Northern Arapaho chairman explains importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

We spoke exclusively with a chairman of the Northern Arapaho tribe to learn more about Indigenous People’s Day.
Published: Oct. 11, 2023 at 11:40 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Despite the fact that explorer Amerigo Vespucci... Who America is named after... Was the first to land on South America... And John Cabot was the first to land on North America... The U.S. has been celebrating Columbus Day since 1792. Sentiments towards Christopher Columbus have been changing in recent years, however. And I spoke exclusively... via Zoom call... with a chairman of the Northern Arapaho tribe... to learn more about Indigenous People’s Day.

James: “I can tell you are speaking to us from your vehicle. I know you’ve pulled over to the side of the road for safety. So first off tell us where you’re heading and why you’re heading there!” Karen Returns To War: “Good evening, sure! I’m heading to Denver, Colorado. To our homeland. I am representing the Northern Arapaho Business Council tomorrow at Indigenous Day, over at Arapaho High School.”

James: “Initially, how big was the Northern Arapaho nation? And how did you guys... And the Shoshones somewhat... How did you guys, for better or worse, end up on the Wind River Reservation?” Karen: “Western Nebraska, Kansas, Northern Colorado area. When the federal government started looking at places to place the tribal nations... They had thought about placing us here in our homeland in Denver. However, there was a miner who had made the claim that he had found some gold on Pike’s Peak. Basically, after knowing that, the federal government did not want to allow us to be here. Asked (Chief Washakie) if we could come join him on the Wind River Reservation... For a while. However, federal government never came back. (Never) even entered into talks with the Northern Arapahos. So we continue to be here, alongside and living together with our neighbors, the Eastern Shoshone. Our elders found that they placed us here amongst the Eastern Shoshone, knowing that they were our enemies. And it is believed that we would eventually kill each other off. I’m really glad to say that that hasn’t happened. I would like to add that both tribal councils are working together very well. And we’re creating great opportunities for our people now.”

James: “When you first heard of President Biden signing that proclamation... And saying, ‘Hey, we need to honor and respect indigenous peoples and Native American tribes more’... How did that make you feel? What did you think?”

Karen: “Well it really made us... Made me feel good. That finally the United States administration actually acknowledging the first people. Again this day, in 2021, makes a triumph of indigenous people’s day. And what an honor it is to speaking today as a Northern Arapaho woman.”