Posts made in June, 2016

Whirlwind Woman

Whirlwind Woman

  Whirlwind Woman (Neyoooxetuse) was the first woman on earth and vital to all ceremonies related to women according to the old Arapaho. She brought to us the art of quillwork and many of our sacred designs are said to be from her. She never stays in one place very long and is constantly on the move, attributes that were actually the opposite of those valued by the old Arapaho. However, it is this very trait which played a crucial role in the creation of the earth. The creation story of the Arapaho say that a turtle was sent by the first Pipe Keeper to the bottom of the water and this turtle brought up mud. Whirlwind Woman spun around the small piece of mud while it was still small. As she circled, the earth grew until it reached its present size. She made four stops on her journey around the earth and created the four hills upon which sit the four Old Men at the four directions. When she finally stopped, she had gone over the whole earth. This sacred journey of Whirlwind Woman is told in one of the decorative quillwork designs that she gave to the Arapaho people. The black and yellow concentric rings represent her course. It is said that as she circled the earth, she worked on her first quill-embroidery piece. Two of the sacred designs given to the tribe from Whirlwind Woman are the ‘bear-foot’ design unique to the Arapaho and the ‘ends of the earth’ design. She also created the first tent-ornament for the tipis to represent what she did in the creation of earth. The power that Whirlwind Woman holds is that she generate motion and can stun or stop the motion of others who gaze at her. The medicine of the Seven Old Women is lost to us but the power to stun people may have been theirs because of Whirlwind Woman. Quillwork was a gift from above to humans and was a prayer for a good and long life. The wearer of Quillwork absorbed those powers and more into themselves as it guided their life path. This power also radiated outward to others as did Whirlwind Woman’s power when she spun around the earth. Wind is considered a creative power that connects Whirlwind Woman with the Four Old Men. It is wind that sent life-giving breath to the people. However, the medicine of the wind can also be dangerous. It was said that the power of a whirlwind could take away your breath. If a whirlwind traveled towards a person, they must squat down and cover their face until it passes. If they fail to do this, they may lose their hearing...

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The Ghost by the Road

The Ghost by the Road

A ghost story told by Dickie Moss.  This ghostly tale was originally recorded by Professor James Andrew Cowell as told to him by Dickie Moss, the oldest son of the respected Arapaho storyteller, Paul Moss. Throughout the story, Dickie would say “Wohei” which means “and then”. A long time ago, when ghosts (biiteino’) and similar creatures were around, a certain man fooled a ghost. Wohei. He was walking downstream and then he realized that someone was following him. He kept turning around to look but he didn’t see anybody. Wohei. He clearly heard the sound of someone walking. Whenever he stopped walking, it stopped walking. Wohei. He set off again and he would hear the sound of someone walking toward him once more. He was certain that someone was following him. Wohei. After a while, he cleared his throat. It cleared its throat. He clapped his hands, and it clapped its hands. He was coming this way [towards Ethete] somewhere on his way home and it was dark. Wohei. There at the Red Hills, wohei and then at the Washakie Springs, wohei and then right there is a bridge. He was going to have to walk right over that bridge. And way out away from the settlements, someone was hollering out in a strange way. Every time it hollered out, it was a little closer to him. And now the man had come really close to the bridge. Soon, judging from where it had hollered out last, the ghost was real close to him. Right around the bridge was where he had heard it last. Then he arrived there at the bridge. And someone was standing there. But he didn’t want to run off back in the other direction. He didn’t want to run off back that way. “I might as well go ahead while I’ve still got my wits about me.” He closed his eyes and then he started running straight through there. He doesn’t know if he was going to run into that ghost, or what might happen. He just kept on running this way, without even slowing down. And that’s how they told this story. That spot out there, well apparently there’s something powerful there. Whoever wants to go on a vision quest should do it there. But maybe nobody has. I was supposed to take my brother-in-law out there. I told him the story, and – what do you know! – and he didn’t ever go out there again. Instead, his father took him way out here somewhere, way out north. He got scared of the Red Hills area again after hearing the story. That’s the story I told him. That’s how the old men...

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Chief Medicine Man Speaks to Twiss

By 1850, the Arapaho people were considered to be “wild and barbarous”. They were greatly feared because of possible Indian uprisings against the settlers moving into their hunting territory. However, they did have advocates who attempted to work on their behalf with Washington. One such man was Agent Thomas S. Twiss who was given the charge of the Platte River tribes. They numbered 6,500 Sioux, 1,600 Arapaho and 1,400 Cheyenne who contended with each other over their hunting grounds while opposing white encroachment. (Trenholm, pg 144) In 1857, Twiss unsuccessfully tried to stop Morman Mail Stops from being built in the tribes’ territory. By 1858, gold seekers invaded the territory and by 1859, immigrants were pouring into Pikes Peak area by the thousands. On September 18, 1859, Twiss held a council at Deer Creek, Nebraska Territory. The Arapaho chiefs present were Medicine Man, Black Bear, Cut Nose, Little Owl, and Friday with thirty of their leading men. The Arapaho, in an unprecedented move, spoke on behalf of the Sioux and Cheyenne as well as for themselves. The following is the speech that was given by Chief Medicine Man, the head chief of the Northern Arapaho. “Father (Twiss), the words which you have given us from our Great Father are good. We listen to his voice. Our country for hunting game had become very small. We see the white man everywhere; their rifles kill some of the game, and the smoke of their Camp fires scares the rest away…. It is but a few years ago, when we camped here, in the valley of Deer Creek, and remained many moons, for the Buffalo were plenty and made the prairie look black all around us. Now, none are seen and we are obliged to go to Yellow Stone, ten days travel, and then find only a few, for the Crow Tribe of Indians show hostile feelings towards us when we hunt there; oftentimes scaring away the game and stealing our horses…. Our sufferings are increasing every winter. Our horses, too, are dying because we ride them so far to get a little game for our Lodges. We wish to live…. We are willing that our people should plant and raise corn for food, and settle on small farms and live in Cabins. We ask our Great Father to help us until we can labor like the white people. The Arapaho Tribe wish to settle on the Laramie River, above Fort Laramie. The Oglalas will settle on Horse Creek, in part; and another part on Deer Creek, the present agency…. We request that our Great Father will supply us for a few years with a Blacksmith, Carpenter, farmers, physicians, Missionaries of the...

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