Cheyenne dog soldier

August 10, 2023

(internet image)

a little about the Cheyenne:

~ the Sioux called them the Cheyenne, which essentially means “foreign speakers”, the Cheyenne called themselves Tsistsistas,
~ are synonymous with the Great Plains, but they originally lived in Minnesota in the 16th century
~ in the 18th century, the then-horseless Cheyenne migrated west, forming alliances with the Lakota until coming into the region of the Dakotas
~ during this time a semi-legendary prophet named Sweet Medicine entered a cave in the Black Hills. He apparently received visions, as well as four sacred arrows
~ by the 19th century, there was a complete reorganization of Cheyenne society
~ It became the Cheyenne nation, and part of it would lead to the creation of the Hotamétaneo’o, better known as the Dog Men, Dog Warriors, or the Dog soldiers


the Dog Soldiers:

~ come from Cheyene military families
– Sweet Medicine separated Cheyenne’s civil and military governments; military societies were created by Sweet Medicine
– Chiefs were each responsible for local affairs and the well-being of their people
– Governing as a whole was in the hands of a Council of Forty-four chiefs who were elected every ten years
– the first four of the military societies that were organized by Sweet Water: the Swift Foxes, Elks, Bowstrings, and Red Shields
~ legend has it that the Dog Soldiers were really founded by dogs (shrouded by myth)
– Legend has it that this military society was founded when an unaccomplished warrior, who had evidently been selected by Sweet Medicine, insisted that he could start his own military society
– because of his lower status and the fact he was not a medicine man, he was maligned by the rest of the tribe
– he became depressed, prayed and sang sacred songs throughout the night, according to myth, “the large and small dogs throughout the camp whined and howled and were restless.”
– in the morning he led the dogs to the river where they gathered in a circle around him, a lodge materialized about him and the dogs rushed into it, transforming into men who were dressed in the garb of what would mark the Dog Warriors
~ dog soldiers had distinct garb
– tremendous warriors
– to make themselves even more fearsome, they painted themselves and their horses
– when going to war, four chosen Dog Soldiers carried dog ropes or sashes made of rawhide and porcupine quills and decorated with human hair
– the rope was worn over the right shoulder and meant that the warrior could take the rope and pin himself to the ground with one of three sacred arrows they carried, indicating that they would fight to the death and not give an inch
– dog soldiers also wore war bonnets

~ war bonnet ~

– war bonnets had immense cultural importance not only to the Cheyenne, but to other Plains tribes as well
– worn by warriors, not chiefs
– they were only worn when going to war against a significant enemy or during important ceremonies
~ dog soldiers were militant towards settlers
– as the 19th century passed and the tide of white settlement grew, Dog Soldiers became one of the most outspoken voices against white incursions
– they would refuse to sign treaties like the 1861 Treaty of Fort Wise, which established reservations for the Cheyenne with the Arapaho
– their militancy and the fact that they led raids into American settlements caused some of the Cheyenne to view the Dog Soldiers as outlaws
– Dog Soldiers had their own ceremonies and in 1837 separated from the rest of Cheyenne society led by Porcupine Bear, who was exiled from the Cheyenne over a violent incident which alienated all of the Dog Soldiers
– Porcupine Bear succeeded in transforming the Dog Soldiers from just a military society to its own camp, a separate group apart from the Cheyenne
– young men were attracted to Porcupine Bear and soon migrated to join him
~ Dog Soldiers won a political victory from the Sand Creek Massacre
– Dog Soldiers remained at the periphery of Cheyenne politics until November 29, 1864. On that date, Colonel John Chivington led a raid ostensibly to avenge Dog Soldier attacks. 
~ The Battle of Beecher Island was the beginning of the end for the Dog Soldiers
– The Dog Soldiers led the resistance, refusing to give up their land. They forged an alliance of Cheyenne, Lakota, and Arapaho who wanted to avenge the Sand Creek Massacre.
~ elements of the Dog Soldiers still exist today
– Outrage over learning about a Smithsonian Museum holding Native artifacts and thousands of remains led to the National Museum of the American Indian Act in 1989 and in the next year the Native Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
– these laws helped to restore Native American artifacts to the tribes
– Northern and Southern Cheyenne still have military societies today, including the Dog Soldiers
– many elements of their militancy and bravery still carry through to this day, with whispers of the society still passing on its ideals of never giving up to the next generation



hope you have a great day!
thanks for stopping by!!

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