Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly FALL1988. Copyright 1988 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Karl Schlesier contends that the Cheyennes (or, as he prefers, the Tsistsistas, excluding the Suhtai branch of Northern Cheyennes) made their "perfect adaptation" to the northern Plains long before the 1700s. Indeed, he argues that the T sistsistas emerged as an ethnic group on the Plains about 500 B.C., attaining an identity through observances of a ceremony, the Massaum, which continued to be celebrated into the early twentieth century. The Massaum is represented as having constituted the set of sacred relations between the people and the universe. With respect to the plains environment in particular, Schlesier represents the Massaum as having been the model, with the force of law, for the manner of tribal hunting of herd animals in surrounds and impoundments.