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Cheyenne Primacy


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Cheyenne Primacy: The Tribes' Perspective As Opposed To That Of The United States Army; A Possible Alternative To "The Great Sioux War Of 1876"


by Dr. Margot Liberty

Webmaster's Note: We are privileged to bring you the latest work from Dr. Margot Liberty. In her paper, "Cheyenne Primacy", Dr. Liberty expounds on the ideas that Thomas Marquis wrote about in The Cheyennes of Montana regarding the Sioux War of 1876. These theories ring true and we hope they will encourage further research. November 2006


“In fact, what we regard as the “Sioux War of 1876”’  was, as viewed by the Indians themselves, a war by the whites against the Cheyennes. The Sioux were participants simply as allies.”      


          Thomas Bailey Marquis, 1933, “Which Indian Killed Custer? p. 3-4; Reprinted 1967, Custer On the Little Bighorn, p 22.


In preparing the introduction to a book of reservation photographs and oral history of the Northern Cheyennes of Montana,  (Liberty 2006) I did not expect to be led so far a field into issues of 1) the so-called Great Sioux War of 1876,  2) “Ethnogenesis,” 3) “Protocheyenne Bands,” and  4) the definition of “Tribe.” I am indebted to Robert Utley for asking the questions which led to all this. Initial dialogue occurred at the Bozeman Trail Heritage Conference at Bozeman, Montana, July 28-August 1, 1999.  We differed concerning the relative importance of Cheyenne and Sioux participants in the Indian wars of the 1870s and in the Northern Plains before that time. He does not agree that the Cheyennes preceded the Sioux into the Powder River country in the early 1800s. (For one thing, the whole tribe carried the Sacred Arrows against the Shoshones 1n 1817.)  My concept “Cheyenne Primacy” was developed as one result. I am indebted to him for subsequent discussion.

The Sioux have been given star billing  in  “The Great Sioux War of 1876” on the basis of  greater visibility and higher total numbers than other tribes.  There has in fact been a kind of tunnel vision if not megalomania  concerning Sioux prominence -- due in part to their great number of subdivisions and bands, all  identified often simply as “Sioux.”

The opinion of other tribes that it was a Cheyenne war in 1876 rather than "The Great Sioux War" is made more plausible by the  "Body Count" of seven Cheyenne camps destroyed by the army before 1876 -- more than those of all other tribes put together. Three more were destroyed that year, making a total of ten. According to historian Jerry Greene, the total number of camps of other peoples so destroyed was six (four before 1876) divided among the Shoshone, Arapaho, Piegan, and Lakota as listed below (Greene, personal communication, 1999.)

The Cheyenne villages destroyed were:

1) First Platte Bridge fight 1856 (Grinnell 1956: 112)

2) Grand Island 1856 (Grinnell 1956: 100n, 112 )

3) Republican Fork 1864  (Grinnell 1956: 139). 

4) Sand Creek 1864 (Grinnell 1956:110, 176 249)

5) Pawnee Fork of South Arkansas River 1867  (Grinnell 1956:  258, 261)     

6) Washita November 1868 (Grinnell 1956: 298= 327)

7) Summit Springs 1869 (Grinnell 1956: 310 ff., 315)

8) Reynolds fight March 1876  (Grinnell 1956:  )

9) Mackenzie fight November 1876 (Grinnell 1956:  359 ff)

10) Slim Buttes September 1876 -- Lakota and Cheyenne camp destroyed (Grinnell 1956: 361.)

At my request Indian Wars historian Jerry Greene provided information on the six other cases of Northern Plains camp destruction  by the U.S.  Military, which were:

1)Shoshoni, Bear River, Idaho, 1863 

2) Arapaho, Tongue River, Wyoming, 1865

3) Piegan, Marias River, Montana, 1870  

4) Arapaho, Bates Fight, Wyoming, 1874

5) Lakota/Cheyenne, Slim Buttes, Dakota, 1876  (listed twice, see above)

6) Lakota, Muddy Creek, Montana, 1877

Even with the seven instances of Cheyenne camp destruction by US troops before 1876 (or six, if the first Platte Bridge fight is not counted) compared to four such instances of all other tribes combined before 1876, it is easy to see how the opinion may have prevailed among the tribes in general that the Cheyennes had been singled out for special and unusual punishment. 

Thomas B. Marquis, Physician-Photographer

The photographs by Thomas Marquis, 142 of which were published in A Northern Cheyenne Album  (Liberty 2006) were taken by a physician to the Northern Cheyennes, beginning in 1922, and ending at his death in 1935.  In the 1960s these had been edited into a volume of oral history and commentary by a reservation team including John Woodenlegs, then president of the tribe. Intended as a reservation history book, the project was delayed until recently for many reasons, including publication expense, the deaths of three contributors (Woodenlegs, Elizabeth Wilson Clark, and Thomas D. Weist). The material was sent to me by Ms. Wilson eight or nine years ago, and I agreed to edit it for the University of Oklahoma Press. The Marquis negatives, about 500 in all, are now owned by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center at Cody, Wyoming.

Thomas Bailey Marquis, M.D., is well known to Indian Wars historians as the compiler/coauthor of Wooden Leg, A Warrior Who Fought Custer (1931), and of a number of pamphlets and other works (see Sources, below.) A World War I veteran (thus trained in arms) and an attorney as well as a doctor (thus trained in argument) his two last books, Keep The Last Bullet for Yourself, (1976) and Cheyennes of Montana, (1978) are generally little known.

To understand and explain his pictures, which included many Cheyenne warrior portraits, I needed to become familiar with these last works, which he revised up to the time of his death in 1935  (Marquis 1978: 250). And some of his opinions and conclusions come as a surprise. Some of the most surprising were in fact published as early as 1933 (see leading quote, above.)

Marquis suggests that:

1) No matter what US military goals and beliefs may have been in “The Great Sioux War of 1876,”  the other Indians concerned -- primarily the Lakota -- thought that it was mainly a Northern Cheyenne affair  (Marquis 1978:21 ff.)

2) An informal understanding was reached between Northern Cheyennes and Crows near present Busby, MT in July of 1875, concerning occupation of territory adjacent to the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers. This gave the west side to the Crows and the east side to the Cheyennes. This happened because there were a great many adopted captives on each side, and each was tired of shooting at its own relatives -- mainly the halfblood children of Crow and Cheyenne captive women (Marquis 1978:248-249.)

3) Northern Cheyenne participants in the Custer fight had not a clue as to which officers rode against them -- and not much of a clue as to what took place overall, except for the feats of individual warriors. Marquis believed that he himself conveyed much of this overall knowledge to them -- some even thought their principal antagonist was Nelson Miles! Miles did not arrive to build the Ft. Keogh cantonment at the mouth of Tongue River until some months after the battle, but the Cheyennes subsequently knew him there as prisoners after the Wolf Mountain fight with Miles’ forces in January 1877, which preceded the surrender to Miles of a portion of the tribe (Marquis 1978: 243).

4) The Northern Cheyennes were first in importance in four of the five big battles of 1876-77, which included the Reynolds fight on Powder River March 17, the Rosebud fight June 17, the Custer fight June 25-26, and the Mackenzie fight November 26 on the Red Fork of Powder River. They shared importance with the Sioux at Slim Buttes, September 6. They were also the principals at the less important fight at HatCreek in Nebraska July 17. The Lakota divisions gave them pride of place leading all Lakota camp circles (Cheyenne, then Oglala, Minneconjou, Blackfoot Sioux, Sans Arcs, Brules, Two Kettles, and Uncpapa)  against the soldiers that summer, after the Reynolds fight on Powder River March 17. (Marquis 1967: 21-22; 1979:258-260)

5) Marquis even suggested  that Miles may have had an Indian girlfriend or at least a “favorite,” among  Indian women prisoners at Ft. Keogh. Her name was Minnie Hollow Wood, a Sioux married to Hollow Wood, a Cheyenne Custer fight veteran. She was 74 when Marquis took her picture at the Miles City camp of Cheyennes July 4, 1930. The picture appears in the Custer Battlefield Marquis collection with the label it bore when part of Marquis’ own museum in Hardin in the 1930s --  “In 1877 she was among the Cheyenne prisoners at Fort Keogh. Old woman gossips in the tribe say she was ‘General Miles’ favorite.’” (Original Marquis exhibit label, Little Bighorn National Battlefield.)  Mrs. Hollow Wood was also photographed by Marquis with artifacts sold to him in 1927, and with her Cheyenne husband, wearing a warbonnet to which she was entitled because of personal deeds of valor in warfare as one of the few certified Sioux Warrior Women. See also her picture in “Custer on the Little Bighorn”, facing p. 36, and in Liberty 2006: 170-171, 245.)  

Now this is pretty heady stuff, and if Marquis were not so well trusted generally, as a historian, much of  it would be tossed off as the musings of a crank.  What Marquis says, however, deserves a second look.

Of these suggestions, the one concerning a possible Crow-Cheyenne parley late in 1875  may  draw the most hoots of derision from the cognescenti. But cracks were beginning to appear in the solid wall of Crow-Cheyenne hostility. In 1853 some Crows had  been  invited to accompany the entire Cheyenne tribe in carrying the Sacred Arrows against the Pawnees, “indicating that terms of the 1851 Ft Laramie Treaty were still being honored” (Grinnell 1956:85). (They had first carried the Arrows as a tribe against the Shoshonis in 1817 -- a fact giving them claim to early occupancy of the Powder River country -- see below.)  In July 1999 a talk at the Bozeman conference by Frank Rscezkowski (Rscezkowski 1999)  indicated that there was a beginning rapprochement between Crows and “hostiles”, especially in the late 1860s -- he says that four Crows in fact fought as Cheyenne allies in the 1866 Fetterman fight, and that one of them might have been a woman!!  And present Crow historian Howard Boggess suggests that while Marquis may have been wrong on the place and date (Busby 1875), such interaction and discussion was not at all unlikely (Personal communication, September 1999.)

It was becoming apparent to at least some Crows that when the buffalo were gone, the traditional Plains way of life would vanish with them for  “Hostiles” and “Friendlies” alike  --  and old Indian enemies might prove preferable to new Non Indian friends. A “gentlemen”s agreement” to allow the Bighorn-Little Bighorn rivers to divide accustomed hunting territory -- Crows to the west and Cheyenes to the east -- is not inconceivable.  This belief, among others  (see 2. and 4., above)  led Marquis to assign Cheyenne priority at the Rosebud and Custer fights which thus took place on their territory.

Proposals for Debate

Either Marquis  in these  works  abandoned  the research capacities which made his early work so useful to scholars,  or he was saying  things which have been unjustly disregarded  for nearly 70 years. 

I propose here that:

A. There is general misunderstanding concerning  the relative importance of “The Cheyennes” and “The Sioux” in accounts of the Indian wars of the 19th Century. Such misunderstanding is due to general ignorance of the social structure and history of these groups through time, and of their interactions with one another and with other tribes, particularly the Crows.  The tremendous numbers in the seven Lakota Sioux divisions (Oglala, Minneconjou, Two Kettles, Blackfoot Sioux, Sans Arcs, Brules, and Uncpapas)  gave them top billing even though there was no central tribal authority or organization in any of them, let alone any kind of  overarching “Seven Council Fires” federation. Indeed, what could be called a kind of “Sioux Monomania” affected military personnel at the time -- even so careful an observer as John Bourke thought they had attacked the camp of Crazy Horse on March 17, 1876, when it was a Cheyenne camp  (Bourke  1981:243.)

B. I propose the term “Cheyenne Primacy” to emphasize the facts of: 1) early, pre-Sioux occupation of the Powder River Country by the early 1800s (this being the principal source of disagreement with my colleague and mentor, Bob Utley), and 2) that in the eyes of other Indians, at least, the Cheyennes were the prime military targets in the “Great Sioux War.” I  will also touch upon the phenomenon of Cheyenne spiritual power, authority, and ceremonial leadership in the past and as these are perceived today.

My premises are that:

1) The Cheyennes preceded the Sioux into the Black Hills, and thence into the Powder River Country south of the Yellowstone including Powder River, Tongue River, and the Littlehorn-Bighorn drainages. And they were arguably the prime force in all wars of the northern plains after 1860.  (Contemporary Cheyenne remarks to this effect include that of late tribal historian Bill Tallbull, who said “The Sioux were just at the Fetterman fight to hold the Cheyenne horses,” and another,  “The Crows did the scouting, the Cheyennes did the fighting, and the Sioux got the credit”  (Mary Ellen McWilliams and moccasin telegraph to author, 1999.)

2) The Cheyennes preceded the Sioux in getting horses, later passing them on to the Oglalas with whom they were closely allied and intermarried  (Grinnell 1956: 36-37 ;  Stands in Timber and Liberty 1998: 116-118;   Porter 1986:61;  Moore  1996:94).  

3) The Cheyennes were first to conduct tribal-level warfare, rather than that of individual bands or war parties -- “horse and scalp raids” in Utley’s terms. This happened  against the Bannocks-Shoshonis  in 1817, the Crows in 1820, and in four subsequent fights  including two against the Pawnees as late as 1853  (Grinnell 1956: 25, 72. ) The tribal Sacred Arrows were carried by the tribe as a whole against these enemies in six recorded moves of the Arrows in 36 years, 1817- 1853 (Grinnell 1956: 72). Such attacks featuring the Arrows had to be made by the tribe as a whole.

It is not clear that any of the seven Lakota groups (Oglala, Hunkpapa etc.) ever went to war as entire societies in this way.

4) A process of ethnogenesis, binding the several Cheyenne bands into a single people, took place at Bear Butte in the Black Hills about 1800.  Because of this the Cheyennes held together as a unified tribe for  almost half a century. No other group on the plains achieved such centralized tribal organization and authority. This unity is proven by the six moves of the Arrows in 36 years, 1817-1853, as stated above. To repeat, such moves required the presence of the entire tribe acting in unison (Grinnell 1956:72.) The people were pulled increasingly into Northern and Southern divisions after the building of Bent’s Fort in 1833. But the two principal Northern bands, the Omissis and Suhtai, never went south of the Platte after arriving from the Black Hills (Moore: 1987: 229).

5) The Northern Cheyennes  were often  underestimated or disregarded  by the United States in treaties, which tended to focus on the Southerners - (See below.) No treaty was ever signed by valid representatives of the tribe as a whole.

6) The Cheyennes were not identified as such in a number of early accounts, such as that of Lewis and Clark, because of an extremely diverse and confusing array of early names for various bands -- see also discussion below. Lewis and Clark alone had six of them!

So Who Was Marquis?

Thomas B. Marquis appeared in Lame Deer in 1922, forty six years after the Indian Wars of 1876-77, and just four years shy of the 50th Custer Battle anniversary. He lasted less than a year as an agency doctor, but he “hung out” around Lame Deer and Hardin for the rest of his life, scraping by financially as a  private-practice physician, a writer, and the proprietor of a small museum. As a white man who enjoyed Cheyenne acquaintances, he attended  ceremonies (including four Sun Dances in 1927, 1928, 1929, and  1931, years when the ceremony was officially forbidden by government policy.) He participated in week-long celebrations such as Christmas at Ashland in 1926 (Marquis 1978:161-62; Liberty 2006: 252-253.)  He heard many stories, offering tobacco and attention to anyone who wanted to visit. By this time the old  Cheyenne veterans were losing their fear of talking to outsiders, as they had  done before only  with George Bird Grinnell (who  began working with them in 1890, and whose  “Fighting Cheyennes” was published 1n 1916, before Marquis arrived.)   

From the outset Marquis was taken by the people and their ways. In  1922 he began an “ Indian Diary” which included much material eventually published in Cheyennes of Montana (1978). He recorded such divergent things as their table manners, their discipline and courtesy when meat was distributed at  ration time, and even their preferences in classical music (one family with a phonograph expressed a preference for “La Barcarole” -- this and other tunes having been provided on recordings, in the reservation schools!

By 1927, the old warriors trusted him enough to explain and then sell him relics from the big fights.   Beginning in April, Marquis obtained more than  30 of these. Many later became the foundation of  Indian exhibits at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. He bought  in 1927 seven Custer guns (from Tanglehorn  Elk,  White Wolf, Sun Bear, White Elk, White Moon, Big Beaver, and John Issues), plus a scalping knife, soldier boot-leg bag, ammunition belt, war club, and rifle scabbard (from  White Moon, Brown Bird,  Mrs. Issues, Mrs. Hollow Wood, and others (Weist ed.  1979:39., 256, 259). The owners proudly posed for pictures with these before parting with them. Every picture was scrupulously identified and dated.)

By then of course Marquis was hooked. As have so many others before and since, he wanted to learn what had actually happened at the Custer disaster. He believed he  found it in the reminiscences first of Wooden Leg (A Warrior Who Fought Custer, 1931) and then at least twenty others who shared their memories over some fourteen years.  He visited battle terrain with them often, made easy because he and they lived nearby, an advantage not shared by Sioux participants or by the many White interviewers who  came to visit.  He made maps and took pictures, all meticulously identified as to date and subject (Today these are divided among the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Little Bighorn National Battlefield, the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian, and the national medical  archives at Bethesda, Maryland).  When he exhibited his pictures at reservation gatherings, the earliest led to many more, as viewers wanted their own families to be recorded as well. Living in poverty close to the Cheyennes’ own, he became familiar, taking them around in his Model T and visiting particular families time and again.  Some of his accounts of individuals gathered at this time, including those of Porcupine and Iron Teeth, stand almost alone as compassionate  portraits  of Indians at a time when these were rare indeed. 

Marquis scorned the hit-and-run tactics of  outside  investigators who wanted to hurry their informants into newsworthy accounts, and then leave on the next train. “Old Indians don’t hurry,”  he commented wryly, and added that such behavior from visitors was considered among the Cheyennes to be the height of bad manners. Also, any argument with an informant from an interviewer was likely to end the interview -- informants concluded the interviewer knew more than they did, or thought so  ( Liberty 1997;  Marquis 1959:  161, 254).

Little by little Marquis developed his own battle theories, including one -- that of mass soldier suicides -- which brought down wrath upon his head.  Keep the Last Bullet (1976), which he considered his magnum opus, was completed in 1933, but refused by publishers for forty years because of its unpopular conclusions concerning  the fate of  the Custer soldiers. Marquis contended that the troops were terrified of  torture -- thus, fearing capture, many of Custer’s relatively inexperienced  men did away with themselves and/or their companions when the  likely outcome of the battle became clear.  Actually Plains Indian warriors as a rule took as captives only women and children, killing  male opponents outright.  But this fact was not  believed by the majority of Custer’s soldiers (see “The Dread of Torture”  in  Keep the Last Bullet,  pp 172-179.)   Marquis claimed to have obtained a number of eyewitness accounts of such suicides from Wooden Leg and others. They may have retracted these, later on  (Wooden Leg 1931: 219-27;  Stands in Timber and Liberty 1998: 200.)

The Save the Last Bullet chapters  “Custer Himself,” “Custer’s Seventh Cavalry,” “What Kind of Soldiers?”, “Where Were The Indians?” “The Whiskey Question” “Other Battles with the Indians,” and especially  “Indian Warrior Ways,” are well researched and written. But many Custer buffs  have skipped or disregarded the entire book because of its title.

Cheyennes of Montana (1978) owes much to editing by the now-deceased journalist Thomas D. Weist,  who wrote a valuable introduction, and a  major biographical account in which the nature of Marquis’ earliest work, the “Indian Journal,” becomes clear. From 1922 onward the doctor was busy interviewing Cheyenne sources suggested to him by the mixed blood scout and interpreter Willis Rowland. Without Rowland he surely would not have found the astonishing 92-year old Susan Iron Teeth, whose husband was killed in the Dull Knife fight of November 1877 (Greene 1994: 113-119). And it is unlikely that he would have written the compassionate  account of Porcupine,  “The Messiah Preacher,” wrecker of trains, leader of the Cheyenne Ghost Dance (who went personally to see the Paiute Messiah, Wovoka,  or Jack Wilson, in Nevada) and general Northern Cheyenne troublemaker-at large. Of Porcupine he said, “This kindly member of America’s oldest aristocracy dwelt during thirty or forty years in a log hut on the semi-arid sagebrush lands of the upper Rosebud Valley. Two of his sons grew to manhood.  Both of them got our kind of education in the advanced Indian schools. But both of them died -- of tuberculosis, of course. Porcupine himself passed on into the Unknown land in 1929, at the age of 81 years... Nobility of character is an inherent trait, not a quality conferred by college degree. Long ago -- before we had colleges, before we had books, before we had even an alphabet -- there were gentlemen among mankind.  The Messiah Preacher was of such breed “ (1928:136).

Cheyennes of Montana includes fourteen other chapters, five of which -- “Iron Teeth,”  “A Cheyenne Old Man, or Sun Bear,”  “James Tangled Yellow Hair,”  “Oscar Good Shot,  or Hastings,”  and “Jules Chaudel “-- were published 1n 1973 as “Cheyenne and Sioux: Reminiscences of Four Indians and One White Soldier.”  Topical chapters include “The Messiah Preacher,”  “The Sacred Tepee,”  “The Medicine Men,” “ Indian Ways,” “Domestic Relations,”  “Amusements,” “Food Habits,”  “Health and Disease,” “When Death Comes,”  and “Civilizing Influences” -- in all a valuable ethnography of Northern Cheyenne life in the 1920s. The appendix “Custer Battle Cheyennes” is of special interest to Indian Wars scholars. Much of this material appeared initially in the Billings Gazette, for which Marquis wrote numerous articles beginning  in 1927, which began syndication by 1933.


Ethnogenesis is the assumption of a new collective identity  by  the component members of a newly-formed group; and ethnogenesis is what happened  among Cheyenne bands in the Black Hills sometime before 1800. It was also happening in the 13 colonies of the United States! At roughly the time  when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were holding sway at the Continental Congress, the Cheyenne  tribal prophet Sweet Medicine arose at Bear Butte to unite newly-mounted but scattered Cheyenne bands into a tribe or nation. Among such equestrian Plains cultures, “Tribal” organization (see below) -- with an overall authority structure governing each component group -- was lacking. The Cheyennes, far fewer than the total Sioux in number (but probably about the same as one typical Lakota division, eg. Oglala) were advantaged by the fact of  this extraordinary happening. Sweet Medicine is believed to have brought four Sacred Arrows and a related group of laws by which the people were to live -- in which homicide within the tribe was designated both a crime and a sin, punishable by exile of the murderer across “four ridges or four rivers.”  It was believed that such a homicide stained the Arrows with the blood of the victim, its putrefaction driving away the game, so that the people would starve if the Arrows were not ceremonially renewed and the  guilty party banished. The Arrows, now based with the Southern Cheyennes in Oklahoma, have continued to play a major role at such critical times to this day.

From this situation  arose a spiritual unity which in a second  “Revolutionary” analogy, one could argue, made the Cheyennes “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of Their Countrymen.” They were first in war, at any rate.  John Moore reminds us that in all of the 21 U.S. Indian battles from 1837 to 1891 in which ten or more US soldiers were killed, The Cheyennes were antagonists in 9 of these, or almost half  -- among all US tribes combined! (Moore 1996: 103 ; see also Stands In Timber and Liberty 1998:xv for a chronological list of the 30 or so most important Cheyenne engagements out of 50 or so.) “No wonder General Frederick Benteen described the Cheyenne as “Good shots, good riders, and the best fighters the sun ever shone on.”  Stanley Vestal in Grinnell 1956: v111.)

Nothing comparable to this synthesis of the ethnogenesis process ever happened definitively among any of the Sioux bands, the Crows, the Arapahoes, or other of the typical buffalo-hunting equestrian Plains “tribes”. “Tribe” is a term which is by now ubiquitous, if seldom defined or analyzed. I am not objecting to this modern usage  -- “Tribal” is often more acceptable today than “Indian” or "Native American.”  But “tribe” as used here means  a group sharing language, culture  and territory plus some form of centralized  authority. And this, because of the centripetal force of the Sacred Arrows, the Cheyennes possessed  (see Fried , The Concept of Tribe, 1975.)

In bringing the Arrows and their associated laws to the people, the Cheyenne culture hero Sweet Medicine -- “probably a real person and a political genius”  -- created  something unique  (Moore 1987). The Sweet Medicine story is told in detail elsewhere and need not be repeated here. (Dorsey, The Cheyenne, I, 41-46, and Grinnell, The Cheyenne Indians, II, 348-81.) 

Some Cheyenne bands spent several generations along the Missouri River in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, near the more highly organized village tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) of that river. Here they raised corn and absorbed ideas of complex social stratification and ritual including the Mandan Okipa (Holder 1970; Wood 1971;  Liberty 2005). In contrast, “The Sioux" (a term applied to any of a dozen or more  loosely organized groups in three main divisions -- Dakota (Eastern, six or seven divisions), Nakota (Central, two divisions, Yankton and Yanktonnais), and Lakota (seven divisions as listed above) -- which split and recombined frequently -- moved directly from the eastern forests into the grasslands. The Cheyennes had particular ties with the Arickaras, with whom they traded intensively, and who also possessed mythological tales of supernatural arrows. (It seems likely that the stone points of the Arrows themselves are fashioned from the Knife River flint found adjacent to Arickara village sites.) And from their earlier home near the headwaters of the Mississippi, the Cheyennes-probably brought knowledge of the Midewiwin or Grand Medicine Society, which with elements of the Mandan Okipa probably laid the foundation for the Sun Dance (Liberty 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 2005.)  In fact it is likely that the Cheyennes and their allies the Arapahoes developed the prototype Sun Dance, which came to dominate plains ceremonialism, during their period in contact with the Arickara villages  (Anderson: 1956: 99, citing Leslie Spier 1921).

With their new system of ten tribal bands living independently for most of each year, the Cheyennes developed a formal system of 44 chiefs, four from each of these bands, and four higher or old man chiefs held over, including one who carried on his person a sacred  “Sweet Medicine” bundle. Unlike the six soldier societies, (Fox, Elk, Crazy Dog, Dog Soldier, Red Shield, Bowstring: Stands in Timber and Liberty 1967:58-72) which strengthened  increasingly as warfare escalated, and whose leaders were also known as “Chiefs” (eg., Two Moons).  The “Big Chiefs” or “Tribal Chiefs” (eg., Dull Knife and Little Wolf, although their leadership came after the years of actual tribal unity) were traditionally operative as tribal decision-makers only when the full tribe convened for ceremonies each year.  And for how many decades was this possible? Not very many. If one suggests 1800 as a workable early limit it may have lasted two generations, to perhaps 1853, which was the last time the tribe as a whole moved with the Sacred Arrows against an enemy. The  Cheyenne tribal structure crystallized by Sweet Medicine at Bear Butte rapidly fell prey to centrifugal forces once they were out in the plains  and subjected to epidemics, settler invasion,  and increasing warfare.

The following dates are critical: In the 1820s came beginning separation according to George Bent  (Lottinville 1970); in 1833 came the  building of Bent’s Fort and increasing North-South division and southern migration following the marriage of trader William Bent into the tribe; in 1838 came the last old time camp circle, according to Bent; in 1849, a devastating cholera epidemic which destroyed several bands; in 1853, the last move of the Arrows against an enemy; in 1864 three Southern  bands decimated at Sand Creek; in 1865 the last union of Northern and Southern warriors  in retaliation raids after Sand Creek. Curiously, the same decade which  saw the  fracturing of overall Cheyenne unity nearly saw  the  fracturing of “The Union” of the United States in the Civil War. And it was only after the Civil War that the full weight of US military power was brought to bear upon the Indians of the Plains.

What was going on elsewhere?  And why were the Cheyennes, if so unusual, all but invisible in the Northern Plains in the first half of the 19th century?

For one thing, they lived in generally relatively small, scattered groups for most of the year. Here concerning general band level existence, we can look back at  thousands of years of human life in the Plains before the arrival of horses, because it did not change that greatly until horses came. Plains archeologists can show how ecological pressures came to bear:

“Seasonal changes dominate life on the plains.  Animal behavior changes seasonally and has to be understood.  Wild plant foods, whether seeds berries fruits leaves roots tubers or blossoms -- appear and disappear rapidly, and careful scheduling of group movements in response to their periods of availability was necessary. Late spring through early fall is a time of food abundance, easy travel and relative comfort. Late fall thru early spring is a time of rapid and unpredictable changes in weather and the availability of food, blizzards followed by prolonged periods of subzero weather inhibited normal food procurement, and survival required some food storage...There is little if any evidence to suggest changes in the complexity of the societal structure of human groups during the 6500 years that Archaic cultures occupied the Northwestern and Northern Plains. The distribution of resources called for continual aggregation and fragmentation of the groups in response to the availability of food, so the band was the highest level of integration reached.  There is no evidence to indicate the amalgamation of bands with any (even) temporary authority to organize economic activities or meet the threat of outside aggression, as seen in tribal settings...Even the (late) bison kills  that used corrals and religious structures  probably did not involve a group of more than 100 persons for the short time needed for killing and processing the animals. The band apparently fragmented into small groups soon afterward."(Frison 1998:  pp 140-172)

“Band level” social structure had thus existed for all Plains-dwelling human beings far back into six or more  millennia of human life  before horses,  and  few groups rose above it in historic times.  Formal tribal mechanisms -- chiefs and councils, soldier societies, and major ceremonials like the Sun Dance -- depended on the increased food supply  made possible by guns and horses in the climax equestrian cultures which lasted barely a century.  Jeffrey Hanson compares the three groups of primary High Plains cultures  (Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Crows) with those of  the  Northwestern Plains  (Blackfeet and Wind River Shoshone); the Northeastern Plains (Lakotas/Dakotas, Assiniboines, Plains Ojibway and Plains Crees); the  Southwestern Plains (Comanche, Utes, Kiowas); and Apachean (Kiowa-Apaches, Jicarillas, Lipans), and  concludes  that most were not “tribes” at all until very late in the game,  if then. Among the Sioux in particular, there was no overall tribal or pan-tribal integration, despite the romantic “Seven Council Fires” supposedly uniting the seven divisions of the Lakota (Hanson  1998  Raymond J.  DeMallie,    personal communication, 2/00).

“There was no Sioux Nation although the Europeans tried assiduously to so characterize these groups  They were little better than loose aggregates of more or less closely related family groups (Holder 1970: 97-101).

So who participated in all the councils  of “chiefs” with US military leaders during the Indian Wars? For the most part, these were informal band representatives who were never authorized to deal for the totality of their people. Thus we have many historical events in which “Take me to your leader”  (or bring him to the Fort for council) became a sad travesty. No such actual leaders existed until the “paper chiefs” authorized by Whites began to gain actual power -- a time which differed greatly from tribe to tribe.

Cheyenne treaties with the United States present a spotty record, in which the tribe as a whole never concurred. The first treaty with Cheyennes in 1825, the Friendship Treaty,  was signed by representatives of  just one band.  The 1861 Treaty of Fort Wise ( a source of ongoing trouble -- Bent in Lottinville 1970: 118)  and  the 1865 Treaty of the Little Arkansas  were signed by Southerners only.  The Treaty  of 1866  was signed by Dull Knife (Morning Star) for the Northerners, but this was soon nullified by government deceit and trickery  concerning the  Bozeman Trail. The 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty included separate versions for Northerners and Southerners and was signed by Southern Cheyennes but not in the north, where Red Cloud’s War was in full cry. The Treaty of 1868 which closed the Bozeman Trail  and gave Cheyennes and Sioux as unceded hunting territory everything between the Missouri and the Big Horn Mountains -- including the Black Hills -- was signed by  Northerners but quickly nullified by the intrusion of miners into the Black Hills.  George Bent says that in 1873 in Washington, Northern Cheyenne chiefs including Little Wolf were told that by signing this 1868 treaty they had agreed  to go South at a later time to join the Southerners -- thus their  enforced transfer after surrender in 1877 (Bent in Lottinville 1968: 11) and the ensuing Northern Cheyenne outbreak from Oklahoma in 1878   (Grinnell 1956: 263-276;  Weist  1977: 39 -77;  Moore 1996: 99-101; Schvinden 1993: 5-7).

“There was much smouldering discontent among the Sioux and Cheyennes based upon our failure to observe the stipulations of the treaty made in 1867, which guaranteed to them an immense strip of country, extending, either as a reservation or a hunting ground, clear to the Big Horn Mountains.  By that treaty they had been promised one school for every thirty children, but no school had yet been established." (Bourke 1981: 242)

"It was never a matter of surprise to me that the Cheyennes, whose corn fields were once upon the Belle Fourche, the stream which runs around the hills on the north side, should have become frenzied by the report that these lovely valleys would be taken away from them, whether they would or no...In the summer of 1876 the Government sent a commission of which Senator William B Allison of Iowa was chairman  and the late Major General Alfred  H. Terry was a member, to negotiate with the Sioux for the cession of the Black Hills, but neither Sioux nor Cheyennes were in the humor to negotiate...”  (Bourke 1981: 243)

Finally, what difference did their relatively high level of political  organization make to the Cheyennes and to history?  If there had been more time, with  its principles of unity and authority, Cheyenne government might have developed in a number of directions. Legal anthropologist E. Adamson Hoebel thought that their processes of dispute settlement and law ranked extremely highly for a preliterate people (Llewellyn and Hoebel 1937, The Cheyenne Way.) Given a few more decades (and the absence of epidemics) some of the equestrian tribes, including the Cheyennes, might well have conquered and incorporated the Missouri River villages (Hoebel 1963).  As it was, the unifying Cheyenne social structure with its grounding in sacred sanctions (supernatural punishments for particular offenses, especially intratribal homicide)  gave a powerful sense of moral authority to the people as a whole. Also fundamental was the far-reaching power and completeness of their ceremonies  -- the Massaum or Animal Dance, the Sun Dance, and ceremonies for the Sacred Arrows and the Sacred Medicine Hat (Hoebel 1960). This  was  evident to their allies and associates -- even to white adversaries; and will be summed up  in Conclusions, below.

Robert Utley has pointed out that if early 19th century Cheyenne presence in the Powder River country  (the Bighorn, Tongue, and Powder River drainages south of the Yellowstone) was permanent, it should have been more clearly recorded by trappers and traders; and that if other Indians thought the Cheyennes were of primary importance in 1876, why have not more historians been better aware of this?  I think that the  answer to the latter is that very few historians until recently have  concerned themselves with the obscure perspectives and opinions of the defeated.

The answer to the  first  is more complicated,  but it rests upon major  confusion of terminology -- and that the Cheyennes between 1600 and 1775, not yet organized as a tribe (but neither were any of the others) went by a number of confusing names in  various languages. For example, six of these were   reported by Lewis and Clark in 1805: “Cheyenne,” (sic),  “Sheo,” “Staetan ,” “Wetapehato,”  “Nimousin” and  “Dotame."  Most of these eventually became parts of the Southern Cheyenne tribal division. The two Northern groups,  the Omissis and Suhtai (although there were Southern Suhtais as well) remained in the north, where they gained higher band numbers because of better Northern hunting and grass. 

John Moore  has devoted an entire book (1987) to the analysis of all this. He says that  three small  Cheyenne-speaking hunting/gathering bands near the headwaters of the Mississippi River had diverged from a proto -- Cheyenne (Algonquian) linguistic base, and then subdivided.  These three early groups were the Chienaton, Chongasketon, and Oudebaton. They were reported by a number of sources   beginning in 1682 (Anonymous Newberry Library source, 1682; Coronelli 1695; Franquelin, 1697;  Hennepin, 1698;  de Fer, 1705; Verendrye 1743; Carver 1766; Moll 1790; Trudeau 1796; Perrin du Lac  1802; and Loisel 1803) -- (Moore 1987:80, 123). Other names used in these sources included Ous (or Oisa) de Batons, Gens de Riviere, Nation du Chien, Chaienatpon, Nation de Tracy, Nation des hommes Forts,and Tsistsistas or Gens du Flesches Collees, with additional translations and variant spellings.  Tsistsistas is the Cheyenne name for themselves as usually given  --  “Cheyenne” derives from a Sioux word “Sha-hi-ena,” people who speak a strange language  (Bent in Lottinville 1970).

The six named  groups  reported by Lewis and Clark in 1805 -- Cheyenne, (sic), Sheo, Staetan,  Wetapehato, Nimousin, and Dotame -- can be traced back to the Chienaton, Chongasketon,and Oudebaton, respectively; and projected forward into the ten bands which made up the historic camp circle.  

The three”  Protobands” had evolved as follows:  

1)  From the original Chianeton foundation band came Lewis and Clark’s “Chyennes”  and “Sheo.”  The “Sheo”  became the historic Masikota band. From the “Chyennes” were derived the later tribal bands (ca. 1830) called the Heviksnipahis and the Hevhaitaneo.

2)  From the original Chongasketon came Lewis and Clark’s “Staetan”, which became the Suhtai, the well known late-joining tribal division sharing the North with  the Omissis; and perhaps the Wotapio (“Staetan”  probably came from  “Suhtai Hetan,” or “I am a Suhtai man.”)  

3) From the original Oudebaton foundation band  were derived Lewis and Clark’s last three  -- The  “Wetepahato, became Wotapio; the Nimousin became Omisis (the band which became the Northern Cheyennes, in conjunction with the Suhtai), and the Dotame, which became the Totoimana.  

Mile-wide camp circles of hundreds of tepees at the time of summer tribal gatherings made a big impression on visitors to the Plains. The Cheyenne camp circle was among the most spectacular. The people camped by band membership in specifically assigned locations. Its last occurrence was probably in 1853, with partial reconvening in 1865 prior to the raids in revenge for Sand Creek in 1864. However, severe casualties had been suffered from Sand Creek and the 1849 cholera epidemic by that time. 

The ten traditional bands were, beginning from the left “doorway” position of the camp circle opening to the east:

1) Eaters, Omissis; always in the North, where better grass and water allowed for larger more continuous camps.

2) Burnt Aorta, Heviqsnipahis; associated with Tsistsistas or Arrow People and often carriers of the Sacred Arrow Bundle.

3) Hair Rope Men, Hevhaitanui -- heavy 1849 cholera losses and half its survivors under Yellow Wolf killed in 1864 at Sand Creek.

4) Scabby, Ovimana;  War Bonnet’s band, lost half at Sand Creek.

5) Ridge Men, Isiometannui; associated with Southern Suhtais under White Antelope lost heavily at Sand Creek. 

6) Prognathous Jaws, Oktouna; heavy 1849 cholera losses.

7) Poor, Haunowa.

8) Masikota -- heavy 1849 cholera losses, merged with Hotamitanui or Dog Soldiers, not present at 1864 Sand Creek; important at Summit Springs, 1869.

9) Suhtai; most in the North but some in the South.

10) Those Who Eat With The Sioux, Wutapiu under Black Kettle, heavy losses at Sand Creek.

Thus  only  remnants remained of most of the ten bands after the 1849 cholera epidemic and the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre  -- the great camp circle in any remnant was gone after 1865. (Hoebel 1960: 31-32; Bent in Lottinville  1970: 33, 96-97; 159-162; Moore 1987: 229-250)

“The Cheyenne and Arapaho  each became divided into two tribes; the Southern Cheyennes and Southern Arapahoes moved south of the Platte to live, while the Northern Cheyennes and Northern Arapahoes remained in the old country north of the Platte." (Bent in Lottinville 1970: 33) The Sacred Arrows, carried by the Heviksnipahis, were kept in the area of the Upper Platte between 1800 and 1850, “Which made sense geographically since this was a central location for all bands and convenient for the performance of the annual ceremonies.” (Moore  1987: 236)

Each of the ten  historic bands provided four chiefs to the chiefs’ Council of Forty Four (four were held over in senior positions of  honor). By 1865 the southerners scarcely recognized their wild northern brethren, whom few had seen for two generations -- and who seemed to them to be turning into Sioux!   (Bent in Lottinville 1970: 195-197)  Here might be another case of potential ethnogenesis in the fusion of Oglala and Northern Cheyenne, who often intermarried, and perhaps eventually might have included other bands of the Lakota (such as the Minneconjou) as well. 

“The Sioux and the Cheyennes hunted together and fought together, and they maintained a relationship intimate enough to  allow the Lakotas to consider the Cheyennes Lakota.  This affinity, however, existed mainly between the Cheyennes and the Minneconjous and Oglalas. ‘We never had associated closely with the Uncpapas,’ the Cheyenne Wooden Leg recalled. ‘They were almost strangers to us. We knew of them only by hearsay from the Oglalas and the Minneconjou..."  (Utley  1993: 122-123)

However, a major Uncpapa-Cheyenne ceremonial alliance beginning by 1875 would seem to question Woodenlegs’ opinion.

The 1875 Sun Dance

And this brings us to one of the more remarkable developments in the  Marquis story, because Marquis was the first to establish the remarkable nature of the Cheyenne-Lakota alliance of 1876. Nothing is better known than the story of “Sitting Bull’s Sun Dance” in 1876, when he had the extraordinary vision of soldiers falling upside down into his camp.   But this was preceded by another intertribal medicine lodge  or Sun Dance in 1875! Among camps of the Hunkpapa, Oglala, Northern Cheyenne, Minneconjou, and Sans Arcs,  in close association with the Cheyenne holy man White Bull or Ice, an earlier spectacular revelation to Sitting Bull took place. With a  brilliantly painted horse which had been given to him by White Bull, Sitting Bull entered the lodge and danced, the horse seeming to dance with him. At the climactic moment, "Sitting Bull intoned, 'The Great Spirit has given our enemies to us. We are to destroy them. We do not know who they are. They may be soldiers.'  Ice too observed, 'No  one then knew who the enemy  were -- of what tribe.'...They were soon to find out."  (Utley  1992: 122-24)

This bonding with Sitting Bull’s Uncpapas was premonitory of Cheyenne calls to them for assistance the following spring. Marquis details their consternation after Reynolds’ March 17, 1876 attack, in the knowledge that they could not stand off further soldier attacks alone. They went to the Oglalas for help, and then to the Unkpapas. The  Marquis account is quoted in detail below:

After the March 17 fight -- “The routed Cheyennes -- families of men, women and children -- trudged afoot three or four days northeastward to the camp of the Oglalla Sioux where Crazy Horse was the leading chief. The Oglalas fed and sheltered the Cheyenne refugees. The old men of the two tribal bands counseled concerning what they deemed an unwarranted attack by white men soldiers. The Cheyennes were considered as the people wronged. They stated the case about thus:  'The whites have declared war upon the Cheyennes. Their soldiers attacked us. We are but few in number so we ask our friends, the Oglalas, to help us.' The Crazy Horse Oglalas decided, 'Yes. we will help you.' But the two bands agreed they would seek the help of the Uncpapas, led by Sitting Bull who just then was camped about a three day journey farther northeastward.  So the Cheyennes and the Oglalas set out to solicit the aid of the Uncpapas."

“At the Uncpapa camp the old men of the three tribal bands spent three days in counseling over the matter. Sitting Bull, according to the Indian version of his attitude, was at all times an advocate of peace, -- that is, he ever was urging his followers to keep away from the whites, so there could be no occasion for conflict. But in this instance where the Cheyenne appealed to him for help, his ordinary peaceful course was modified. Although he and his followers decided not themselves to declare war against the whites, a binding friendship with the Cheyennes, and his would imply fighting support if needed.  It was agreed that the three tribal bands should travel together...thus better to protect the Cheyennes...The   arrangement was that the Cheyennes, being the people at war with the whites, should travel at all times at the head of the procession of combined Indian bands. Their first friends, the Oglalas, should travel second in the movement formation. The Uncpapas, not desiring to make war, but consenting to lend whatever aid the other might need, should be last in the marching column."

“The three tribal bands moved in this form to the northwestward and then to the westward.  On the way they were joined by Lame Deer’s Minneconjou Sioux, as additional helpers for the Cheyennes. Then came a band from the Sans Arc Sioux and another from the Blackfeet Sioux."

“In fact, what we regard as the Sioux War of 1876 was, as viewed by the Indians themselves, a war by the whites against the Cheyennes. The Sioux were participants chiefly as allies.”

“The Custer detachment of his regiment happened to approach the Cheyenne end of the long group of camps when the attack was made...This major phase of the battle that day was therefore regarded by all of the Indians there as an encounter wherein the Cheyennes were the special leading combatants for the Indian side. The greatly exceeding number of Sioux warriors who also took part in this particular fight were considered as simply assisting the Cheyennes." (Marquis 1933: 3-4; 1967: 22)

If there had been no 1875 Sun Dance with its spiritual bonding of Cheyenne and Uncpapa, to be continued into 1876, the strong Uncpapa camp might well have chosen to refuse the Cheyenne invitation to join and support them and the Oglalas that summer. The drawing power for other Lakota bands would have been less without Sitting Bull.  And different battle outcomes that summer might have resulted.

A final factor was at work that summer.  A profound spiritual power, engendering  a kind of moral authority, motivated the Cheyennes, and this was sensed by members of other tribes. As stated by Hoebel, in a comparison of Cheyenne with Comanche and Kiowa law-ways, "The Cheyennes...were militaristic. They too fought for booty and pleasure; the war cult was wholly theirs. But somewhere in their background, deep in their Algonkian heritage, was a tradition that gave them a sense of form, a feel for structured order, a maturity of emotion and action...The Cheyennes possessed a ritualized tribal government. They had a well-developed system of military societies. In the Sun Dance, Animal Dance and Sacred Arrow Renewal ceremonies they possessed tribal rituals that served to possess their consciousness of being one people. In the performance of these great ceremonies they also enjoyed a common emotional experience that built a bond of common tribal loyalty." (Hoebel  1961:129)

This spiritual value system and strength was sensed by others. It must have been sensed by Sitting Bull in his 1875 ceremonial association with the Cheyenne White Bull or Ice. After Sitting Bull’s second Sun Dance on the Rosebud in June 1876 prior to the Custer fight, White Bull was again with Sitting Bull in November, thus personally escaping the devastation of Mackenzie’s attack on Dull Knife’s village on Powder River November 26 (Grinnell 1956: 346, 377, 383). Concerning their earlier bonding with the Arapahoes, Clark Wissler said of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, “These two Algonkin tribes performed the famous Sun Dance in what seems to be its most complete form, so if they did not originate the ceremony they are, at least, the people who gave it its most conspicuous stage setting.  In many other respects they are the elite of the horse Indians, especially in all that has to do with ceremonies.” (Wissler 1967: 109)

Such spiritual authority continues among traditionalists today (Liberty 1960. 1965; 1968; 1970). Contemporary Cheyennes are  often approached  by members of other tribes who ask about the scheduling of this year’s ceremonies. And an elderly Sacred Hat Keeper said to me in 1959, “The Military chose us to be Keepers though we were both old and not too well to do the work -- we thought we would go ahead and people would help us take care of the tepee.  Since we had it we never missed a day  talking to our God, asking health not only for us but the tribe and the people outside... No one will live forever...(but)...we plan to keep it up as long as we can." (*Military society members chose him and his wife.) Cheyenne ceremonial authority and power remains fundamental to the people’s way of life.

Back for a moment, to Bourke, who was impressed more by the Cheyennes than by any other Plains tribe: He found them handsome, “comparing favorably in appearance with any other people I’ve seen. In general character the Cheyennes are extremely fierce, cruel, skilled in battle, unequalled in horsemanship, precise as marksmen. From my acquaintance with them at Red Cloud agency in 1877, and my service against them, I formed a very high opinion of their general character, and always found them truthful and to be relied upon.”  (Porter 1986 :60)


The concept of  “Cheyenne Primacy” (my phrase), as  seen by the Indians, not the Army, might have been Marquis’ own invention.  But he argues for it tellingly.  He would have the other Indians -- primarily the Sioux -- say, (in my paraphrased projected quote):

“We don’t know what the Cheyennes did to make the soldiers so mad at them.  It must have been pretty bad!  Why were they always attacking them and destroying the Cheyenne camps? (eg. Platte Bridge and  Grand Island, 1856; Solomon River, 1857; Republican Fork and Sand Creek 1864; Washita 1868; Summit Springs, 1869; Reynolds fight and Mackenzie fight, 1876). But they are our friends and relatives and our spiritual  brethren, and they had been attacked and were the ones at war, so we agreed to help them  and we asked them to go in the lead place of honor. And we stuck up for them."   


Adjutant General’s Office 1979  Chronological List of Actions with Indians, Etc.,  from  January 15, 1837 to  January, 1891. The Old Army Press.      
Anderson, Robert  1956   "The Buffalo Men, A Cheyenne Ceremony of Petition Deriving from the Sutaio."  Southwestern Journal of Anthropology:12:92-104.
Bourke John G. 1971  On the Border With Crook  Lincoln, U of Nebraska Press. Originally published 1891.
Dorsey, G.A. 1905  The Cheyenne.  Chicago, Field Museum Anthropological Series, 2 vols.    
Fried, Morton  H. 1975 The Notion of Tribe. Menlo Park, Cummings Publishing Co.
George C. Frison  1998  "The Northwestern and Northern Plains Archaic" pp 140-172  in Wood, ed. 1998
Jeffrey Hanson 1998 "The Late High Plains Hunters", p 456-480  in  Wood, ed. 1998  Archeology on the Great Plains.  
Greene, Jerome A.  Ed. 1993 Battles and Skirmishes of the Great Sioux War, 1876-1877: The Military View.  Norman, U of Oklahoma Press.
-- 1994 Lakota and Cheyenne: Indian Views of the Great Sioux War, 1876-1877. Norman, U of Oklahoma Press.
George Bird Grinnell 1956 The Fighting Cheyennes.  1915 Charles Scribners Sons  Norman, University of Oklahoma Press.
-- 1962 The Cheyenne Indians. 2 volumes. Second Edition,  New York, Cooper Square. Originally published in 1923.   
Hedren, Paul L.  Ed.  1991 The Great Sioux War 1886-1887: The Best from Montana The Magazine of Western History. Helena, Montana Historical Society Press.
--1996  Traveler's Guide to the Great Sioux War: The Battlefields, Forts, and Related Sites of America’s Greatest Indian War  Helena,. Montana Historical Society Press.
-- Ft Laramie and the Great Sioux War. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press.
Hoebel, E. Adamson Anthropology:  1972  The Study of Man. Fourth Edition.  1972  New York, McGraw-Hill. Cf.  chapters  Law and the Social Order and Political Organization and Politics, pp. 500-538.
-- 1960 The Cheyennes: Indians of the Great Plains. New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

-- 1961 The Law of Primitive Man: A Study in Comparative Legal Dynamics. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

-- 1963-65  Class  Lectures, University of Minnesota.


Holder, Preston 1970  The Hoe and the Horse on the Plains: A Study of Cultural Development Among North American Indians.  Lincoln, U of Nebraska Press.  
Liberty, Margot 1959  Notes on interview with Henry Little Coyote, July 1959. In author’s possession.
-- 1965 "Suppression and Survival of the Northern Cheyenne Sun Dance". Minnesota Archeologist 27:120-143.

-- 1967 "Narrative Account of the 1959 Sun Dance and Opening of the Sacred Medicine Hat". Plains Anthropologist 12:367-68.

-- 1968  "Priest’s Account of the Northern Cheyenne Sun Dance". University of South Dakota Museum news 29:(1,2) 1-32.
 --  1970  "Priest and Shaman in the Plains: A False Dichotomy". Plains Anthropologist xv: 73-80.

1980  "The Sun Dance".  Pp 179-196 in Wood, W. Raymond and Margot Liberty, editors, Anthropology on the Great Plains. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press.
  -- 1997 "Oral and Written Indian Perspectives on the Indian Wars". PP. 125-138 in Rankin, ed., Legacy: New Perspectives on the Battle of the Little Bighorn
  -- 2005  "From Earthlodge to Medicine Lodge? Probable Cheyenne Origins of the Sun Dance". Pp. 75-82  In Donna C. Roper and Elizabeth B. Pauls, editors, Plains Earthlodges: Ethnographic and Archeological Perspectives. Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press. 
  -- 2006 A Northern Cheyenne Album: Photographs of Thomas B. Marquis, With Commentary by John Woodenlegs. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press.
K. N. Llewellyn and A. Hoebel 1937 The Cheyenne Way: Conflict and Case Law in Primitive Jurisprudence. Norman, U of Oklahoma Press.
Savoie, Lottinville, Ed. 1968 A Life of George Bent Written from His Letters by George E. Hyde Norman, U of Oklahoma Press.

Marquis, Thomas Bailey

 -- 1928 Memoirs of a White Crow Indian (Thomas LaForge). The Century Company. Reprint 1974  University of Nebraska Press.
 -- 1957 (1931) Wooden Leg:  A Warrior Who Fought Custer. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press.
 -- 1967 (1933-1934) Custer on the Little Bighorn. Anna Rose Octavia Heil, ed. 5th printing. Lodi, Calif.: End-Kian Publishing Company. Republication in book form of pamphlet series originally published Scottsdale, Ariz: Cactus Pony. 
 -- 1933a. "She watched Custer’s Last Battle: Her story", Interpreted in 1927 (1967 section VI.)
-- 1933b. "Sketch Story of the Custer Battle: A Clashing of Red and Blue". (1967 Section I.)
 -- 1933c. 'Which Indian Killed Custer?" (1967 Section III), and Custer Soldiers Not Buried (1967 Section V.)
 -- 1934a. "Rain-in-the-Face and Curley, the Crow"  (1967 Sections IV and VIII.)
 -- 1934b. "Sitting Bull and Gall, the Warrior" (1967 Section VII.)
 -- 1934c. "Two Days After the Custer Battle: A Clashing of Red and Blue as Viewed by a Gibbon Soldier" (1967 Section II.)
 -- 1973  "Cheyennes and Sioux: Reminiscences of Four Indians and One White Soldier". Articles reprinted in Marquis 1978, Cheyennes of Montana.
 -- 1976  Keep the Last Bullet for Yourself: The True Story of Custer’s Last Stand. Introduction by Joseph Medicine Crow. Algonac, Michigan: Reference Publications. 
 -- 1978  The Cheyennes of Montana. Thomas B. Weist, ed. Algonac, Michigan: Reference Publications.

John H. Moore  1987 The Cheyenne Nation: A Social and Demographic History. Lincoln, U of Nebraska Press.
 -- 1996  The Cheyenne.  Cambridge,  Blackwell Publishers.
Porter, Joseph C. 1986  Paper Medicine Man: John Gregory Bourke and His American West.  Norman, U of Oklahoma Press.
Frank Rzeczkowski 1999  "Intertribal Relations and the Bozeman Trail: A Catalyst for Change". Manuscript of a paper delivered at the Bozeman Trail Heritage Conference, Bozeman, Montana, July 28-August 1.
Stands In Timber and  Liberty  1998  (1967.)  Cheyenne Memories. Second Edition. New Haven, Yale University Press, Originally published in 1967. 
Svingen, Orlan J. 1993 The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, 1877-1900. Niwot, University of Colorado Press. 


Utley, Robert 1993 The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull.  New York, Henry Holt and Company.
 -- 1999 The Bozeman trail Before John Bozeman: A Busy Land. Keynote Address, Bozeman Trail Heritage Conference, Bozeman, MT. July 28-31, 1999.


Viola, Herman J. 1999 Little Bighorn Remembered:The Untold Story of Custer’s Last Stand. New York, Random House (Times Books).
Weist, Thomas B. 1977 A History of the Cheyenne People. Billings, Montana: Montana Council for Indian Education. 
 -- 1978 Editor, Cheyennes of Montana by Thomas B. Marquis.  
 -- 1978 Editor’s Introduction. Pp.  9-22 in Weist, ed., Cheyennes of Montana.
 -- 1978 Thomas B. Marquis Pp. 23-49 in Weist, ed., Cheyennes of Montana.
Wissler, Clark 1950 The American Indian. Reprint of 3rd edition. New York.

-- 1967  Indians of the United States. Revised edition, revisions prepared by Lucy Wales Kluckhohn. New York, Doubleday, Anchor Books.

Wood, W Raymond  1971: "Biesterfeldt, A Post Contact Coalescent Site on the Northeastern Plains". Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology No. 15,  Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
 -- Editor, 1998  Archeology On the Great Plains. Lawrence, University of  Kansas Press.

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