Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes


Last Updated: 1 year

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes have a long history as allies and friends. Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes have endured many hardships and changes throughout history from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the plains of Colorado and finally the open fields of Oklahoma. 

Buy Proud to be Arapaho T-shirtOfficial Tribal Name: Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes

Address:  100 Red Moon Circle, Concho, OK 73022
Phone: 1-800-247-4612,  405-262-0345
Fax: 405-422-1184

Official Website: 

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só’taa’e (more commonly as Sutai) and the Tsé-tsêhéstâhese (Tsististas). The Northern Cheyenne are known in Cheyenne either as Notameohmésêhese meaning “Northern Eaters” or simply as Ohmésêhese meaning “Eaters.”

The Arapaho recognize themselves as Hiinono’ei, variously translated as “our people,” “wrong rooters,” or “cloud people.”

Common Name: Cheyenne, Arapaho

Meaning of Common Name /
Alternate names:

Arapaho is possibly derived from the Pawnee word tirapihu, which means “trader” or the Crow term for “tattooed people.” Formerly the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma

Alternate spellings / Mispellings:

Araphoe, Arapahoe, Arapajo, Arrapahoe, Hiinono’ei, Nookhooseinenno’, Boo’ooceinenno’, Bee’eekuunenno’, Noowunenno’, Nenebiinenno’, Noowo3ineheino’

Name in other languages:

Cheyenne in Comanche: paka naboo  meaning ‘striped arrows.’

French: Arapahos, Gens de Vache

Region: Great Plains

State(s) Today: Oklahoma

Traditional Territory:

Most historians place prehistory Arapaho homelands in parts of the Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario Provinces of Canada and in the upper parts of the U.S. in what is now Minnesota and Michigan. Over time they migrated west into Colorado and Wyoming, eventually occupying lands ranging from northern New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas north into Wyoming and South Dakota.

Arapaho territory once extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the north, south to the Arkansas River, and east to west from the Black Hills to the Rocky Mountains, corresponding to present-day western Nebraska and Kansas, southeastern Wyoming, and eastern Colorado.

By 1840, the northern and southern bands of the Arapaho had acquired separate identities as the Northern Arapaho and the Southern Arapaho. The approximate boundary between the two tribes was the South Platte River of Colorado. This area, encompassing modern-day Denver, was a common meeting place for the two tribes and for intertribal trade.

Today the principal communities of the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming are Arapahoe, St. Stephens, and Ethete. The central communities for the Southern Arapaho are Canton and Geary, Oklahoma with tribal administration centralized in Concho.

The Cheyenne were originally a Woodland people living in the eastern portion of the U.S. and later migrated into the plains. Although they are identified as Plains Indians who followed the buffalo, they retain ties to their woodland heritage.

Confederacy: Arapaho and Cheyenne Confederation


  • Treaty of July 6, 1825 – Friendship Treaty of 1825

    Treaty signed at the mouth of the Teton River: Officially recognized a friendship between the United States and the Cheyenne Nation; established trading between the Nations; and placed the Cheyenne under the “protection” of the United States.

  • Treaty of September 17, 1851 – Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851

    Unratified treaty signed at Fort Laramie, Indian Territory with many different tribes, including the Cheyenne: Established peace among the tribes present, Sioux or Dahcotahs, Cheyennes, Arrapahoes, Crows, Assinaboines, Gros-Ventre Mandans, and Arrickaras. This treaty also established the territory for the Cheyenne and Arapahos: The territory of the Cheyennes and Arrapahoes, commencing at the Red Bute, or the place where the road leaves the north fork of the Platte River; thence up the north fork of the Platte River to its source; thence along the main range of the Rocky Mountains to the head-waters of the Arkansas River; thence down the Arkansas River to the crossing of the Santa Fé road; thence in a northwesterly direction to the forks of the Platte River, and thence up the Platte River to the place of beginning.

  • Treaty of February 15, 1861 – Fort Wise Treaty of 1861

    A treaty between the United State and the Confederated Tribes of Arapaho and Cheyenne, signed at Fort Wise, Kansas Territory: The Arapaho and Cheyenne Confederation agreed to cede all land claimed by them in the present states of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming, except one reserved tract, which would be called the “Reservation of the Arapahoes and Cheyennes of the Upper Arkansas.” This reserved tract would be ceded in the treaty of 1865, less then five years later. In return the United States agreed to: Spend $450,000 by building them houses, and by furnishing them with agricultural implements, stock animals, and other necessary aid and facilities for commencing agricultural pursuits; build a mill at the cost of no more then $25,000 over 5 years.

  • Treaty of October 14, 1865 – Treaty of Little Arkansas River

    Called the Treaty of Little Arkansas River, this treaty was signed at a camp on the Little Arkansas River in the State of Kansas: Established “perpetual peace” between the United States and the Arapaho and Cheyenne Confederation; the tribes agreed to cede the lands set aside for them in the treaty of 1861 and to settle on a new reserve in Colorado; this cession practically covers only the reserve assigned them by treaty of February 18, 1861. The remainder of their country had already been ceded by that treaty and the cession is reiterated here only to satisfy a dispute by some of the Indians on that point; this reserve was intended only as a temporary reserve, the treaty providing that as soon as practicable a new reserve should be designated, no part of which should be within the state of Kansas.

    This was done by treaty of October 28, 1867, and the reserve here described was relinquished. It included part of the Cherokee and Osage lands and a portion of the public domain in Kansas. As it was never their reserve except in name, it is not shown on any of our maps; the United States agreed to issue lands of 340 acres to several chiefs of the Cheyenne for the depradations of the Sand Creek massacre, and to set aside 640 acres of land within the area specified in the treaty of 1861 for various families who were all related to the Arapaho and Cheyenne; agreed to pay $20 per annum, spread out over three payments, to each member of the Arapaho and Cheyenne confederation.

  • Treaty of October 17, 1865 – Referendum to Little Arkansas River Treaty

    This treaty was signed at a camp on the Little Arkansas River in the State of Kansas. This treaty recognized that the Apache tribe wished to detach itself from the Comanche and Kiowa confederation and attach itself to the Arapaho and Cheyenne confederation; the Apache agreed to the terms of the treaty done three days earlier by the Arapaho and Cheyenne; and the Arapaho and Cheyenne confederation agreed to receive and be united with the Apache.

  • Treaty of October 21, 1867 – Memorandum

    This treaty was signed at a camp on the Little Arkansas River in the State of Kansas. This treaty recognized that the Apache tribe wished to detach itself from the Arapaho and Cheyenne confederation and attach itself to the Comanche and Kiowa confederation; and the Comanche and Kiowa confederation agreed to receive and be united with the Apache.

  • Treaty of October 28, 1867 – Medicine Lodge Treaty

    This treaty, referred to by some as the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty, was signed at the Council Camp on Medicine Lodge Creek, Kansas. The Arapaho and Cheyenne agreed to relinquish right to occupy territory outside of the reservation being set aside for them; the Arapaho and Cheyenne agreed to relinquish the reserve set apart by treaty of October 14, 1865 and to settle upon the new reservation and peacefully coexist with the white and black settlers in the area, as well as other Indian tribes. In return the United States agreed to establish 1 school for every 30 students willing to attend, to provide a physician, farmer, blacksmith, carpenter, engineer, and miller to enable the tribe over the following ten years to establish itself in the new territory. The United States further agreed to provide various clothing for each Indian on an annual basis, as well as set aside for the tribe over the following thirty years $20,000 annually, this amount to be in lieu of the treaty of 1865.

  • Treaty of May 10, 1868 – Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

    This treaty was signed at Fort Laramie, Dakota Territory by the Northern Cheyenne and Northern Arapaho Indians and the United States. This is the first treaty recognizing a distinct northern branch of the Arapaho and Cheyenne confederation. The Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho agreed to accept a home either on Southern Cheyenne and Araphoe reservation or on Big Sioux reservation. They became established upon the Big Sioux reservation in Dakota with the Sioux. They also agreed to cede all claim to territory outside of foregoing reserves.

Land Area:  
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Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

At least one enrolled parent and a blood quantum equal to or greater than ¼ Cheyenne and/or Arapaho blood. Enrolled parent must be present on Birth Certificate.

Genealogy Resources: 


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Language Classification: Algic >> Algonquian >> Plains Algonquian >> Cheyenne

Language Dialects: Southern Cheyenne

Language Classification: Algic >> Algonquian >> Plains Algonquian >> Arapaho

Arapaho is one of five languages of the Algonquian family in the Plains culture area. The others are Cheyenne, Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwa, and Blackfoot. Arapaho diverges markedly, especially in grammar, from these and other languages in the group, suggesting a long separation from the Great Lakes proto-Algonquian (or Algic) stock.

Within the Arapaho language there were once at least five dialects, representing what were separate bands or subtribes, including Hitouunenno’, or “Beggar Men,” now known as the Gros Ventre. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Arapaho proper had separated from the Gros Ventre tribe, which then remained in the northern Plains in what is now Montana.

Number of fluent Speakers: At the beginning of the twenty-first century, approximately five hundred Northern Arapaho senior tribal members speak the “Arapaho proper” dialect.



Bands, Gens, and Clans

Cheyenne principal divisions and bands
Arapaho Divisions and bands 

Related Tribes:

Arapahoe Tribe of the Wind River Reservation
Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation 

Traditional Allies: Arapaho, Cheyenne, Lakota Sioux (sometimes)

In the centuries before European contact, the Cheyenne were at times allied with bands of the Lakota (Sioux) and Arapaho. In the 18th century, they migrated west away from Lakota warriors, but by the next century, bands of Lakota had followed them into the Black Hills and Powder River Country. By the mid-nineteenth century, they were sometimes allied with other Plains tribes. The Arapaho were allied with the Cheyenne, Gros Ventre and sometimes the Lakota.

Traditional Enemies:

Alone among the Plains tribes, the Cheyenne waged war at the tribal level, first against their traditional enemy, the Crow, and later (1856–1879) against US forces. They were also enemies of the Pawnee. Arapaho war parties raided on Eastern Shoshone and Utes to the west, the Crow to the north, the Pawnee to the east, and the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache south across the Arkansas River. 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.

Ceremonies / Dances:

Sun Dance 

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Legends / Oral Stories:

Art & Crafts:


French traders reported that the Cheyenne Indians in Kansas got their first horses in the year of 1745.  





Economy Today:

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs

Education and Media:

Tribal College: Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College
Newspapers:  The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune

Famous Cheyenne Leaders

Catastrophic Events:

Sand Creek Massacre

Washita River Massacre (also known as the Battle of  Lodgepole River)

Tribe History:

Northern Cheyenne Tribal Timeline
Descendants Remember Battle of Little Big Horn

In the News:

Further Reading:

Arapaho Journeys: Photographs and Stories from the Wind River Reservation
The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Lifeways
Arapaho Stories, Songs, and Prayers: A Bilingual Anthology