Clans

Sherman Sage

Sherman Sage was born about 1844 near the Platte Rivers in Nebraska to the Long Leg band of the Northern Arapaho. At his birth, his Uncle named him Sage in honor of the time he had killed a man in a large sagebrush. Sage witnessed many key events of the Plains history. He attended the first and second Laramie treaty talks, experienced the birth of the gold rush in Denver, served as a scout for General Crook and met Wovoka, prophet of the Ghost Dance movement on behalf of his tribe. He was an advocate for education and expressed regret that the lawlessness of Denver caused him to be pulled out of the non-Indian schools when he was young. He also believed in preserving the Arapaho culture in the written word and, in this role, helped Alfred Kroeber and James Mooney record our customs and stories. On July 16, 1914, Sherman Sage was one of two Arapaho elders invited on a two-week pack trip above Estes Park. It was a naming expedition funded by the Colorado Mountain Club to help persuade Congress to establish the area as a national park by assigning Indian names to important land features. This area now is the Rocky Mountain National Park and many of the Arapaho names from this trip are used to this day. In his late 90’s, Sherman Sage continued his role as tribal historian by being one of the main informants for Mary Inez Hilger. Her book, “Arapaho Child Life and Its Cultural Background”, has successfully preserved much of our tribe’s past and our ancestors’ voice. Sage did not shun from sharing how hard daily life was. “People rose early in those old days. They couldn’t afford to sleep late. They had to be on the alert all the time. They had to look out for the enemy; bring in their horses, carry in water. Everyone would have had breakfast and then only the sun would be coming up.” Even though he is still known as Old Man Sage, he had several Indian names. After his nephew took his name, Sage, during a lodge dance, he assumed the name of his Grandfather, Good-To-Look-At. After another young man acquired this name, Sage then took the name Old-Owl after his mother’s father. It was common practice to take the name of someone you respect and for that person to assume another name. Sherman Sage was well respected by the Northern Arapaho and his memory lives on in the books he helped to bring about on our culture and customs. He attributed it to his mother’s advice. “Now look at your father here. He is brave, truthful, kind to everybody. Do as your...

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The Women’s Buffalo Lodge

http://www.arapaholegends.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/BuffaloDance.mp3 “Get ready,” her husband called out to the tribe. “Now we are ready to go around the banuxta’wu!” So goes out the call to the women at the Arapaho camp that a Buffalo Lodge is being called together. Once her husband had rode around the camp crying out his message, he would have returned to his wife who had made the vow to hold the lodge. Together, they then went around the camp-circle from left to right, entering each tipi and encouraging the women to join her in the ceremony. In her hands, the pledger held a pipe that would bind those who touched it to her vow. It was actually difficult to persuade the women to join her because the dancers must make payments during the course of the ceremony. Those that agree to dance, accompanied the pledger and her husband with their own husbands as they continued to visit each tipi, looking for more dancers. The Buffalo Lodge was for all women, married and not, above the age of 15. Certain men were allowed to assist during the ceremonies and a medicine man was in charge but, for the most part, this lodge and it’s associated ceremonies were strictly for the women. According to the historian Kroeber, it was mostly young women who agreed to join the dance, which involved four days of dancing and racing. Once the dancers were gathered, a lodge was put up in the center of the camp-circle made of seven tent poles tied together with a rope of buffalo skin. A painted red digging stick was placed across the poles near the top and the other tent poles rested against this brace. Two poles were painted black and placed at the northeast and southwest to represent night and two poles were painted red and placed at the northwest and southeast to represent day. Three to four skin tent coverings were used to cover the poles with the entrance facing the east. The people at the camp contributed all the materials for the lodge. The pledger of the dance was the highest ranked of the dancers and known as the “white woman”. She was painted white to represent a bull buffalo. Her headdress fell well beneath her shoulders and the white weasel skin hide was covered with either white swan feathers or goose down. Second in rank was the “owner-of-the-tent-poles” who represented an old bull leading the herd. She wore a buffalo cap headdress painted white with decorated horns. The cap covered her forehead and fell below her neck. The third rank were known as “red-stand” and the fourth rank, as the “white-stand”. Both these ranks wore leather headbands painted either red...

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Arapaho Sub-Tribes

Arapaho Sub-Tribes

In the last two centuries, the Hinono’eiteen (Arapaho) split into five divisions which in the 1970’s Tom Shakespeare Sr., an Arapaho elder, called: Arapaho Proper (The Northern Arapaho) Peacaus (I assume he is referring to the Southern Branch) Stonechippers (The Rock People) Treebark Dwellers (The Wood-Lodge People) Gros Ventres (Beggars) According to Tom, each group spoke the Arapaho dialect in four different unique sub-dialects. The Northern Arapaho (Arapaho Proper) called themselves the “Sage Brush Men” and the other Arapaho called them the “Red Willow Men” reportedly because of all the different ways they used the red willow tree. This branch of the Arapaho was the Mother Tribe and the custodians of the sacred symbols and medicines. The Southern Arapaho (Peacaus?) were the “Southerners” or “South Men”. One the surface, their language shares similarities with the Cheyenne perhaps due to their long association with this tribe in relatively recent times. The Gros Ventres of the prairies call themselves “White Clay People”, however they were called the “Begging Men” by other Arapaho and atsina (gut) by the Blackfeet Tribe. They historically lived north of the main body of the Arapaho near and adjacent to the Blackfoot territory. They were called the “Begging Men” because they were shrewd business men and demanded adequate pay for their goods. The Aanuhawa “Rock People” lived with the Northern Arapaho and were few in number. Their dialect was between that of the Arapaho proper and the Blackfeet. The Basawunne na “Big-Lodge” or “Wood-Lodge People” were, by tradition, a distinct tribe who were at war with the Arapaho Nation. However, they were actually absorbed into the Arapaho tribe years ago. Their dialect differed considerably from other Arapaho dialects. In the 1970s, the Big Lodge was still a distinct group among the Arapaho and the nation expected a member among those of the Big-Lodge People living with the Northern Arapaho to be the custodian of the Sacred Pipe, the palladium (protective charm) of the Arapaho. Each group lived separately and continued to be allied to each other. Eventually, the smaller bands were absorbed into the larger Arapaho Proper group through intermarriage. This intermingling also occurred with the Cheyenne and Sioux to a lesser extent. The North and South branches, each with their own dialect and different meanings of words, remain divided to this day. One theory says that this division into two main tribes was the direct result of their hunting grounds being divided in half. The Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne had signed a friendly treaty that allowed wagon trains to pass through their land unmolested and this resulted in a barren strip being blazed through the middle to the common hunting grounds, effectively dividing the once massive...

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