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NATIVE AMERICAN FLAGS

The Arapaho

The Wind River Reservation is located in northwestern Wyoming. It is the home of two separate Native American Nations. The Shoshone, who, as of 1995 did not possess a tribal flag, and the Arapaho, who do.

The story of the Arapaho can is believed to have begun when they migrated from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in the early 1700s (ENAT, 17-19). During the 1800s, the Arapaho people divided into northern and southern groups. The current southern Arapaho have combined with the southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma to form the current Cheyenne and Arapaho nation. The northern Arapaho still function as a distinctive tribal nation even though they share the Wind River Reservation with the Shoshone.

Known to themselves as the Inuna-ina, or "our people", the Arapaho have officially adopted their given name which possibly derived from the Pawnee word "tirapihu", which means "trader". (ENAT, 17).

After the Choctaw of Oklahoma, the Arapaho of the Wind River Reservation may have the distinction of being the second tribe to adopt a flag.

The flag of the Arapaho (History of the Arapaho Flag) dates back to the 1940s when the Arapaho saw their young men going off to war in Europe or the Pacific. After the first Arapaho to die in World War II - John L. Brown - the tribal elders decided there should be a symbol of the Arapaho nation since their sons were now dying not only for the United States, but for the Arapaho nation.

The elders designed a flag of seven stripes to indicate seven ceremionial and sacred ingredients. At the tp of the flag (at that time flown vertically) a white triangle would contain a circular device of red white and black. Red because they are human beings and Arapaho, white because they wanted a long life, and black because they wanted happiness.

After the war ended the concept of a flag for the Arapaho nation faded until the Korean War started. At that time the Arapaho people requested fo their tribal elders that they adopt a flag to let everyone know that they are Arapaho. On June 15, 1956, the flag of the Arapaho nation was adopted by the general council of the Arapahos.

That flag consists of seven stripes, the central stripe one half the width of the other six. The two outer most stripes are red, the second and sixth stripes are white, the third and fifth stripes black and the central narrow stripe is white. At the hoist is a white triangle edged in black. It bears a circle of red over black separated by a narrow white band. At forty years of age, the flag of the Arapaho still flies and still serves to represent one of the great tribes of the plains and one of the great nations of Native America.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603