Sources for Arapaho Place Names

Many Arapaho place names were recorded by Oliver Toll and the Colorado Mountain Club in 1914, both in writing and on a wax cylinder recording now in the Colorado Historical Society archives. Some of the names were recorded only in English gloss - we have supplied the original Arapaho on this website by back-translating (see example). Others were recorded in Toll's manuscript, but are missing on the damaged wax cylinder. The best source is the wax cylinder recording, which contains around 90 of the 125 total names Toll recorded. Most Colorado names have been retranscribed and retranslated from the cylinder. Further information on these names can be found in "Arapaho Place Names in Colorado: Form and Function, Language and Culture" (Anthropological Linguistics 45, 4 (2003)) and in "Arapaho Placenames in Colorado: Indigenous Mapping, White Remaking" (Names 52, 1 (2004)).

A number of manuscript sources provide additional place names which have otherwise now been forgotten. These include texts recorded by Alfred Kroeber and Truman Michelson, now in the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution. Of particular value (see example) are two autobiographies dictated in Arapaho: "The Life of Medicine Grass" and "The Life of Mrs. White Bear."

Additional published sources with Arapaho place names include Ferdinand Hayden's 1873 ethnographic report published by the American Philosophical Society, and the writings of Alfred Kroeber on the Arapaho (1902-07) published by the American Museum of Natural History.

All other information for this project was obtained by research with Arapaho elders and consultation with the Northern and Southern Arapahos. Especially valuable consultants were Alonzo Moss, Sr., William C'Hair, Lloyd Dewey, and Mark Soldierwolf, who is a member of a different band of the Arapahos which was not always as closely associated with the other groups. He supplied a number of alternate names for locations, as well as names which are not widely known or used by other Arapahos.

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