Northern Cheyenne Tribe

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Ancestral Lands: Great Lakes region, and thence to Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado.


The Northern Cheyenne and the Southern Cheyenne share their early history as the Cheyenne Tribe. The Cheyenne Tribe divided into the Northern and Southern Cheyenne in 1825 

For the Cheyenne, the Indian Wars of the west involved ongoing conflict with the U.S. Military for nearly twenty  years 1857-1879. The Sand Creek massacre, occuring in 1854 when 400-500 Cheyenne under the leadership of Black Kettle were attact. Black Kettle had a large American Flag flying over his camp and had been promised as long as it flew over his camp the camp would be protected. During the 1866-1868 the Cheyenne and many of their Indian neighbors opposed the Bozemen Trail.

Among the many tribes involved in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the Northern Cheyenne helped defeat General Custer's army.

The Tongue River Reservation became home to the Northern Cheyenne in 1884. The name of the Reservation was later changed to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Brief Timeline

  • 1700: living in Minnesota River valley
  • 1700's: during 1700s migrated to the Cheyenne River valley in North Dakota
  • 1800's: pressures forced them to the Missouri River, North and South Dakota.
  • 1820's: formed an alliance with the Oglala Sioux and fought the Crow Indians
  • 1825: "Friendhip Treaty of 1825" -- fifteen Cheyenne leaders received a medal which bore the design of clasped hands .
  • 1825: tribe division of the Cheyenne into northern and southern bands.
  • 1830: Bent's Fort established
  • 1850: had migrated to North Platte River in eastern Wyoming.
  • 1851: Treaty at Fort Laramie gave the Cheyenne and other tribes land between the Platte and Arkansas Rivers, in what became Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and western Kansas.
  • 1857-1879: the Cheyenne fought an ongoing war with the U.S. Army
  • 1864: Sand Creek Massacre 400-500 Southern Cheyenne under leadership of Black Kettle and Arapaho killed by U.S. Soldiers
  • 1864-65: Southern Cheyenne, and allies Arapaho and Sioux angered by the Sand Creek Massacre raided the South Platte area, and wagon trains
  • 1866-1868: Northern Cheyenne, Sioux (Miniconjous, Oglala, Sans Arcs, Brules), and Northern Arapaho were opposed to the construction of the Bozeman Trail. At the battle of Massacre Ridge (December 1866) 2,000 warrors killed eighty-one soldiers under the command of Captain William J. Fetterman. Three forts were built to protect the developing trail and workers -- Fort Reno, Fort Phil Kearny and Fort C.F. Smith. The Bozeman Trail was abandoned as the Union Pacific Railroad would make the trail obsolete.
  • 1868: May 10 -- Treaty at Fort Laramie with the Northern Cheyenne and Northern Arapaho 
  • 1875: Indian Homestead Act, precluded the need for a reservation. By this land law, Indians were free to file claims of 160 acres.
  • 1875-76: there were approximately 15,000 gold seekers in the Black Hills
  • 1876: Battle of Powder River -- U.S. Army under command of Colonel Mackenzie -- 1,100 soldiers attacked and burned the Northern Cheyenne village on Powder River.
  • 1876: the Northern Cheyenne participated in the Battle of the Little Big Horn
  • 1876: Battle of Wolf Mountain
  • 1877: In April the Northern Cheyenne divided into four groups: Two Moon group went to Fort Keogh where they surrendered to Colonel Miles, and the warriors became scouts, later fighting against Sioux and Nez Perce Indians. Second group - largest group- moved east and joned other Cheyenne bands, who surrendered at Red Cloud Agency in Nebraska. Third group- went to Oklahoma and joined the Southern Cheyenne. Fourth group- joined the Northern Arapaho at Wind River Agency in Wyoming.
  • 1877 May 28: Northern Cheyenne tribe left Red Cloud Agency for the Cheyenne-Arapaho Agency at Darlington, Oklahoma. The Fourth Cavalry under Lieutenant Henry W. Lawton escorted them and two days later they arrived at the Cheyenne-Arapho Agency. Some of the Northern tribesmen not welcomed.
  • 1877: Cheyenne surrendered and were removed to the Southern Cheyenne Reservation in Indian Territory
  • 1878:  part of the Northern Cheyenne were allowed to go back north.
  • 1880-1891: the tribe gathered to southeastern Montana
  • 1884: Tongue River Reservation was established for the Northern Cheyenne on 16 November by executive order of President Chester A. Arthur.
  • 1884: Northern Cheyenne Reservation is established
  • 1884: St. Labre Catholic Indian Boarding School was established at site of Ashland, Montana
  • 1900: The Tongue River Reservation was enlarged by executive order on 19 March 1900 to include from the west bank of the Tongue River to the eastern boundary of the Crow Reservation
  • 1935: Constitution and bylaws of the Northern Cheyenne was approved on 23 November 1935, under the Indian Reorganization Act.


This tribe is primarily associated with the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southern Montana.

Additional References to the History of the Tribe

Tribal Headquarters

Northern Cheyenne Tribe
P.O. Box 128
Lame Deer, MT 59043
Phone: 406.477.6284
Fax: 406.477.6210



Northern Cheyenne Agency

Tongue River Agency

Important Web Sites


Svingen, Orlan J. The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation 1877-1900. Universtiy Press of Colorado.C 1993. University Press of Colorado. ISBN 0-87081-303-x


  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published