Cheyenne Principal Divisions and Bands

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The Cheyenne Nation or Tsêhéstáno was at one time composed of ten bands which spread across the Great Plains from southern Colorado to the Black Hills in South Dakota

 

They were living primarily in what is now Minnesota at the time of their first contact with the Europeans.

The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two tribes, the Só’taeo’o (more commonly written as Sutaio) and the Tsétsêhéstâhese (more commonly written as the Tsitsistas; singular: Tsétsêhéstaestse), which translates to “those who are like this.” These two tribes had always traveled together, becoming fully merged sometime after 1831, when they were still noted as having separate camps. The Suhtai were said to have originally had slightly different speech and customs from their traveling companions.

The name “Cheyenne” may be derived from the Dakota Sioux exonym for them, Šahíyena (meaning “little Šahíya“). Though the identity of the Šahíya is not known, many Great Plains tribes assume it means Cree or some other people who spoke a language related to Cree and Cheyenne. The Cheyenne word for Ojibwe” is “Sáhea’eo’o,” a word that sounds similar to the Dakota word Šahíya.”

Another of the common etymologies for Cheyenne is “a bit like the [people of an] alien speech” (literally, “red-talker”). According to George Bird Grinnell, the Dakota had referred to themselves and fellow Siouan-language bands as “white talkers”, and those of other language families, such as the Algonquian Cheyenne, as “red talkers” (Šahíyena).

Although according to the Cheyenne dictionary offered online by Chief Dull Knife College, there is no definitive consensus, various studies of the origins and the translation of the word has been suggested, such as with Tsé-tsėhéstȧhese where it is stated that Grinnell’s record is typical when he states “They call themselves Tsistsistas, which the books commonly give as meaning “people.” It most likely means “related to one another, similarly bred, like us, our people, or us.”

Principal Division of the Cheyenne

Today, there are two divisions of Cheyenne, the Northern Cheyenne and Southern Cheyenne.

The Northern Cheyenne, known in Cheyenne either as Notameohmésêhese meaning “Northern Eaters” or simply as Ohmésêhese meaning “Eaters”, live in southeast Montana on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

The Southern Cheyenne, known in Cheyenne as Heévâhetaneo’o meaning “Roped People”, together with the Southern Arapaho, form the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, in western Oklahoma.

 

Cheyenne  Band Designations

  • Northern Cheyenne (known in Cheyenne either as Notameohmésêhese meaning “Northern Eaters” or simply as Ohmésêhese or Ôhmésêheseo’o meaning “Eaters”)

    • Notameohmésêhese proper (“Northern Eaters”, also simply known as Omísis, Ohmésêhese or Ôhmésêheseo’o– “Eaters”), They went by this names because they were known as great hunters and therefore had a good supply of meat to feed their people, the most populous Cheyenne group.
      • Anskówînîs (“Narrow Nose”, “narrow-nose-bridge”), An admixture and of recent origin, taking its name from their first chief, properly named Broken Dish, but nicknamed Anskówǐnǐs. They separated from the O’mǐ’sǐs on account of a quarrel, probably a dispute as to the guardianship of the sacred buffalohead cap, a stolen horn from which is now in possession of one of the band in the south. They are represented among both the Northern and the Southern Cheyenne.
      • Mo’ôhtávêhetane (“Black Men”, “Ute-like Men”, because they had darker skin than other Cheyenne, they looked more like the Utes to their Cheyenne kin, also meaning ″Mountain Men″) A small band of the same name is still represented among the Southern Cheyenne, and also among the Northern Cheyenne. They may be descended from Ute captives and perhaps constituted a regular tribal division.
    • Northern Oivimána (Northern Oévemana – “Northern Scabby”, “Northern Scalpers”)
    • Totoimana (Tútoimanáh (meaning “Backward Clan”, “Shy Clan” or “Bashful Clan”), A modern nickname applied by the Northern Cheyenne to a band living on the Tongue River, “because they preferred to camp by themselves. (Grinnell). From the same root comes toto, (meaning ‘crawfish,’) referring to its going backward (Petter).
    • Masikota (“Crickets”, “Grasshoppers”, perhaps a Lakotiyapi word mazikute – “iron (rifle) shooters”, from mazi – “iron” and kute – “to shoot”, mixed Cheyenne-Lakota band, were known by the latter as Sheo, lived southeast of the Black Hills along the White River, intermarried with Oglala Lakota and Sičháŋǧu Oyáte, was the first group of the tribal unit on the Plains, hence their other name, “First Named.”)
      • Hó’nawa (Honowa, Ononeo or Háovôhnóva – “Arikara, Arikara heritage)  “Arikara People”, because they were through intermarriage of mixed Cheyenne-Arikara heritage. Also known as the Half Breed band.)
      • Máhoyum, (meaning ‘red tipi’) This name, in the form Miayuma, (meaning ‘red lodges,’) is erroneously given in the Clarke MS., in possession of Grinnell, as the name of a band or division, but is really only the name of a heraldic tipi belonging by heredity to a family of the Hó’nowa division, now living with the Southern Cheyenne.
    • Northern Só’taeo’o (Suhtai or Sutaio, married only other Só’taeo’o (Northern or Southern) and camped always separate from the other Cheyenne camps, maintained closest ties to the Notameohmésêhese band. Also known as the Black Lodges band – A local designation or nickname for those Northern Cheyenne living in the neighborhood of Lame Deer “because they are on friendly terms with the band of Crows known as Black Lodges.”
      • first band
      • second band
    • Ree band. A local designation or nickname for those Northern Cheyenne living about Rosebud creek, because among them there were several men who are related to the Ree.

    Southern Cheyenne (known in Cheyenne as Heévâhetaneo’o meaning “Roped People”, also commonly known as Sówoniá – “the Southern People”)

    • Tsistsistas proper
      • Heviksnipahis  (Hevĭqs′­nĭ′’pahĭs, literal translation: ‘aortas closed, by burning’; singular, Hevĭqs′­nĭ′’pa)(Iviststsinihpah – “Aorta People” or “Burnt Aorta People”)
      • Moiseo (Monsoni – “Flint-Men”, called after the Flintmen Society (Motsêsóonetaneo’o), were also called Otata-voha – “Blue Horses”, after Blue Horse, the first leader of the Coyote Warriors Society (O’ôhoménotâxeo’o), both were branches of the Fox Warriors Society (Vóhkêséhetaneo’o or Monêsóonetaneo’o), one of the four original Cheyenne military societies).
    • Hévhaitanio or Heévâhetaneo’o proper (Heévâhetane – “Hair Rope Men”, “Hairy People”, also ″Fur Men,″ or Heévâhetaneo’o, meaning roped people; singular, Hévhaitän )
    • Southern  Oivimána (Southern Oévemana – “Southern Scabby”, “Southern Scalpers”, originally part of the Hevhaitanio)
    • Hisíometanio  (Hĭsíometä′nio, ‘ridge men’; singular, Hĭsíometä′n)(Hesé’omeétaneo’o or Issiometaniu – “Ridge People”), originally part of the Hevhaitanio. Lived in the hill country along the Upper Smoky River in Colorado.
    • Ná’kuimana (“Bear People”) A small band among the Southern Cheyenne taking its name from a former chief.
    • Hotametaneo (Hotnowa, Hownowa – “Poor People”)
    • Wotápio (from the Lakotiyapi word Wutapiu: – “Eat with Lakota-Sioux”, “Half-Cheyenne”, “Cheyenne-Sioux”), originally a band of Lakota Sioux which joined the Southern Cheyenne.
    • Wóopotsît (Wóhkpotsit, Woxpometaneo – “White Wolf”, “White River”)
    • Ohktounna (Oktogana, Oqtóguna or Oktoguna – “Bare Legged”, “Protruding Jaw”, referring to the art of dancing the Deer Dance before they were going to war, almost wiped out by an cholera epidemic in 1849)
    • Southern Só’taeo’o (Suhtai or Sutaio, married only other Só’taeo’o (Northern or Southern alike) and camped always separate from the other Cheyenne camps, maintained closest ties to the Hisiometaneoband).
      • first band
      • second band
    • Pǐ’nûtgû’ ‘ Pe’nätĕ`ka’ (meaning Comanche). This is not properly a divisional or even a band name, but was the contemptuous name given by the hostile Cheyenne in 1874-75 to the “friendlies,” under Whirlwind, who remained passive near the agency at Darlington, in allusion to the well-known readiness of the Penateka Comanche to sell their services as scouts against their own tribesmen on the plains.
    • Wóopotsǐ’t (Wóhkpotsīt, Grinnell), ‘white wolf’ (?) A numerous family group taking its name from a noted common ancestor, in the southern branch of the tribe, who died about 1845. The name literally implies something having a white and frosty appearance, as hide scrapings or a leaf covered with frost.

    The Heviksnipahis, Hévhaitanio, Masikota, Omísis (Notameohmésêhese proper), Só’taeo’o (Suhtai or Sutaio, Northern and Southern), Wotápio, Oivimána (Northern and Southern), Hisíometanio, Ohktounna and the Hónowa were the ten principal bands that had the right to send four chief delegates representing them in the Council of Forty-Four.

    After the Masikota had been almost wiped out through a cholera epidemic in 1849, the remaining Masikota joined the Dog Soldiers warrior society (Hotamétaneo’o). They effectively became a separate band and in 1850 took over the position in the camp circle formerly occupied by the Masikota. The members often opposed policies of peace chiefs such as Black Kettle. Over time the Dog Soldiers took a prominent leadership role in the wars against the whites. In 1867, most of the band were killed by United States Army forces in the Battle of Summit Springs.

    Due to an increasing division between the Dog Soldiers and the council chiefs with respect to policy towards the whites, the Dog Soldiers became separated from the other Cheyenne bands. They effectively became a third division of the Cheyenne people, between the Northern Cheyenne, who ranged north of the Platte River, and the Southern Cheyenne, who occupied the area north of the Arkansas River.