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THE ORNITHOLOGY OF CHEYENNE RELIGIONISTS Author(s): John H. Moore Source: Plains Anthropologist, Vol. 31, No. 113 (August 1986), pp. 177-192 Published by: Maney Publishing on behalf of the Plains Anthropological Society Stable URL: Accessed: 17-08-2016 16:21 UTC

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Plains Anthropologist Journal of the Plains Anthropological Society

Volume 31 August 1986 Number 113


by John H. Moore


Three kinds of Cheyenne religionists?priests, “war doctors,” and healers?have had specialized knowledge about the significance of birds in Cheyenne culture. The apprenticeships of these religionists have allowed the continual reinterpretation of birds as religious symbols and the inauguration of new ornithological information. Historically, two important periods for the introduction of new birds into Cheyenne taxonomy and ritual were in the early 1800s, for the Sun Dance, and in the early 1900s, for the peyote religion. Neither the structure of

Cheyenne ornithology nor the process of change con form to the pseudo-historical theories elaborated by ethnobiologists such as Berlin and Brown.


This paper has two general purposes, one ethnographic and the other ethnological. My ethnographic purpose is to present here a taxonomy of birds which I have collected from Cheyenne religionists since 1970. The topic of ethnobiology has been neglected by eth nographers of the Cheyenne, and so this in formation helps fill a gap in our knowledge.

My ethnological purpose here is to try and ex

plain the configuration of this taxonomy by reference to (1) the history of the Cheyenne nation, (2) the geographical distribution of the bird species in aboriginal Cheyenne territory, and (3) the manner in which knowledge about birds has been incorportated into Cheyenne culture.

Although this paper is about Cheyenne birds, it is not written in the specialized language of ethnobiology stimulated espe cially by Berlin and Brown (Berlin 1972; Brown 1979). As an empiricist and materialist myself, I find the theoretical issues in ethno biology to be bordering on metaphysics, and the theories themselves to be largely induc tive, intuitive, and often concerned with mat ters which cannot be tested scientifically. So the ethnological and historical theories to be discussed and elaborated here are intended to be modest and data-bound. I make no claim at all to be describing what is in peoples’ heads, but only what is expressed verbally and, sometimes, graphically. How ever, I will make a few comments along the way about the possible ethnobiological sig


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nificance of some of these data, insofar as I am able. But my first comment is that I find Berlin’s and Brown’s alleged universals of folk taxonomy to be difficult to apply at all to the Cheyennes.

In the most complete version of his theory of universal life-form categories, Brown has said that birds are distinct from insects (he calls them “bugs”) and from snakes (Brown 1979:793). The Cheyennes, however, provide a counter-example, since they consider drag onflies and butterflies to be birds, both hatched from nymphs, and they consider many other birds to be likewise developed from particular nymphic or larval forms, forms which Anglos call snakes.

Another interesting aspect of Cheyenne bird taxonomy is that it presents not merely one set of criteria for distinguishing their three families of birds, but three congruent sets, two explicit and one implicit. Explicitly, the three bird families are called “holy,” “great,” and “ordinary.” Also explicitly, the three families are said to live in different tiers of the cosmos, the Blue Sky-Space, the Near Sky-Space, and the Atmosphere. But implicitly, the three families also represent three kinds of birds which have different utilities among Cheyenne religionists. Holy birds are used by the priests, great birds are used by certain practitioners whom I call “‘war doctors” in this paper, and ordinary birds are used by native Cheyenne healers (comprising “medi cine men” and “medicine women”) to treat diseases and injuries.

The Cheyenne example also enables us to see how bird taxonomy is elaborated in the real world. The process is not something

mystical that happened in the dim and distant past (the impression one might get from reading Berlin and Brown), but something that happens every generation among religionists. In this paper, I will demonstrate this process of elaboration and change by analyzing frag ments of Cheyenne dictionaries and recon structing the process by which Cheyenne religionists have elaborated their bird tax onomy over the past 200 years.

I cannot claim that the ornithology presented here is the only one presently in existence among the Cheyennes. There also exist colloquial or secular classifications of birds, parts of which have been collected from the Northern Cheyennes by Leman (Glen

more and Leman 1984). The taxonomy presented here, however, is of a different character and was collected from senior religionists, priests, and doctors; it is best described as “sacred” or perhaps “formal” and must be understood by reference to the methodology I have used to collect it.

As noted previously (Moore 1974, 1984), knowledge about birds is part of Cheyenne religious practice, both among the priests who conduct ceremonies and among Cheyenne war doctors and healers. As part of this system certain kinds of birds and even groups of bird species are regarded as the “prop erty” of particular men who have served apprenticeships to gain knowledge of these birds in curing and ceremonies. In a manner of speaking, they have “bought access” to these religious symbols. Consequently, it is regarded as improper, among traditionalists, for people to talk seriously about birds which they are not “qualified” to discuss. For ex ample, a man in Fonda, Oklahoma, is quite willing to discuss dragonflies or “whirlwinds” in detail, because he is a qualified Sun Dance painter who applies images of these birds to dancers’ bodies as part of the ceremony. But the same man will not discuss butterflies, ex cept to mention their name in Cheyenne and to say that they are regarded as birds. For in formation about butterflies, one must talk to men who have gained access to butterfly medicine, which is used for doctoring.

There are two exceptions to the rule that traditional religionists will not talk about other people’s birds. Firstly, if the bird symbols are considered part of the open and shared aspects of the major ceremonies?Sun Dance, Arrow Ceremony, or Native American Church?then they are regarded as collective symbols belonging to everyone, with no religious restrictions about discussing them. For example, thunderbirds, magpies, crows, flickers, and waterbirds, since they are col lective symbols, fall into this category.1 Sec ondly, if the persons qualified to talk about certain birds are deceased and if the medicine regarding the bird is no longer in use, then the bird can be discussed. Two birds of this sort are Kingfishers and Sandhill Cranes. These have been important medicine birds, but no one is presently qualified to use their medicines, as far as I know. So in general, informants are willing to discuss


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birds (1) which have been important for their relatives, (2) which have obsolete medicine uses, or (3) which are part of the collective symbolism of the Cheyenne nation. In addi tion, all informants are usually willing to discuss birds which have little religious significance, or birds which are regarded as part of the culture of white people, learned at school. On average, each informant I inter viewed was willing to discuss 10 to 20 bird species.

The taxonomy which follows, then, is best regarded as a mosaic of the information given by 28 Cheyenne elders between 1970 and 1985. Most of the informants were priests or healers, and three of the healers were women. They all represent the “traditionalist” sector of the population, who mostly speak Cheyenne among themselves and are oriented toward the major tribal ceremonies rather than toward Christian denominations of non-Indian origin. Twenty-five of the infor mants were interviewed in English by myself, two in Cheyenne using an interpreter (Henry Tall Bull), and one in Cheyenne (imperfectly) by myself. Seven of the informants were Northern Cheyennes from Montana, 19 were Southern Cheyennes from Oklahoma, and 2 were Northern Cheyennes living among the southerners.

To get identifications of birds, I primarily relied on flash cards prepared from published sources and on a comparative collection of feathers acquired under a permit from the Department of the Interior. In addition, I have shown informants a rather remarkable draw ing of birds produced by a Cheyenne artist named Making Medicine during his imprison ment at Fort Marion, Florida, in 1876 (Fig. 1). The birds I will describe here, then, and the “type” behavior and appearance for each taxon, are based on the descriptions given to me by the religionists most concerned with the species described. That is, where there

were contradictions among informants, I have given more weight to the taxonomic opinions of those most qualified to discuss particular kinds of birds. After presenting a description of the taxonomy, I will discuss the historical and sociological factors which have caused Cheyenne ornithology to assume its present configuration.


Cheyenne biology is unusual for having a large number of “intermediate” taxa between

what Berlin and others have called the “unique beginner” and the level of genus. These intermediate categories are empha sized in the prayers and calls of the Sun Dance and of the Arrow Ceremony, during which the various kinds of birds are sum moned for their religious roles. Figure 2 shows the general arrangement of Cheyenne ethnobiology, while Figures 3, 4, and 5 represent elaborations of the three bird categories terminated at the top right of Figure 2.

The three categories of Cheyenne birds are specifically related to the structure of Cheyenne cosmology (Moore 1984:295). For Cheyennes, vertical space is tiered into con centric spheres from the position of the All Father at the zenith to the Female Principle at the nadir. Birds occupy the top three zones, with the maheonevekseo in Otatavoom, or the Blue Sky-Space, the maxevekseo in Seto voom, the Nearer Sky-Space, and the xamaevekseo in Taxtavoom, the Atmosphere, nearest the earth. The relationships among terrestrial creatures in the cosmology are more complex, because the earth’s surface has horizontal as well as vertical zones, depending on environment. By comparison, birds are more clearly and simply related to specific vertical and cosmological zones.

All the families and genera in Figures 2 through 5 are ranked, from top to bottom, in an order of sanctity generally agreed among religious practitioners, and which is congruent

with the cosmological tiers previously dis cussed (Moore 1979, 1984). The family maheonevekseo, or holy birds, is the highest taxon, and mostly comprises species which are important for the major ceremonies. The maxevekseo, or great birds, are the species which are prominent in the medicine bundles of war doctors and are also associated with other kinds of religious participation and heal ing. The xamaevekseo or common birds are largely used in healing and comprise all the other birds which are of interest to the Cheyenne people. In explaining why some bird species are significant enough to have names while other birds are not named, Cheyenne informants say that they are only


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Fig. 1. Black-and-white reproduction of Making Medicine’s color drawing of birds, with numbers added. Number “12.” at upper left and “Fowls of Ind. Ty.” appear on the original, Neg. No. 55,036, dated 1875, Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Birds identified by modern informants are as follows: (1) striped eagle, (2) swallow-tailed kite, (3) flicker, (4) falcon, (5) war eagle, (6) red-tailed hawk, (7) scissor-tailed flycatcher, (8) magpie, (9) long-billed curlew, (10) bald eagle, (11) kingfisher, (12) crow/raven, (13) short-eared owl, (14) crane, (15) yellow-headed blackbird, (16) turkey, and (17) duck. I have not followed standard rules for capitalization here since the Cheyenne taxa are not necessarily cognate with those used by the American Ornithological Union.

interested in birds which are sacred, which have power, or which live in close proximity to human beings.

Some of the birds represented in Cheyenne ornithology no longer live in the early-nineteenth-century territory of the


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Unique Beginner Kingdom Order Family maheonevekseo

<(sacred birds)

maxevekseo (great birds)

/ (animais; i\ xamaevekseo J v\ (ordinary birds)

/ \\ \ zeevasohoeva I \\ (land creatures)

zehetaeametanevos / \ \ (living things) \ \\zeamovoneso

\ \ (crawling things)

\ \ zeevasomapeva \ (water monsters)

\ hoxzz

\ y/ (trees) \zehoneo S plants >v

^ moez (small plants)

Fig. 2. The relationship of bird families to other taxa of Cheyenne biota.

Cheyenne nation, along the Upper Platte. But we should remember that the Cheyennes are of sub-Arctic origins (Siebert 1967; Schlesier 1986) and ranged widely in their later travels, from the Black Hills to Chihuahua. Also, the ranges of some birds were more extensive then than they are now because of changes in habitat. But by and large, the birds em phasized in the taxonomy represent species observed by Cheyennes on the Central Plains and margins of the Plains in the nineteenth century.

Beginning at the top of Figure 3, the most important holy bird or “sacred bird” is the nonomavecess, or “thunderbird.” For Cheyennes, the bird’s most important feature is its eye, which is said to be white and flashing. Lightning from thunderheads is said to leap from this bird’s eye, and the bird’s shape can be seen in the clouds. Most infor mants said that only the Pueblo Indians know much about this bird, but six informants iden tified pictures of the Harris Hawk as the thunderbird. However, I tend to believe that

this identification might be biased by the fact that the illustration I showed informants, early on, had a white highlight painted in its left eye.

When I switched to a different picture, no one called it a thunderbird. However, the earlier informants had added that the Harris Hawk lived in extended families, which can be con firmed from scientific observations (Farrand 1983:234). The bird is only an occasional visitor to Oklahoma in modern times (Wood and Schnell 1984:37), but is more common in southwestern Texas and northern Mexico,

where Cheyennes presently travel to collect peyote.

The magpie is said to be a sacred messenger to the high god because it comes near to human habitation and overhears their conversations. It is especially conceived to be the messenger to Sweet Medicine, the culture hero of the Cheyennes. Although common in Montana, the magpie is now only an occa sional in Oklahoma outside the panhandle (Wood and Schnell 1984:110). It is seen more frequently along the Arkansas River in


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Usual Scientific Common Family Genus Species Translation Name Name

Vmaheonevecess bird father iAquila chrysaetos [Golden Eagle (?)* J all-bird IParabuteo unicinctus I Harris’ Hawk (?)* / I nonomavecess “thunderbird”

/ mohehva “magpie [“Pica pica [“Black-billed Magpie* / S sacred messenger I Geococcyx I Greater Roadrunner* / L californianus

/ ^oxoxzvovetas “green whirlwind” Anax junius / (vernal) [“green darner

/ y/’^voxpaevovetas “white whirlwind” Anax junius I tornado / ^ (pruinose) / Svovetas /Nv^^^rnoxfavovefas “black whirlwind” [Cathartidae [vultures*

/\ I Chordeiles minor I Common Nighthawk*

j^r heovevovetas “yellow whirlwind” Libellula red skimmer Ar saturata maheonevekseo ? sheovehoze “yellow messenger” Phoebis sennae cloudless or giant

^tfc^^^ sulphur butterfly* ^^^^^”””^–^^ yS00^otataboza “blue messenger” Celastrina argiolus common blue

^%^^,S>J7^**^zahotonovaz butterfly* ?. ^^***-?mae/)oze “red messenger” [Danaus plexippus [monarch butterfly ^O^s^^^^^v^ >v LLimenitis archippus [^viceroy butterfly

^S^s. ^^”^^ ^voxpaehoze “white messenger” Ganyra josephina giant white butterfly* >v ^Ss*vv^ “raven [“crow X. ^<?rK5/(oxc crow Corvus graven >v . [blackbird

^^ehoesetto flicker >v woodpecker Colaptes Northern Flicker

\memaenvecess “red-headed Melanerpes Red-headed Woodpecker bird” erythrocephalus

Fig. 3. The holy birds. Some “common names” are standard species names; some are merely colloquial expres sions for “kinds” of birds. Literal translations of Cheyenne names are enclosed in quotation marks; asterisks in dicate bird species not found in the Great Lakes region. Wherever possible, I have followed the spellings in Petter’s dictionary (1915).

Kansas and Colorado, increasing in its den sity toward the higher elevations to the west. Among the Southern Cheyennes, roadrunner feathers are freely substituted for magpie feathers in ceremonies, because they are similarly iridescent, and they are counted as the same species. In fact, the name for road runners, istom-mohehya, can be roughly translated as “imitation magpie” or “magpie look-alike.” In Montana, however, where

magpies are more common, this substitution of feathers is not made. In Oklahoma, road runners are classed both as maheonevekseo, submerged into magpies, and as “ground birds” among the xamaeve/cseo.

At first glance the whirlwinds, or vovetas, would seem to be very diverse cognitively? two insects, two birds, and a meteorological event. But all five share the funnel-shaped configuration which is so important in Cheyenne religious symbolism. In the late summer, dragonflies, and especially the green darner, form circling swarms over the streams and marshes of the prairie as they hunt for tiny insects. The green darner ap pears twice in the taxonomy, once in its green vernal form and again in its white or pruinose

autumnal form. Both forms are seen to be components of tornadoes which come onto the Plains in two seasons?spring and fall. Red skimmers, which are more typical of stagnant pools than running water, are associated with mid-summer “dust devils” which are common in the dry months.

One of the black whirlwinds?the vulture? also forms funnel-shaped configurations over cliff faces to seek thermals, or to circle car rion. In the past, such funnels were said to mark buffalo kills or battlefields. The general associations of the vulture as black whirlwind are with death and the west. The nighthawk, also called black whirlwind, is associated with twilight (rather than night) and the west. The four kinds of whirlwinds form a complete cosmological set, white and green represent ing north and south, respectively, and red/yellow and black representing east and west.

The zehotonovz or messengers are all butterflies and are associated with the major ceremonies and with some leading medicine bundles in private hands. Perhaps signifi cantly, the five species singled out for atten tion here are all butterflies which form enor


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Usual Scientific Common Family Genus Species Translation Name Name <moeoniz P’war eagle” Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle / (eagle (juvenile)

/ . enskiniz “striped eagle” Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle / / (immature)

/ / Jniz j Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle / / xamaeniz “ordinary eagle” I (mature) // ^ I Haliaeetus Bald Eagle

//leucocephalus L //yr (immature)

Jy_,_heoveniz “yellow eagle” Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle n/z^ (mature)

^^^v^^-^^Tvoaxa [white eagle H. leucocephalus Bald Eagle \V\7Ns^. ^|histatsitsva I “snow head” (mature) xS/N. totoiniz [“prairie eagle” Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle \\ >v I spotted eagle (mature)

\\. ^maoniz “red eagle” Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle \ \ (mature)

\ \ otataveniz [“blue eagle” Elanotdes American Swallow-tailed Kite \ (gray eagle forficatus forficatus \ nizvokomasz “white-painted eagle” Falco rusticolus Gyrfalcon

?-oheho [buzzard Cathartidae vultures I bald eagle aenohes |”little hawk” Falco sparvarius American Kestrel

/ I sparrow hawk

/ y, voxpaano “white hawk” Elanus leucurus Black-shouldered Kite / totamenaeno “prairie hawk” Accipiter gentilis Northern Goshawk

? siskeaeno “swift hawk” Falconinae except aenoo ^j’ F. sparverius and falcons

. F- rusticolus

\ moehenoxe marsh hawk Circus cyaneus Northern Harrier \ \ j Buteo regalis Ferruginous Hawk \ \ \hoestom _ IB. jamaicensis Red-tailed Hawk

\ \ Buteogallus Common Black Hawk \ \ moxfaveaeno “black hawk” anthracinus and \ melanos of melanos

\ Buteoninae

^ seseomimista “snake-eating owl” Asio flammeus Short-eared Owl

Fig. 4. The great birds.

mous migratory flocks on the Plains in the late summer or fall. Anyone seeing these spec tacular migrations would not wonder why the Cheyennes might be drawn to them as re ligious symbols. Only one of these, the red

messenger, was described to me as forming funnel-shaped masses. Butterflies are also said to drink blood, and in fact I have seen swarms of them where animals have been butchered.

Ravens and crows are merged in the Cheyenne taxon hokoxc and are counted as carnivores, although they are not included among the maxevekseo. This taxon, like the Harris Hawk, is considered to live in families, with identifiable ages and sexes in a group. The taxon hokoxc also provides feathers for one of the soldier societies, the Dog Soldiers.2

The flicker, ehoesetto (literally “lightning thing”), is sacred for a multitude of behavioral

traits and markings. It has a crescent moon on its chest, and its flight is in wavelike pat terns which also imply the moon. The two

major varieties of flicker, the red-shafted and yellow-shafted, both of which are found on the Plains, are painted on their cheeks with “blood paint” and “peace paint,” respec tively. The yellow-shafted flicker is seen to be the female and has tail feathers which are marked with the rich yellow of fertility, although tipped with sharp black tips, which imply a power to deflect illness and evil. Flicker tail feathers are said to have been burned and pointed by lightning. More than any other bird, flickers are a compound of many important symbols.

The red-headed woodpecker, memaen vecess, is a sun symbol and a phallic sym bol. Whenever it appears in major Cheyenne ceremonies or private rituals, its meaning is consistently the same. The bird is associated


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Usual Scientific Common Family Genus Species Translation Name Name

.otatavecess “bluebird” Sialia bluebird

/yhonehevecess bluejay Cyanocitta cristata Blue Jay / /\,heheenon yellowhead Xanthocephalus Yellow-headed Blackbird


p’redbird” /fir _^ maevecess robin Cardinalis Northern Cardinal Sl^-*0**^**”^ I cardinal cardinalis / vekseohes

I vvX*’^* “?-mesofre swallow Hirundinidae swallows / VvS. kokohohe woodpecker Picidae except woodpeckers

/ VV^V Melanerpes / \\ erythrocephalus / VS. Nse/ie snowbird Junco hyemalis Dark-eyed J unco / \N hevokemevecess I \ 1 vecesshes hummingbird Trochiliformes hummingbirds

/ \pe’e nighthawk Chordeiles minor Common Nighthawk / y maeseeonahe [“redbreast Turdus migratorius American Robin / y< I redbird

/ yr ^*koohkovae quail Colinus quail ^r^ffQ?ni>r0n / s_ t/flirnhaaca prairie chicken Tympanuchus Prairie Chickens

\ 1?? hoevekseo -m \ VsT ?? tohtaanotovahe snipe Charadrius Killdeer \ \^VS^ vociferus \ xV^v^”^ istomohehya roadrunner Geococcyx Great Roadrunner

\ xS^Vv californianus \ \\.\enoxeas meadowlark Sturnella meadowlarks \ maxen turkey Meleagris gallapavo Wild Turkey \ ^ hoveese snipe Numenius americanus Long-billed Curlew \ . voestaso swan Cygninae swan \ / j matsenez kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon Belted Kingfisher

\ / / TGruidae Tcranes \ // y nepotaz crane |_Plegadis chihi |_ibis \ //yf^. voa pelican Pelecanus White Pelican

\ J^/^^^^ erythrorhynchos

\ mahpevekseo wZL~. coot “??? oxcem mud hen Fulica americana American Coot duck teal

N/N. Anatidae except ducks \ >sese duck Anserinae \ henahe goose Anserinae geese

Fig. 5. The ordinary birds.

with the Sun Dance centerpole, which is itself a phallic symbol. The bird is a threefold sym bol implying male fertility, maleness as a per sonal role in society, and the agnatic side of Cheyenne social structure (Moore 1974:173 174).

The maxevekseo family (Fig. 4) is defined as predatory. This predatory behavior is rationalized in a traditional story called “The Bird Council,” in which the maxeve/cseo in form the other birds, “Hereafter, we will eat you” (Kroeber 1900:162-163). Literally, how ever, maxevekseo does not mean “predatory birds” but rather “great birds,” with the predatory behavior implicit. Of the eagles, the war eagle or moeniz is the first color phase of the golden eagle after fledging. Informants

say that this eagle has four sets of black-and white feathers before moving to another phase. They differ about whether the next phase is striped or spotted.

Even though the Cheyennes know that war eagles change into spotted or striped eagles, this does not mean the Cheyennes view these two birds as part of the same species. For Cheyennes the concept of “species,” especially as applied to birds, im plies symbolic or religious rather than reproductive significance. So when the ap pearance of an individual bird changes, its symbolic importance changes, and therefor its species also changes. The idea of “breed ing true,” while prevasive in Cheyenne tax

onomy, is not the only idea. Some lower forms


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of animals, such as reptiles and insects, are alleged to transform themselves into birds (for example, nymph into dragonfly, pupa into but terfly), but this does not mean that the pre emergent form is the same “species” as the emergent form. Such creatures might be classified twice in taxonomic structure, once as a nymph and again as a bird. According to modern informants, there were formerly priests who knew which snakes were trans formed into which birds, but this information is now lost. Evidence for this transformation is the empty snakeskins which are found across the Plains.

The bald eagle, voaxa, is not as respected as other eagles because it eats fish and car rion, and because it is the emblem appear ing on United States money. Because silver dollars and gold “double eagles” have been used as bribes in several episodes of Cheyenne relations with the government, the bald eagle is only grudgingly given the status of eagle. A much-told Cheyenne anecdote concerns the appropriateness of bald eagles as emblems of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, since bald eagles are thieves, stealing fish from ospreys. It is this kind of eagle in par ticular which is associated with white people and their ways.

The immature bald eagle, however, is held to be an entirely distinct creature and is usually not differentiated from the brown mature phase of the golden eagle, because they are so similar in appearance. While speckled feathers from immature bald eagles are regarded as interesting and beautiful, I could elicit no special name for “speckled eagle” in Cheyenne. No Cheyenne volun teered to me the information that bald eagles ever had brown or speckled offspring. When I suggested this, I was twice told that this was a lie made up by white people to disparage the sacred eagles.

In addition to eagles, two other large rap tors are incorporated into the Cheyenne taxon niz. These are the blue eagle, or swallow tailed kite, formerly common along the Cana dian and Arkansas rivers, and the white eagle, or gyrfalcon, seen sometimes in winter (Wood and Schnell 1984:194). Some infor mants included red-tailed and ferruginous hawks as maeniz or “red eagles,” but this is a minority opinion.

The eagles provide several examples of

what I call “customary mistranslations” of biological terms from Cheyenne. Because birds were commonly used in personal names transcribed by Army clerks in the early reser vation period, Cheyennes were forced to translate many bird names before they had a general familiarity with English. As a con sequence, many older Cheyennes, although they are perfectly clear about bird taxonomy in Cheyenne, make customary errors in English. The most universal of these custom ary mistranslations is probably “robin” for cardinal. Older Cheyennes frequently said “robin” or “robin redbreast” in English when shown a flash card of a cardinal. The flash cards, however, cleared away a great deal of this kind of confusion.

Three common mistranslations among the maxevekseo are “bald eagle” for vulture (oheho literally means “bald one”), and therefore “white eagle” for bald eagle. Hav ing made these two translations, then, an in formant can offer no word in English for the gyrfalcon, since the literal translation of “white eagle” has already been offered for bald eagle. Cheyenne names elicited from flash cards, however, gave the consistant pat tern shown in Figure 4. “Golden eagle” is also a common mistranslation offered for heoveniz, in part because none of the other Cheyenne eagles are usually translated as “golden eagle,” although Cheyennes may have heard the term in English.

The names for hawk species are much less regular in Cheyenne than names for eagle species. This is mostly because hawk names are widely used as personal names and are subject to individual and family vari ation in naming. Another reason is the great multitude of color phases and the sexual dimorphism among the Buteonidae of the Plains (Peterson 1961:50-56). Figure 4 con tains only the names of species which have some claim to consensus among the infor mants I interviewed. But there are scores if not hundreds of other hawk names used as personal names, describing hawks which are alleged to be singular and unique.

A large number of the Accipitrinae, or long tailed hawks, do not appear at all in Figure 4. This is because I could elicit no consistent names for many of the flash cards I showed, although I collected a large number of per sonal names drawn from various species of


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Accipitridae not shown on the diagram. Since these personal names are private property, and cannot be used by other families without permission, such hawk names do not become widely shared in Cheyenne society. I would offer this as an explanation for the lack of con sensus concerning many Cheyenne hawks, despite the fact that hawks are very important in Cheyenne naming.

The only nonhawk among the aenoo is the short-eared owl, which is also the only owl considered by my informants to be a bird. This bird has a unique place because it is diurnal and because it eats rattlesnakes, which are an object of Cheyenne curiosity. Making Medicine put the seseomimista or “snake-eater” in his illustration of birds, and he put a rattlesnake in its grasp. All other owls, however, are considered to be m/sfa, spooks of the night and not birds.

When we translate xamaeve/cseo (Fig. 5) as “ordinary birds,” we lose some of the spirit of the expression in Cheyenne. For it means not only ordinary or common, but also natural or stable. For example, wild horses are dif ferentiated from domestic horses by the use of the same prefix, xama. Here it implies a creature which is in balance with natural forces, rather than in some extraordinary or vulnerable state. Holy birds and great birds, by contrast, are in a sacred state, implying energy and excitement. But the xamaevekseo are in the same kind of natural or unexcited state as wild horses and are therefore of less interest to Cheyenne intellectuals.

The xamaeve/cseo are differentiated by habitat into three genera. The vekseohes or “small birds” are mostly the birds of the riparian forests who build nests in trees. As

with the hawks, many of the forest birds are unnamed, and Figure 5 only comprises those bird names which have a consensus among Cheyenne informants. The markings of the vekseohes, in preservation times, were often imitated in the face-paints of warriors and are explained in a traditional story called “The Great Race” (Grinnell 1926:252-254). The vekseohes are described in the story as the birds who chose to paint themselves to participate in the race while the other birds did not paint.

The hoevekseo, or “ground birds,” are sometimes also described as birds who do not paint. Those informants who emphasized

“painting” as a definitive characteristic of the genus tended to put the robin and the mead owlark among the small birds rather than with the ground birds. All the other birds are more securely in the genus, however, since they are “cryptic” or camouflage-colored, rather than exhibiting bright markings. Most mem bers of this genus are considered to be edible, and turkeys and prairie chickens are hunted by the Cheyennes at the present time, turkeys in Oklahoma and prairie chickens in Montana.

Of the other hoevekseo, several have characteristics which are mentioned fre quently by informants. The hoveese is pic tured in the drawings by Making Medicine and is differentiated from other snipes and curlews by its down-curved beak. Other similar birds are given no name in Cheyenne, although they are called “snipe” in English. The killdeer, also called snipe in English (the name tohtaanotovahe literally means “ring neck”), is mentioned in connection with rain fall. It is said to have a unique manner of running along the ground. The roadrunner is known for cocking its head and for being a hard worker. The personal name “Road runner Path” in Cheyenne implies a person who has elected to be a hard worker.

Of the mahpevekseo, or “water birds,” the first five are largely of symbolic interest, while the last two are said to be game birds. Some informants have said that the first five “paint”

while the ducks and geese do not. Swans and pelicans, like the swallow-tailed kite, are no longer common on Plains rivers, but older people could name them from flash cards. The kingfisher and crane, however, are still important in Cheyenne culture. The kingfisher has been an important medicine bird, used in the treatment of wounds, especially gun shot wounds. The idea behind the medicine was that treatment with kingfisher feathers would heal an arrow or bullet wound, just as water is “healed” without a trace after a div ing kingfisher passes through it.

The dancing of cranes was mentioned fre quently by informants. The courtship dance of the Sandhill Crane, in particular, is very in tricate, and serves as the model for some public dances of the Cheyennes. Informants also remarked on the “paints” both of the Sandhill and of the Whooping Crane, a species which is recognized by older infor mants although it is, of course, very rare.


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I believe that Karl Schlesier is correct in assigning the cranes and the gyrfalcon to an early symbolic complex associated with the Massaum Ceremony (Schlesier 1986). If the ceremony originated in the days when the proto-Cheyennes lived in a sub-Arctic en vironment, it would of course emphasize fauna from that environment. The Cheyenne concern for these birds, as well as their hav ing names and stories about seals, musk oxen, moose, and polar bears, is hard to ex plain otherwise.

The Anatidae which are marked in camou flage patterns, especially gadwalls, black ducks, and the females of many other species, are the most secure members of the genus of water birds, because they do not paint. Brightly marked ducks, such as male mallards, redheads, and especially teal, are said by some to be painted and aggressive “warrior birds.” This does not imply, however, that they are not edible. As far as I could determine, the markings of the Anatidae were not imitated for war paints in the preserva tion period. The coot is a frequent character in Cheyenne stories.


To understand how this taxonomy has evolved over the past 200 years, we should first trace the migrations of the Cheyenne people during that time. Because of the ex cellent ethnohistorical work of Grinnell (1962), Hyde (1968), Wood (1971), and Schlesier (1986), we have acquired a good knowledge of the geographical range of the Cheyennes in this period. According to maps, documents, and oral histories, the Cheyennes were resi dent in the Great Lakes area near Mille Lacs in Minnesota about 1680. From there they

moved by stages across North and South Dakota to the Black Hills area, where Lewis and Clark found them in 1805. In the first part of the nineteenth century, they moved to the forks of the Platte, in present-day Wyoming and Nebraska, and then the Southern Cheyennes moved to eastern Colorado at about mid-century.

The significance of these moves for Cheyenne ornithology is that many of the sacred birds or maheonevekseo prominent in Cheyenne ceremonies could not have been encountered until about 1740, when the

Cheyennes reached the plains surrounding the Black Hills. Although ranges of birds were different then, before the destruction of habitat by farming and ranching, there was still a significant number of birds found in the Great Plains which were not found in the Great Lakes area (Baird 1859; Coues 1896; Mitchell and Zim 1977; Peterson 1961,1980). Nine Cheyenne bird species not found in the Great Lakes are marked with an asterisk in Figure 3. Of the remaining eight species of holy birds in the figure, the whirlwinds and messengers were probably more conspicu ous on the plains than they were in the wood lands, especially in exhibiting the swarming behavior which Cheyenne intellectuals have found to be so significant. This leaves only ravens, flickers, and red-headed woodpeck ers as holy birds which were probably as prominent and visible in the woodland en vironment as they were on the Great Plains.

From the ethnohistorical evidence, it seems likely that in 1800 at least nine species of holy birds had been recently encountered, and I would suggest that our task as histor ians of Cheyenne ornithology is to try to understand how these nine species have been incorporated into the Cheyenne system. To understand things properly, I suggest that we should attempt two preliminary analyses. First, we should understand, in general, what role birds might have had in Cheyenne ritual and symbolism during the Cheyenne’s Great Lakes period, before about 1740, and sec ondly, we should try to understand the more general process by which all kinds of new ethnobiological information, including ornith ology, has been incorporated into Cheyenne intellectual life. After looking from this more general perspective, we will then be able to look more successfully at how the classifica tions of certain particular bird species have developed through time.

Before coming to the Black Hills, the most significant ceremonies for the Cheyennes had been the Massaum or Animal Lodge Cere mony (Curtis 1911) and the Corn Ceremony associated with their agricultural period (Anderson 1958). In both these ceremonies, according to ethnographic reports, birds were given little importance. In the Massaum, various groups of priests dressed like different species of real and imagined mammals and acted out their curing powers over injury and


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disease. In the Corn Ceremony, berries and tubers, as well as four varieties of native corn, were given the central focus. As near as we can reconstruct these two early ceremonial complexes, then, we can say that birds were not closely affiliated with either of the central symbolic systems.

In their Black Hills period, the Cheyennes focused their religious energy on creating two novel ceremonies at the national level. The more important was the Arrow Ceremony, celebrating their acquisition of four ancient stone arrows, brought to them by the prophet Sweet Medicine. This ceremony was and is unique to the Cheyennes and is shared by no other tribe. By contrast, their other new ceremony dating from Plains times, the Sun Dance, is widely shared among other tribes, although the Cheyenne version has many singular features.

In view of Cheyenne history, it is not sur prising that it was birds rather than mammals or plants which were selected for prominent roles in these two new Cheyenne ceremonies. As religious symbols, mammals were already “preoccupied” in the Massaum Ceremony, while plants were already associated with the Corn Ceremony. But Plains birds were emi nently available as religious symbols because they were striking, colorful, observable, and new to Cheyenne experience. In fact the holy birds (Fig. 3) were not only used, but were assigned special roles, both in the Sun Dance and in the Arrow Ceremony. Feathers and other parts of these birds were manipulated as an integral part of these ceremonies. Ex cept for the badger and buffalo, mammals were largely ignored. But this was at a time when the Massaum Ceremony was still ac tively coexisting with the other ceremonies (it lasted until early in the twentieth century), and so mammals as symbols already had an active designated role in Cheyenne religious life.

Looking next at how new knowledge is in corporated into Cheyenne intellectual life, priests, war doctors, and healers all learn their roles by apprenticing to a senior person. In ceremonies a novice is instructed four times before becoming a priest himself. War doc tors, according to Mooney (1903), usually took four junior members of their family as clients,

while in healing, it is recovered patients who most often become apprentices (Mooney

1903). So there have been three discrete kinds of intellectuals in traditional Cheyenne society?priests, war doctors, and healers? who have been responsible for interpreting the natural world and creating biological taxa. They have done this by observing natural phenomena closely, coining names for na tural entities, while in the process discover ing the spiritual significance of different species, by prayer, dreaming, and visions.

Nowadays, there are few doctors who make war medicines, but these allege that this whole body of knowledge has been dis tinct from matters of ceremony and healing. For this assertion I would particularly cite the opinions of Roy Bull Coming of Seiling, Oklahoma, a much-decorated veteran of World War II and a modern war doctor and healer. But the practice of modern healers, as well as war doctors, has changed some what in the last several decades. In contrast with past practices, modern healers are less specialized, mostly because the community of native physicians has diminished con siderably. While it is not unusual today to find a person who will treat several kinds of disease, and perhaps supply war medicines as well, it is alleged that in the past all the physicians were specialists. Many of the healers were organized into “lodges” of prac titioners, like the Massaum Lodge, while Mooney (1903) reported that the war doctors were not. While the Massaum Lodge, for ex ample, comprised 100 persons, each war doctor had at most four clients, any one of whom might become a war doctor in his own right, if he survived through his warrior years.

This assertion is confirmed in Little Chief’s panoramic drawing of an aboriginal Chey enne tribal circle. In this drawing, which shows remarkable details of tipi design and costume, the shields of warriors with the same medicinal design are displayed to gether. There are no more than four shields of any one design (Specimen 11/1706, Museum of the American Indian).

Although there were these three distinct types of religionists in aboriginal times, they acquired their knowledge in a very similar fashion. As apprentices, the new religionists

were attached to “qualified” people and had the power themselves only insofar as they reflected the “correct” knowledge of pro cedures, songs, and prayers learned from


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their instructor. But as knowledge of the natural world passes from generation to generation, then as now, some knowledge is lost while other knowledge is elaborated. At the death of the instructor, an apprentice is free to elaborate or reinterpret the biological and supernatural knowledge, or to try and recover or reconstruct knowledge previously lost (Moore 1974:231-269). It is during this process of elaboration and reconstruction that new names for birds can be coined and novel symbolic associations made among birds, animals, and plants, perhaps different from the nomenclature and associations made by other religious specialists. These differences in interpretation of the natural world are sometimes reflected in the variability of response given to ethnographers, depending on the training and experiences of the infor mant. This variability also causes informants to be circumspect or deferential in discussing birds or other symbols which they know are interpreted differently by other religionists.

The ambiguity of Cheyenne bird tax onomy, for example, is perhaps best demon strated in the taxon mazevekseo, mostly com prising birds which have been used by war doctors, although they are also used by priests and healers. Evidence of the variability and circumspection exercised by religionists in discussing birds appears in the 11 vocab ularies collected by ethnographers between 1846 and the present (Table 1). Instead of

manifesting regular developmental rules for expanding a taxonomy in an orderly way, the terms for great birds remained ambiguous throughout the period. This demonstrates, I believe, a continuing variability in the percep tions of religionists, depending on their background and experience.

Many contradictions in the Cheyenne ornithology of great birds still remain, especially where a bird is simultaneously part

of two or more religious systems. Vultures, for example, are presently said to be “black whirlwinds” in the context of Sun Dance rituals but are considered to be part of the family mazevecess, or “great birds,” in the context of curing personal illness. A Sun Dance priest will explain, in the context of ceremonies, that vultures are whirlwinds because they form funnel-shaped flocks. The priest would beg off the question of whether vultures were significant in the rituals of cur ing. An Indian doctor who used vulture fans for curing would likewise beg off concerning the significance of vultures in the Sun Dance. That is, although he would use vulture wings and eagle wings interchangeably in his cur ing rituals, and consider them to be the same species, he would not quarrel with a priest’s classification of vultures as “whirlwinds” in another context.

From the extant lists of eagle terms (Table 1), we might also try to reconstruct the development of Cheyenne knowledge about eagles as the tribe came onto the Plains about 1680 to 1740. We must first note that while bald eagles were known to Cheyennes in their Great Lakes days period, golden eagles probably were not. Perhaps conse quently, Smith’s informant in 1846 gave him the name of the bald eagle, voaxa, as the general term for eagles. Hayden’s (1863) in formants also gave him only one eagle name, which he represented as woh-a, cognate with Smith’s term. By the time of Making Medicine, however, at least three color phases of golden eagles were recognized by Cheyennes as distinct species, of which the immature or war eagle was the most important for warriors. Thirty-two of the 33 warriors pictured in James Mooney’s sketchbooks of Cheyenne shields, ponies, and paints carry feathers or other representations of war eagles (Mooney 1903). The panoramic drawing of Little Chief, dated

Table 1. Names Used for Eagles from Ethnographic Word Lists. turkey griffin golden bald large Reference Informant eagle buzzard vulture eagle eagle vulture bird

Smith 1846 voo-ah-quah Hayden 1859 woh-a Gatschet 1879 Squint Eye maxewikes wuaxa mani

Creel 1879 nitz wo-i-chi Gatschet 1891 Daniel Littlechief nits maxiwikis waxa maxiwikis Gatschet 1893 David Pendleton maxiwikis Gatschet 1893 Rubin Taylor maxiwitchis

Hewitt 1901 maxevecess woaxa Michelson 1910 nitts Petter 1913-1915 maxevecess/niz voaxa maxevecess Northern Cheyenne several netse voaxaa’e Student Dictionary 1976


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about 1868, shows 19 different shield de signs, indicating that at least 19 war doctors were involved in making shields, weapons, and protective amulets for Cheyenne warriors during their war period.

Since the names niz and xamaeniz are still applied to the immature bald eagle, it is reasonable to suppose that other eagle nomenclature has been elaborated from there, since the immature bald eagle was known first. In addition, the connotations of xama-, explained earlier, also imply that this is an early or original term. Behaviorally, the birds designated as niz have been seen as hunters of game, rather than eaters of fish and carrion, like voaxa. Since the name voaxa carried these undesirable connotations, it was therefore not the name which was elaborated for use in describing Plains raptors. Instead, the word niz, previously used only for the immature bald eagle, was elaborated to incor porate the eagles described in Figure 4.

In modern terms, however, only a few of the traditional warrior bundles and amulets are preserved. Interest in the immature golden eagle as a military symbol has diminished to the point that the term “war eagle” is seldom heard anymore. The term “striped eagle” is also seldom heard, although the reasons for this are not so clear. In any event totoiniz, the “prairie” or spotted eagle, is now the most significant for the Cheyennes, since its feathers are used in the major ceremonies, in personal medicine bundles, and for divination. Black-and-white eagle feathers are still used for decorative purposes, although they are now merely called eagle feathers rather than being at tributed to “war eagles.” Downy feathers from this eagle, taken from under the tail, are used in the modern Sun Dance.

One taxon of diminished importance over the past 100 years has been the mahpevek seo or waterfowl, especially ducks and geese. Although they were a staple food in the pre equestrian period, according to early infor mants (Grinnell 1962:1:51), waterfowl were seldom hunted in the Plains period. As late as 1891, however, Gatschet (1891) collected the names of 11 distinct duck and goose species. Hayden’s (1863) bird list, collected in 1859, contains the names of eight ducks and geese from a total list of 55 birds. Modern Cheyennes, however, can usually manage

only three names?for duck, goose, and coot. This diminution in waterfowl taxa cannot

be attributed to geographical movement, since all the duck and goose species men tioned by Gatschet and Hayden are still found in the Great Plains during their spring and fall

migrations. The difference, I believe, is merely a progressive disinterest on the part of a na tion which was radically transforming itself in to an economy and lifestyle which empha sized buffalo hunting. Since waterfowl were no longer hunted for food, and since they had never become religious objects, the taxonomy was simply diselaborated, or one might say condensed.

But just as some birds have diminished in their importance to Cheyenne ornithology, other birds are in the ascendency. In par ticular, birds associated with the peyote religion are now considered by many Chey ennes to be maheonevekseo or holy birds, on a level with the birds which are central to the Sun Dance and Arrow Ceremony. The peyote birds are the anhinga, also called waterbird or water turkey in English (maheonenonoma or “sacred thunder” in Cheyenne), macaw {makavecess or “macaw-bird”), the scissor tailed flycatcher (hatkahe or “active one”), and the Mexican turkey, known only from its feathers and called sovotaniz or “southern eagle.” The feathers of all these birds are used to make Cheyenne peyote fans, al though macaws, like Mexican turkeys, are not native to Cheyenne territory.


In sum, the Cheyenne data suggests two propositions which may be of general significance. The first proposition is very modest, merely that biological taxa are elaborated or condensed depending on cul tural interest. As societies migrate or re organize themselves around new resources, the biological taxa are diminished in some places and enriched in others.

A second proposition derived from the Cheyenne experience, simply put, is that new rituals require new symbols. Especially when a society has new and unassigned species available to it, these can be used for natural symbols rather than facing the problem of redefining traditional species to suit new ritual or ideological purposes. This is twice evident


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in Cheyenne history, once when Plains birds were incorporated into the Arrow Worship and Sun Dance, and again when the Southern Cheyennes adopted birds from the Southern Plains and Mexico into the peyote religion.

In conclusion, I would suggest that the developmental theories offered so far by Berlin and Brown are more imaginative than they are scientific. The authors suggest a situation in which a society, as a language community, stays in situ for perhaps thou sands of years gradually elaborating a tax onomy of birds observed in that region, begin ning with a few names for “universal life forms.” This is all highly speculative, I would suggest, and does not specifically address the situation of migration and the cultural ac commodation to species which are newly en countered. Berlin and Brown imply that a society begins with a clean slate when they construct a taxonomy for birds and animals. I suggest instead that a situation of migration is more frequent among human societies than the elaboration of a taxonomic system in situ. If one assumes, for example, that the various societies which have migrated to the New World had well-developed taxonomies at the time, these systems would no doubt have in corporated only the Arctic and sub-Arctic taxa of Siberia and Alaska. By the time migrating peoples reached Mexico, not to mention South America where Berlin did his fieldwork, they would have changed, almost entirely, the species they originally recognized for new ones from the tropics and pampas. The Aztecs and Toltecs represent real and recent samples of this kind of migration into a radically different biological zone.

In general, I agree with the recent criti cisms of Berlin and Brown voiced by Randall and Hunn (1984). The case of the Cheyennes, cited here, indicates how migrations can in itiate transformations and reorganization of the biotic taxa. I have suggested that the form of the transformation depends in great part on the presence and diversity of new local species, and on the cultural interests of the society, rather than on the internal develop mental logic suggested by Berlin and Brown.


1. Where standard American Ornithological Union species names are used, their conventions of

capitalization are employed. When reference is made to colloquial terms, groups of species, parts of species, or translations from Cheyenne which are not cognate with AOU names for species, the names are not capitalized.

2. The name of the society is expressed in Cheyenne by the lexeme hotam, which does not necessarily have anything to do with dogs, but more with the status of servant, in this case, something like “public servant,” implying the role of this society as conceived by its

members. Early in my fieldwork, certain Cheyennes referred to me as “our dog,” which was, I hope, not necessarily derrogatory.


Data for this research were collected in large part under National Science Foundation Grant BNS 8014119 and National Institutes of Health Project R01-HD-14910. I wish to thank the following Cheyennes for their help and patience in explaining the systematics of their for mal ornithology, although no individual should be held accountable for the taxonomy as it appears here: Alex Brady, Henry Tall Bull, Ted Rising Sun, Roy Nightwalker, Clarence Stoneroad, Jim Medicine Elk, Edward Red Hat, Eugene Blackbear Sr., Laird Cometsevah, Roy and Kathryn Bull Coming, John and Susie Blackowl, Albert Tall Bull, Ray Brady, John Greany, Everett Yellowman, Joe Antelope, Willie Fletcher, Terry Wilson, Walter Roe Hamilton, Katie Osage, Vinnie Hoffman, and Wayne Red Hat. I also want to thank John L. Cordell, Office of the State Archaeologist of Iowa, for his help with the bird names.


Anderson, R. 1958 Notes on Northern Cheyenne Corn Cere

monialism. Masterkey 32(2):57-63.

Baird, S. F. 1859 Catalogue of North American Birds. Smith

sonian Miscellaneous Collections, Washing ton, D.C.

Berlin, B. 1972 Speculations on the Growth of Ethnobotanical

Nomenclature. Language in Society 1:51-86.

Brown, C H. 1979 Folk Zoological Life-Forms: Their Universality

and Growth. American Anthropologist 81(4):791-817.

Coues, E. 1896 Key to North American Birds. Estes and

Lauriat, Boston.

Creel, H. 1879 Cheyenne Dictionary and Grammar. Ms. on

file, Gilcrease Museum Archives, Tulsa, Oklahoma.


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Curtis, E. S. 1911 The North American Indian, vol. 19. Norwood,

New York.

Farrand, J., Jr., (editor) 1983 The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding,

vol. 1. Knopf, New York.

Gatschet, A. S. 1879 Manuscript 1552. Ms. on file, Anthropological

Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washing ton, D.C.

1891 Manuscript 54. Ms. on file, Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Wash ington, D.C.

1893 Manuscript 61. Ms. on file, Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washing ton, D.C.

Glenmore, J., and W. Leman 1984 Cheyenne Topical Dictionary. Cheyenne

Translation Project, Busby, Montana.

Grinnell, G. B. 1926 By Cheyenne Campfires. Yale University

Press, New Haven.

1962 The Cheyenne Indians. 2 vols. Cooper Square Press, New York.

Hayden, F. V. 1863 Contributions to the Ethnography and

Philology of the Indian Tribes of the Missouri Valley. American Philosophical Society Tran sactions, New Series, No. 12.

Hewitt, J. N. B. 1901 Manuscript 893. Ms on file, Anthropological

Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washing ton, D. C.

Hyde, G. E. 1968 Life Of George Bent. University of Oklahoma

Press, Norman.

Kroeber, A. L. 1900 Cheyenne Tales. Journal of American Folk

Lore 13(50): 161-190.

Mitchell, R. T., and H. S. Zim 1977 Butterflies and Moths. Golden Press, New


Mooney, J. M. 1903 Manuscript 2531. Ms. on file, Anthropological

Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washing ton, D. C.

Moore, J. H. 1974 Religious Symbolism Among the Cheyenne

Indians. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

1979 The Utility of Cheyenne Cosmology. Papers in Anthropology 20(2): 1-12.

1984 Cheyenne Names and Cosmology. American Ethnologist 11(2):291-312.

Northern Cheyenne Bilingual Educational Program 1976 English-Cheyenne Student Dictionary.

Northern Cheyenne Bilingual Education Pro gram, Lame Deer, Montana.

Peterson, R. T. 1961 A Field Guide to Western Birds. Houghton

Mifflin, Boston.

1980 A Field Guide to Birds East of the Rockies. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Petter, R. 1915 English-Cheyenne Dictionary. Mennonite

Mission, Kettle Falls, Washington.

Randall, R. A., and E. S. Hunn 1984 Do Life-Forms Evolve or Do Uses for Life?

American Ethnologist 11 (2):329-349.

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Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Siebert, F. T., Jr. 1967 The Original Home of the Proto-Algonquian

People. Bulletin 214. National Museums of Canada Contributions to Anthropology Lin guistics I (Algonquian), Ottawa.

Smith, J. S. 1846 Manuscript 43. Ms. on file, Anthropological

Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washing ton, D. C.

Wood, W. R. 1971 Biesterfeldt: A Post-Contact Coalescent Site

on the Northeastern Plains. Smithsonian Con tributions to Anthropology No. 15, Washing ton, D. C.

Wood, D. S., and G. D. Schnell 1984 Distributions of Oklahoma Birds. University of

Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Department of Anthropology University of Oklahoma Norman, Oklahoma, 73019 November 1985


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  • Contents
    • p. 177
    • p. 178
    • p. 179
    • p. 180
    • p. 181
    • p. 182
    • p. 183
    • p. 184
    • p. 185
    • p. 186
    • p. 187
    • p. 188
    • p. 189
    • p. 190
    • p. 191
    • p. 192
  • Issue Table of Contents
    • The Plains Anthropologist, Vol. 31, No. 113 (August 1986) pp. 177-264
      • Front Matter
      • COMMENTS
      • NOTE
        • Review: untitled [pp. 253-255]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 255-259]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 259-261]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 261-262]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 262-264]
      • Back Matter