The Cheyenne tribe, with about 3,000 persons, lived in the upper valleys of southwestern Nebraska. They hunted the western plains in common with the Lakota Sioux.They were nomads and lived in tepees.
The Cheyennes were originally farming people, with the women harvesting corn, squash, and beans and the men fishing and hunting deer and, when it was possible, buffalo. As horses entered their culture the Cheyenne lifestyle, like other Plains Indian tribes, became more and more dependent on the buffalo for their food, following the migrating herds across the plains rather than staying put to raise crops. Unlike in most Plains tribes, women as well as men participated in the large communal buffalo hunts. They used to drive the buffalo towards the men, who would shoot them with their longbows.
The Cheyenne didn't live in one specific place but they traveled in one big area. This area is now the five states of Montana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. In other words, they lived east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Mississippi River. When they settled for a couple of days they set up their tepees that they had pulled on their travois.
The Cheyenne women wore buffalo and elk skin dresses. The men wore leggings, and loincloths. They also wore quilled moccasins and beaded clothing.
Cheyenne leaders originally wore tall feather headdresses , but they soon adopted the impressive warbonnets of their neighbors the Sioux. Men wore their hair in braids with a topknot or pompadour, and women wore their hair either loose or braided. Both men and women painted their faces for special occasions. They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration. Cheyenne women wore long deerskin dresses and the men wore breechcloths with leather pant legs tied on. Later, men adopted the Plains war shirt worn by other Indians of this region. A lady's dress or a man's war shirt was fringed and often decorated with porcupine quills, shells, and elk teeth. Men wore moccasins and women wore high fringed boots. Later, Cheyenne people adapted some European costume such as cloth dresses and vests, which they decorated with quillwork, beading, and other native adornment.
The Cheyenne Indians exhibited their art work on the hides of the buffalo. Their artistic abilities were also seen in the many different types of flutes, mandalas, and medicine wheels. They were also known for making pottery.
The Cheyenne did beading. The major ceremonies in which the entire tribe took part were the Sacred Arrow Renewal, The Sun Dance, and The Massaum. An important Cheyenne custom was the smoking of the peace pipe. There were strict rules that were practiced during the smoking of the pipe. A prayer was offered before the first smoke. Most men had their own specific way to smoke the peace pipe.
Another tradition of the Cheyenne was their story telling, which could only be done by certain people. These stories were often related and followed a structure.
One thing that the Cheyenne boys played was Buffalo Hunt. There would be a little buffalo skin that a boy would wear. All the other boys would throw sticks at him like they were hunters with a spear hunting a buffalo. While the boys were playing Buffalo Hunt, the girls were making believe that they were adults, too. They would build toy tepees, cook, and sew.
When the Cheyenne traveled by river, they usually built rafts. Originally the Cheyennes would use dogs pulling travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings. Once Europeans introduced horses to North America, the Cheyennes found that they could travel quicker and further using horses. Now since they had horses they were able to keep up with the buffalo herds, and the Cheyennes became a primarily migratory people (meaning they were able to move from place to place).
Cheyenne Interesting Facts
* The Cheyenne only lived in tepees because they were nomads (they traveled a lot).
* The Cheyenne were moved across the Mississippi River by the Sioux Tribe, Assisiboine, and the Cree.
* The Cheyenne moved into the plains in the mid 1700's and in the 1830's became friends with the Lakota(Sioux).
* The men of the Cheyenne built houses for special ceremonies that helped the animals grow and the plants, too.
* The language that they spoke was called Algonquin.
* The Cheyenne and the Sioux teamed up and fought against George A. Custer in the battle of Little Bighorn.
* After they won the battle of Little Bighorn, the Cheyenne and the Arapaho were joined and put on a reservation in Oklahoma.
A Cheyenne woman was expected to remain faithful and proper towards her husband in all things. The Cheyenne Indians were separated into the Northern and Southern Cheyenne. The 2,700 Northern Cheyenne lived in a reservation in Montana. The 2,200 Southern Cheyenne lived in a reservation in Oklahoma. They had chiefs and one was named Dull Knife.