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Who are the Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation?
The Northern Arapaho tribe of Wyoming is one of four groups of Arapaho who originally occupied the headwaters of the Arkansas and Platte Rivers in what is now northeastern Colorado. Culturally, a Plains Indian tribe, the Arapaho are distinguished from other Plains tribes by their language, which is a variation of the Algonquin language.
Official Tribal Name:
Arapahoe Tribe of the Wind River Reservation
Official Website: http://www.northernarapaho.com/
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning
Inuna-ina, or "our people"
Hinonoeino - Our people
Northern Arapaho Tribe
Meaning of Common Name:
Possibly derived from the Pawnee word "tirapihu", which means "trader"
Alternate spellings / Mispellings:
Name in other languages:
The Sioux and Cheyennes called the Arapahos "Blue-Sky" men, and "Cloud-men."
Region: Great Plains
The Arapaho Indians have lived on the plains of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas since the 17th Century. Prior to that, they had roots in Minnesota.
Treaties:In 1851 a treaty was signed between the U.S. Government and the Northern Arapaho and Cheyenne which granted the tribes land encompassing one-sixth of Wyoming, one-quarter of Colorado and parts of western Kansas and Nebraska. Later, when the Treaty of 1868 left the Northern Arapaho without a land base, they were placed with the Shoshone in west central Wyoming, on the Wind River Reservation.
As the gold rush of 1858 pushed even more of the white men into the vast west, the treaty with the Northern Arapaho was broken. In 1867, the treaty of Medicine Lodge placed the Northern Arapaho on their present reservation in Wind River, Wyoming, along with their hereditary enemies, the Shoshone.
Reservations: Wind River Reservation
After signing the Treaty of 1851, the Arapaho and Cheyenne then shared land encompassing one-sixth of Wyoming, one-quarter of Colorado and parts of western Kansas and Nebraska. Later, when the Treaty of 1868 left the Northern Arapaho without a land base, they were placed with the Shoshone in west central Wyoming, on the Wind River Reservation.
Land Area: 2.2 million acres - 7th largest reservation in the United States.
|Buy this Flag!|
After the Choctaw of Oklahoma, the Arapaho of the Wind River Reservation may have the distinction of being the second tribe to adopt a flag.
The flag of the Arapaho dates back to the 1940s when the Arapaho saw their young men going off to war in Europe or the Pacific. After the first Arapaho to die in World War II - John L. Brown - the tribal elders decided there should be a symbol of the Arapaho nation since their sons were now dying not only for the United States, but for the Arapaho nation.
The elders designed a flag of seven stripes to indicate seven ceremonial and sacred ingredients. At the top of the flag (at that time flown vertically) a white triangle would contain a circular device of red white and black. Red because they are human beings and Arapaho, white because they wanted a long life, and black because they wanted happiness.
After the war ended the concept of a flag for the Arapaho nation faded until the Korean War started. At that time the Arapaho people requested of their tribal elders that they adopt a flag to let everyone know that they are Arapaho. On June 15, 1956, the flag of the Arapaho nation was adopted by the general council of the Arapahos.
That flag consists of seven stripes, the central stripe one half the width of the other six. The two outer most stripes are red, the second and sixth stripes are white, the third and fifth stripes black and the central narrow stripe is white. At the hoist is a white triangle edged in black. It bears a circle of red over black separated by a narrow white band.
Red is for the people, the Arapaho. Black is for happiness, so we will be strong and that we do not fear of death. White is for a long life and for representing knowledge to be passed to future generations. The seven strips symbolize the seven ingredients, Seven Medicines of Life, those that are sacred to the Arapaho People.
The triangle within the flag signifies that the way one begins is with prayer. The circle inside the triangle is black on the bottom side, this is to show where the heart is. The top side of the circle is red. This is to show that we are human beings. It stands for our happiness, strength, and our sorrows. There is a white line that divides this circle. This line reminds us that there is a creator and that he made us human beings. The entire circle represents the world as this is the center of our lives.
Population at Contact:
Registered Population Today:
About 7,000 Northern Arapaho
Tribal Enrollment Requirements:
Name of Governing Body:
Number of Council members:
Dates of Constitutional amendments:
Number of Executive Officers:
Number of fluent Speakers:
The Arapaho Indians have lived on the plains of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas since the 17th Century. Prior to that, they had roots in Minnesota before European expansion forced them westward. At that time they were a sedentary, agricultural people, living in permanent villages in the eastern woodlands. However, that changed when they moved west and the tribe became a nomadic people following the great buffalo herds.
The Plains Arapaho soon split into two separate tribes, the northern and southern Arapaho. The Northern Arapaho lived along the edges of the mountains at the headwaters of the Platte River, while the southern Arapaho moved towards the Arkansas River.
Bands, Gens, and Clans
By 1840, the Arapaho had made peace with the Sioux, Kiowa, and Comanche, but were always at war with the Shoshone, Ute, and Pawnee until they were confined upon reservations. The reservation they were forced upon was home to the Shoshone, one of their fiercest enemies.
Ceremonies / Dances:
Once a year all of the bands would congregate together for the Sun Dance festival, an eight day event at the time of the Summer Solstice. The festival preceded the great summer buffalo hunt. In the middle of the camp, a large open air Sun Dance Lodge would be constructed of wooden poles with the Sun Dance pole standing in the middle. Individual teepees would be erected around the lodge in a large circle.
The participants of the dance fasted during the dance and painted their bodies in symbolic colors. Dressed in aprons, wristlets and anklets the dancers would stare at the Sun while dancing hypnotically before being impaled to the Sun Dance pole by way of tiny stakes punctured into the skin. The Sun Dancer was not to show any signs of pain during the ritual and, if able to do so, would be rewarded with a vision from the Great Spirit.
The annual Sun Dance was their greatest tribal ceremony but they were also active proponents of the Ghost Dance religion when it was made popular in the 1880s.
Modern Day Events & Tourism:
St. Stephens Indian Mission & Heritage Center - Visit the historic mission to learn about the Northern Arapaho tribe. The mission's Catholic Church is painted with colorful Native American designs. A gift shop showcases local Indian beadwork and crafts. Open 9-noon, 1-4 Mon.-Wed, and Friday.
Legends / Oral Stories:
Art & Crafts:
The Arapaho lived in teepees made from wood poles and buffalo skins that could be easily erected and taken down as the tribe moved from place to place.
Sedentary, agricultural people, living in permanent villages in the eastern woodlands.
Later becoming expert buffalo hunters, the buffalo provided them with virtually everything they needed. They also hunted for elk and deer, fished, and ate various berries, and plants. During hard times, they were also known to eat their dogs.When they moved further west, they became nomadic hunter-gatherers during temperate months and returned to winter in protected valleys.
The tribe lived together in small bands, predominantly determined by birth. However, members were free to move between bands at will.
The Arapahoe Ranch is owned and operated by the Northern Arapahoe Tribe on the Wind River Indian Reservation. It is a 400,000 acre cow/ calf operation.
The tribe operates the Wind River Casino and the Little Wind Casino, the St. Stephens Indian Mission & Heritage Center, and a white water rafting and fishing tour guide service.
Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
The Arapaho are a very spiritual people, believing in an overall creator who they call Be He Teiht. As with many Native American peoples they believe in a close relationship between themselves, the animals of their world and the land on which they live. The Arapaho also have a deep respect and appreciation for the wisdom of their elders.
Education and Media:
Tribal College: Wind River Tribal College
Black Kettle :
Other Famous Contemporary People:
Sand Creek Massacre - In 1851, the Arapaho and the Cheyenne Indians signed a treaty with the United States government designating parts of southeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado, western Kansas and western Nebraska as their territory. However, pressure from white settlement and gold-seeking prospectors soon began to create tension between Indians and whites, and the tribes found themselves in conflict with the U.S. government.
In 1864, a band of Cheyenne and Arapaho were camped on the banks of Sand Creek near what is now Lyons, Colorado. The group of several hundred, led by Black Kettle, consisted mostly of women, children and elderly men; the young men having gone out hunting when early on November 29, 1864, Colonel John Chivington ordered a surprise attack on the encampment. The attack was a massacre of innocents. Between 150 and 200 Indians, mostly women, old men and children, were gunned down that morning in spite of their white flag of surrender.
The Arapaho and Cheyenne were devastated by the massacre and many of the surviving young warriors began attacking white settlements to avenge the loss of their loved ones. War raged for several years forcing the Arapaho to wander and exhausting the tribe until finally in 1878, the remaining Northern Arapaho followed what is now known as the Sand Creek Massacre Trail from southeastern Wyoming to the Wind River Indian Reservation where they were given what was to be a temporary home with the Eastern Shoshone. Fifty years later, the U.S. government negotiated a treaty formalizing the shared reservation and establishing a joint governing council between the two tribes.
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