external image red-armed-panther-cheyenne.jpgRed Armed Panther A Great Warrior of Cheyenne Indians

The Cheyenne Indians- Tribe of Algonkian linguistic stock, whose name means "red talker", or "people of a different speech", lived, and hunted on the hills and prairies alongside the Missouri and Red rivers.
In the 1700s, after acquiring horses from the Spanish like the Comanche Indians before them, the once sedentary Cheyenne became expert buffalo hunters. The tribe usually moved their encampments according to the location of the buffalo herd they were following. Like other plains Indians, The Cheyenne had become very dependent on the buffalo for food, clothing, and other other items such as tools and jewelry. Buffalo hearts, brains, liver and kidneys were best eaten warm, as the Cheyenne celebrated a successful hunt.
Aside from warm winter robes, Cheyenne clothes were not made from buffalo skins; hip-leggings, jackets, dresses, shirts, and moccasins were made from buckskin, which was softer than the thick buffalo hides which were more suited to making winter clothes, blankets and tipi coverings.
One Cheyenne legend tells us that the buffalo used to eat humans, and that a race between animals and humans had been set up to decide whether it would be the animals who would eat the humans, or the humans who would eat the animals. The magpie and the eagle, who were on the same side as the humans had won the race, causing the buffalo to tell their young to hide from humans, who would soon be hunting them. The buffalo also told their young to take with them some human flesh as provisions, which they stuck in front of their chests. It was according to this legend that the Cheyenne did not consume the flesh beneath the throat of the buffalo, as it was believed to be made from human flesh.
The Cheyenne creation myth is also interesting, as it offers a story similar to Christianity's Old Testament and God's creation of Adam and Eve, in which we are told that Haemmawihio had created man from his right rib, and woman from his left. After Heammawehio had created man and woman, he placed the woman in the north to control of Hoimaha, who in turn controlled storms, snow, and cold, and was also responsible for illness and death. Heammawehio placed the man in the south to control the heat, and the thunder. Twice a year, the two battle for control of the earth, creating the seasons. Another important figure in Cheyenne mythology is that of Sweet Medicine, a deity responsible for giving the Cheyenne four arrows, two bestowing them with power over men, two giving them power over the buffalo.

Information on the Cheyenne Indians
Recorded by Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition 1804

The following excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark and their men present a picture of the Cheyenne people as the Anglo-Americans saw them. The modern reader must be careful to understand that what these white men saw and recorded was not necessarily correct from the Indian perspective.
The following passages have been freely adapted and excerpted from the original texts, and the spelling has been corrected to make them easier to read. For students wishing to quote these passages, the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary Moulton and published by the University of Nebraska Press, is the recommended source. For those who wish more in-depth information about Lewis and Clark's relations with various Indian tribes, including background from the Indian perspective, the best book is James P. Ronda's Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984. The very best way to obtain accurate information from the tribal perspective is to contact tribal councils for individual tribes - in other words, to consult the people themselves.
Cheyenne was the name the Sioux gave to the tribe; it means "people of a different speech." The Cheyenne called themselves Tsistsistas, meaning "the beautiful people." Sometime in the late 1600s the Cheyenne were pushed out of the territory in Minnesota where they had farmed and lived in permanent villages. In the late 1700s they gained the use of the horse and moved out onto the plains to become semi-nomadic hunters of the buffalo. They stopped farming and making pottery during this transition, but at the time of Lewis and Clark were still settled in earth lodge villages along the Missouri River. In about 1832 the Cheyenne split into two groups, the Northern, which stayed along the Platte River in Wyoming, and the Southern along the Arkansas River in Colorado. They had also begun the process of becoming allies with their former enemies, the Sioux. By the time of the Plains Indian Wars in the 1860s through 1890s, the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux were close allies, fighting together at the Battle of the Little Bighorn and other confrontations with the U.S. Army. It was the Cheyenne people who suffered at the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado in 1864 and the "Battle" of the Washita in Oklahoma in 1868. Today, most Cheyennes live on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation headquartered at Lame Deer, Montana. Some Southern Cheyennes share Federal trust lands with the Southern Arapahos in Oklahoma.
The Cheyenne Indians first lived throughout the eastern part of what is now the United States. Their tribes lived in villages and were known to be great farmers, as are many Native American tribes. Eventually many of the Cheyenne started moving to the west and southwest and they ended up in the plains areas, and also in the woodland areas of the Mississippi River Valley. Many of the Cheyenne Indians resided in the Great Plains area of the United States, primarily just east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi River.

Flags of the Cheyenne Nationexternal image northern.gif
external image southern.gif
The flag of the Northern Cheyenne is very simple in appearance. The symbol you see represented at the center is that of the morning star, which was the emblem of Chief Morning Star, better known as Dull Knife, the Cheyenne chief who led his people to their new home after they had been defeated in the War of the Plains. The morning star glyph was also used during the Sun Dance, when the warriors would paint it on heir chests for the ceremony. The ancient version of this flag wasn't blue in color, but a deep reddish brown, with the morning star glyph painted in black.
The Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho flag shows an outline of Oklahoma, and a lance adorned with fourteen eagle feathers representing the original members of the tribal council. Crossing the spear are two other symbols, the arrow for war, which is facing down, meaning the two tribes are at peace, and a calumet, or peace pipe. At the center of the flag is the seal of the two tribes, which features a tipi surrounded by three white crosses. The border of the seal features fourteen stars, again representing the original tribal council members, and the eight white stars across the top of the map outline represent the new tribal council members.


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Today they are settled in Montana and Oklahoma.


The Cheyenne (shy-ANN) dialect is part of the Algonquin language family. Their alphabet only contains fourteen letters which can be combined to form words and phrases. Today, the United States government is working to convert the Cheyenne to an English-only speaking tribe. The Cheyenne are trying desperately to keep their language alive despite the government’s recent attempts to make their language extinct.


The Cheyenne first lived in the eastern portion of the United States. They lived in fixed villages and used the land for farming. Some moved west and southwest. Eventually, they moved into the plains area, in the woodlands of the Mississippi River Valley.
Before the sun rose, the Cheyenne began preparing for the day. Building the fire was the first task to be completed. The women woke to get the water from the nearby stream, while the men and boys went to the stream to bathe. As dawn continued, the camp became livelier. The women made the morning meal and the boys herded the horses back into camp.
After the meal, announcements were made by the old crier who circled the people on his horse. When he was finished, the people went about their daily activities. The children would scatter about the area to swim, run, and model images out of clay. The women of the camp had many activities to keep them busy. They would go off in groups to gather wood and roots early in the day. This was their time for joking and laughing. They gathered sticks from the ground and broke dead branches off the trees in the forest. The wood was divided up, formed into bundles, and strapped on their backs. They then set out for camp. The older men made bows, arrows and pipes, while the young men spent time enhancing their personal appearance or listening to wise men.
Many men hunted game to provide the camp with food. As day turned into night, the Cheyenne people prepared for the meal. This was the lively event of the day in which music, dancing and various other activities took place. After a few hours, the camp became silent as people turned in for the night.

Best Known Features:

An important Cheyenne custom is the smoking of the peace pipe. There are strict rules during the smoking of the pipe. A prayer is offered before the first smoke. Most men have their own specific way to smoke the peace pipe.
Another tradition of the Cheyenne is storytelling, which can only be done by certain people. These stories are often related.