How the Arapaho Came to Wind River

Area 3: Native People in a Changing West
Question: How did westward expansion affect tensions within different regions of the U.S.?

Harper's Monthly magazine published this image of an Arapaho village in March 1880--two years after the Northern Arapaho arrived on Wind River to stay. Wyoming State Archives.

Lesson Plan Developed By
Michael Redman, St. Stephens Indian School

Grade Level

Content Area(s)
Social Studies

Learning Objective(s)
Students will understand the events in the 1800s that led to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes’ sharing Wyoming’s only Indian reservation. Students will read a summary of the events, study maps of tribal lands outlined by treaties signed at the time, write sentences using pertinent vocabulary and fill out charts outlining what they know, still wonder about and have learned.

Click here to see a spreadsheet aligning Wyoming State Social Studies and Common Core Standards for this and other digital toolkits of Wyoming History.

We will update the standards spreadsheet as more lesson plans are developed.

Two 45-Minute Class Periods or
one 90-Minute Class Period

Materials Required

Lesson Plan

Five minutes: Doorbell question: What comes to mind when you hear the word “Treaty?”

Step by step directions:

  • 45 minutes: Students will read article, The Arapaho Arrive: Two Nations on One Reservation
  • Ten minutes: Define 10 vocabulary words: ethnohistorians; chroniclers; homeland; emigrant; treaty; influx; massacred; ultimatum; annuity; ceded.
  • Ten minutes: students will write at least five of their own complete sentences using at least 5 vocabulary words.
  • Ten minutes: Students will take part in a 10-minute discussion of the issues raised in the article.
  • Ten minutes: Students will complete their Know, Wonder, Learn (KWL) charts
  • Five minutes: Whole group discussion of what students have learned.

Collect student KWL charts.
Review and assess


In the spring of 1878, about 950 Northern Arapaho people arrived with an army escort on the Eastern Shoshone Reservation in the Wind River Valley in central Wyoming Territory. The two tribes had been in open warfare as recently as four years before. This article explains in more detail how those events came to pass. The maps show different boundaries of reservations as time passed in the mid-1800s.

ArticleThe Arapaho Arrive: Two Nations on One Reservation

Resource 1: 1851 Treaty Lands map
This map shows the different lands assigned to different tribes at the treaty signed near Fort Laramie in 1851. Map by WyGISC. Click to enlarge.

Resource 2: Shoshone Reservation Map
This map shows the Shoshone Reservation at the time the Northern Arapaho arrived in 1878. By then, the Eastern Shoshone had already sold the southern third of the reservation outlined for them in the treaty they had signed at Fort Bridger in 1868. In 1937, the name was changed to Wind River Reservation. Map by WyGISCClick to enlarge.

Resource 3KWL chart