Native Americans for Kids
The Cheyenne are a Native American tribe who traditionally lived on the American Great Plains. Today, they are divided into two groups: the Northern Cheyenne, which has a reservation in Montana, and the Southern Cheyenne, which has a reservation in Oklahoma.
Before the Europeans arrived, the Cheyenne were farmers in what is today Minnesota. After they were introduced to the horse by the Europeans, they migrated to the Great Plains and began to hunt buffalo.
When settlers began to take over their land, the Cheyenne signed treaties with the U.S. government guaranteeing them land. Unfortunately, the treaties were broken and more of the Cheyenne land was taken. The Cheyenne allied with other tribes such as the Lakota and Arapaho to fight back, but they eventually lost their land and were forced to move to reservations.
What kind of homes did the Cheyenne live in?
The early farming Cheyenne in Minnesota lived in permanent earth lodges that they constructed using wood frames packed with earth and grass. The Cheyenne of the Great Plains lived in teepees made from buffalo hides and wooden poles. The teepees were easily moved from place to place.
What language did they speak?
The Cheyenne speak their own unique language. It is part of the Algonquian language group. The Cheyenne alphabet has fourteen letters.
What was their clothing like?
During the warmer months, the Cheyenne wore clothing made from deerskin. The men wore breechcloths and the women wore long dresses. During the cold winter months they would cover up with robes made from buffalo hides.
What type of food did they eat?
The early Cheyenne farmed crops including corn, beans, and squash. They also hunted small game such as rabbits and deer. The Cheyenne of the Great Plains got most of their food from hunting buffalo.
The Cheyenne lived over a vast area of the Great Plains. They were divided up into 10 bands. The main governing body of the Cheyenne was the Council of Forty-Four. The council was made up of four chiefs from each band plus four "Old Man" chiefs. Each chief generally held office for ten years.
The Cheyenne also had military societies that helped to maintain order and led the major hunts. The most famous of these societies was the Dog Soldiers. The Dog Soldiers played a major role in the Cheyenne resistance to the expansion of the United States into their land.
Interesting Facts about the Cheyenne Tribe
- The buffalo was a major part of the Cheyenne culture and way of life. The buffalo provided their food, shelter, and clothing.
- Each year, the Cheyenne bands would come together for four days during the Spring to celebrate the Sun Dance ceremony.
- The Cheyenne call themselves the Tsitsistas which means "Like Hearted People." The name "Cheyenne" likely comes from a Sioux Indian word that means "people of a different language."
- They fought in the famous Battle of Little Big Horn with the Arapaho and Lakota against George Custer and the U.S. Army.
- They were closely allied with the Arapaho and friendly with the Lakota Sioux tribe. They were often enemies of the Pawnee and the Crow tribes.
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