Arapaho religion


The great ceremony of the Arapaho, as of most Plains tribes, was the Sun Dance. This is a great tribal ceremony at which all the tribe is supposed to come together. It was usually held annually; but it was held as the result of a vow by some individual. Sometimes it was given twice in the same year if more than one person had made a vow; sometimes it might not be given at all for a year. It involved a number of various ceremonies with elaborate regalia, special paintings of the performers, etc., which lent themselves to spectacular display. Abundant illustrations and detailed descriptions are given by Kroeber for the northern Arapaho and by Dorsey for the southern Arapaho. (Kroeber 1907, 279-308; Dorsey, 1903).

The various other ceremonies which are well-known are fairly modern, such as the Ghost Dance, Peyote Cult, etc., and probably have no place in any display, although some of the Ghost Dance paraphernalia is worthy of exhibit. Practically all the available material on the Peyote and Ghost Dance cults is in Kroeber, 1907, 319, et seq.

Aside from the elaborate ceremonies mentioned, the main feature of Arapaho religion, as is the case with most Plains people, is its individuality. This cannot well be brought out in any museum treatment. Certain articles of paraphernalia may appear in exhibits, however, particuarly such objects as amulets, medicine bags, and cupping instruments. (Kroeber, 1907, 410 et seq. Illus).