Cheyenne - Dog Soldiers of Wyoming

A somewhat, obscure in history, tribe called the Staitans were friends with, and later absorbed into the much better known Cheyenne. The Staitans were in Wyoming by the early 1700s, maybe earlier, but by the early 1800s they were no more, absorbed, peacefully, by the Cheyenne. When the Staitans were flourishing they were considered the most warlike of tribes on the plains. They thrived in the east central area of today’s Wyoming, reaching to the edge of the Laramie Range. 

Much of the well-known Cheyenne culture was taken from the ancient Staitans including the ceremony of the Medicine Arrows, (four arrows, two for war, and two for hunting). They also adopted the Sun Dance and the Medicine of the Buffalo Head, from these people.

The Cheyenne were sometimes called Dog Soldiers and likely got that name from the French word Chen, meaning dog.  Later the Dog Soldiers were but one faction of the tribe but the entire tribe still remained know as the Dog Soldiers to most plains people of the 1800s.  The Cheyenne were driven from their home in present day Minnesota by the Sioux, who called them, Sha-hi-e-na.

Sha-h-e-na, literally meant those who spoke a language which was not understandable. Tribal groups that spoke an understandable language they were said to, “talk right,” those who did not, “talked wrong.” The Cheyenne were said to speak, only wrong words.”

With our state Legislature now in session and all the politicians in town it is interesting to note they are meeting in our state capitol. A city, Cheyenne, named after wrong talking people. Hummmmmm!

Sunset over the Laramie Range in Eastern Wyoming


Of Jim Bridger, Shakespeare and Laramie Peak

Jim Bridger was, by definition, illiterate.  He went through his entire life unable to read and write. The man who discovered or co-discovered south pass in1823, and was the first white man to view the Great Salt Lake in 1824. Yet his fame rests as much, or more, in his famous story telling and his ability as a guide than it does in his great discoveries.
Despite the fact he was uneducated he loved the works of Shakespeare, who he liked to quote, often at great length. He once traded a, $125.00 yoke of oxen for copies of Shakespeare’s books. Later he was renowned in the west for paying a young man, the then princely sum of $40.00 a month, to read Shakespeare to him.
Bridger was fond of telling his listeners that he came to Wyoming when Laramie Peak was but a hole in the ground. Thought I would end this post with a photo of Laramie Peak. The Peak, as us locals call it, is nearby, I see it every day, not old enough to have seen it when it was a hole in the ground like ol' Gabe though.
Sunset Over Laramie Peak -Photo From Six miles North of Town

Fort Laramie and the Plains Indian Culture

Until 1834 Americas vast buffalo plains were wild and untouched by eastern society and business. All that changed when William Sublette built the small, Fort William, on the Laramie and Platte Rivers of today’s Wyoming. Society and eastern business came west and stationed itself behind the 18 foot high stacked earth and cottonwood walls of the fort the trappers already called Laramie.
Much of the fur trade in America’s northwest and south were already controlled by far removed big business and now the great free trappers and traders of the plains and Rocky Mountains had eastern business in their midst.
White men had hunted and trapped this area for two decades, living, dressing, eating and hunting like their nomad brothers of the plains. Many married into the tribes, happy with the roaming freedom of the plains Indians.
Over the Laramie River from the Fort
With the building of Fort Laramie came a separation of cultures. The walls of the fort kept the Indians out and let the white men in. When allowed inside, Indians were treated more like intruders than guests, a most opposite approach from the tribes who had welcomed whites into their world a few years earlier.
Trapper and Trader at Fort Laramie

In the year 1834 and the west was going through a huge change, a change that would bring bloodshed to the plains for more than a half century. The east had come west.

Tough For Tough Winters

Ever year about this time, I have the same thoughts. How did early people survive the winter? Putting up food and laying in fire wood was a must. If someone fell short in either of these areas it was sure death.
Living in Wyoming, where we have four seasons, winter always comes. Some winters are better than others but they always come, and no matter how mild, in the old days, there was always a starving time.
I was able to take several nice walks in December and as I walked I tried to observe what wildlife was still about. Then I looked for anything else, anything edible, and there isn't much.
Native People, Mountain men, early settlers, those were some tough people. A breed we will not see again.
In a society where a new video game is a great new adventure and a new pizza crust excites a segment of the citizens, we have lost touch with what it takes to be tough and along with it, maybe great.

Cold - both physically and metaphorically 

These old time people survived and thrived in hostel winters and against dangers and hardships that today we may not be able to imagine. Only wish I could be so tough.
A Few Ducks Find Open Water