Northern ArapahoLearn About Powwow Etiquette
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. The Arapaho are the southwestern most extension of the Algonquin people.
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.