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The Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation

The Cheyenne and Arapaho of Oklahoma unite two of the most famous tribes in the American west. Both nations are actually the southern branches of their respective tribes. The northern Arapaho are found on the Wind River Reservation of Wyoming.

The southern band moved to the Indian Territory as a result of the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 which was signed by Chief Little Raven as leader of the Southern Arapaho.

As a nation the Arapaho were part of many of the conflicts between Native Americans and white settlers that could be called the "War of the Plains". They were allies with the Comanche and Kiowa in the south and with the Northern Cheyenne and Sioux in the north.

The name Arapaho is of uncertain origin. It may have come from the Pawnee word "tirapihu" which means "trader" or the term that the Kiowa used for them "Ahyato". The Arapaho, which have officially adopted that name, formerly called themselves "Inuna-ina" which means "our people".

The Cheyenne, which are also discussed under their northern band in the complete work, were named by the Sioux, and the name translates into "People of a different language".

The Southern Cheyenne, now officially just the Cheyenne, are survivors of one of the most disgraceful acts that occurred during the Indian Wars of the Plains - the Sand Creek Massacre. About 600 Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho, under the leadership of Black Kettle were settled at Sand Creek in south eastern Colorado. They were told to wait there for escort to their reservation in the Indian Territory. In the early hours of November 29, 1864, Colonel John Chivington led a drunken force of Colorado volunteer militiamen to Sand Creek. When spotted by those encamped, Chief Black Kettle raised both a white flag of surrender and a United States flag over his tepee to show the peaceful nature of his people and their loyalty to and protection by the Government of the United States. Colonel Chivington and his men ignored the flags and attacked anyway. Although Black Kettle and a few of his warriors were able to fight back before escaping, over one third of the people were killed that morning. The majority were women and children.

Today, the Arapaho and Cheyenne share tribal trust lands in western Oklahoma where they earn tribal income from farming and from the lease of mineral rights.

The flag of the Cheyenne and Arapaho is a slightly modified version of the old flag of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho. Both flags were blue, bearing an outline of the state of Oklahoma in the center. Crossing this is a lance bearing two sets of fourteen eagle feathers. Fourteen was the number of members that the old tribal council contained. In the center of the flag is the seal of the two tribes. It bears a tepee surrounded by three Christian crosses in white. Ringing this is a band bearing fourteen stars, again for the tribal council members. Except for the crosses, all items appear in black against a backdrop of what has been described as peach, apricot or light beige. This color is probably meant to recall the rawhide used on both Cheyenne and Arapaho shields.

Behind the shield are two traditional emblems of war and peace used by many Native American peoples. An arrow, traditionally a symbol for war, but since it is facing down, it means that the Cheyenne and Arapaho are at peace. The second item is the peacepipe which serves not only as a symbol of peace, but is very important in the ceremonies of many tribes. These two symbols are crossed, forming an X'. Above and below the entire device is the name of the combined tribe in black lettering.

The flag was altered to reflect both the name change of the Cheyenne and the makeup of the Tribal Council. To show the new council's structure, a row of eight white stars has been added across the top of the map of Oklahoma.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603