The Cheyenne Indians belong to the Algonquian language family.
They are also known as Sha-hi’yena, which means ‘people of alien speech.’ Their name for themselves is Dzǐ’tsǐǐstäs, which means ‘people alike.’
Cheyenne Indians are one of the most westerly tribes of the Algonquian speaking nations. They were settled on the Cheyenne River, a branch of the Red River of the North. Driven by the Sioux, they retreated beyond the Missouri.
Near the close of the eighteenth century they were driven to or near the Black Hills (now in the Dakotas and Wyoming), where Lewis and Clarke found them in 1804. They already possessed horses and made plundering raids as far as New Mexico.
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.Battle of the Little Bighorn – 1876 The Northern Cheyenne fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which took place on June 25, 1876.
The Cheyenne, together with the Lakota, and other Sioux and a small band of Arapaho, killed Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and much of his 7th Cavalry contingent of Army soldiers.
Historians have estimated the population of the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho encampment along the Little Bighorn River was approximately 10,000, making it one of the largest gatherings of Native Americans in North America in pre-reservation times. About 3,000 were warriors.
News of the event traveled across the United States and reached Washington, D.C., just as the nation was celebrating its Centennial. Public reaction arose in outrage against the Cheyenne.
In 1899 there were 2,069 Cheyennes at the Cheyenne and Arapahoe agency, Oklahoma; 56 at the Pine Ridge agency, South Dakota; and 1,349 at the Tongue River agency, Montana.
Cheyenne Tribes Today
From the Black Hills of South Dakota to the plains of
Colorado and finally the open fields of Oklahoma, the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho
American tribes have endured many hardships and changes throughout history.