The Cherokee and the Cheyenne: Two Famous Native American Tribes

Although there are many different Native American tribes, some are better known than others.  Various aspects of the media, such as movies and television shows, have chosen to focus on certain Native American tribes more than others.  The result is a famous name. 

The Cherokee tribe has a jeep brand named after them.  In keeping with the mysterious and luring nature of the Cheyenne tribe, many girls have been named “Cheyenne.” Indeed, the Cherokee and the Cheyenne are well-known Native American tribes, but what are they really like?

The Cherokee

Perhaps one of the most interesting facets of this culture is their language.  Sequoyah, a member of the tribe, invented a syllabary for this polysynthetic language in the early 1800s.  From that, an intricate writing system was developed.  Thanks to much promotion of the language within the Cherokee community, many people can speak the language fluently, and the Cherokees place much importance on teaching the language to their children.

Before the Europeans came to North American, the Cherokee tribe could be found in both the Southeast and Eastern United States.  After the Europeans came, the Cherokee were relocated to the Ozark Plateau.  Today, the Cherokee nation is found primarily in Oklahoma, and boasts close over 50,000 members nationwide.

The Cheyenne

The Cheyenne are an interesting tribe in that their language is one of the few languages within the Plains Algonquin category that over time developed tonal characteristics.  Another interesting fact about this tribe is its mysterious origins.  Before the 16th century close to nothing is known about what the Cheyenne Culture was like.  After the 16th century, perhaps the most notable things about their culture is that it seemed to have totally changed from an agricultural society, into one that became quite nomadic, as they frequently moved about the Great Plains.

Before the Europeans came, the Cheyenne tribe could be found in the Black Hills of South Dakota, as well as southern Colorado. Today, the two main factions of Cheyenne the Northern and Southern, live in different places.  The Southern Cheyenne live with the Southern Arapaho in central Oklahoma.  The Northern Cheyenne have their own reservations, which is located in southeast Montana.  Today, in total, the Cheyenne nation has about 20,000 members.

What is most important to know about the Cherokee and Cheyenne tribes is that they are not just figments of the media.  They are fascinatingly unique cultures, that combined make up a significant part of the population of the Native American population in the United States. They are proud of their heritage and their customs, and thanks to their diligence such facets of their existence will be preserved for many generations to come.

Joseph Paige 2006

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