Arapaho Indians

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Alternate Names: Arapahoe
Ancestral Homelands: Great Lakes area and northern Minnesota, moving on to North Platte and Arkansas Rivers in Colorado Territory
Cultural Group: Plains Indians
Linguistic Group: Algonkian
Location today: Northern Arapaho in southern Wyoming and northern Colorado and the Southern Arapaho in Oklahoma and southern Kansas
Related Tribes and Groups: The Atsine or Gros Ventre are a branch of the Arapaho.


During the 1700's the tribe migrated from the Great Lakes region into the Great Plains

Early concact with the non-Indians.........

Conflict with in the tribe in 1835 caused a division, createting the Northern Arapaho and Southern Arapaho groups.  The Northern Arapaho settled in what is now Wyoming near the Rocky Mountians.  The Southern group settled in "Colorado" near the Arkansas River.

A Treaty in 1861 "Out of the lands so set apart and retained there shall be assigned to each member of said tribes, without distinction of age or sex, a tract of forty acres, to include in every case, as far as practicable, a reasonable portion of timber and water; one hundred and sixty acres of said retained lands shall also be set apart and appropriated to the use and occupancy of the agent, for the time being, of said tribes; and one hundred and sixty acres shall also be reserved out of each division of the retained tract for the establishment and support of schools for the education of the youth of the tribe..."

During the Sand Creek Massacre, in 1864 130 Southern Arapaho and Cheyenne were killed by the U.S. Army.

A proposed Treaty October 14, 1865 ratified in May of 1866. made an effort to provide for the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre, and propossed  ..."an accurate census of the Indians entitled shall be taken at the time of the annuity payment in the spring of each year by their agent...the census shall be the basiss on which the amount to be expended the next ensuing year shall be determined..."

The 1865 Treaty at the council-ground on the Little Arkansas in the state of Kansas, proclaimed the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Apache tribe are to be united and recognized as Confederated Tribes.

With the signing of the Treaty of Medicine Lodge, the Southern Arapaho were placed on a reservation in Oklahoma sharing with the Cheyenne. The Treaty of Fort Laramie assigned the Northern Arapaho to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota to be shared with the Sioux, however the Northern Arapho desired their own lands. Finally in 1878 they were assigned to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming sharing with the Shoshone.

The population of the tribe in 1990 was estimated at 7,000.

Brief Timeline

  • 1700: migrate from Great Lakes region into the Great Plains
  • 1835: the tribe divided into the Northern Arapaho, who settled near the Rocky Mountains (Wyoming), and the Southern Arapaho  who settled near the Arkansas River (Colorado).
  • 1851: Treaty at Fort Laramie
  • 1861: Treaty
  • 1864: Sand Creek Massacre, 130 Southern Arapaho and Cheyenne, many women and children, are killed by the U.S. Army, under the direction of Colonel John M. Covington.
  • 1865: Treaties
  • 1867: Treaty of Medicine Lodge, Southern Arapaho placed on a Reservation in Oklahoma, shared by the Cheyenne
  • 1868: Treaty at Fort Laramie -- Northern Arapaho were assigned to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota with the Sioux, but they sought their own lands.
  • 1876: Northern Arapaho rejected proposal to rejoin with the Southern Arapaho
  • 1878: Northern Arapaho assigned to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, shared with the Shoshone who were former enemies


This tribe is primarily associated with the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming to which they were assigned in 1876, along with the Shoshone .

The Southern Arapaho were removed to a reservation in western Oklahoma in 1867; sharing the reservation with the Cheyenne. That reservation today is known by the combined name of Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation.

Additional References to the History of the Tribe

Tribal Headquarters

Northern Arapaho:

Northern Arapaho Nation
533 Ethete Road
Ethete, WY 82520
Phone: 307.332-.6120 or 307.856.3461
Fax: 307.332.7543

Southern Arapaho:

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
P. O. Box 38
Concho, OK 73022
Phone: 405.262.0345
Fax: 405.422.7424




The following agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had jurisdiction over the Arapaho for the time periods indicated. For details, see the page for the respective agency.


Northern Arapaho

Southern Arapaho

Census  Records

Agency Location of Original Records

Post-1885 Census

M595  RG 75 Rolls 693

Roll Number

FHL Film Number
Wind River Agency, 1873-1952 Denver Roll 663 -
Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, 1875 Washington D.C and Fort Worth Rolls 27-32 -
Shoshoni Agency, 1885-1937 Washington D.C. and Denver Rolls 498-504 -
Cantonment Agency, 1903-27 Washington D.C. and Fort Worth Rolls 16-17 -

Seger School,  1903-12, 1914-27

Washington D.C. Roll 479 -

Correspondence Records

Agency Location of Original Records

Pre- 1880 Correspondence

M234 RG 74 Rolls 962 

Roll Number




Upper Platte Agency, 1855-74 Washington D.C. Roll 889-96 -
Upper Arkansas Agency, 1855-74 Washington D.C. Rolls 878-82 -
Red Cloud (Pine Ridge) Agency, 1871-1961 Washington D.C. and Kansas City Rolls 715-26 -
Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, 1875 Washington D.C. and Fort Worth Rolls 119-26 -


  • 1851 September 17, at Fort Laramie
  • 1861 February 18, at Fort Wise
  • October 14, 1861, at Little Arkansas River
  • 1865 October 17,
  • 1865
  • October 28, 1867, at Council Camp
  •  1867 Treaty of Medicine Lodge
  •  1868 April 29, at Fort Laramie
  • May 10, 1868, at Fort Laramie

Vital Records:

  • Cheyenne and Arapaho, M595, Births and Deaths 1925-1934, FHL Film: 574191

Important Web Sites



  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published