United States, Wyoming, Texas, Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado
Indians of North America Series: The Cheyenne. Edited film documents the history of the Cheyenne American Indians since the arrival of European settlers in North America and the migration of the Cheyenne to the plains by 1790. Emphasis is placed on the delicate balance of power between Cheyenne warriors and members of the tribal council, the division of the northern and southern Cheyenne as a result of the 1804 Louisiana Purchase and the conflicts with the U.S. government over land rights. As a result of the migration of Indian tribes, major societal changes ensued for the Cheyenne; these include the relaxation of matrilineal kinship tracing, the competition with other tribes for resources, the acquired skill of hunting buffalo on horseback. Featured conflicts with the U.S. government include: the San Creek Massacre killing 500 Cheyenne; Battle of Wachita, where the U.S. army led by Colonel George Custer attacked the sleeping Chenne village; the Battle of Little Bighorn, where the Cheyenne defeated Custer incurring the wrath of the U.S. government. Twentieth Century Cheyenne history is documented through a series of assimilation policies; the Bureau of Indian Affairs established Indian boarding schools aimed at teaching white culture and behavior to indians, the teaching of various trades to Indians, the changing policies of land ownership. Film features U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell as the only American Indian serving in the U.S. government; Campbell stresses the importance of learning how to "walk both paths," by understanding how to function as part of the mainstream while still recognizing and remembering important tribal traditions, culture and identity. Footage depicts the sweat lodge, a sanctuary for prayer, healing and ceremonies; Sun Dance ceremony, beginning of the Cheyenne New Year where participants pray for the welfare of the tribe and the world; interviews with Cheyenne elders and youths.
Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD