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Book Review

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In the larger context of Plains Indian history, the Northern Cheyenne seem to drop from public consciousness following their military defeat in the campaigns of 1876-77 and their subsequent removal to an arid reservation in western Indian Territory. Mari Sandoz somewhat rescued these people from obscurity in her partially fictionalized Cheyenne Autumn (1953), which dramatized their mistreatment on the reservation, their heroic efforts to return to traditional homelands in Montana, and the bloody 1879 breakout from Ft. Robinson, Nebraska. Yet it is on that note of tragedy that their story seems to end, amid the battered bodies of fifty or sixty members of Dull Knife's band.

Thankfully, Orlan Svingen, Associate Professor of History at Washington State University, demonstrates that the Northern Cheyenne did have a future, and that by 1900 their severed factions had been rejoined once again into a fairly unified whole. His study represents an administrative history of tribal relations with the government and is not intended to be an ethnohistorical account of cultural change, continuity or accommodation. Utilizing a wide variety of archival materials, government documents, legal records and standard published materials, Svingen has produced a tightly organized and well-written account of what often seemed to be Byzantine politics at its most convoluted.


Published in Great Plains Research 4:2 (August 1994). Copyright © 1994 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.