Native Americans Day 14: Great Plains: Cheyenne

Great Plains: Cheyenne

Another day with a Great Plains tribe, Cheyenne.  Today we made a couple of Cheyenne crafts.

1. Review:We learned about the Sioux tribe in the Great Plains region last time. Today we will learn about another tribe in the Great Plains, the Cheyenne tribe. Remind students where the Great Plains region is on the regional map.

2. Map Skills: Compare the regional map to the globe or map today and see what countries or states are in the Great Plains region.

3. Discuss: Fill out the Tribes Chart after reading each section. Have the child listen closely to choose what word to put on the chart. Bold type words are good suggestions. After the chart has been filled out let the child color the Great Plains region on the blank Native American Groups Map.

  • Habitat: The Cheyenne Indians were far-ranging people, especially once they acquired horses. By the time the Americans met them they were living on the Great Plains in what is now South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas.

  • Homes: Their life style was more nomadic, so they used buffalo-hide houses called tepee. Since the Cheyenne tribe moved frequently to follow the buffalo herds, a tepee had to be carefully designed to set up and break down quickly, like a modern tent. An entire Cheyenne village could be packed up and ready to move on within an hour.

  • Dress: Cheyenne women wore long deerskin dresses, and men wore breechcloth with leather leggins. Later, Cheyenne men adopted the Plains war shirt worn by other Indians of this region. A Cheyenne lady’s dress or warrior’s shirt was fringed and often decorated with porcupine quills, shells, and elk teeth. Cheyenne men wore moccasins and women wore high fringed boots. Cheyenne men wore their long hair in braids with a topknot or pompadour, and women wore their hair either loose or braided. The Cheyennes also painted their faces for special occasions.

  • Food: The Cheyennes were originally farming people, with the women harvesting corn, squash, and beans while the men hunted deer and buffalo. They mostly gave up farming, and followed the buffalo herds as they moved across the plains. Unlike most Plains tribes, Cheyenne women took part in buffalo hunts along with men. They drove the buffalos towards the men, who shot them with their longbows.
    Besides buffalo meat, Cheyenne Indians also liked to eat fish, fruit and berries, and corn that they bought from other tribes.

4. Read: pages 1-31 in The Cheyenne by Andrew Santella

5. Comprehension questions:

  • What region did the Cheyenne live in? Great Plains

  • What kind of homes did the Cheyenne build? Tepee

  • What kind of clothes did the Cheyenne wear? Deerskin dresses, leather leggins, breechcloth, war shirts, boots and moccasins

  • How did the Cheyenne get their food? Hunted and farmed

Plains Natives

I copied page 21 in Native Americans A Complete Thematic Unit by Jill Norris for J.  He colored the picture of the Cheyenne in their traditional clothing and then wrote 2 things that he has learned about the Cheyenne on the bottom of the page.

Cheyenne Quillwork Parfleche

We used page 24-25 in Native Americans A Complete Thematic Unit by Jill Norris to help with this activity.

Discuss: A parfleche was used by the Plains Indians to carry their possessions. It was made from a buffalo hide. The hide was cut into a large rectangular shape. Belongings were placed on the center of the hide. Next the hide was folded like and envelope and tied with rawhide straps. The parfleche was made water proof by covering it with a glue made by boiling the tails of beavers.

  • Quill- The hollow stemlike main shaft of a feather; One of the sharp hollow spines of a porcupine or hedgehog.
  • Quillwork- a form of embroidery using porcupine quills; the quills were used to decorate clothing, pouches and birchbark boxes and baskets.

Read: Quillworker: A Cheynne Legend by Terri Cohlene and Charles Reasoner


  • parfleche pattern tracers
  • brown paper bag
  • scissors
  • 2 pieces yarn (cut into 6” lengths)
  • hole punch
  • colored tooth picks
  • glue


  1. Trace the parfleche pattern on a brown paper bag.IMG_2198
  2. Cut out the parfleche.
  3. Draw dotted lines to show where the folds will be.
  4. Draw dots to show where to punch the holes.
  5. Turn the pattern over to the blank side.
  6. Punch holds on the dots.
  7. Fold the parfleche on the dotted lines, fold the 2 longest sides to the middle, fold the other two sides together.
  8. Put a length of yarn through each pair of holes (the loose ends should be on the outside of the parfleche).
  9. Break colored toothpicks in have and glue onto the front to emulate a quill pattern.IMG_2206
  10. To carry something in the parfleche, untie it and open it up, put the item in, refold, and tie.IMG_2224

Plains Bonnet

We did the activity on page 54 of More Than Moccasins by Laurie Carlson.


  • Brown Grocery Bag
  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Stapler

1.  Cut out the bottom from the bag and fold it in half longwise then unfold and cut it in half.

2.  Fold both pieces in half twice now.

Draw and cut out a 2 feather shape on both pieces. 

3.  Unfold the pieces and color the feathers.IMG_2217

4.  Cut the cardstock into strips and staple them into a band to fit the child’s head.

5.  Staple 1 stripe of feathers to the cardstock headband.IMG_2218

6.  Cut the other strip of feathers in half to make 2 equal sections.

7.  Staple them to the sides of the headband so they will hang down the child’s back.

8.  Decorate the headband with markers.IMG_2221