WIERD WILD WEST
A Cheyenne Dog Soldier
Oeškeso Hetane (owes-kesh hey-tawn) “dog man”
When wearing war bonnet and war paint, Dog Soldiers are instantly recognized and feared throughout the West. Oeškeso is of average height, but he presents a menacing figure nonetheless. Clad in stout, cured hides and bearing a shield painted with a howling dog, Oeškeso flourishes his Coup Stick, ready to “tap” his enemies with all manner of hexes and misfortune.
My people, the Hotamétaneo’o (Hoe-tah-mate-ah-nay-oh) “Dog Soldiers” or “Dog Men” are one of six military societies of the Cheyenne Indians. When Porcupine Bear was disgraced for killing one of the tribe in a drunken fight, I left the tribe to find Arrow Boy, sometimes called Motsé’eóeve (Moe-tse-oehv) “Sweet Medicine”, hoping to learn from the prophet about the best trail for my people to follow.
I traveled alone into the highest ranges of the mountains. As I drew near a certain peak, a door opened in the mountain slope. I passed through into the earth, and the opening closed after me. There inside the mountain I found a large circle of men. Each represented a tribe and was seated beneath that tribe’s Maahótse (Ma-huts) a bundle of “Sacred Arrows”. They welcomed me and pointed out the one empty place under a bundle wrapped in fox skin. “If you take this seat, the bundle will be yours to carry back to the Hotamétaneo’o,” the headman said. “But first you will remain here four years, receiving instruction in order to become your tribe’s prophet and counselor.”
I accepted the bundle, and all the men gave thanks. When my turn came to perform the bundle ceremony, they took it down and showed me its sacred ceremonies, songs, and four medicine arrows, each representing certain powers. Then for four years under the mountain peak, they taught me prophecies, magic, and ceremonies for warfare and hunting. Meanwhile, my people have strayed from the trail and become scattered. So, I wander, hoping to find the Hotamétaneo’o again and to share with them what I learned under the mountain.