Religous Organization


The 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.

Vision Quests

When 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.   

Sacred Ceremonies

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 ceremonies
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.

Why no pictures or no more information?    

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.