Cheyenne Indians

Cheyenne Indians. From a Dakota term applied to them meaning “people of alien speech,” literally, “red talkers.” Also called:

  • A-was-she-tan-qua, Hidatsa name (Long, 1791).
  • Báhakosin, Caddo name, meaning “striped arrows.”
  • Dog Indians, so called sometimes owing to a confusion of the name with the French word chien.
  • Dzǐtsi’stäs, own name.
  • Gatsalghi, Kiowa Apache name.
  • Hǐtäsi’na or Ĭtăsi’nă. Arapaho name, meaning “scarred people.”
  • I-sonsh’-pu-she, Crow name.
  • Itah-Ischipahji, Hidatsa name (Maximilian, 1843).
  • I-ta-su-pu-zi, Hidatsa name, meaning “spotted arrow quills.”
  • Ka’neaheăwastsǐk, Cree name, meaning “people with a language somewhat like Cree.”
  • Nanonǐks-karĕ’nǐki, Kichai name.
  • Niere’rikwats-kûni’ki, Wichita name.
  • Päg’ănăvo, Shoshoni and Comanche name, meaning “striped arrows.”
  • Säk’o’ta, Kiowa name.
  • Scarred Arms, from a misinterpretation of the tribal sign.
  • Sha-hō, Pawnee name.

Cheyenne Connections. Cheyenne was one of the three most aberrant languages of the Algonquian linguistic family, and was shared by no other tribe except the Sutaio, whose speech differed only in minor points.

Cheyenne Location. This tribe moved frequently; in South Dakota they were associated with the Cheyenne River and the Black Hills. (See also Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.)

Cheyenne Subdivisions. Following are the bands which had a well-recognized place in the camp circle, as given by Mooney (1928):

  • Hevǐgs’-nǐ”pahǐs
  • Mŏǐséyu
  • Wŭ’tapíu
  • Hévhaitä’nio
  • Oǐ’vimána
  • Hǐsíometä’nio
  • Sŭtáio (formerly a distinct tribe; see below)
  • Oqtógŭnă
  • Hó’nowă
  • Măsǐ”kotă
  • O’mǐ’sǐs

Other band names not commonly recognized as divisional names, are these:

  • Mogtávhaitä’niu
  • Ná’kuimána
  • Anskówǐnǐs
  • Pǐ’nûtgû’
  • Máhoyum
  • Wóopotsǐ’t
  • Totoimana (on Tongue River)
  • Black Lodges (near Lame Deer)
  • Ree Band
  • Yellow Wolf Band
  • Half-breed Band

Cheyenne History

Before 1700 the Cheyenne lived in what is now the State of Minnesota. There are very definite traditions of a time when they were on Minnesota River, from which region the Cheyenne who visited La Salle’s fort in Illinois in 1680 probably came. A little later they seem to have moved to the neighborhood of Lake Traverse and still later part of them occupied a stockaded town on the Sheyenne River of North Dakota near the present Lisbon, N. Dak. Some years before 1799, perhaps in the decade 1780 to 1790, this town was surprised by Chippewa Indians and destroyed while most of the men were off hunting. The Cheyenne who escaped first settled along the Missouri where other bands of Cheyenne seem to have preceded them. There were a number of villages belonging to the tribe along the Missouri near the point where the boundary line between North and South Dakota crosses it until just before the time of Lewis and Clark, or, as Grinnell (1923) believes, for a number of years after the date of their expedition (1804-1806). However, they accustomed themselves more and more to a nomadic life and moved on toward the Black Hills whither they had been preceded by a cognate tribe known as the Sutaio. It is very probable that the Cheyenne had met the Sutaio east of the Missouri. At first the attitude of the two people toward each other is said to have been hostile, but presently they became friendly and finally united. On leaving the Missouri, the Cheyenne seem to have given up raising corn and making pottery. During the early part of the nineteenth century they moved to the headwaters of the Platte. When Bent’s Fort was built on the upper Arkansas in 1832 a large part decided to establish themselves near it but the rest continued to rove about the headwaters of the North Platte and the Yellowstone. This separation in the tribe was made permanent by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851, the two sections being known respectively as Southern Cheyenne and Northern Cheyenne. In the meantime they had met and formed an alliance with the Arapaho, though there is no memory of the date or the circumstances.

They were at war with the Kiowa from the time of their settlement on the upper Arkansas until 1840, but afterward acted with them against other tribes and the Whites. In 1849 they suffered severely in the cholera epidemic, and later between 1860 and 1878, in wars with the Whites. The southern division took a leading part in the general outbreak of 1874-75, and the Northern Cheyenne joined the hostile Dakota in 1876 and shared in the Custer massacre. Finally, the Northern Cheyenne were assigned a reservation in Montana. The Southern Cheyenne were similarly assigned to a reservation in the present Oklahoma in 1867 but could not be induced to remain upon it until after the general surrender of 1875. In 1901–02 the lands of the Southern Cheyenne were allotted in severalty.

Cheyenne Population. Mooney (1928) places the number of Cheyenne and Sutaio at 3,500 in 1780. In 1904 the number of Southern Cheyenne was given as 1,903, and the Northern Cheyenne as 1,409, a total of 3,312. The census of 1910 returned 3,055, of whom 1,522 were in Oklahoma and 1,346 in Montana, but the United States Indian Office Report of 1923 gives 3,248, composed of 1,831 Southern Cheyenne, and 1,417 Northern Cheyenne. The census of 1930 returned 2,695, the Northern Cheyenne being slightly more numerous then the Southern division. In 1937 there were 1,561 Northern Cheyenne and 2,836 Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho together.

Connection in which the Cheyenne have become noted. The Cheyenne tribe was one of the most famous of the Plains, and was conspicuous on account of the frequent wars which it waged against other tribes, as well as against the Whites. It is also noted on account of its romantic history, having originally been a corn-raising tribe in southern Minnesota and later having become thoroughly adjusted to Plains life. The name is preserved by the State Capital of Wyoming; by a river in South Dakota; by counties in Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas; by the Cheyenne Mountains and Canons in Colorado; by a river of North Dakota (spelled Sheyenne; and by Cheyenne Wells in Colorado, and Sheyenne in Eddy County, North Dakota. There is also a place of the name in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma; and another in Winkler County, Texas.

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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1 thought on “Cheyenne Indians”

  1. barney martin mckinley

    Hi or kia ora as we say in our native language,my name is barney and I’m part souix thru my granmother from sitting bull but my question is does anyone know a shaman whom goes by the name of “HEART OF GOLD” he’s a cheyenne shaman.I have made contact with heart of gold on a web site and I would lke to know if this is person is not ripping people of or if he is for real.I am from NEW ZEALAND and I am MAORI a native of my country thank you

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