Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
- Colorado History -
Learn to interpret the meaning of:
By David Sedivy
We commonly think of the Cheyenne Indians as mounted nomads following buffalo over the plains. Yet, since there were no horses in America at the time of discovery, the Indians were foot travelers. Many of them lived in permanent settlements. The Cheyennes have always cultivated the ground, raising corn, beans, and squash. They also gathered wild fruits and roots. This constituted a major portion of their subsistence. They also hunted small game such as birds and small mammals. As their migration took them to the plains they made foot surrounds of buffalo, and when possible drove the large animals off cliffs or into snowdrifts. Then, as the Cheyenne acquired horses they would then abandon agriculture and follow the buffalo herds across the plains; which would change them forever.
The social life of the Cheyenne was friendly and agreeable. As a rule, husbands and wives were devoted to one another, and parents loved their children tenderly. The training of the little ones began in infancy, the first lessons being that they should always be good-natured and never quarrel with their fellows. They never scolded their children, only speaking to them and telling them the many stories of the past that would in turn shape their future.
In contrast, the Cheyennes were a warlike tribe and almost the first lesson taught a growing boy was that he must be brave. He was told that success in war would cause him to be respected and praised by all the people, and was reminded that the most important men of the tribe had reached their distinction through bravery and triumphs in war.
For many years the Cheyennes have been separated into two groups known as the Northern and Southern Cheyennes. These are merely two divisions of the same people, and the separation took place less than two hundred years ago. There is nothing permanent about it. Some people go to the south, live there a few years or a generation, and then come back to the north and vise versa. In the old days before the coming of the railroads there was frequent passing back and forth between Northern and Southern Cheyennes.
Cheyenne Story Telling
Some of the stories were short others were long, sometimes told in great detail, and even in sections. A short story may be told, and when it was finished the narrator stopped, and after a pause, said, "I will tie another one to it." Then there was a long pause; the pipe was perhaps lighted and smoked; a little conversation had; then the story teller began again and told another section of the tale, ending as before. At formal gatherings a man might tell a story and when finished might say: "The story has ended. Can anyone tie it to another?"
Of the tails of the past, those narrating the events on the warpath were the most popular; by listening to them a fairly clear notion may be had on how tribal warfare was carried on.
The Cheyenne Social Club:
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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000
Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
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