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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.
Thanks for your interest in indigenous American languages!
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, 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
Besawunenaa, and the
History: Though the Sioux,
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 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.
Introduction to Arapaho mythology.
Our Online Language Materials
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.
Worksheet showing color words in the Arapaho language.
Arapaho Animate Nouns:
Lesson on Arapaho animate and inanimate nouns.
Arapaho Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources
The Arapaho Language:
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Comprehensive Arapaho grammar textbook.
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.
1916 book about the Arapaho language.
Bambi in Arapaho Bambi in Arapaho Bambi Speaks Arapaho:
This is a version of Disney's movie 'Bambi', dubbed in Arapaho.
Native American Dictionaries:
Arapaho and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.
Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions
Northern Arapaho Language Center:
Alphabet, pronunciation, and Arapaho songs and stories from the Wind River Tribal College.
Arapaho Alphabet and Pronunciation:
Phonological inventory of the Arapaho language, with a sample text.
Hello Oklahoma: Arapaho Tribe:
Arapaho alphabet, greeting, and sample text.
The Phonological History of Arapaho Northern Arapaho Language Shift:
Arapaho linguistics abstracts.
Arapaho Language Tree:
Theories about Arapaho's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Arapaho Language Structures:
Arapaho linguistic profile and academic bibliography.
Literature and Texts in the Arapaho Language
Arapaho language samples.
Arapaho Description Arapaho Phonology Arapaho Text:
Scanned-in Arapaho language texts from the Rosetta Project.
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.
Demographic report on the Arapaho language.
The Bible in Arapaho:
Translation of the Book of Luke into the Arapaho language.
Arapaho Proper Names
Arapaho Place Names:
A linguistic study of Arapaho placenames in Colorado.
Indian Names and Meanings:
Our fundraiser offering names for dogs and other animals in Native American languages (including Arapaho).
Additional Resources, Links, and References
Endangered Languages Project: Arapaho:
Bibliography of Arapaho language resources.
Online encyclopedia articles about the Arapaho language.
La Lengua Arapaho:
Information about the Arapaho language in Spanish, including a language map.
Information about the Arapaho language in French.
Arapaho Language: Arapaho Tribe:
Arapaho links pages.
Arapaho Tribe Library:
Arapaho Indian books.
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