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Native American Culture



    Our Landy Our History, Our Culture

    Chief Dull Knife College, Lame Deer, Montana

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  • We, the Northern Cheyenne 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

    Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Project management:

    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.

  • Nesaa'evatonesenehele vo'estaneheveheme-


    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)

  • Contents


    Preface viii

    Cheyenne Creation Stories 13

    Coming Home 23

    Language "35

    Northern Cheyenne District Names 47

    Agriculture "53

    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

    Energy 131

    We Will Keep Our Cheyenne Home Forever 145

    Contributors 157

    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