The Arapahoes, Our People

The Arapahoes, Our People

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The Arapahoes, Our People by Virginia Cole Trenholm

The Arapahoes, who simultaneously occupy the three major divisions of the Great Plains, are typical but the least known of the Plains tribes. Overshadowed by their more hostile allies, the Sioux and Cheyennes, they have been neglected by historians.

This book traces their history from prehistoric times in Minnesota and Canada to the turn of the century in Wyoming, Montana, and Oklahoma, when their cultural history ended and adjustment to the white man's way began. It covers their way of life, dealings with traders, treaties, battles, division into branches, and reservation life. There are detailed accounts of the Ghost Dance and peyote cult.

A study of the two branches-Southern and Northern-is a dramatic lesson in the effects of acculturation. Forced to accept the white man's way, the Southern people, after losing their ceremonials and tribal lands in Oklahoma, have gradually resigned themselves to the alien culture. The Northern Arapahoes on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, however, still cling to their original traditions.

They tell their time-honored tales, pour out their souls in music, and dance to their drums much as they did in pre-reservation days-although they dress in the manner of the white man and abide by his regulations. Flat-Pipe, the sacred palladium, said to have come to "our people" when the world began, stays in their safe-keeping, and they honor it in occasional ceremony. The Pipe is the unifying symbol of the two branches of the tribe.