Northern Cheyenne Tribe

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Northern Cheyenne
Little Coyote (Little Wolf) and Morning Star (Dull Knife), Chiefs of the Northern Cheyenne tribe.jpg
2009 9,496 (4,135 on res.) 
2000 3,250 on res. 
??? ??? 

Regions with significant populations
Ancestral Homelands: Great Lakes region, and thence to Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southern Montana, formerly known as the Tongue River Reservation.


Federally recognized

Linguistic Group


Cultural Group


Other Related Ethnic Groups


Tribal Headquarters[edit | edit source]

Northern Cheyenne Tribe
P.O. Box 128
Lame Deer, MT 59043
Phone: 1.406.477.6284
Fax: 1.406.477.6210

History[edit | edit source]

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, occurred in 1854 when 400-500 Cheyenne under the leadership of Black Kettle were attacked. Black Kettle had a large American Flag flying over his camp and had been promised as long as it flew over his camp it would be protected. During 1866-1868 the Cheyenne and many of their Indian neighbors opposed the Bozeman Trail.

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

The Northern Cheyenne divided into four groups -- Two Moon going to Fort Keogh, the second group joining other Cheyenne bands in Nebraska, the third group joined the Southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma, and the fourth group joining the Northern Arapaho at the Wind River Agency in Wyoming

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[edit | edit source]

  • 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: "Friendship 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: 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 warriors 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 joined 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.

800px-Grabill - Comanche, the only survivor of the Custer Massacre, 1876.jpg

Additional References to the History of the Tribe[edit | edit source]

Agencies[edit | edit source]

Bureau of Indian Affairs - US. Department Of The Interior.png

The following agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had jurisdiction over the Northern Cheyenne for the time periods indicated. BIA agencies were responsible to keep such records as census rolls, allotment (land) records, annuity rolls, school records, correspondence, and other records of individual Indians under their jurisdiction. For details, see the page for the respective agency.

Records[edit | edit source]

The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Census Records[edit | edit source]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs compiled annual Indian Census Rolls on many of the reservations from 1885 to 1940. They list the names of individuals, their age, and other details about each person enumerated. For more information about these records, click here.

The following table lists the census rolls for the Northern Cheyenne Indians:

Agency Location of Original Records

Post-1885 Census

M595 RG 75 -- 692 Rolls

Roll Numbers


Film Numbers

Tongue River, 1888-1939 Washington, DC 574-579 583033-583038

Tribal Office Records[edit | edit source]

The Tribal Office is responsible for enrollment records, vital records, tribal police records, tribal court records, employment records and many others. They are an entirely different set of records from those kept by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most of them remain in the Tribal Office. For details, contact that office at the address for the Tribal Headquarters listed above.

Important Websites[edit | edit source]

Cheyenne, Crossed Feathers with his wife and daughter, 1908.jpg

References[edit | edit source]

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

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Northern Cheyenne[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]

  • 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