Cheyenne Odyssey: Representing Removal in an Educational Video Game

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Christina Gish Hill

Abstract

This articles reflects on the process of creating digital media in collaboration with Native communities, using the example of Cheyenne Odyssey, a game from Mission US, to argue that such media can illuminate the perspectives of Indigenous peoples for a wide audience while also creating digital repositories for both visual and narrative forms of knowledge. This game takes on the difficult challenge of portraying very sensitive moments of US history to middle school-age children. The game walks the player through the Battle of Little Big Horn, the forced removal of the Northern Cheyenne people, their harrowing journey home again, and even the massacre of Dull Knife’s band at Fort Robinson. The creators of the game brought Cheyenne perspectives to the process by consulting Northern Cheyenne elders, historians, and even school children, as well as archival materials, and scholars of Cheyenne history, including the author. This multifaceted collaboration resulted in a game that presented Cheyenne history in a way that reflected Cheyenne values while providing non-Cheyenne people with an accessible narrative that, nevertheless, disrupts the familiar history of westward expansion in the United States. At the same time, the game makes new a history familiar to every Cheyenne by presenting it in a fresh medium that captivates young people. The public nature of this online game empowers Cheyenne people to take pride in their own historical narratives. 

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Section
Peer-Reviewed Articles
Author Biography

Christina Gish Hill, Iowa State University

Christina Gish Hill is an assistant professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at Iowa State University.