Friday, the Arapaho Interpreter

Friday-Arapaho-1869His Arapaho name was “The Man Who Sits Thinking” but he was better known as Friday, the adopted son of Thomas Fitzpatrick. In 1831, he had been found wandering the prairies by Fitzpatrick on a Friday, hence his name. The mountain man took the boy back to St. Louis with him and sent him to school for two years. Friday stayed another five years before returning to his people and the Arapaho way of life.

As a result of his education, Friday was the main interpreter for councils and meetings with non-Indians from 1850 until his death. He brought back useful knowledge to the Arapaho elders and proved that you can go to school but not lose the Arapaho way.

By the 1860’s, Friday was a leader of his own band. He wanted to live on the Cache la Poudre in Colorado as his permanent home and spent most of his time there. However, his efforts failed to secure a reservation in his chosen area.

In 1875, he served as the interpreter for Black Coal and Little Wolf when they testified that they had been given spoiled food and blankets too short for issue from the Red Cloud Agency. The Northern Arapaho had by now been reduced to poverty and their numbers depleted.

In 1876, to show their good faith to their non-Indian allies, Friday joined other Arapaho as a scout for General George Cook in a campaign against their Sioux and Cheyenne allies. They did not want drawn into the Sioux war and agreed to help bring them back to their reservation.

After the war ended, the Arapahoes accepted rations with the Sioux at the Red Cloud Agency but by 1878, began again to seek a reservation of their own. Friday was among the first delegation sent to Wind River to negotiate with the Shoshoni tribe’s Chief Washakie.

Friday, as interpreter for the Arapaho, told the agents that the tribe no longer wanted to suffer the abuse of the Sioux and wanted a reservation of their own where they could learn to farm. They were instead sent to live with the Shoshoni although neither tribe wanted to share a reservation.

On May 13, 1881, Friday died on the Wind River Reservation of a heart aliment. He was never a head chief but was known as a peace chief who sought a harmonious relationship with the non-Indians.

1 Comment

  1. Interesting reading!!

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