“General Miles Put Us Here”: Northern Cheyenne Military Alliance and Sovereign Territorial Rights
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Today, the Northern Cheyenne Reservation stretches west from the Tongue River over more than 400,000 acres of pine forests, gurgling streams, natural springs, and lush grasslands in southeastern Montana. During the 1870's the Cheyenne people nearly lost control of this land, however, because the federal government was trying to forcibly remove them from their homeland and confine them to an agency in Oklahoma. In both popular and scholarly histories of the establishment of the reservation, Dull Knife and Little Wolf have been exalted as heroes who led their people back to their Tongue River Valley homeland. As anyone who has listened to or read this history knows, these Cheyenne acted with great bravery and overcame brutal obstacles to return from Oklahoma to their northern homeland. Even so, this is only half the story of the Northern Cheyenne fi ght to remain in southeastern Montana. As Dull Knife and Little Wolf made their arduous journey to escape from the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho agency, other Northern Cheyenne still living in the Tongue River Valley were struggling to remain there. The unpublicized sacrifices of these families ensured that the men, women, and children following Dull Knife and Little Wolf and other Cheyenne refugees had a secure place to call home once they returned. Each group of Northern Cheyenne fought to maintain their presence in their homeland while drawing on different culturally informed strategies to achieve success.
This accepted article is published as General Miles Put Us Here:” Northern Cheyenne Alliance Making As a Safeguard of Sovereign Territorial Rights. American Indian Quarterly 37(4): 340-369. DOI: 10.1353/aiq.2013.0046. Posted with permission.