Kevin Blackston
PO Box 217
Floresville TX 78114-0217
United States of America

Cheyenne Agency Cover

In 1934, philatelists celebrated the 130th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by having covers postmarked along the route that the famous 19th century explorers followed from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean.1

Among those covers is this example commemorating the expedition’s arrival at South Dakota’s Cheyenne River on October 1, 1804. A fur trader named Jean Vallé there warned Meriwether Lewis and George Clark that the Cheyenne flowed rapidly and was difficult to navigate, but that did not deter the explorers from continuing their ultimately successful journey.2

Front of cover bearing 14-cent American Indian stamp and Lewis & Clark Expedition/Cheyenne River cachet
14¢ American Indian cover with Lewis & Clark Expedition/Cheyenne River cachet
Reverse of Lewis & Clark Expedition/Cheyenne River cover
14¢ American Indian cover with Lewis & Clark Expedition/Cheyenne River cachet (reverse)

This cover addressed to Meredith, New Hampshire, was postmarked at Cheyenne Agency, South Dakota, which is now known as Cheyenne River Agency. The area was designated in the mid-1800s as land for the Lakota.3 4 While the cover front is handstamped “Via Air Mail,” the domestic air mail rate in the United States had been reduced from 8¢ to 6¢ per ounce in mid-1934, making this obviously philatelic cover grossly overpaid.5

Despite that, this may be one of the most appropriate philatelic uses of the American Indian stamp in existence. Although the stamp’s subject, Hollow Horn Bear, lived at South Dakota’s Rosebud Agency, he was a member of the Lakota nation, meaning he no doubt had at least distant relatives at Cheyenne River Agency.6



  1. Lewis and Clark Expedition. History. 9 Nov. 2009. Accessed 9 Jan. 2023.
  2. October 1, 1804. Discover Lewis & Clark. Accessed 9 Jan. 2023.
  3. Cheyenne River Agency. Indian Affairs. Accessed 9 Jan. 2023.
  4. Cheyenne River Agency. South Dakota State Historical Society. Accessed 9 Jan. 2023.
  5. Snee, Charles, ed. Scott 2015 Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers. Sidney, Ohio: Scott Publishing Co., 2014.
  6. Weiser-Alexander, Kathy. Hollow Horn Bear - Brule Sioux Chief Legends of America. Accessed 9 Jan. 2023.

Published 2023-01-10 Last updated 2023-01-11


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