Cheyenne language

Name in the language: Tsėhésenėstsestȯtse
Language family: Algic family, Algonquian subfamily
Native speakers: 2000
Region: Montana and Oklahoma (USA)
Ethnicity: Cheyenne
ISO 639-3: chy

The Cheyenne or Tsitsistas (own ethnic name): is an Algonquian group, traditional of the Prairie. There are about 2,000 speakers out of 5,000 population divided between Northern Cheyenne, who live in the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in south eastern Montana, and the Southern Cheyenne, who live associated with the Arapaho in western Oklahoma.


Cheyenne Indians call themselves Tsitsistas; ‘Cheyenne’ is a mistake, a Sioux word for Cree. The Cheyenne were Great Plains people, originally native to the area that is now Colorado and Wyoming. Like many tribes, the Cheyennes were forced to leave their homelands by the Americans during the 1800’s, and today they live in two distinct communities: the Northern Cheyenne in Montana, numbering 6500, and the Southern Cheyenne, who are united with their longtime allies the Arapaho into a single Nation in Oklahoma with a combined 11,000 members.


Many Native American tribes were victims of their small size, as smallpox and other European diseases left too few survivors to withstand colonization. The Cheyenne were victims of their own large size, for factions within their nation were poorly understood by the American settlers encroaching on their territories. For years relations between Cheyenne Indians and white Americans followed an ugly pattern of some settler killing a Cheyenne woman from one clan, that clan killing some settlers in revenge, and then angry soldiers killing some bewildered Cheyennes from a different clan–prompting their own kin to take revenge, and starting the cycle anew. This bloody cycle reached its worst point in the Sand Creek massacre of 1864, where one Colonel Chivington deliberately attacked a reservation of peaceable Cheyennes and Arapahoes under American protection and killed more than 150 Native American men, women, and children despite their repeated attempts to surrender. “Nits,” he famously proclaimed, “breed lice.” The most egregious massacre in American history–none of the participants even attempted to claim that the victims were armed or dangerous–Sand Creek was condemned as an atrocity even by the media of the time. Eventually the Cheyenne people were forced to move to Oklahoma. The Cheyennes from the south grudgingly accepted this arrangement, but the Cheyennes from the north could not adapt to the hot weather and “broke out” to flee back to the north, led by Chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf. Though many of the escapees were killed by the US Army en route, the rest reached safety and their descendents still live in Montana today.



A – â is sounded as talk, call, gaunt.
å – schwa sounds like ba’ nana
E – ë is generally used after an m and is silent, otherwise  the sound is long.
I – ì is long like the pronoun I
Í – the short I sound is predominantly the main vowel sounds  in the Cheyenne language.
Î – is the final vowel blended with the last consonant and  whispered. (Doubled or alone)
O – ò is long like holy, donor, vocation
Ó – is short like not
Ô – is sounded like ôught and bâll
Ö – is the final vowel blended with the last consonant and whispered. (Doubled or alone)
U – ú is short like dumb, bum, multiply.


B – b is used interchangeably with the “p” , most generally used with the vowels “o”, and”I” like in bit, boss, boy,(oi).
D – d is used interchangeably with the “t” and is sounded like doll, donate, dome, and the suffix, “ed”.
G – g is sounded softer than the English “g” gig, give, geiger, gold
H – h as in hot, holy, history.
K – k a hard sound like keep, kite.
Khâ –  as in a blend with call and ha
Khi –  as in a blend of k with call and hi
Kho – as in a blend of k with call and ho
Lno – “l” in Cheyenne – included only for stressing the all  sound as in sol, talent and sill.
M – m as in mine , time, minute
Mha – to give the mÅ blended with ha_sound
Mhi – to give the mÅ blended with hi_ sound
N – n as in neat, no, many, nigh
Nha – to give the “n” blended with a ha sound
Nhi – to give the “n” blended with hi sound.
O – p as in pivot softer than English “p”
S – s as in so for sharp sound
Ss – for soft sound as in nice
Ssh – soft as in she, shop, machine
Sh – sharper sound nearly a “ch” sound but stress is on the s Sk as in ask
T – t is interchangeably with d tall, talk, talent, tile
V – v as in vivid, victory, vacation
Vh – the blend of v and h to sound like why or whoa; only the v sound is distinct. – Vhone is phone
OI – Oy
Y – y as in yodel when it is followed by a or o
Z – z as in buzz, zipper, zone.

The use of only one accent mark for the main stress in a word is very much unlike the English Language.
In the pronunciation, the accent will be marked after the syllable that is stressed for emphasis.

The short vowel sounds are shorter than the English sounds. The  long vowel sounds are about the same as the English sounds except, however, where there is a double vowel the sound is slightly longer.


1 no ‘- ga
2 ni ‘ – khi
3 nå ‘- ha
4 ni ‘ – va
5 no’ – honë ni
6 nå ‘ – so – To S
7 ní ‘ – so – To
8 nå ‘ – no – To
9 soô – To
10 må – to – to
20 ni – ssoo – i
30 nå -no – I
40 ni – vo – i
50 no – ho – no i
60 nå – ssoo – To – no – i
70 ni – ssoo – To -no – I
80 nå – noo – To – no – i
90 ssoo – To – no – I
100 no – ka – mha -To -To no – i

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