What Were the Tools and Weapons of the Cheyenne Indians?

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Before European traders arrived with firearms, the Cheyenne hunted and fought with the bow, knife, lance and war club. The weapons the Cheyenne used were much like those of other Great Plains tribes. Both men and women used parts of the buffalo kill as tools to make daily living easier.

Some warriors acquired rifles as European goods began to filter onto the plains, but the bow remained the weapon of choice for buffalo hunting. The bow was preferred because even the best rider could not easily reload and accurately aim a rifle at full gallop. It was also easy to determine which man had killed a buffalo by identifying the arrows that brought it down.

Because the Cheyenne depended so heavily upon the buffalo as their primary food source, most of the tools they used for hunting, warfare and daily living were derived from this animal. Women used the shoulder bone as a scraper to remove hair and intestinal remnants from a hide. Cheyenne warriors also utilized bones to make knives, arrows and other weapons. Buffalo muscle became sinew for bowstring, and the long, thick hair of the animal was made into lead ropes and halters for horses. Women used large, flat bones as cutting boards and buffalo horns as spoons, dippers and bowls. Door rattles to announce a visitor’s presence could be fashioned out of hooves or teeth, as could glue and ornamental jewelry. Since it was already well-equipped to hold liquid, the buffalo’s bladder was repurposed as a water container.