Art For Indigenous Survival

The Arapaho of Wind River, Wyoming, October 2007


This was our first teaching expedition to the Arapaho people. We learned that the Arapaho are believed to have migrated to the plains about 1000 years ago from the northern Minnesota area. They settled eventually in the Colorado area; but after the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864, approximately 800 fled north into Wyoming — most were women, children and elders. Over the next few years, they petitioned for land of their own. The United States government negotiated with Chief Washakie of the Shoshone to place the Arapaho on the Shoshone Reservation at Wind River. This was done in 1878 as a temporary measure.

We began teaching on Monday, October 1st. Dara Weller (our contact person) introduced us to Francine Lone Bear and Perriann Stanley who loaned us their rooms and students for the month. We began with Golden Eagles in the first class; Pronghorn Antelope heads in the second class and Buffalo heads in the two afternoon classes. This was our first attempt at teaching High School students and it was difficult to finish the projects because of time restraints.

Antelopes and Buffalo

The last week saw several pieces being finished. Class pictures were taken and then on the last Thursday, we started hanging the work up in the cafeteria for an art show scheduled for that evening. Fred Antelope and Dara Weller planned a program which included drumming, dancing, an Honoring Song and a Smudging ceremony. Francine and her family cooked up a feast. Irma and I felt well cared for and honored. It had been a very good month.

Suffed animals