ARAPAHO indigenous people of the Plains, who speak an Algonquian-Wakashan language are divided into the Northern Arapaho (considered the parent group), the Southern Arapaho, and the GROS VENTRE. They stressed age-graded societies, the SUN DANCE, and later the GHOST DANCE. Today the Arapaho lead an agricultural life, and obtain income from leasing land for oil and gas development. In 1990 there were 6,350 Arapaho in the U.S.
To be able to understand the functioning of the entire cultural transmission of the Arapaho, it is critical to think in numbers of four. There were four lineages, four corners of the universe, four ancestral beings, four stages of life, children were spaced to be born four years apart from one another. life includes four stages- childhood, youth, maturity, old age, held their lodge meetings four days in length, ect. These patterns of four help to explain the ceremonial system.
The adult ceremonial lodge groups meet once a year participating in the grand ritual, called the ha'sayat, hasa'a', also known as the Offerings Lodge. This is the most sacred lodge within the Arapaho community. The Offereings Lodge is a tribal ceremony due to the refined preparation and ritual. Scouting for the Sacred Tree is one of the most important parts of this ritual. Before the formal tree scouting, the sponsor will have picked a candidate cottonwood months before. Once it has been selected and approved by the medicine man, there is no possibility for change.
This ceremony is often compared to Thanksgiving, a reenactment of the origin of theworld and it's creatures and a ritual of atonement and generation.
According to Tom Shakespeare, there are many misconceptions of the Offerings Lodge besides being misnamed the Sun Dance. In 1903, Dorsey wrote an eight day sequence of this ceremony which often missing forming and dispersing false information.