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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
The Cheyenne Social Club

The Scalp Dance and
Other Traditional Cheyenne Dances

The scalp was a good thing to carry back to the village and dance over; in addition, it was used to trim and fringe war clothing and to tie to the horses bridle in going to war. Usually the scalps taken were only a little larger than a silver dollar, but like any any other piece of flesh they stretched greatly, and the young men were instructed how to do this.

The Scalp Dance
Anyone familiar with Indians and Indian ways will understand that that the various dances they practice are not merely haphazard jumping up and down and chance singing. The ceremony of the dances is perfectly well defined, and the songs are well known and unvarying as if they had been printed. There was a ceremony established for the scalp dance. While it was a victory dance it was also very social in character.

Scalp Dance at Bent's Fort
Lieutenant Abert's depiction of a Cheyenne scalp dance at Bent's Fort in 1840.

Hee Man Eh
These old-time scalp dances were directed by a little group of men called Hee man eh, "halfmen - halfwomen." They were men, but had taken up the way of women; even there voices sounded between that of a man and a woman. They often served as second wives in a married man's household.

There were only five of these in the tribe, and were all members of the same kindred- the Bare Legs family. They were very popular and favorites of the young Cheyennes because they were known matchmakers. They were fine love talkers. When a young man wanted to send gifts to a girl, horses to her family, one of these halfmen-halfwomen were sent to the girls relatives to do the talking in making the marriage. These men had both men's names and woman's names. It could be said these were the first transvestites.

When a war party was preparing to start out, one of these persons was asked to accompany it. They were good company and fine talkers. During the fighting they would care for the wounded, in which they were very skillful, for they were doctors or medicine men. If one of the party had been killed, the scalps were thrown away and there was no scalp dance upon their return. If a person had counted coup and had been killed, the scalp dance went on just as if no one had been killed.

The scalp dance was no wild frenzied affair, as most people might imagine, rather it was a sociable courtship dance, made up of several parts. It took place around a huge bonfire prepared by the halfmen-halfwomen. The singers for the dance were middle-aged men, all married. The young men lined up north of the fire, and the young women lined up across from them.

Other Cheyenne Dances
The first dance was a Sweetheart's Dance, followed by a Matchmaking Dance, a Round Dance, the Slippery Dance and the Galloping Buffalo Bull Dance. Then everyone stood up and went into the Round Dance, and the drummers and the singers, mating couples and old people, were all united in one, closed happy, collective unity. They all sang together as they danced while morning dawned.

Changes in Cheyenne Culture
In 1830, the Cheyennes were sufficiently equipped with horses, and they left their villages for the nomadic way of life. The horse and mobility had changed their culture drastically during the thirties.

By 1859, the whites were coming to Colorado in droves - the Pikes Peak Gold Rush was on and with it the Cheyennes culture would once again be transformed.

Pikes Peak or Bust
An 1895 gold rusher dies on the plains. Pikes Peak or Bust was both his slogan and epitaph. No one counted how many prospective miners died en route to Pikes Peak, but the casualties were appalling.

The stories they left behind have furnished us concrete examples of their way of life and thought. The past, as always, has left its imprint on our minds.

The Cheyenne Social Club:
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner |
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred Stories |
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge Ceremony |
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics |
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances |
Bibliography is available by email request.

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- Colorado History In Depth -
Lecture Notes, Reading, and Information:

| The Cheyenne Migration to Colorado |
| The Gratlan Affair, Massacre, Fort Laramie Treaty |

Fort Union
| The Sante Fe Trail and Fort Union |
| Sumner - Ninth Military Department / The First Fort Union |
| Early Arrivals to Fort Union, Daily Life at Fort Union |
| Captain Grover - The New Fort Union, the Confederate Threat |
| Fort Union Arsenal, William Shoemaker, End of Fort Union |

Americans from the East
| Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase |
| The Expedition of Zebulon Pike |
| Pikes Peak or Bust / Colorado Gold Rush |

Colorado's Role in the US Civil War
| The Civil War, Fort Wise / Fort Lyon |
| Mace's Hole, Colonel Canby, F.C.V.R. | Fort Weld |
| The Pet Lambs, John Chivington |
| General Henry Sibly, Battle of Valverde, Fort Union |

Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes
| The Western Federation of Miners / State Militia |
| The 1893 - 1894 Strike | The Strike of 1903 - 1904 |
| The Mine Owners Association |
| Crimes and Military Rule in the Cripple Creek District |
| Marshall Law in Cripple Creek District / End of the Strike |
Early Cripple Creek District
| Photos, Fire, and Life in Cripple Creek |
| Other Colorful Towns in the Cripple Creek District:
Gillett - Colorado's Only Bullfight, Victor, Independence
| A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo |

More Colorado History Information
| Bent's Fort Photos, Personalities, Plans, and More |

| What Was Easter Like at Bent's Fort? |
| Colorado Trivia, Miscellaneous Old Photos,
Western Personalities, Forts, and More

| Lullabies for Jittery Cows - Cowboy Ballads |
| Heraldry of the Branding Iron |
| Project Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
Lead Gives Alferd Packer's Story More Weight |
| Legendary Colorado Love Stories: Baby Doe Tabor & More |
| Colorado Pioneer Women: Elizabeth Byers |
| Early Denver Jokes / The History of April Fools' Day |

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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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