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By The Wyoming LLC Attorney Team

Oct 20, 2023

An Overview of the Indigenous Peoples of Wyoming

Throughout the state of Wyoming, you can find many different celebrations, lifestyles, and traditions of indigenous people. Wyoming has been home to many Indian tribes, such as the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux, and many more. These Native American tribes have impacted Wyoming in powerful, everlasting ways.

The Origin of Wyoming's Name

Wyoming's name is true to its history. It is thought that the name originated with the Delaware Indian word "mecheweami-ing" or "maughwauwa-ma" which means on the big plains or meadows. Some sources say that Wyoming's name came from the Algonquin Indians. In the Algonquian language, Wyoming stands for "a large prairie place". Or even the Munsee word "at the big river flat." Whichever is the true origination, the name capture the essence of Wyoming and its geography.

The Arapaho

The Arapaho are a Native American tribe that once lived in what we now know as Wyoming and Colorado. The Northern Arapaho tribe of Wyoming is one of four groups that originally occupied the Arkansas and Plateau rivers. They also speak one variation of the Arapaho language. This Native American tribe were once close allies of the Cheyenne tribe.

The Cheyenne

Cheyenne is the capital city of Wyoming, named after the Native American tribe. The Cheyenne are a North American plains tribe who also speak one variation of the Algonquian language. It is one of the most dominant tribes that has a rich and influential history. The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes were great allies that formed a great alliance due to their geographical proximity. This alliance made these tribes stronger and allowed them to fight together against the Comanche and Apache tribes.

The Crow

The Native American Crow tribe lived among the Rocky Mountains and along the upper Yellowstone River in what we know as present-day Wyoming. The Crow tribe was divided into four groups: The River Crow, Mountain Crow, Kicked in the Bellies, and Beaver Dries its Fur tribes.

The Shoshone

The Shoshone is a tribe that originated in the Great Basin and then traveled to present-day Idaho. The Shoshone people were hunter-gatherers and known for their beautiful handwoven baskets.

The Sioux

The Sioux are one of the largest and oldest native tribes in North America. Eventually, the Sioux settled in Wyoming. They were masters of horseback riding and bison hunting. These Native American tribes dominated the Great Plains for centuries.

The Ute

The Ute people are an indigenous tribe of the Great Basin. The tribe inhabited Wyoming from generation to generation. The Ute tribe was known for its excellent horsemanship and deer skins.

The Wind River Indian Reservation

The Wind River Indian Reservation is a portion of Wyoming that is currently shared by two Native American tribes. This reservation is home to over 3,500 Shoshone and 8,500 Northern Arapaho tribal members. The Wind River Indian Reservation preserves the older traditions and customs of the Shoshone and Arapaho. Cultural traditions and ceremonies such as the powwow dance or beadwork are still encouraged. Both tribes are also striving to preserve their native languages.