Training for an Arapaho child began at birth and by five, they were usually fluent in the Arapaho language and knew their place in our close knit society. Our ancestors would begin joining lodges as preteens to gain the knowledge and secrets of both day to day survival and the way of the Creator.
Our age graded society and the lessons they gave came to an end after we moved onto the reservation. The children’s Arapaho education was interrupted and replaced by another type of schooling provided by the federal government and churches.
These schools taught English, writing, arithmetic and new life skills such as farming. Our leaders spoke of the importance of learning this new way of life to ensure the success of the tribe as a whole in this new era.
On the Wind River Indian Reservation, boarding schools were built so the children would remain closer to home. The following is part two of a newspaper essay from these children sharing their dreams of a future for themselves and their families. Many of the descendants of these children still remain on the reservation today.
Excerpt from The Indian Guide no. 4, September 1, 1897, page 3
Expression by Language
The pupils of Fourth Grade, Mr. Betz teacher, were asked to give a short answer to the Question, “What I will be when I am a man or woman?” and following are the uncorrected answers:
Amoretti Yellow Bear, Arapahoe, aged 15
I will like to work when I am a man I am only a little boy and not yet a strong man. When I am a man I will work in the field. I have a wagon and horses. I work hard now and I am only a boy, when I am a man work with my brother.
Henry Snake, Arapahoe, aged 19
When I go home from school I will hard at my home. I have a wagon at home to ride in whin I am working.
Lucy Lamrouex, Shoshone, aged 15
When I go home I am going to keep house for my mother and would like to go to another place I am getting tired of this country, and then I will keep house for myself.
Emma Murray, Shoshone, aged 16
When I leave school I am going to Montana and live with my aunt and learn dress making. Then I am going to start a millinery shop of my own.
John Anandoab, Shoshone, aged 14
I can not tell what I will be I think I will work. I will try to talk English. I will make a good house and live in it.
Harry Friday, Arapahoe, aged 13
I will help my father. We will work in the farm and go out hunting our own horses. Will work with my father all the time.
Anna Mule, Arapahoe, aged 16
I am going to live in a house. I work myself and take care of my house.
Bernard Cut Nose, Arapahoe, aged 12
When I am a man I will work hard. I will get a wagon and horse. I will build a house but I will not stay here, I want to go to Montana to St. Paul’s Mission school. I will not ride all day on a pony but will try to live good. This is what I will do when I am a man.
John Mule, Arapaho, 14
When I go after school I will ride horses.
Ellen Robinson, Shoshone, aged 14
When I go home I do not want to come back to school. I am going to talk English. When I am a woman I will work in my house at every thing I will cook and make bread. This is what I will do.
John Willow, Arapahoe, aged 14
I like my father, when I am a man we will work.
Aaron Willow, Arapahoe, aged 14
When I go home after school I will go to work on our farm. I will ride our horses.