Survival

Food |

FOOD

There was three primary ways that the Arapaho obtained their food (bii3wo) besides the use of trade. The Arapahos hunted for meat and used gathering techniques to acquire plants and berries.

Before the Arapaho had pots and pans, they would use rocks to boil their meat in. First they would pound a hole in the rock then add the water and meat. Next, they placed it over a fire to boil. They also would place little rocks in the fire and once they were heated up, take them out with sticks and place them in the water. In order to start these fires, they would take bark and shred it real fine, then would clap sandstone rocks together and the sparks would start a fire.

Animal heads were used as a type of bowl to pound meat inside. To prepare the animal head, they would soak it and then stuff it with swamp grass. Then it was staked out until it dried. Once that was finished, it was then used to pound the meat inside of these heads.

The Arapaho used square pieces of rawhide as their plates to eat the food off of. They also used gall bladders from animals and blew them up to carry water in. Eating utensils were generally made out of bones. The antlers of elk were cut and used like spoons. Usually that was to eat their soups with. Knives were made out of rib bones. They also used sticks to eat their food with, but mostly the Arapaho ate with their hands. A quick little “do and don’t”was that the Arapaho believed you should never stir with a knife or use it on the ground.

 

Hunting

Source: U.S. National Archives & Records Administration . " Blackfoot Indians chasing buffalo, Three Buttes, Montana."
Artwork by John M. Stanley, 1853-55. American Indian Select List number 87.

Hunting was a very important food resource for the Arapahos. In fact, not only was it a way of providing food to the people, but it also contributed to shelter, clothing, and trade.

Once horses were introduced to the Arapaho, they focused on buffalo (hii3einoon) as their main food source. One of their most favorite parts of the buffalo to eat was the hump ribs or “híixóoon.”Other parts of the buffalo that were eaten included the inner organs, which were either cooked or eaten raw. These included the liver of the male buffalos, kidneys (tii3i3ii), and the brains (beteecii).  Just like we have delicacies today, the Arapahos also considered parts of the buffalo to be delicacies, which were the fat off of the buffalo’s back or “nonii”and the tongue (bei3on). The buffalo meat was also dried/jerked (ho’ouw) as well as pounded (3o’ohcoo). Some of us might find this strange today but the Arapaho also drunk the fresh blood (be’) from the buffalo as well as cooked it into a pudding (be’eek) or used it in a stew (hokok). To learn some recipes the Arapahos used that contained buffalo, see the resources section.

 

Gathering

The Arapaho relied on different types of tools for gathering food such as bags. One in particular is called the elk hoof bag, which was made out of elk legs. The four hoofs of the elk had to be placed a certain way before being sewn up to hold up the bag. Once this was completed, they sewed them up with sinew, stuffed them with a type of straw, and then dried them out, taking about a week to dry. Once the bag was finished, it was used to store berries, as well as many other things

Unlike many of today’s vegetables that we buy at the grocery store today, the vegetables the Arapaho’s gathered were much smaller in size. For instance, they would gather wild carrots but they were only about three inches in size. They also gathered turnips.

Left: Wild Raspberries

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