Holding Stone Hands: On the Trail of the Cheyenne Exodus

Holding Stone Hands: On the Trail of the Cheyenne Exodus

Holding Stone Hands: On the Trail of the Cheyenne Exodus

Holding Stone Hands: On the Trail of the Cheyenne Exodus

Synopsis

In 1878 approximately three hundred Northern Cheyennes under the leadership of Dull Knife and Little Wolf fled shameful conditions on an Indian Territory reservation in present-day Oklahoma. Settled there against their will, they were making a peaceful attempt to return to their homeland in the Tongue River country of Montana. Despite earlier promises that the Cheyennes could choose to leave the reservation, government officials declared them renegades and sent thousands of soldiers in pursuit. In 1995 Alan Boye set out on foot to follow Dull Knife's thousand-mile flight through the sparsely populated wilderness of America's high plains. Along the way he was joined by descendents of Dull Knife. Holding Stone Hands is the tale of two journeys. Boye provides a vivid, moving account of the Cheyenne's struggle to return to Montana. At the same time, he details the trek he and his Cheyenne companions made through four states and his growing understanding of why the Cheyenne's longing for their homeland was stronger than their desire to live.

Excerpt

The camp was moving at night.

The story catchers could not weave their stories, and there would be no waiting while they lit their pipes, glanced about the circle, and said, “I will tie another story to the one just told,” and begin anew, story after glorious story, on and on again until the dawn light came pink on the east.

The camp was moving at night.

There would be no great circle of lodges to be set up, no callers to go out inviting guests to feasts, no stick games for the warriors, no bead games for the women, no sweat lodge, no sacrifice ceremonies, and no sleep, for the camp was moving at night.

They were moving north, back to a place that no longer existed. Exiled from a homeland others now called Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana. Escapees from a refugee camp known as Indian Territory. Oklahoma.

American refugees.

At the moment of night’s deepest darkness, on the knife edge of the turning of an age, the passing of an era, approximately three hundred Northern Cheyenne slipped so silently away from their standing tepees that one hundred soldiers, camped nearby and positioned to prevent their escape out of Indian Territory, continued to sleep unaware. It was September 9, 1878. They were leaving the bad place; they were going back home.

The fabric of that story, and of stories since, are tied here together so that - despite everything–we might know it remains a single tale we hear.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.