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Cheyenne Indian Tribe

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Who really are the Cheyenne Indians? According to historians, they were Indian people who became nomadic and moved to the Great Plains in the 18th century (Berkin 366). Another tribe, the Souix, developed the name of "people of a different language" for the Cheyenne. Some people said that the Cheyenne did not exist until the mid-1600s or at least this is when the earliest known records were found. They are one of the most famous and prominent Plains tribes, too.

At first, this tribe moved from the Great Lakes region to the North Dakota area. This happened in the 1600-1700s. Also at this time, the Cheyenne were a sedentary tribe who relied on agriculture and pottery. Though, in the 1800s, they decided to abandon this lifestyle and become nomadic and move to South Dakota (Black Hills), Wyoming, and Colorado areas. No matter where the Cheyenne lived, they always kept their natural language, which was part of the Algonquin language family (Lewis). The Cheyenne tribe, like other tribes, had their own lifestyle, beliefs, and customs and also had conflicts with the whites. Even today, the Cheyenne Indians exist and are living well.

The Cheyenne Indians had quite an interesting life and many different customs that even live on today. The daily life of a Cheyenne always began before the sun rose. Women and men each had their own separate duties for the day. The women would prepare the meals while the men and boys would herd up the horses back to their camp. Each day, also, there were daily activities announced to everyone in the tribe. These activities included the children to go out and play for most of the day, the women would clean and have their time to converse with the other women, and the men would go out and play with guns and gather food. Every night, all Cheyenne Indians would gather around and eat, dance, and have fun (Lewis). The lifestyle was fairly lax yet at the same time they knew when they needed to prepare for war or a new move. Some of the customs the Cheyenne had included the smoking of a peace pipe and the prayer made before each smoke. Another tradition was their story telling. Skilled story-telling Indians performed all stories told and these stories were about true-life situations. The Cheyenne tribe actually passed on these stories as well as their customs, religious ceremonies, and traditions orally from generation to generation. This could be the reason on why the Cheyenne were not actually discovered until the 1600s. One of the largest beliefs of the Cheyenne had to do with religion, though. They believed in two deities: the Wise One Above and a God who lived beneath the ground. Also, there were four spirits that lived at the points of the compass that they followed everywhere (Lewis). Because the culture of many Indian tribes differed greatly from the United States, there were conflicts between whites and Indians.

First off, the Cheyenne had conflicts within their own tribe in the beginning. Some of their tribal chiefs fought over various subjects and these arguments led to the split of the tribe. One or two major chiefs went one way and other chiefs went the other. This made the other Cheyenne tribe members choose on which way to go. Later, this division established the Northern and Southern Cheyenne bands as separate people. The southern band stayed near the Platte River while the northern and lived near the Black Hills in South Dakota. Even though there were two groups, many times they still came together in a few major battles against the whites or other tribes(Hoig 58). Yes, there were tribe versus tribe conflicts but the Cheyenne actually had more alliances with other tribes than enemies. Their government system and even their religion made their alliances with other tribes. The biggest alliance was with the Arapaho tribe. They Cheyenne and the Arapaho shared lands and even to this day they are still alliances. The biggest enemy to any Indian tribe was the U.S. and the whites, though

The first conflict with whites was actually positive. The United States wanted to get the Indians out of their way and put them on reservations. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was set to grant territory to the Cheyenne. This land included Northern Colorado cities Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs. But in 1859, after the California Rush, there was a gold rush in Colorado. European settlers forced the Cheyenne and other plains Indians out of their territory. The first major battle between the Cheyenne and whites came soon enough with the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. The Cheyenne Indians from Colorado decided to move out and look for food because they were starving. The whites had deliberately set the Indians on reservations to stay there and out of their way. When they found out, the whites went after this group. They met up at Sand Creek and the white militia surrounded the Indians and killed at least 600 Indians. The Cheyenne chief who led this group was Black Kettle. About 10 years passed before the next major battle in 1876, the Battle of Little Bighorn took place. A lot of Indian tribes gathered together to gang up on Custer and his militia. Because there were so many Indians compared to whites, the Indians, including the Cheyenne, won the battle. The Battle of Little Bighorn was actually the largest gathering of Native Americans in North America in pre-reservation times with a total of about 10,000 Indians ("Cheyenne Indian History"). After this battle, the U.S. was after the Cheyenne.

In 1877, large groups of Cheyenne Indians were escorted to an Indian territory in Okalahoma to eliminate any other problems except this only created more. Many of the groups sent to Oklahoma left to head back north. When they were ordered to return they refused and this made the United States government upset. By 1878, the Northern Cheyenne tribe was confined to barracks with no food, water, or heat. Again, there was another escape but this time only 50 survived and made it back to Montana. This led to the establishment of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana that can be found today ("Cheyenne Indian History").

There were different roles for some of the chiefs



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