Northern Cheyenne (South Central Montana)

The Place

Tongue-River.jpg

The Northern Cheyennne Reservation is situated within the North Western Great Plians, on the picturesque Tongue river in the high plains of southeastern Montana.  The region lies east of the Continental Divide and the Rockies and is bordered on the Wesr by the Crow Reservation.  With a semi-arid climate and less than 16" of annual rainfall, southeast Montana falls short of prairie grassland and instead hosts near-desert plants, open ponderosa-pine plateau and valley country.  The land was shaped by the carving action of erosion, leaving a rugged, eroded and colorful land formations with spectacular views of the badlands, which are intriguing to see any time of the year!  Flora found in Circle 1 are native to southeast Montana's ecoregion and are culturall significant to the Northern Cheyenne people.

The People

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The Cheyenne are indigenous people of the Great Plains.  Current Cheyenne are compromised of two Native American groups, the So'taeo'o and the Tsetsehestahese.  Historically, there is evidence of the plains Indians occupying Wyoming as big game hunters and gatherers more than 12,00 years ago.  The earliest written record of the Cheyenne is from the mid-seventeenth century.  Over the past four centuries, the Cheyenne people have evolved to different lifestyles across the Great Plains.  The Cheyenne were know as Notameohmesehese, meaning "Northern Eaters" due to their impressive hunting, fishing, and foraging skills.  Later, they adopted a horse culture and an agricultural lifestyle.  Today, the Northern Cheyenne practice their traditional ceremonies, such as pow wows and the Sun dance, and use traditional plants to maintain their culture, religion, and language

The Plants

Wild Licorice Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pursh Burr

 

Wild Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)

Native use of wild licorice involves the whole plant, at different times during the growing season, from the burs and leaves, to the shoots and the roots. The Cheyenne, ate the tender spring shoots raw, infused the leaves and the roots as a common remedy for an upset stomach, and chewed upon the roots to cool themselves in the Sweat lodge and Sundance ceremonies.  The roots, when slow roasted are said to taste like sweet potatoes.

White Sage Artemisia ludiviciana Nutt

White Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana)

White Sage or “man sage” is the most sought after plant for religious ceremonies among the Cheyenne Indians. Few of their ceremonies miss the use of this sacred sage, such as in the Sundance, Peyote meetings, and sweat lodge. The leaves are generally burned as incense, but are also rubbed on the body, laid or sat upon, used as brushes, and wore as wreaths. They regard this fragrant herb as having the power to make one immune to sickness, drive away bad spirits, and to purify tools, people and spaces.

Wild Red Raspberry Rubus idaeus

Wild Red Rasberry (Rubus idaeus

At given times throughout the growing season, all parts of Red Raspberry can be used. Traditionally, an herb tea made from the leaves have been given to women to aid in childbirth and treat upset stomachs. Young shoots can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. The leaves and roots are also used as a gargle to treat mouth inflammations, as a poultice to treat sours and minor burns and wounds. The fruit – raspberries are wonderful eaten out of hand, and is also effective against scurvy, while the roots of are edible when cooked and are used medicinally as a decongestant, and to promote healing.