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Arapaho Language (Arapahoe)

Language: Arapaho (also spelled Arapahoe or Arrapahoe) is an Algonquian language spoken by 1000 people, most of them in Wyoming. It is a polysynthetic language with long, complex verbs and fairly free word order. Many linguists consider Gros Ventre an Arapaho dialect-- though the two tribes maintain distinct identities, the languages are primarily mutually comprehensible. Most Arapaho and Gros Ventre speakers are elderly, but the Arapaho community is working to revitalize the language by teaching it to younger Arapahos.

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Names: It is uncertain where the word 'Arapaho' came from. It may have come from the Pawnee word for "trader," iriiraraapuhu, or it may have been a corruption of a Crow word for "tattoo." The Arapaho Indians called themselves Inuna-Ina (Hinonoeino) in their own language, which means 'our people,' but the tribe self-identifies as Arapaho now. Other historical names for the Arapahos have included Gens de Vache, Dog Eaters, Hitanwo'iv, Saretika, Ita-Iddi, and Kanenavish, and alternate spellings of these various names include Arapahoe, Arrapaho, Arrapahoe, Inunaina, Inu Ina-na, Hinono'eino, Hinanaeina, Hinonoei'tiit, Hinóno'eitíít, Hetanevoeo, Hetanevo'eo'o, and Suretika.

People: There are two major Arapaho tribes: the Northern Arapaho, who are concentrated in Wyoming, and the Southern Arapaho, who are united with their longtime allies the Cheyenne into the Cheyenne-Arapaho Nation in Oklahoma. The Northern Arapahos number about 6000, and the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribes have a combined 11,000 members. The Gros Ventre tribe of Montana was originally an emigrant group of Arapaho Indians, and their languages and cultures are closely related. Other Arapaho subgroups that have since merged into the Northern and Southern Arapahos include the Nawathi'neha, the Besawunenaa, and the Ha'anahawunena.

History: Though the Sioux, Shoshone, and Pawnee knew them as formidable warriors, history tends to label the Arapaho Indians a "peaceful people" because they did not fight the Americans. Unfortunately, their strategy of making treaties with the invaders rather than fighting them did not bring them to any better end. The increasing influx of settlers crossing into areas promised to the Arapaho by treaty forced them away from their traditional lands, disrupted the buffalo routes, and ultimately split the Arapaho tribe in half, a split that still exists today. The Southern Arapaho joined the Cheyenne, where they together became victims of the most egregious massacre in American history, the Sand Creek massacre of 1864 (in which one Colonel Chivington deliberately attacked a reservation of peaceable Cheyenne and Arapaho people under US protection and killed more than 150 men, women, and children despite their repeated attempts to surrender. "Nits," he famously proclaimed, "breed lice.") Meanwhile, the Northern Arapaho fled to what is now Wyoming and petitioned their old foes the Shoshone for a home there. Finally, the Arapaho had made a treaty which would be honored: the land granted to them by the Shoshone remains theirs to this day.

Arapaho Language
Arapaho language samples and resources.

Arapaho Culture and History
Information and links about the Arapaho Indians.

Arapaho Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to common questions about the Arapahos.

Arapaho Legends
Introduction to Arapaho mythology.

Arapaho Language Resources

Our Online Language Materials

Arapaho Vocabulary:
    List of vocabulary words in the Arapaho language, with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Arapaho Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Arapaho words.
Arapaho Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Arapaho language.
Arapaho Colors:
    Worksheet showing color words in the Arapaho language.
Arapaho Animate Nouns:
    Lesson on Arapaho animate and inanimate nouns.

Arapaho Dictionaries and Language Books for Sale
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The Arapaho Language:
    Comprehensive Arapaho grammar textbook for sale online.
Arapaho Historical Traditions:
    Book of legends, oral histories, and other texts in the Arapaho language with English translations.
Arapaho Stories, Songs, and Prayers:
    Bilingual anthology of Arapaho literature and mythology.
Naming the World:
    Interesting sociolinguistics books on the importance of Native language to different groups of Arapaho people.
Arapaho Dialects:
    1916 book about the Arapaho language.
Native American Dictionaries:
    Arapaho and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Map of the Plains: * Nebraska Tribes: * Wyoming Tribes: * Colorado Tribes: * Kansas Tribes:
    Maps showing the areas where Arapaho and other Plains Indian languages were spoken before colonization.
Northern Arapaho Language Center:
    Alphabet, pronunciation, and Arapaho songs and stories from the Wind River Tribal College.
Basic Arapaho: * Arapaho Language Lesson:
    Language learning videos demonstrating Arapaho pronunciation and vocabulary.
Arapaho Alphabet and Pronunciation:
    Phonological inventory of the Arapaho language, with a sample text.
Hello Oklahoma: Arapaho Tribe:
    Arapaho alphabet, greeting, and sample text.
Wikipedia: Arapaho:
    Encyclopedia article on the Arapaho language including a grammatical overview.
Arapaho Language Tree:
    Theories about Arapaho's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Arapaho Language Structures:
    Arapaho linguistic profile and academic bibliography.
*Western Algonquian Comparative Vocabulary:
    Early 20th-century wordlists of Piegan, Cheyenne and Arapaho.

Literature and Texts in the Arapaho Language

Bambi in Arapaho * Cee'ese'einoo (Flower):
    Interview and an excerpt from an Arapaho-language version of Disney's movie 'Bambi.'
Ant and Grasshopper:
    Retelling of a well-known fable in the Arapaho language.
Arapaho Description * Arapaho Phonology * Arapaho Text:
    Scanned-in Arapaho language texts from the Rosetta Project.
    Arapaho language samples.
The Bible in Arapaho: * Arapahoe Prayers: * Southern Arapahoe Words of Life:
    Translation of Christian prayers and bible passages into the Arapaho language.

Arapaho Language Preservation and Usage

Arapaho Language Lodge:
    Chronology of the Arapaho Indian language revitalization efforts by Native scholar Stephen Greymorning.
The Arapaho Immersion Program * Running the Gauntlet of an Indigenous Language Program:
    Essays by Stephen Greymorning on Arapaho public education efforts.
Blue Sky People:
    Interview with Arapaho elder Laura Shakespear about Arapaho language maintenance.
House of Languages: Arapaho
    Information about Arapaho language usage.

Arapaho Proper Names

Arapaho Place Names:
    A linguistic study of Arapaho placenames in Colorado.
Names of the Arapaho:
    The origin of Arapaho band and tribal names.
Indian Names and Meanings:
    Our fundraiser offering names for dogs and other animals in Native American languages (including Arapaho).

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

  Endangered Languages Project: Arapaho: * OLAC: Arapaho:
  Bibliographies of Arapaho language resources.
  La Lengua Arapaho:
  Information about the Arapaho language in Spanish, including a language map.
  Langue Arapaho:
  Information about the Arapaho language in French.
  Arapaho Language: * Arapaho Resources: * Arapaho Tribe:
  Arapaho links pages.

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