Native American Photographs by Edward S. Curtis

Cheyenne Indians

Cheyenne Indian Photos by Edward S. Curtis

Tribal Summary

Dress

The Cheyenne wore the garments common to the tribes of the plains: hip leggings of deerskin or buffalo-skin; moccasins of buffalo-skin with rawhide soles; breech-cloth of calfskin worn with the hairy side out in summer and reversed in winter; on ceremonious occasions deerskin shirt decorated with paint, feathers, porcupine-quills, scalps; for ordinary wear buffalo-robe, which in many cases was ornamented with bands of porcupine-quills; in cold weather a broad head-band of calfskin.

The woman’s costume consisted of moccasins, knee-length leggings beaded and painted so as to indicate the husband’s war honors, and a dress made of two buffalo-skins or mountain-sheep skins. This garment was suspended from the shoulders by straps. At the bottom and sometimes at the sides it was bordered with rattlers made of deer-hoof, and the upper part was dotted with elk-teeth. Maidens used the protection-string.

Since about 1855 both sexes have worn the hair in the well-known fashion of the Sioux, parted in the middle and braided at the sides, and, in the case of men, with a small braid (the “scalp-lock”) at the crown. Formerly the hair was usually permitted to fall loosely and almost unkempt, but the men cut the forelock and curled it upward.

Dwellings

The Cheyenne retain no tradition of the houses of logs and earth which they doubtless used before emerging on the prairies. In the earliest times within the tribal recollection the tipi-covering was of buffalo-skins with the hairy side out, and not sewn permanently together, since they were transported by dogs. After horses were acquired the tipi became larger, requiring from ten to twenty-two poles and eighteen to twenty-two skins, which were dressed on both sides.

Food

Flesh and organs of the buffalo furnished the bulk of their food, but they ate practically every creature of sufficient size found in their habitat, excepting birds of prey and eaters of carrion. Many roots and berries were used.

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