The Gros Ventre is a sub-tribe of the Arapaho tribe and were called the “Begging People” or “Big Bellies” but not for the reasons you may think!
In the early 1800′s, the Arapaho people were known as excellent businessmen who demanded adequate payment from the early traders. They refused to be short changed for their goods and were shrewd and stubborn in their dealings. In this, they had the advantage of other tribes because they were clever and resourceful yet still ‘docile’ and courageous in getting the best deal possible from the non-native traders. They attempted to get as many supplies and goods as possible for their buffalo robes and pelts. The Arapaho women were also renowned for their brain tanning and excellent quality of soft hides which were could demand a higher price.
The Gros Ventres branch of the Arapaho were thus named the “Big Bellies” or the “Begging People” – “Those Who Kept Asking for More”. The Indian sign for this Arapaho branch was to move both hands upward, palms in and spread as if describing a large belly. It wasn’t because of actual big bellies that earned them this name!