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DESCRIPTIONNative American Culture
WE, THE NORTHERN CHEYENNE PEOPLE
Our Landy Our History, Our Culture
Chief Dull Knife College, Lame Deer, Montana
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CsftJCC-b^Montana State Library
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We, the Northern Cheyenne People
WE,THE NORTHERNCHEYENNE PEOPLE
Our Land, Our History, Our Culture
Chief Dull Knife College, Lame Deer, Montana
20o8 by Chief Dull Knife College
All rights reserved. No part of this publication maybe reproduced or transmitted in any form or by
any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopy, recording, or any information storage
or retrieval system, without permission in writing
from the publisher.
Chief Dull Knife College
P. O. Box 98
Lame Deer, MT 59043406.477.6215
Library of Congress
Suzanne G. Fox,
Red Bird Publishing, Inc., Bozeman, MTGraphic design:
Carol Beehler, Bethesda, MDPrinted by Artcraft Printers, Billings, MT
The paper used in this publication meets theminimum requirements of American NationalStandard for Information SciencesPermanence
of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ansi Z39.48-
Front cover: Vooheheva, the Morning Star, risesnear dawn outside a Native American Churchgathering. The morning star is the symbol for theNorthern Cheyenne people. It is greeted as anancient old man each morning by the Keepers ofthe Sacred Covenants. Photograph by JohnWarner.
Back cover: The Chief Dull Knife College campusis located in Lame Deer, MT. Photograph byKathleen Beartusk.
This book is dedicated to the members ofthe
ChiefDull Kiife College Board of Trustees:
John J. Wooden Legs, chairmanGeorge Fox, Ashland District
Florence Running Wolf, Birney DistrictWinfield Russell, Busby District*
LaForce Lone Bear, Lame Deer District
Otto Braided Hair, Muddy District
Jackie Tang was the representative from Busby at the beginning of this project.
Tsemona'e vo'estanehevestotse netosehene'enanone.
Netaveestanonestse moxeestonemdheondtse, nonohpa
Neka'eskonehamaneo 'o tseohketsehe'ohtseo 'o.
Naa tsetdhene'enanove he'tohe tsemona'e vo'estanehevestotse.
We can no longer live the way we used to.There is a new way of life that we are going to know.
Let us ask for schools, that way
our children can attend them
and learn this new way of life.
Chief Dull Knife (Vooheheva)
Cheyenne Creation Stories 13
Coming Home 23
Northern Cheyenne District Names 47
Native Plants of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation 63
The Girl Who Saved Her Brother 67Cheyenne Peace Pipe 71
Joseph Whitewolf 73
Balloon Bomb in Lame Deer 75Uriah Two Two 79
American Indian Reburials: A Spiritual Perspective 81
Northern Cheyenne Sacred Sites and Objects 85
Early Education 89
Contemporary Cheyenne Education loi
Chief Dull Knife College 115
We Will Keep Our Cheyenne Home Forever 145
Appendix A: Veterans 161
Appendix B: Tribal Presidents 173
Preface and AcknowledgmentsDr. Richard Little Bear
CHIEF Dull Knife College was able to produce We, The NorthernCheyenne People: Our Land, Our History, Our Culture with a grant from the
Montana State Legislature and Governor Brian Schweitzer. The funding for theTribal Histories and Equipment project is gratefully acknowledged.
This project has been an interesting one for all of the people who worked onit. It was a good learning, reading, writing, and researching experience. There
were, however, some challenges along the way. One challenge was accessibility ofresearch materials. While the researchers did find much new material, there arestill so many sources, so many collections, so many museums that need to be vis-
ited to get information, especially the information that was provided by people
who were close to the pre-reservation culture. Time constraints and alwaysincreasing costs limited the accessibility of these sources.
Another challenge was the plethora of books that have already been written
about both the Northern and Southern Cheyenne people starting with George
Bird Grinnell's accounts. More recently is the book A History of the CheyennePeople written by Tom Weist and published by the Montana Council for IndianEducation from Billings, MT, under the leadership of Dr. Hap Gilliland. Thisbook extensively used the elders of the day, some of whom were only one gener-ation removed from the time of the buffalo-centered culture. Chief Dull Knife
College uses this as a text book for its Cheyenne history class. Weist's book posed
a challenge because it had amply covered the history of the Cheyenne people from
earliest times up to the mid-1970s.
It became clear that some subject areas of that book needed strengthening
and those are the areas that this present effort attempts to address. People who useWe, the Northern Cheyenne People: Our Land, Our History, Our Culture need to
use the Weist book in tandem. Our book tries to strengthen those subject areasthat were not adequately covered in the Weist book, including women, spiritual-
ity, energy issues, educational issues, and veterans oi the armed forces. Not
including the topic ofwomen was a major oversight in many of the history books.There were cursory accounts of North Woman, The Girl Who Saved HerBrother, Bessie Harris (the first female Northern Cheyenne council woman), andGeri Small (the first female Northern Cheyenne tribal president). The list of
potential subjects is almost endless. Even this book has not done justice to the
place that women have earned in Northern Cheyenne culture and history.
In each subject, the writers tried to be as comprehensive as possible and to
include all who were involved, but inevitably there are mistakes. For anybody whois ofiended by being excluded or by having a member of their families excluded,it was purely unintentional. The writers were meticulous in providing footnotes
for citations so the right person received recognition for their efforts and to make
the work of subsequent researchers easier.
Another challenge was finding Northern Cheyenne writers and researchers,
some of whom also had the added skill of being able to talk and understand theCheyenne language. People with this mix of skills were difficult to find, but we
found several. Some of the writers and photographers had full-time jobs else-
where, but they managed to fulfill their assignment on a timely basis. Another
challenge was the deadline, which, even though it was extended from June 30 to
Dec. 31, 2007, was still not enough time. Some parts of the history were slighted,
but everybody did the best they could.
But so much for the challenges. There is so much information in variousmuseums, collections, universities, colleges, and the internet that could be mined
forever. This book has been a modest effort when compared with the information
that is still available and is ripe for another or a continuing history project.
By using the Tom Weist book as a "reverse template," this project attemptedto fill in the gaps of that book. This is no easy task since the panorama of
Cheyenne history, both Northern and Southern, is immense, tragic, unendingly
interesting, and eventually uplifting. This is a story filled with many losses: of
land, of loved ones, of spirituality, of language, of culture, of education, but even
with these losses there have always been replacements for those aspects of the
Northern Cheyenne culture that slipped away. Some of them may not have been
the best replacements like alcohol, drugs, and poverty, but the Northern
Cheyenne are learning to cope with their deleterious effects. Once the Cheyennes
realize that alcohol and drugs are the new enemy, even more deadly than a hun-
dred Custers and Chivingtons, their ability to cope with the present situations
will become easier to address.For instance, the Cheyenne people lost a lot of land, but through huge
sacrifices of all Cheyennes, a treasured piece was retained in southeastern Montana.
Some Crow Indians say that if it weren't for them, the Northern Cheyenne would
Preface tind Ackiioivledgnrents
not have a reservation. This assertion is a convenient fiction which does a complete
disservice to the many Cheyennes who died on the northward jotirney home in thelate 1800S.
01 loved ones, we have gained more relatives because the population ol theNorthern Cheyenne people is probably the most it has ever been. Of spirituality,for good or bad, the people have acquired additional ways of expressing our spir-
ituality through organized, European-based, non-Cheyenne religions, all the
while retaining the Native American Church, the Sun Dance, the fasting ceremo-
ny, the sweat lodge, and the reverence for sites sacred to Cheyenne since time
Of the Cheyenne language much has been lost, but there is still a group ofolder people who have dedicated themselves to preserving the language, not as anartifact for linguists and anthropologists to dissect, but as a contemporary, viable,
and infltiential presence. Again, for good or bad, another language, E