Dog Men and Dog Soldiers
The Cheyenne Dog Men, Warriors of the Great Plains
A long time ago, there was chronic theft and anarchy around the Cheyenne camps. Something had to be done. The legendary prophet Sweet Medicine took matters in his own hand and implemented a council of forty-four chiefs and four military societies to restore order and organize a system of police. By the early19th century, they had seven such societies; namely the Fox Soldiers,the Elk Soldiers, the Red Shields, the Crazy Dogs, the Bowstrings, the Chief Soldiers, and the Dog Men. The Dog Men - or Dog Soldiers as the whites called them, were the most famous of the Cheyenne warrior societies. According to their legend, they took their name from the dog as the dog was known to be a fierce and tough fighter. The dog became also their emblem and was regarded as sacred. The Dog Men society grew stronger in numbers, soon they controlled most of the Cheyenne Nation. Their members were all males fifteen years old and older. By the 1840s, the Dog Men became a separate division of the Cheyenne. Their territory included part of Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado. They became friends and often intermarried with the Lakota. As a result, many Dog Men were half-Lakota i.e.
Tangle Hair, one of their headmen, and Tall Bull, their most notorious war chief. Dog Men were aggressive warriors, they were well-armed and carried bows and arrows, many had also rifles and handguns.
There are few known Dog Men portraits available, the most famous is the painting of Pehriska-Ruhpa, a Hidatsa warrior, made by Karl Bodmer in 1833. The following web site also shows a few later pictures of Dog Soldiers.
Very few head dresses survived the 19th century wars, but one can be seen at the Field Museum of Chicago.
- Dog Soldier Justice by Jeff Broome (Bison Books Edition)
- Dog Soldier Societies of the Plains by Thomas E. Mails (Marlowe and Company)
- Plains Indians Regalia & Customs by Bad Hand (Schiffer).
||Dog Soldier Headdress
The loose-feather bonnet was a part of the regalia of several Dog Men societies. Among the Lakota and Gros-Ventre, a large headpiece made of owl feathers was worn by chiefs and high ranked officers. The Cheyenne, Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan dog bands used magpie and crow feathers for their head-dresses. The small white fluffs at the tip of the feathers were meant to represent the droppings left behind by these birds when feeding on buffalo carcasses. Often the outspread tail feathers of a wild turkey or an eagle was fixed straight up on the top of the bonnet.
This beautifull headdress is made of hundreds of feathers, and required years of patience to collect the feathers necessary to its completion.
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