Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes

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Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Oklahoma)
English, Arapaho language, Cheyenne language
Christianity, Native American Church, Sun Dance, traditional tribal religions
Related ethnic groups
Arapaho, Cheyenne,
Gros Ventre, Blackfeet, and Suhtai

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Nations are a united, federally recognized tribe of Southern Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne people in western Oklahoma.


Cheyenne-Arapaho tribal member, peace chief, and artist, Harvey Pratt

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Nations are headquartered in Concho, Oklahoma. Of 12,185 enrolled tribal members, 8,664 live within the state of Oklahoma. The tribal jurisdictional area includes Beckham, Blaine, Canadian, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Kingfisher, Roger Mills, and Washita Counties.[1]

The tribal government consists of the Tribal Council, Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch. The Tribal Council includes all tribal members over the age of 18.[2] The Executive Branch is led by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The Legislative Branch is made up of legislators from the four Arapaho districts and four Cheyenne districts. The Judicial Branch includes a Supreme Court, including one Chief Justice and four Associate Justices; a Trial Court, composed of one Chief Judge and at least one Associate Judge; and any lower courts deemed necessary by the Legislature.[3] In 2006 the tribes voted and ratified the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Constitution which replaced the 1975 constitution.[4]

Current issues[edit]

In 2009, Lt. Governor Teresa Dorsett was named acting Tribal Governor. She replaced and was a participant in the removal of Governor Darrell Flyingman, who was removed from office on 13 November 2009 by a cabal of individuals both tribal and non-tribal associated with Southwest Casino Corporation. Flyingman was removed pursuant to Section 8 of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Law and Order Code, in order that his interference with the schemes practiced on the tribes by Southwest Casino Corporation with the aide of chosen tribal members bent on removing Flyingman who had terminated Southwest Casino Corporation during his term as governor. Flyingman was elected first in 2007 on the platform of corruption reform and won. During his term as Governor 14 tribal members were prosecuted for embezzlement and other related charges. Flyingman was recalled twice through the efforts of the Legislature who included Janice Boswell who replaced Flyingman as governor. The Tribal Court overturned the recall both times. Shortly after replacing Gov. Flyingman, Boswell appointed her own tribal court and legislatures who are elected.

Flyingman was accused of bad accounting of tribal funds, although he maintains that a National Indian Gaming Commission audit cleared him of wrongdoing.[5]

In 2010, Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell was elected Tribal Governor, and Leslie Wandrie-Harjo, both ignorant lackiess of the Southwest Casino Corporation were elected Governor and Lt. Governor.[6] In December 2010, Wandrie-Harjo accused Prairie Chief-Boswell of hiding financial records and disobeying tribal court orders to vacate her office.[5] On 31 March 2011, Wandrie-Harjo and others broke into the locked tribal headquarters.[5] A dispute has continued between Prairie Chief-Boswell and Wandie-Harjo as to who is the rightful leader of the tribe. The First Bank of Trust Company froze $6.4 million of the tribe's assets.[7] The tribe declared a state of emergency, and a hearing had been set over the funds.[8]

Economic development[edit]

The tribe operates three tribal smoke shops and five casinos:[1] the Lucky Star Casino in Clinton, the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, the Lucky Star Casino in Watonga, the Lucky Star Casino in Hammon, and the Lucky Star Casino in Canton.[9] They also issue their own tribal vehicle tags. Their economic impact is estimated at $32 million.[1]


The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune is the tribe's newspaper.[9] ''CATV channel 47'' is the tribe's low power FCC licensed television station. CATV's call letters are K47MU-D. The Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma Culture and Heritage Program teaches hand games, powwow dancing and songs, horse care and riding, buffalo management, and Cheyenne and Arapaho language, and sponsored several running events.[10]


In partnership with Southwestern Oklahoma State University, the tribe founded the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College on August 25, 2006. Henrietta Mann, enrolled tribal member, was president in 2009. The campus was in Weatherford, Oklahoma and the school offered programs in Tribal Administration, American Indian Studies, and General Studies.[11] The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College Board of Regents voted to dissolve the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College at the end of the 2015 spring semester.[12] However, in September of 2019 the tribe developed a replacement by chartering Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma as its school.[13]


Arapaho camp, 1868

The Cheyennes and Arapahos are two distinct tribes with distinct histories. The Cheyenne (Tsitsistas/ The People) were once agrarian, or agricultural, people located near the Great Lakes in present-day Minnesota. Grinnell notes the Cheyenne language is a unique branch of the Algonquian language family and, The Nation itself, is descended from two related tribes, the Tsitsistas and the Suh' Tai. The latter is believed to have joined the Tsitsistas in the early 18th century (1: 1–2). The Tsitsistas and the Suh' Tai are characterized, and represented by two cultural heroes who received divine articles which shaped the time-honored belief systems of the Southern and Northern families of the Cheyenne Nation. The Suh' Tai, represented by a man named Erect Horns, were blessed with the care of a sacred Buffalo Hat, which is kept among the Northern family. The Tsitsistas, represented by a man named Sweet Medicine, were bestowed with the care of a bundle of sacred Arrows, kept among the Southern Family. Inspired by Erect Horn's vision, they adopted the horse culture in the 18th century and moved westward onto the plains to follow the buffalo. The prophet Sweet Medicine organized the structure of Cheyenne society, including the Council of Forty-four peace chiefs and the warrior societies led by prominent warriors.[14][15]

The Arapaho, also Algonquian speaking, came from Saskatchewan, Montana, Wyoming, eastern Colorado, and western South Dakota in the 18th century. They adopted horse culture and became successful nomadic hunters. In 1800, the tribe began coalescing into northern and southern groups. Although the Arapaho had assisted the Cheyenne and Lakota in driving the Kiowa and Comanche south from the Northern Plains, in 1840 they made peace with both tribes. They became prosperous traders, until the expansion of American settlers onto their lands after the Civil War.[16]

The Cheyenne and Arapaho formed an alliance in the 18th and 19th centuries. Together they were a formidable military force, successful hunters, and active traders with other tribes. At the height of their alliance, their combined hunting territories spanned from Montana to Texas.[14]

Signing the Ft. Laramie Treaty, 1868

The Arapaho signed the Fort Laramie Treaty with the U.S. in 1851. It recognized and guaranteed their rights to traditional lands in portions of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The U.S. could not enforce the treaty, however, and European-American trespassers overran Indian lands. There were repeated conflicts between settlers and members of the tribes.

The U.S. government brought the tribes to council again in 1867 to achieve peace under the Medicine Lodge Treaty. It promised the Arapaho a reservation in Kansas, but they disliked the location. They accepted a reservation with the Cheyenne in Indian Territory, so both tribes were forced to remove south near Fort Reno at the Darlington Agency in present-day Oklahoma.[14]

The Dawes Act broke up the Cheyenne-Arapaho land base. All land not allotted to individual Indians was opened to settlement in the Land Run of 1892. The Curtis Act of 1898 dismantled the tribal governments in an attempt to have the tribal members assimilate to United States conventions and culture.

After the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act passed in 1936, the Cheyenne and Arapaho organized a single tribal government in 1937.[16] The Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 further enhanced tribal development.

Notable tribal members[edit]

Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne-Muscogee activist, author, poet, and policy maker


  1. ^ a b c d 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Archived April 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 7. Retrieved 2 Jan 2012.
  2. ^ Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Constitution, Article V, Section 1
  3. ^ Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma Constitution and Bylaws. 1975 (retrieved 7 Feb 2009)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2010-01-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b c King, Patti Jo. "Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal Members Demanding Answers to Devastating Internal Dispute." Indian Country Today. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  6. ^ "Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Traditional Leaders Remove Governor Flyingman After Election." PR Newswire. 17 Nov 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  7. ^ "American Indian tribe asks judge to release accounts frozen by Okla. bank over governor flap."[permanent dead link] The Republic. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  8. ^ "Okla. bank freezes fractured tribes' bank accounts."[permanent dead link] Fox 23. 29 April 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  9. ^ a b Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. Archived 2011-06-14 at the Wayback Machine 2007 (retrieved 7 Feb 2009)
  10. ^ Culture. Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. 2007 (retrieved 7 Feb 2009)
  11. ^ General Information. Archived October 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College. (retrieved 2 Nov 2009)
  12. ^ "SWOS univ". Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Agree to Charter Bacone College as a Tribal College". Bacone College, February 12, 2020. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c Moore, John H. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. (retrieved 7 Feb 2009)
  15. ^ "The Cheyenne Way of Peace: Sweet Medicine". Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  16. ^ a b Fowler, Loretta. Arapaho, Southern. Archived September 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture, retrieved 7 Feb 2009
  17. ^ "iola Hatch of Canton, Oklahoma, 1930 – 2019, Obituary". Pierce Funeral Home. Canton, Oklahoma: Batesville, Inc. April 22, 2019. Archived from the original on 3 January 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Henson, Lance David 2004," Archived 2013-03-29 at the Wayback Machine University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Accessed June 29, 2015.
  19. ^ Schontzler, Gail (January 27, 2001). "Henrietta Mann Blazes a Trail for N.A.'s". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Bozeman, Montana. Archived from the original on August 22, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.


  • Grinnell, George B. The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Lifeways Vol 1. Bloomington: World Wisdom, Inc. 2008. Print.

Further reading[edit]

  • Henrietta Mann, "Cheyenne-Arapaho Education 1871–1982", Niwot CO: University Press of Colorado, 1997. ISBN 0-87081-462-1
  • Raylene Hinz-Penner, "Searching for Sacred Ground: The Journey of Chief Lawrence Hart, Mennonite", Telford, PA:Cascadia Publishing House, 2007
  • John L. Moore, The Cheyenne, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1996. ISBN 978-0-631-21862-3.

External links[edit]