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".
Since separating from what are were called the Southern Cheyenne, and now simply the Cheyenne, in the early 1830s, the Northern Cheyenne stayed in the area around the Upper Platte River. Today it is still the home of the people who call themselves "Tsistsistas" or "beautiful people". The name Cheyenne was originally the name given them by the neighboring Sioux. It meant "red talkers" or "people of a different
speech". This was because the Cheyenne language is an Algonquin based tongue, while the Lakota speak a Siouan dialect.
The Northern Cheyenne homeland is a reservation of 437,000 acres in southeastern Montana, just east of their neighbors, the Crow.
Located in western Montana, the Piegans, or Pikuni branch of the Blackfoot Confederacy is the southern most group of Blackfeet Indians. The other two branches, the Siksika and the Kainah or Blood, are
residents of Canada. The Pikuni, which means "poorly dressed", occupy a reservation of 937,838 acres straddling the border with Canada and
abutting Glacier National Park. Their reservation was established in 1855.
The term "Blackfoot" comes from their habit of dyeing their moccasins black. In a rare occurrence, the reservation assigned to the Blackfeet in Montana coincides with their traditional homelands, though greatly
reduced in size.
The Blackfoot capital is in the town of Browning, which acts as the eastern gateway to Glacier National Park, affording the many visitors to the park a chance to see the Blackfeet's heritage. Browning serves as home to the "Museum of the Plains Indians".
The Blackfeet were known for their beautiful craftwork - their teepees, clothing, weapons and riding equipment were of exceptional design. Their warbonnets, one of which appears on the flag, were unique in that the feathers stood straight up. Many examples of the art of the Blackfoot can be found in the "Museum of the Plains Indian.
The Potawatomi name means "People of the Place of the Fire" in Algonquin. This term refers back some four hundred years when the Potawatomi were united with the Ojibwe and the Ottawa nations. In those days the land of the Potawatomi and the other two nations was what today is Ontario. When the three groups moved southward, they split up forming the three distinct nations. The Ojibwe moved west to what is now Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Ottawa moved to the lands around Lake Huron and the Potawatomi moved on to the lower peninsula of Michigan .
When they moved, they took with them the original "Council Fire" that had been used by the three groups when united. From this is derived there name. Today they are called the "Keepers of the Fire".
Today, the Potawatomi span an area from Michigan through Oklahoma. The largest band of modern Potawatomi is the Citizen Band found in Oklahoma. They received that title because, after being ejected from Kansas and settling in Oklahoma, they accepted the United States' government's offer of citizenship and allotments of land. The Citizen Band controls only the 4,400 acre "Tribal Historic Area" in Oklahoma,
but the vast majority of the Band live on private property as is true with virtually all of Oklahoma's Native peoples.