During the summer of 2009, a small group of University of Maryland students spent three weeks immersing themselves in the Northern Cheyenne cultural landscape. Their mission was to simply listen and observe in an honorable way. They had no intended outcomes other than to use their understanding of the built environment as a lens through which to observe a specific culture. One of the elders who impacted the group profoundly was Edna Seminole. Throughout their time with the Cheyenne, Edna provided them with her informed perspective and personal memories. The last evening the group spent on the reservation, Edna shared with them a STORY and a VISION...
The Cheyenne Outbreak is a story of incredible courage in the face of violent oppression. In 1877 Cheyenne leaders including Dull Knife and Little Wolf brought their people into Fort Robinson, of the Nebraska territory, for what they hoped would be safe haven from the impending harsh winter. The Cheyenne leaders believed signing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 would allow them to live on the nearby Lakota reservation which resided within their traditional tribal lands. But they soon found themselves being escorted to "Indian Territory," now Oklahoma. Assured that they could return to Nebraska if Oklahoma didn't suit them, the Cheyenne were held in captivity and under armed guard once they arrived - hundreds of miles from their natural homeland. On September 9, 1878, after a year of suffering on an Oklahoma reservation, 300 Northern Cheyenne Indians began a trek back to their homeland. Dull Knife eventually led 150 people, mostly women and children, back to Fort Robinson seeking the support of the Lakota leader Red Cloud. They found themselves in captivity once more, learning the Fort's commander had instructions from the War Department directing him to send the Cheyenne back to Oklahoma. The Cheyenne preferred to die rather than return to a land where food was scarce, summers were unbearable and where so many of their children had died during a measles epidemic. The soldiers imprisoned the Indians in a log barracks and attempted to starve them into submission. On January 9, 1879 the Indians finally escaped from the barracks setting off a desperate running battle on the snow-covered ground. Unable to find horses, the Cheyenne eluded troops for 12 days through the dead of winter. Soldiers discovered their hiding place on January 22, but the Indians refused to surrender and were massacred.
Learn more at: http://www.nebraskahistory.org/sites/fortrob/outbreak.htm
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