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Arapaho Tribe Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the history of the Arapaho Indians, a tribe of Native Americans. Read on to find out where the Arapaho lived, what they ate and how they dressed.

Nomadic Hunter-Gatherers

The Arapaho are Native Americans who originally lived in the area of the U.S. that is now Minnesota. About 400 years ago, they moved to the plains in Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming and Nebraska, where they became nomadic hunter-gatherers, which means they followed the animals they hunted, which were herds of buffalo, and gathered foods that they could find in the wild.

Arapaho Camp
camp

Like many other plains Indians, the Arapaho used a flat sled, called a travois, for transporting people, teepees, and other items. The travois was pulled by dogs, horses or people.

The Inuna-Ina

The Arapaho call themselves 'Inuna-Ina,' which means 'our people.' Their language is one version of Algonquin, which was the basis of the languages used by several Native American tribes. Unfortunately, hardly anyone speaks Arapaho today.

The Arapaho were friendly with several other tribes, including the Cheyenne and Sioux. They were bitter enemies of the Shoshone, Ute and Pawnee. Niwot (Chief Left Hand), Little Raven, and Chief Sharp Nose were three famous Arapaho chiefs.

The Arapaho split into two groups, the Northern Arapaho and the Southern Arapaho. The Northern Arapaho were called 'Nank'haanseine'nan,' which means 'sagebrush people,' while the Southern Arapaho were called the 'Noowunenno,' which means 'southern people.'

Within each tribe, there were different bands, or groups, mostly made up by members of the same family. Each band hunted and stayed together throughout the year. All the bands would gather once each year to celebrate the Sun Dance festival, which was held on the first day of summer.

Life on the Plains

The Arapaho followed the herds of buffalo as they moved around the plains. Because of this, they needed homes that they could take down, move, and reassemble very quickly. Teepees, or tipis, were perfect for this lifestyle.

Yellow Magpie
Arapaho

The Arapaho depended on the buffalo for many things. Buffalo provided them with food, but they also used buffalo hides for clothing and to make their teepees. In addition to buffalo, Arapaho hunted elk, deer, bear, and wild turkey. To add to their diets, they caught fish and gathered wild plants, such as spinach, prairie turnips, potatoes, herbs, and fruits. The Arapaho also ate dried buffalo meat, called pemmican, which would keep for a long time and could be eaten when other foods were scarce.

Both women and men dressed in clothing made from animal hides and decorated with beads, porcupine quills and paint. Women also wore necklaces and armbands.

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