25 Facts: The Arapaho

The Arapaho Nation

  1. The Arapaho were traditionally a Plains Tribe, found in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas.
  2. They were thought to have originated in the Minnesota region, where they grew maize and other crops.
  3. These farmers got pushed onto the plains by the Ojibwe.  They first used dogs to pull their travois.
  4. After acquiring horses, the Arapaho moved further south.
  5. They followed the buffalo herds and eventually became nomadic traders.
  6. Their warriors were highly skilled horsemen.
  7. Their language is of Algonquian origin.
  8. It has been suggested that the name Arapaho comes from either the Pawnee word for trader, or the Crow word for tattoo.
  9. They have always been close allies of the Cheyenne.
  10. There are five divisions within the Arapaho Nation, each with their own distinct dialect.
  11. On the Great Plains they were further divided into the Northern Arapaho and the Southern Arapaho.
  12. There are eight military societies, clans, or soldier bands.  These are age-based.  A brave passes from one to another as he matures.
  13. The Arapaho tattoo small circles on their bodies.
  14. Each warrior painted himself and his horse in his own unique design before going on the warpath.
  15. Soldiers built up their reputations by counting coup on their enemies.
  16. Their weapons include clubs, lances, knives, tomahawks, bows, shotguns, rifles, and pistols.
  17. They traditionally lived in teepees made from buffalo hides.
  18. They hunted elk, deer, and buffalo, but they also ate berries, roots, and plants.
  19. In hard times, they were sometimes forced to eat their dogs.
  20. The Arapaho held an annual Sun Dance before the Great Summer Buffalo Hunt.
  21. The tribe were among the victims of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.
  22. This atrocity sparked the Indian Wars on the Southern Plains.
  23. The Northern Arapaho took part in Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868).
  24. Only five of their warriors were present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, 1876.
  25. They were active participants of the Ghost Dance Movement in the 1880s.


Legends of America, “Arapaho: Great Buffalo Hunters of the Plains,” at http://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-arapaho.html

Northern Arapaho Tribe, “Northern Arapaho History” at http://www.northernarapaho.com/history

Wikipedia, “Arapaho” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arapaho

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