Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting Ready For 1,000 White Women

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.

The Cheyenne were commonly known as the Indians of the Great Plains. They once lived primarily in what is known now as Missouri but later became nomadic, moving from place to place usually following the herd of buffalo they were hunting along what is now Minnesota and South Dakota. They continued to be an agricultural people, though, planting mainly corn and beans. 
In the 1700s, after acquiring horses from the Spanish like the Comanche 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.  

Cheyenne culture was one of ritual and nature. They recognized the "Wise One Above" and also believed in a god beneath the ground. Their ritual dances and practices centered around the battle and the hunt, the two primary focuses of the Cheyenne after they were oppressed by foreign settlers.
One of the most prominent objects they carried was called a sacred bundle. It contained a hat  made from the buffalo and four arrows. Two of the arrows were painted for hunting and two were painted for battle. This bundle was carried into war and the hunt to ensure success.

About 1825, when they were at peace with the Sioux, and making war upon the Pawnees, Kansas, and other tribes, a feud occurred in the family. A part of them remained with the Sioux, and the others went south to the Arkansas River and joined the Arapahoes. Many treaties were made with them by agents of the United States, but broken; and, finally, losing all confidence in the honor of the white race, they began hostilities in 1861. This was the first time that the Cheyennes were at war with the white people. While negotiations for peace and friendship were in progress, Colonel Chivington, of Colorado, fell upon a Cheyenne village (Nov. 29, 1864) and massacred about 100 men, women, and children. The whole tribe was fired with a desire for revenge, and a fierce war ensued, in which the United States lost many soldiers and spent between $30,000,000 and $40,000,000. 

The ill-feeling of the Indians towards the white people remained unabated. Some treaties were made and imperfectly carried out; and, after General Hancock burned one of their villages in 1867, they again made war, and slew 300 United States soldiers and settlers. General Custer defeated them on the Washita, killing their chief, thirty-seven warriors, and two-thirds of their women and children. The northern band of the Cheyennes remained peaceable, refusing to join the Sioux in 1865.

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.

1 comment:

Kathiey said...

Thanks so much for your post. Your overview was very interesting. I read the Book 1,000 White Women some time ago. I remember liking the book. It is amazing all the challenges and needless pain that many of the folks of that time went through. Still continues today in our world in numerous other ways.
Take Care:-)