White Eagle (The Spirit Talker Series Book 4)

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In the southern portion of their territory the Cheyenne and Arapaho warred with the allied Comanche, Kiowa, and Plains Apache.


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Numerous battles were fought including a notable fight along the Washita River in with the Kiowa which resulted in the death of 48 Cheyenne warriors of the Bowstring society. Conflict with the Comanche, Kiowa, and Plains Apache ended in when the tribes made an alliance with each other.

The new alliance allowed the Cheyenne to enter the Llano Estacado in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and northeastern New Mexico to hunt bison and trade. Their expansion in the south and alliance with the Kiowa led to their first raid into Mexico in The raid ended in disaster with heavy resistance from Mexican lancers, resulting in all but three of the war party being killed. To the north the Cheyenne made a strong alliance with the Lakota Sioux, which allowed them to expand their territory into part of their former lands around the Black Hills.

They managed to escape the smallpox epidemics, which swept across the plains from white settlements in —39, by heading into the Rocky Mountains, but were greatly affected by the Cholera epidemic in Contact with Euro-Americans was mostly light, with most contact involving mountain men, traders, explorers, treaty makers, and painters.

Like many other plains Indian nations, the Cheyenne were a horse and warrior people who developed as skilled and powerful mounted warriors. A warrior was viewed by the people not as a maker of war but as a protector, provider, and leader. Warriors gained rank in Cheyenne society by performing and accumulating various acts of bravery in battle known as coups.

The title of war chief could be earned by any warrior who performs enough of the specific coups required to become a war chief. Specific warrior societies developed among the Cheyenne as with other plains nations. Each society had selected leaders who would invite those that they saw worthy enough to their society lodge for initiation into the society.

Often, societies would have minor rivalries; however, they might work together as a unit when warring with an enemy. Military societies played an important role in Cheyenne government. Society leaders were often in charge of organizing hunts and raids as well as ensuring proper discipline and the enforcement of laws within the nation. The sixth society is the Contrary Warrior Society, most notable for riding backwards into battle as a sign of bravery. Warriors used a combination of traditional weapons such as various types of war clubs , tomahawks , bows and arrows, and lances as well as non-traditional weapons such as revolvers, rifles, and shotguns acquired through raid and trade.

The Cheyenne lost the Medicine Arrows during an attack on a hunting camp of Pawnees around Many of the enemies the Cheyenne fought were only encountered occasionally, such as on a long distance raid or hunt.

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Some of their enemies, particularly the Indian peoples of the eastern great plains such as the Pawnee and Osage would act as Indian Scouts for the US Army, providing valuable tracking skills and information regarding Cheyenne habits and fighting strategies to US soldiers. Some of their enemies such as the Lakota would later in their history become their strong allies, helping the Cheyenne fight against the United States Army during Red Cloud's War and the Great Sioux War of The Comanche, Kiowa and Plains Apache became allies of the Cheyenne towards the end of the Indian wars on the southern plains, fighting together during conflicts such as the Red River War.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho people formed an alliance around that helped them expand their territories and strengthen their presence on the plains. Like the Cheyenne, the Arapaho language is part of the Algonquian group, although the two languages are not mutually intelligible. The Arapaho were present with the Cheyenne at the Sand Creek Massacre when a peaceful encampment of mostly women, children, and the elderly were attacked and massacred by US soldiers.

Both major divisions of the Cheyenne, the Northern Cheyenne and Southern Cheyenne were allies to the Arapaho who like the Cheyenne are split into northern and southern divisions. The Southern Cheyenne and Southern Arapaho were assigned to the same reservation in Oklahoma Indian Territory and remained together as the federally recognized Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes after the reservation was opened to American settlement and into modern times. In the summer of , the tribe was visited on the upper Missouri by a US treaty commission consisting of General Henry Atkinson and Indian agent Benjamin O'Fallon, accompanied by a military escort of men.

General Atkinson and his fellow commissioner left Fort Atkinson on May 16, Ascending the Missouri, they negotiated treaties of friendship and trade with tribes of the upper Missouri, including the Arikara , the Cheyenne, the Crow , the Mandan , the Ponca , and several bands of the Sioux. At that time, the US had competition on the upper Missouri from British traders, who came south from Canada.

The treaties acknowledged that the tribes lived within the United States, vowed perpetual friendship between the US and the tribes, and, recognizing the right of the United States to regulate trade, the tribes promised to deal only with licensed traders. The tribes agreed to forswear private retaliation for injuries, and to return stolen horses or other goods or compensate the owner.

The commission's efforts to contact the Blackfoot and the Assiniboine were unsuccessful. During their return to Fort Atkinson at the Council Bluff in Nebraska, the commission had successful negotiations with the Ota , the Pawnee and the Omaha. Increased traffic of emigrants along the related Oregon , Mormon and California trails, beginning in the early s, heightened competition with Native Americans for scarce resources of water and game in arid areas.

With resource depletion along the trails, the Cheyenne became increasingly divided into the Northern Cheyenne and Southern Cheyenne, where they could have adequate territory for sustenance.

During the California Gold Rush , emigrants brought in cholera. It spread in mining camps and waterways due to poor sanitation. The disease was generally a major cause of death for emigrants, about one-tenth of whom died during their journeys. Perhaps from traders, the cholera epidemic reached the Plains Indians in , resulting in severe loss of life during the summer of that year. Historians estimate about 2, Cheyenne died, one-half to two-thirds of their population. There were significant losses among other tribes as well, which weakened their social structures.

Perhaps because of severe loss of trade during the season, Bent's Fort was abandoned and burned. His efforts to negotiate with the Northern Cheyenne, the Arapaho and other tribes led to a great council at Fort Laramie in To reduce intertribal warfare on the Plains, the government officials "assigned" territories to each tribe and had them pledge mutual peace.

In addition, the government secured permission to build and maintain roads for European-American travelers and traders through Indian country on the Plains, such as the Emigrant Trail and the Santa Fe Trail , and to maintain forts to guard them. The tribes were compensated with annuities of cash and supplies for such encroachment on their territories. In April , an incident at the Platte River Bridge near present-day Casper, Wyoming , resulted in the wounding of a Cheyenne warrior.

He returned to the Cheyenne on the plains. They killed ten Cheyenne warriors and wounded eight or more.

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Cheyenne parties attacked at least three emigrant settler parties before returning to the Republican River. The Indian agent at Fort Laramie negotiated with the Cheyenne to reduce hostilities, but the Secretary of War ordered the 1st Cavalry Regiment to carry out a punitive expedition under the command of Colonel Edwin V. He went against the Cheyenne in the spring of The combined force of troops went east through the plains searching for Cheyenne.

Under the influence of the medicine man White Bull also called Ice and Grey Beard also called Dark , the Cheyenne went into battle believing that strong spiritual medicine would prevent the soldiers' guns from firing.

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They were told that if they dipped their hands in a nearby spring, they had only to raise their hands to repel army bullets. Hands raised, the Cheyenne surrounded the advancing troops as they advanced near the Solomon River. Sumner ordered a cavalry charge and the troops charged with drawn sabers; the Cheyenne fled. With tired horses after long marches, the cavalry could not engage more than a few Cheyenne, as their horses were fresh.


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This was the first battle which the Cheyenne fought against the US Army. Casualties were few on each side; J. Stuart , then a young lieutenant, was shot in the breast while attacking a Cheyenne warrior with a sabre. The troops continued on and two days later burned a hastily abandoned Cheyenne camp; they destroyed lodges and the winter supply of buffalo meat.

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Sumner continued to Bent's Fort. To punish the Cheyenne, he distributed their annuities to the Arapaho. He intended further punitive actions, but the Army ordered him to Utah because of an outbreak of trouble with the Mormons this would be known as the Utah War. The Cheyenne moved below the Arkansas into Kiowa and Comanche country.

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In the fall, the Northern Cheyenne returned to their country north of the Platte. Travel greatly increased along the Emigrant Trail along the South Platte River and some emigrants stopped before going on to California. For several years there was peace between settlers and Indians. The only conflicts were related to the endemic warfare between the Cheyenne and Arapaho of the plains and the Utes of the mountains.

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US negotiations with Black Kettle and other Cheyenne favoring peace resulted in the Treaty of Fort Wise : it established a small reservation for the Cheyenne in southeastern Colorado in exchange for the territory agreed to in the Fort Laramie Treaty of Many Cheyenne did not sign the treaty, and they continued to live and hunt on their traditional grounds in the Smokey Hill and Republican basins, between the Arkansas and the South Platte, where there were plentiful buffalo.

Efforts to make a wider peace continued, but in the spring of , John Evans , governor of Colorado Territory, and John Chivington , commander of the Colorado Volunteers, a citizens militia , began a series of attacks on Indians camping or hunting on the plains. They killed any Indian on sight and initiated the Colorado War.

General warfare broke out and Indians made many raids on the trail along the South Platte, which Denver depended on for supplies. The Army closed the road from August 15 until September 24, On November 29, , the Colorado Militia attacked a Cheyenne and Arapaho encampment under Chief Black Kettle , although it flew a flag of truce and indicated its allegiance to the US government.