Reservation Life

Arapaho at the State Fair, 1909

Arapaho at the State Fair, 1909

The first official state fair was held in 1905 in Douglas, Wyoming and from the beginning, the Arapaho attended the fair as both performers and exhibitors. For the first few years, the Fair was an adult only event that drew merchants and producers to sell their goods and show their livestock. In 1924, Chief Yellow Calf of the Arapaho attended and brought many of his men to perform. According to the State Fair website, the Wyoming State Fair had its roots back as early as 1886 in an event called the “First Annual Wyoming Territorial Fair” conducted by the Board of Trustees of the Wyoming Fair Association. The original 80 acre site is lost to history but was somewhere along the old Cheyenne and Northern Railroad right-of-way, near Cheyenne. The main emphasis at the early State Fair were agricultural exhibits and the winners were showcased proudly in the Cheyenne newspaper. One section in November 1909 was titled Indian Department and listed the Arapaho women who had won ribbons that year. The majority of these women lived in Arapaho, Wyoming and their descendants still live on the Wind River Reservation today. Wyoming Industrial Journal no. 6 November 01, 1909, page 4   Indian Department Mrs. Thos. Crispen, Arrapahoe, four first, and three second. Angelia Spoonhunter, Arapahoe, four firsts and two second. Mrs. Judith W. Bell, Arapahoe, two firsts. Mrs. Duck Dewey, Arapaho, two first Alice S. Head, Arapahoe, one first and two second Sara Enos, Wind River, one first and one second. Mrs. Chas. Whiteman, Arapahoe, one first and two second. Pearl Cullins, Arapahoe, one first. Mrs. Kathryn Crook, Arapahoe, one first. Mrs. Matilda Spoonhunter, Arapahoe, one first. Sun Road, Arapahoe, one first. Mrs. Brokenhorn, Arapahoe, one first. Lottie Monroe, Arapaho, one first. Emma Lajeunnesse, Wind River, one second. Mrs. Duck, Arapahoe, one second. Mrs. Paul Sleeping Bear, Arapahoe, one second. Sleeping Bear, Arapahoe, one second.   The Arapaho and Shoshone Indians have actively participated for generations in the state fair and continue to do so. For more about the history of the Douglas State Fair, visit http://www.wystatefair.com/about/history.php Hohou!   By Jackie Dorothy 2017, the Many-Great-Granddaughter of Matilda Spoonhunter, winner of a first place...

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I Will Work & Ride Horses, Part III of 1897 Goals

I Will Work & Ride Horses, Part III of 1897 Goals

To the Arapaho, the coming of the horse improved our way of life vastly. The horse, woxhoox, was ridden into battle and in the hunt for buffalo. They helped us move camp and were traded for brides. When a young warrior died, his favorite horse was often buried with him. After moving to the Wind River Indian Reservation, the horses remained important to the people and by the age of four, most children had a horse to call their own. The students in the boarding schools were homesick for both their families and for their beloved horses as is evident from their essay answers of what they would like to do when they were grown and out of school. This is the final section from the 1897 newspaper article highlighting the goals and dreams of the Arapaho and Shoshone students on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Excerpt from The Indian Guide no. 4, September 1, 1897, page 3 Shoshone Agency 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: James Munroe, Arapahoe, aged 18 It is not so very long till I will be a man. I will work and ride horses. Walter Waters, Arapahoe, aged 18 When I go home I will work hard. I will have lots of horses and three wagons. I am strong and well and I don’t want to go to school again. I can read and writ and talk English. I have been at school some 9 or 10 years. I don’t want to stay here next vacation. Willie Ground Bear, Arapahoe aged 12 When I go home after school I will go to work on our farms and I will ride on horse back. Fred Anandoah, Shoshone, aged 15 I will go home after this school is out. I try to work the farm. Martha Eagle Chief, Arapahoe, aged 15 I want to live in a house. I will go to live on Big Wind River. Thomas Striker, Arapahoe, aged 16 When I am a man I will work hard. I will make a house. I will try to talk English. I will ride my horse. Veda No Name, Shoshone, aged 16 I will try hard to talk English. I never talked English before I came to school. I have been here a long time. I will live by myself and hard at every thing I will work in my house. I will clean it and cook and make bread. Stanley Antelope, Shoshone, aged 16 When I go home I will stay home...

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1897 Students Share Future Goals Part II

1897 Students Share Future Goals Part II

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 Shoshone Agency 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...

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1897 Students Share Goals for the Future

1897 Students Share Goals for the Future

Instead of sending their children to boarding schools off the reservation, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone had the option to keep their children closer to home to receive an English education. Many of our early leaders, such as Chief Black Coal and Sherman Sage, believed learning English and other such skills were vital to our tribes’ success in this new world. In 1871, the first known school was opened for the Arapaho and Shoshone children on the Wind River Indian Reservation. In 1884, a one and one half story adobe building was built on Trout Creek, southwest of Fort Washakie with Father John Roberts as the first superintendent. The following are the student’s own words recorded in 1897 about their futures after they graduate with school. It speaks of their homesickness but also of their determination to succeed. Keep in mind, this is the unaltered text from 1897 told by the students and editor of the paper using terms acceptable during that time. Excerpted from The Indian Guide no. 4, September 1, 1897, page 3, Shoshone Agency 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: Margaret Friday, Arapahoe, aged 13  I will go to help my mother when I go away from this school. I will be at work hard. I guess when I am through work in my home I will go way to my other mother and help work in the garden and I will stay with her all the time.  – Editor’s Note, Margaret’s father has more than one squaw and Margaret calls two of them her mother. Winnie Iron, Arapahoe, 15 I like to go home I like to help my mother at her work. When I get through at school. If I am a woman I won’t like school any more. I will try hard at every thing this year. I like sewing and cooking. When I go home I like to keep my mother’s room clean. Rosella Washington, Arapahoe, aged 18. I like to stay home. I think I will not come back to school. When I am a woman I will like sewing. Delfinio Hurtado, Shoshone, aged 12 I like to go home and stay down home. All I am going to do is work on my house when I get a big man and never leave my papa and my mamma to live by themselves and I will never get married to go away. Fred White, Arapahoe, age 14 I will work in my house and I will work on the...

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Arapaho Dice Game

Arapaho Dice Game

One of the more popular games among the Arapaho, especially the women, was a counting dice game. This high stake game had been known to last up to several days. During the early years of reservation life, it was a common occurrence to see the older women put on their blanket and go off to gamble with their friends and family. The Arapaho had two type of dice games they played, one with bones or seeds and the other with sticks. The games were similar to each other and mainly just differed in the materials used. To play the bone and seed dice game, you needed at least two sets each made up of two dice and a basket to toss them in. The dice were made of plum-stones, seeds or bone. They were usually marked by burning designs into one side and leaving the other side blank. The dice could also be incised or bored with rows of holes filled in with paint. There were usually only two sets used at one time but occasionally as many as five sets can be used. The count depends on the combination of marked and unmarked sides as the dice fall. The stakes are won when all the dice fall alike and match, either unmarked or marked. Points are also given when the dice of each set fall alike even though the sets differ. When one die alone falls different from the rest, one point is scored. The dice are usually tossed into a special willow basket made for the game. These baskets are about 8 inches round, two inches deep and have flat bottoms, with sides rising without curvature at an angle from the bottom. The center of the basket is wide open. Some basket bottoms are covered with a piece of skin sewed in with sinew thread and the baskets can be dyed red. It was the only time the Arapaho women made woven baskets. Dice were unique and individually designed with such things as dragonflies, birds and other symbols. When playing a game, two sets of dice were never the same so that it could be told with a glance who won. The dice game had many of the same elements when sticks were used instead of the bone or seed dice. The sticks ranged in size from half a foot to a foot in length, were split lengthwise and with the pith removed. The flat side was then painted and the outer side left white. A stick dice game consists of two sets, each set containing four sticks of one color. The unpainted backs were marked by burning various symbols into one of the two sets of...

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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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