Wind River Indian Reservation
The Wind River Reservation is the only Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Located in west central Wyoming, the reservation is named after the scenic Wind River Canyon. The Wind River Reservation is geographically the third largest reservation in the nation, encompassing 3,500 square miles and 2.3 million acres. The reservation was established by the Fort Bridger Treaty of July 2,1863. Originally 44,672,000 acres in size, the reservation included areas of Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. A number of agreements over the ensuing years resulted in the loss of land to the current level. Portions of the reservation terrain is rugged and mountainous while other areas are forested or suitable for grazing. The Big Wind River and Little Wind River run through the reservation, which is jointly owned by the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes. The reservation is located near the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, as well as the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
The Wind River Reservation was originally set aside for the Shoshone Tribe. In 1878 the Arapaho tribe was settled on the reservation. The two tribes had been traditional enemies so the forced occupation of the reservation was difficult for some years. In 1938, the Shoshone tribe was awarded $4,453,000 for the eastern half of the reservation occupied by the Arapahoes. The Shoshone tribal members principally occupy the western areas of the reservation including Fort Washakie, Crowheart, Burris and the Dry Creek Ranch area. The Arapaho Tribe principally occupies the eastern section of the reservation including Ethete and Arapaho. Members of both tribes live in the Mill Creek-Boulder Flats area. Current census data reports that there are 5,953 Arapaho tribal members and 2, 650 Shoshone tribal members.
The Wind River Reservation is also the resting place of two historical figures associated with the Shoshone Tribe: Sacajewea, the young woman who helped guide Lewis and Clark's expedition and Chief Washakie, the last chief of the Shoshone. Sacajewea's image was recently minted on the new U.S. dollar coin. Chief Washakie has been honored with a statue in the U.S. Capitol.
Today, the tribes jointly govern the Wind River Reservation with each retaining separate identities, cultures and tribal governments.
Village of Arapaho.
The Arapaho are members of the Algonquin language family which is an immense linguistic group consisting of 40 separate languages and whose representatives lie scattered from Labrador to the Rocky Mountains. Many anthropologists suggest that the various bands of the Arapaho originated in the Great Lakes area. Some report that the Arapaho were agricultural people in Minnesota and moved west in the 1700's. By the last of the 18th century, the Arapaho had migrated onto the Great Plains and were living a nomadic life and hunting the buffalo. Sometime during the 1830s it is believed that the Arapahoes split into two equal-sized groups, the Northern and Southern Arapahoes.
In 1851 The U.S. government, seeking protection for the settlers moving west, signed the Treaty of 1851 which guaranteed the Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes hunting grounds from the Platte to the Arkansas River and from the Rocky Mountains to a line between the Santa Fe Trail and the junction of the North and South Platte Rivers. In return, the government gained permission to build forts along the Oregon Trail. The Arapahoes generally complied with the Treaty of 1851 during the next ten years. The discovery of gold along the eastern base of the Rockies in 1858 led to a gold rush the following year.
It was not until the 1864 that Arapaho bands begin to experience the direct effects of permanent, non-Indian settlement of their territory. In what became known as the Sand Creek Massacre, 150 Arapaho and Cheyenne people were killed, their horses taken, and all their belongings destroyed. During the ensuing conflict on the Plains, the military tended to define unsettled Arapaho bands as "hostile" allies of the Cheyenne and Lakota warrior groups. After Sand Creek, the Northern Arapaho bands moved northward into Wyoming.
In 1870, two Arapaho chiefs, Medicine Man and Friday met with Chief Washakie of the Shoshone and received permission for the Arapaho tribe to stay on the Wind River Reservation temporarily. In 1874, the Bates Battle occurred between the U.S. Army and the Arapahoes killing 26 Arapaho and fatally wounding 21. Afterwards the Arapaho went to the Red Cloud Agency and lived with the Lakota Sioux. The only other recorded conflict between the Northern Arapahoes and the U.S. government troops came in 1876 when a number of Arapaho warriors participated in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
In 1877 a Northern Arapaho delegation visited Washington D.C. to request that the President of the United State not send them to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. In 1878 the Arapahoes were settled on the Wind River Reservation permanently. Their Southern Arapaho relatives were moved with the Southern Cheyenne to western Oklahoma, where their descendants remain today.
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