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Lewis and Clark
SHOWING RECORD: 14 of 20   Cheyenne Indians
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image: Cheyenne Indians
Photograph by Edward S. Curtis/Corbis
Cheyenne Indians

First Noted by Expedition
While wintering at Fort Mandan, November 1804 to April 1805

The Corps had various encounters with the Cheyenne throughout the long winter at Fort Mandan. When they passed back through the Mandan villages in 1806, Lewis and Clark again met with the Cheyenne leader in an attempt to get a grasp on the tenuous alliances they sought between the Plains tribes.

Like most of the tribes Lewis and Clark encountered during the first year of their journey, the Cheyenne played an important role in trade along the Missouri River. Every August and September about 1,500 Plains Indians would gather to trade, although the Corps just missed this trade fair. As nomadic hunters, the Cheyenne were dependent on other tribes for corn. In return, other tribes desired the quillwork clothing the Cheyenne beautifully decorated and the horses they herded.

Originally the Cheyenne were sedentary farmers. Tribal conflicts with the Sioux and Chippewa in Minnesota had driven them westward, and they finally settled along the Cheyenne River sometime in the 17th century.

When the Cheyenne received their first horses in the mid-1700s, they became more nomadic, eventually abandoning their farms.

By 1830, the Cheyenne tribe had split into two bands—the Northern and the Southern Cheyenne. The Northern Cheyenne participated in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 and were temporarily relocated to Oklahoma in 1877.

Most of the Northern Cheyenne (about 12,000 people according to the 1990 census) now reside on tribal land in southeastern Montana, where they lease mineral rights to outside interests.

From the Expedition Journals

"the Chyenne Chief envited us to his Lodge. ...which was new and much larger than any which I have Seen it was made of 20 dressed Buffalow Skins. ..."

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