"West" was an Anglo-Saxon name given to my grandfather by this Episcopalian minister -- my grandfather was orphaned at an early age. West is not a native name. My grandmother's name was Flying Coyote, which I really much rather would have had.
My Cheyenne blood comes on my father's side. My mother was actually nonnative, mostly of Scottish American descent. My parents decided my brother and I would be raised, culturally, as Cheyenne. My brother and I learned to dance very early -- that, of course, is a very obvious kind of cultural expression. I was 5 or 6 years old, and he was three years younger than I. We were traditional dancers. We had feather bustles on . . . claws, breastplates, that kind of thing. We had to dance outside well through the fall. My mother, God love her, wanted to make sure, since we were little boys, that we not get cold. She had my father make these sets of long johns that were latched to our feather fluff costumes. My fluffs were red, so I had a red one.
Occasionally, I looked around, and I didn't see any of the other dancers wearing long johns under their regalia.
My father was very explicit: He wanted us to be sure first of all that we knew who we were, but his was a view that Cheyennes would never be totally culturally insular again. They wouldn't have that luxury. We had to be prepared to live and cross over to other worlds, too.
-- Interview by Julia Wilkinson