The Cheyenne Indians were a nation of people that lived in the Great Plains. They are composed of two tribes, the Tsitsistas and the Sotaeo’s. Cheyenne means “little cree” and it is a derivative of a Sioux word.
Prior to the invasion by the whites, the Cheyenne Indians were allies with the Lakota and the Arapaho. The Cheyenne Indians were comprised of ten separate bands and were located from South Dakota to the Black Hills of Colorado. During the middle of the 19th century the Cheyenne Indians began to split apart. There were bands that chose to stay in Colorado, while other bands chose to remain in South Dakota.
The Cheyenne Indians were victims of the Indian Wars. The Sand Creek Massacre and the Battle of Washita River saw numerous Cheyenne deaths. It was after these two battles that the peace loving Cheyenne turned hostile. Area tribes united and mounted a strong offense (some 10,000 strong) to the whites. The Cheyenne Indians were participants in the Battle of the Little Bighorn and along with the Lakota killed George Armstrong Custer and his army of soldiers. The killing of Custer triggered more vicious attacks against the Cheyenne Indians.
Cheyenne Indians were soon captured and put into “Indian Territory.” The conditions were terrible and many Cheyenne died. Two men, Chief Little Wolf and Chief Morning Star gathered up 353 Cheyenne and left Indian Territory. The Army sent 13,000 men to capture the runaways. It is estimated that only 50 Cheyenne survived the exodus.
The Cheyenne were among the last American Indian nations to be captured and subdued. Today, the Northern Cheyenne live on their own reservation in Montana. The Southern Cheyenne live in central Oklahoma. The Cheyenne Indians have been able to maintain their language, religion and culture.
Joseph Paige © 2006