Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

Navigate / Profile / Search

Profile

Enter Title

Cheyenne

How do you pronounce the word "Cheyenne"? What does it mean?

It's pronounced "Shy-ANN." It comes from the Dakota Sioux name for the Cheyennes, ?ahiyenan, which may mean "relatives of the Cree." The Cheyenne call themselves Tsitsistas, "the people."

Where do the Cheyennes live?

The Cheyenne Indians lived on the Great Plains in what is now South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas. Today there are two Cheyenne tribes, one in Oklahoma and the other in Montana.

What language do the Cheyennes speak?

Most Cheyenne people speak English today. Some of them, especially older people, also speak the Cheyenne language. Most Cheyenne words are very long and have vowels that are difficult for English speakers to pronounce, but one easy word that you might like to learn is "Epeva'e" (pronounced similar to "eh-peh-va,") which means "It is good!"

How do Cheyenne Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?

They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Cheyenne children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play. Here is a picture of a hoop game enjoyed by Cheyenne kids. Lacrosse was also a popular sport among teenagers.

A Cheyenne mother traditionally carried a young child in a cradleboard on her back--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were Cheyenne men and women's roles?

Cheyenne women were in charge of the home. Besides cooking and cleaning, a Cheyenne woman built her family's house and dragged the heavy posts with her whenever the tribe moved. Houses belonged to the women in the Cheyenne tribe. Men were hunters and warriors, responsible for feeding and defending their families. Only men became Cheyenne chiefs, but both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.

What were Cheyenne homes like in the past?

The Cheyennes lived in settled villages of earthen lodges and birchbark wigwams. As their life style became more nomadic, they began to use buffalo-hide houses called tipis (or teepees).  Since the Cheyenne tribe moved frequently to follow the buffalo herds, a tipi had to be carefully designed to set up and break down quickly, like a modern tent. An entire Cheyenne village could be packed up and ready to move on within an hour.

What was Cheyenne clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?

Cheyenne women wore long deerskin dresses, and men wore breechcloths with leather leggings. Later, Cheyenne men adopted the Plains war shirt worn by other Indians of this region. A Cheyenne lady's dress or warrior's shirt was fringed and often decorated with porcupine quills, shells, and elk teeth. Cheyenne men wore moccasins and women wore high fringed boots. Later,

Cheyenne Indian leaders originally wore tall feather headdresses like the Blackfeet, but they soon began wearing the long warbonnets that Plains Indians are famous for. Cheyenne men wore their long hair in braids with a topknot or pompadour, and women wore their hair either loose or braided. The Cheyennes also painted their faces for special occasions. They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration.


What was Cheyenne transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?

Cheyenne Indians weren't coastal people, and when they traveled by river, they usually built rafts. The Cheyennes would use dogs pulling travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings. Once Europeans introduced horses to North America, the Cheyennes could travel quicker and further, and began to migrate frequently to follow the buffalo herds.

What was Cheyenne food like in the days before supermarkets?

The Cheyennes were originally farming people, with the women harvesting corn, squash, and beans while the men hunted deer and buffalo. Once they acquired horses, the Cheyenne lifestyle became more migratory. They mostly gave up farming, and followed the buffalo herds as they moved across the plains. Unlike most Plains tribes, Cheyenne women took part in buffalo hunts along with men. They drove the buffalos towards the men, who shot them with their longbows.

Besides buffalo meat, Cheyenne Indians also ate fish, fruit and berries, and corn that they bought from other tribes.

What were Cheyenne weapons and tools like in the past?

Cheyenne warriors used powerful bows and arrows, war clubs, spears, and hide shields.

What are Cheyenne arts and crafts like?

Cheyenne artists are famous for their fine quill embroidery, beadwork, pipestone carving, and pottery.

What kinds of stories do the Cheyennes tell?

There are lots of traditional Cheyenne legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Cheyenne Indian culture.