. Priests were called in if the shamans were unsuccessful. Priests wore more elaborate costumes and conducted more involved rituals than did shamans. They also practiced minor surgery.

Drums were an important part of the healing process. The round shape of the drum represented the entire universe, and its steady beat represented the pulsing heart. Drums soothed tortured minds and healed suffering bodies.

Arts

Cheyenne women were known for their creativity in decorating objects with horsehair, feathers, and the bones and skin of animals. Traditional crafts included quill embroidery, beadwork, pipestone carving, and pottery. Beginning in the 1800s they incorporated trinkets, beads, commercial paints, and metal brought by the white traders into their clothing and craft designs.

Oral literature

The oral literature of the Cheyenne was made up of war stories, sacred stories, and hero myths. An important figure was Wihio, a trickster who resembled the Coyote trickster of the stories of many other tribes.

Customs

Birth and naming

When a Cheyenne child was born a family member sewed a small pouch to hold his or her placenta (a cord attached to the navel, or bellybutton, through which the fetus receives nourishment before it is born). The pouches were filled with sweet grass and tied to the child’s belt. A girl’s navel amulet had a turtle design on it, while a boy’s had a lizard. Because both these animals had long lives, the families wished this for their newborns. The Cheyenne said that a child who did not have a navel amulet would always be looking for his or her soul.

After a Cheyenne woman had a baby another woman fed the baby for four days so the mother could rest. If the new baby was healthy, the father gave away his best horse to friends or family. Women did not have a second child until their first one was ten years old. When the parents announced that they were expecting another baby, they had a celebration and the father again gave away a horse.

Puberty

When a girl had her first menses she was painted red and purified with smoke from a fire. Then she joined her grandmother in an isolated hut for four days. The father announced her new status to the village and gave away a horse. Before she returned to the village she was again purified with smoke.

During her periods a female could not touch or even be near medicine, shields, weapons, or sacred objects, so most women spent these days in the menstrual hut. If a menstruating woman went into her home, it had to be purified by burning juniper leaves and sweet grass before a warrior could safely enter.

Courtship and marriage

A Cheyenne woman often waited years before accepting a marriage proposal. Those who remained pure were held in high esteem. A man never proposed to a woman directly. Instead he asked an older female relative to take gifts to the woman’s family and make his case for him. If the woman accepted the proposal, the bride was brought to her husband’s family. She was placed on a ceremonial blanket, carried into the tepee, and adorned with new clothes and paint. Then a feast was held. A man who was very prosperous sometimes had several wives; he was expected to supply a tepee for each one.

Festivals

The most sacred of the Cheyenne ceremonies was the annual renewal of the Sacred Arrows, which took place during the summer solstice (June 21, when the Sun is at its highest point at the tropic of Cancer). The Sacred Arrows were found in the Black Hills of South Dakota by the prophet Sweet Medicine, who then brought them to the Cheyenne. The arrows’ special powers helped the Cheyenne hunt buffalo and defeat their enemies in battle.

Only men were allowed to attend the four-day Sacred Arrow ceremony. On the first day they brought offerings to the Great Spirit, and men were chosen to erect the Sacred Arrow Lodge. On the second day a man, painted red and dressed only in a buffalo robe, presented a bundle of sacred arrows to the high priest. The unity of each Cheyenne family within the tribe was celebrated on the third day. Sticks representing each family were burned in an incense fire. On the fourth day the sacred arrows were placed on public view in the sunlight. All the men and boys of the tribe walked past the arrows to obtain their sacred powers. A large tepee called the Sweet Medicine Lodge was then erected over the arrows. That evening, the medicine men went inside the tepee and sang sacred songs. Just before daybreak on the fifth day all participants went into the sweat lodge for a cleansing.

In the mid-2000s several powwows and celebrations take place each year on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. A powwow is a celebration at which the main activities are traditional singing and dancing. In modern times, the singers and dancers at powwows come from many different tribes. In Oklahoma, the Cheyenne-Arapaho people hold two annual powwows: the Cheyenne-Arapaho Summer Fest and Oklahoma Indian Nation Pow Wow in August, and the Homecoming Powwow over Labor Day weekend.

War rituals

The Cheyenne were organized into five military societies: Bowstring, Dog, Elk, Kit-Fox, and Shield. Four leaders took charge of each society. Two were the war chiefs and decision-makers, and two were peace leaders and ambassadors to other societies. Each group had unique war costumes, rituals, and chants. They each selected a young woman to serve as society sister. These women were respected and held to high standards, including not having babies while they were society sisters.

During the 1800s the society called the Dog Soldiers, which fought with U.S. government troops, was the most famous and most feared on the Great Plains. A Dog Soldier wore a long sash across his chest made of buffalo hide and decorated with beads and dyed porcupine quills. The Dog Soldier pinned one end to the ground with a long, sharp pin to show that he would stay in a battle until the end. To defeat a Dog Soldier, an opponent had to pull the pin from the ground and beat the warrior with a whip to force him to leave.

Pipe smoking

Smoking a pipe is a religious ceremony. Before he smokes a man touches the bowl of the pipe to the ground four times and honors the spirits who live in the four directions—the holy men of the North, the water creatures of the East, the four-legged creatures of the South, and the birds of the West.

To seal agreements, men smoked a pipe together. A treaty bound in this way was considered sacred. When Custer smoked a pipe with Stone Forehead in 1869, the chief emptied the ashes onto the general’s boots and warned him that if he ever lied to the tribe, he would become like those ashes. Custer later did go against his word and was killed in the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.

Death

A close relative usually prepared the body for a Cheyenne burial by dressing it in fine clothing and wrapping it in blankets. Then they bound it with ropes and carried it to the burial site. Mourners sang and prayed. The deceased person’s dearest possessions were placed next to the body. For example, a man might be buried with his gun or knife; sometimes his best horse was shot. His remaining goods were distributed among non-relatives, but his widow was allowed to keep a blanket.

Current tribal issues

Natural resources

Using the rich natural resources on their land in a responsible way is an important issue for many tribes, including the Cheyenne. The discovery of coal in the late 1960s on the reservation in Montana promised an opportunity for economic independence. Supporters of coal mining pointed out that money obtained in this way could pay for educational and health programs to improve living conditions on the reservation. Others feared environmental destruction. They believed coal companies would benefit and leave the tribe in poverty. Those who opposed won the argument, and the land was preserved.

Human remains and sacred sites

In 1986 the Northern Cheyenne discovered that the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., possessed remains of thousands of Native people and funeral objects (items that had been placed with the dead to accompany them into the next world). Natives started a movement that resulted in passage of the National Museum of the American Indian Act (1989) and the Native American Grave Protection and Reparations Act (1990).

The first act required that the Smithsonian to list all the remains and objects in its possession and then return them to the appropriate tribes. The act also authorized the creation of a Native American Museum. The second act required that all remains held by local, state, or federal agencies had to be returned to their native tribes.

The Cheyenne received and reburied remains of their ancestors. In 2004, when the National Museum of the American Indian opened in Washington, D.C., Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief W. Richard West Jr. (1943–) became the museum’s first director.

Notable people

Women’s rights activist Suzan Shown Harjo (1945–), a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, is a journalist and poet. She has been a major activist in Washington, D.C., for reshaping federal Native American policy.

In 1992 Ben Nighthorse Campbell (1933–), a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, became the first Native American to be elected to the U.S. Senate in more than sixty years. He is also the first Native American to chair the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Of Apache/Pueblo/Cheyenne and Portuguese heritage, he is an Air Force veteran, a college graduate, and holds a sixth-degree black belt in judo. He has been a teacher, a horse breeder and trainer, and an award-winning jewelry designer and maker.

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Boye, Alan, and Mari Sandoz. Cheyenne Autumn. Toronto, Canada: Bison Books, 2005.

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Coyote, Bertha Little, and Virginia Giglio. Leaving Everything Behind: The Songs and Memories of a Cheyenne Woman. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Greene, Jerome A. Washita: The U.S. Army and the Southern Cheyennes, 1867-1869. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

Maddux, Vernon R., and Albert Glenn Maddux. In Dull Knife’s Wake: The True Story of the Northern Cheyenne Exodus of 1878. Norman, OK: Horse Creek Publications, 2003.

McIntosh, Kenneth, and Marsha McIntosh. Cheyenne. Broomall, PA: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004.

Powell, Peter J. Sweet Medicine: The Continuing Role of the Sacred Arrows, the Sun Dance, and the Sacred Buffalo Hat in Northern Cheyenne History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.

Ryan, Marla Felkins, and Linda Schmittroth. Cheyenne. San Diego, CA: Blackbirch Press, 2002.

Seton, Ernest Thompson. Sign Talk of the Cheyenne Indians. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000.

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Gordon L. Pullar, Director, Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development College of Rural and Community Development, UAF, Anchorage, Alaska

Laurie Edwards

Brian Wescott (Athabaskan/Yup’ik)

Laurie Edwards

Amanda Beresford McCarthy

Laurie Edwards

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Cheyenne

Cheyenne

The Tse-tsehese-staestse (the people) are an Algonquian-speaking tribe known to outsiders as the Cheyenne—a word possibly derived from their Sioux neighbors, meaning "people of a different language." The Cheyenne originally lived in permanent farming villages around the Great Lakes in Minnesota. Over the next two hundred years, the Cheyenne migrated one thousand miles westward to the Black Hills area, moving their camps, and adapting to a life dependent on the horse and buffalo. It was during this journey that Sweet Medicine, the Cheyenne prophet, appeared, bringing one of the two sacred covenants, their teachings, and their protection to his people. The Cheyenne developed a well-defined system of kinship, organized into bands and military societies, with a council of forty-four chiefs handling peace and trade relations.

The Cheyenne met their first Europeans in 1680 when visiting the French Fort Crevecoeur on the Illinois River. For decades they retained friendly, if distant, relations with the white settlers. The discovery of gold in Colorado in 1858 and the subsequent Sand Creek Massacre significantly altered this relationship. In 1864 Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister with political aspirations, attacked Chief Black Kettle's camp of five hundred Cheyenne at Sand Creek. Seeking peace with the white man, Black Kettle had surrendered under a promise of protection from Colorado's governor, John Evans. With Chivington reportedly stating, "I have come to kill Indians and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians" (Brown, 1970, p. 86), seven hundred U.S. soldiers under his command brutally killed and mutilated nearly two hundred Cheyenne, mostly women and children. Four years later Lieutenant Colonel George Custer attacked Black Kettle's camp on the Washita River, killing the chief and sixty others, mostly women and children who, as before, had surrendered to the military before being slaughtered. In 1876 the Cheyenne, then fighting with the Sioux, defeated Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. A year later several Northern Cheyenne bands surrendered. As retribution, the government sent them to Oklahoma Indian Territory, where they faced confinement and starvation. In January 1879, after the Cheyenne had mounted an unsuccessful escape attempt, the U.S. military brutally murdered their much-respected leader, Dull Knife, and seventy-three other men, women, and children at Fort Robinson.

Some of the Northern Cheyenne nevertheless managed to return to Montana, where, with other tribal members, they settled on a reservation established by executive order in 1884. In the early twenty-first century 6,500 members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe control a 445,000-acre reservation in southeastern Montana that contains one of the largest coal deposits in the United States. Remembering the words of Sweet Medicine, who instructed them to take care of Escehenan (Mother Earth) above all else, they have, despite high unemployment rates, refused to open their lands to mining. Other bands of Cheyenne, who had traveled southward over the years and became known as the Southern Cheyenne, settled with the Southern Arapahoe on a reservation in Oklahoma. In preparation for Oklahoma's admission to the Union as a state, the federal government dissolved the Oklahoma reservations, allocating the majority of former reservation lands to individual tribe members. As of 2004, a combined Southern Cheyenne and South Arapahoe population of 7,300 reside on approximately 87,000 acres in northwestern Oklahoma.

SEE ALSO Indigenous Peoples; Native Americans; Sand Creek Massacre

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Berthrong, Donald J. (1963). The Southern Cheyennes. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Berthrong, Donald J. (1976). The Cheyenne and Arapaho Ordeal—Reservation and Agency Life in the Indian Territory, 1875–1907. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Brown, D. (1970). Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. New York: Henry Holt.

Grinnell, George B. (1972). The Cheyenne Indians: History and Society, Vol. I. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Moore, John H. (1987). The Cheyenne Nation—A Social and Demographic History. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Moore, John H. (1996). The Cheyenne. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers.

Powell, Peter (1979). People of the Sacred Mountain. New York: Harper & Row.

Powell, Peter (1998). Sweet Medicine. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Stands in Timber, John (1967). Cheyenne Memories. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Sharon O'Brien

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