The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life - Vol. 1

The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life - Vol. 1

The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life - Vol. 1

The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life - Vol. 1


The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Their Ways of Life is a classic ethnography, originally published in 1928, that grew out of George Bird Grinnell's long acquaintance with the Cheyennes. Volume I looks at the tribe's early history and migrations, customs, domestic life, social organization, hunting, amusements, and government. In a second volume, Grinnell would consider its warmaking and warrior societies, healing practices and responses to European diseases, religious beliefs and rituals, and legends and prophecies surrounding the culture hero Sweet Medicine.


My first meeting with the Cheyenne Indians was hostile, and after that, though often in the country of the Cheyennes, I never knew them until their wars were over.

My first visit to their camp was in 1890 when, at the invitation of my old schoolmate and friend, Lieut. Edward W. Casey, 22d Infantry, who had enlisted a troop of Cheyenne scouts, I visited him at Fort Keogh and made their acquaintance. Lieutenant Casey was killed in January, 1891, and his scouts were disbanded a little later.

From that time on, no year has passed without my seeing the Cheyennes in the North or in the South, or in both camps. I have been fortunate enough to have had, as interpreters in the North, William Rowland, who married into the tribe in the year 1850, and later his sons, James and Willis. In the South, Ben Clark helped me; and until his death in 1843 George Bent, an educated half-breed born at Bent's Old Fort in 1843, who lived his life with his people, was my friend and assistant. He was the son of Owl Woman and Col. William Bent, a man of excellent intelligence and of extraordinary memory.

After a few years' acquaintance, the Indians began to give me their confidence, and I have been able to some extent to penetrate into the secrets of their life. On the other hand, I am constantly impressed by the number of things about the Indians that I do not know.

In describing the life, the ways, and the beliefs of the Cheyennes, I have gone into details which may sometimes appear superfluous; but after all, if one is to understand the viewpoint . . .

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