Arapaho concept of the Creator
The Arapaho people believed
that power, and the life force itself emanated from their Creator
("Our Father" or "Man Above"), and that it was
present in elements of nature, plants, animals, and some minerals,
which acted as intermediaries between man and the Creator. They would
reach out to these intermediaries for wisdom and power when they
were in need. This could be done in sacred ceremonies by the community
as a whole, or by a single individual who would engage in a Vision
Quests. Arapaho people today continue to follow the traditional religion.
the time came for an Arapaho man to reach out to the Creator for
wisdom or power to help his people, he would embark on a vision
quest, during which he would fast for four days and four nights
and pray to the Creator. The wisdom or supernatural power sought
by the man would come to him in the form of an animal or other
element of nature and offer him special knowledge and power. He
would then take this newly acquired knowledge back home to help
his people. Such vision questions are still occasionally done today.
There were many sacred Arapaho ceremonies. Some are no longer
practiced, while others continue to be done. The most important
is the so-called "Sun Dance" or "Offerings Lodge." The
entire tribe gathers for this event each Summer. Other important
involve the Sacred Wheel, the Sacred Pipe, ceremonial Sweat Lodges, the
Crow Dance, and ceremonies for specific occasions, such as Naming Ceremonies,
funerals, ceremonial feasts, Paint Ceremonies (which cleanse people and
restore harmony), ceremonial blessings, and other events. All of these
ceremonies are still practiced today. Important ceremonial positions among
the Arapaho today are the Wheel Keeper, the Pipe Keeper, the Sun Dance
Director, and the Four Old Men, who are the designated spiritual elders
of the Tribe.
In former times, there was also a series of "Age-Grade" lodges,
to which men of varying ages belonged. As men got older, they advanced
up through these societies. Each one had its own specific songs,
dances, and rituals, as well as social roles. They included the
Swift Fox society, the Star Men, the Spear Lodge, the Tomahawk
Lodge, the Crazy Men,
and the Water-Sprinkling Old Men, as well as a women's Buffalo Lodge. These
ceremonies died out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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The spiritual beliefs and rituals
of the Arapaho people are sacred to them and for the most part are
not shared with those outside of the tribe. All of the information
contained on this webpage is based on previously published information,
and is approved by the Arapaho.