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Cheyenne Essay

1634 words - 7 pages

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The Cheyenne's had a tumultuous time maintaining their land with others including the Pawnee at the first part of the nineteenth century. By 1780 the Cheyenne had acquired horses for both hunting and war. In 1840 the Cheyenne made permanent peace with the Comanche and the Kiowa to consolidate against the Pawnee. They also liked the idea of trading for horses with their new allies. The second third of the nineteenth century brought a period of stabilization of Cheyenne movements and military arrangements. In the north, the Cheyenne arranged a peace and alliance with the Sioux, who were willing now to join them in pressing the Crows and Shoshones against the mountains. In the beginning the Cheyenne's were never in direct conflict with the Whites. Settlers had not yet begun to penetrate the western plains, and trade was definitely welcome. However the victory that the United States had over Mexico in 1846 resulted in the gain of New Mexico, Arizona, and California to the United States. The Sant� Fe trail had become an important center for North Americans. The trail ran directly through the hunting territories of the Cheyenne. To add to this penetration into the Cheyenne was the discovery of gold in California. This opened the flood gates to the 49's. Much more Cheyenne would lose their lives and land with the coming of the Whites.

The Cheyenne had a signature way of organizing their tipis. Eight hundred to a thousand tipis are raised in a great open circle, in the form of a crescent moon. Each family's tipi would face east to catch the morning sun's rays. A small lodge requires eleven buffalo cowhides, thinned and tanned. A big lodge takes as many as twenty-one. A woman does all the work on her lodge skins up to the point of the rope- or blade-softening process. For this last step she invites in her friends and relatives--one for each hide-and gives them a big feast. Each one is then given a hide to take home to finish, with a rawhide rope to use for the work. Meanwhile, she has to split and make quantities of thread from the buffalo sinews she has been hoarding. Her next chore is the preparation of another great feast, for the process of cutting and sewing the lodge is an all-day sewing-bee to which all her friends will bring the hides she has parceled out to them. At daybreak she must first seek out a woman known as an expert lodge maker, to whom she supplies paint and a cutting knife. Before the guests arrive, the lodge maker fits the pieces and marks them for cutting. The sewers subsequently arrive for breakfast and work all day long, with a meal in the afternoon and a supper at night-this last after the lodge has been raised and stretched on its foundation. For her pains, the expert lodge maker receives a small present.

Marriage, for the Cheyenne, is a formal and serious matter. The Cheyenne are sexually repressed, and have very strict notions of proper conduct, and are most sensitive to what...

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