For almost fifty years George Bird Grinnell’s great work The Fighting Cheyennes has stood unrevised and virtually unchallenged as the definitive account of the struggles of the Cheyenne Indians to preserve their way of life. Now Donald J. Berthrong has re-examined Grinnell’s findings and searched historical records unavailable to or not used by Grinnell to verify or correct his conclusions. The result is this accurate, highly interesting account of the Cheyennes’ life on the Great Plains, their system of government and religion, and their relation to the fur and hide trade during their last years of freedom.
After nearly two centuries of fighting other Indians and whites for their lands, in the eighteenth century the Cheyenne’s were forced to shift their range from the Minnesota River Valley to the Central and Southern Plains. From 1861 through 1875, they fought to maintain their free, nomadic existence. There were bloody wars with territorial forces and federal troops, and a few years of intermittent peace and retaliation (including the massacre at Sand Creek in 1864).
Finally, after the intensive winter campaign of 1874-75, the fierce Southern Cheyenne’s were brought to bay by the U.S. Army and herded onto a reservation in western Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Their turbulent, colorful history related by Berthrong will interest the general reader as well as the historian and anthropologist