Article VII.-SYMBOLISM OF THE ARAPAHO IN-
By ALFRED L. KROEBER.
During the past summer the writer undertook an investigation
of the Arapaho Indians, now settled in Oklahoma Territory, on
behalf of the Amnerican Musetim of Natural History. The means
for this expedition were provided through the generosity of Mr.
Morris K. Jesup. Some of the results of this investigation are
contained in She following paper. The Arapaho Indians speak a
language belonging to the Algonquin family.
In culture they
belong to the Plains Indians.
In investigations of the art of primitive tribes from different
parts of the world, it has several times been shown that geometric
ornaments that are apparently merely decorative are convention-
alizations and abbreviations of pictorial designs. The same is
true among the Arapaho. Even what seems most purely orna-
mental is readily shown, by inquiry, to be realistic.
It can be
stated that every decorative design of the Arapaho is also pictorial.
This is confirmed by the direct statements of the Indians them-
Primitive pictorial art, setting aside its purely decorative as-
pect, may be said to consist of the reproduction of a few salient
features of the object to be represented. Two tendencies can
cause a change from this state. There may be a seeking after
fidelity to nature. This will cause the art to be more realistic,
more imitative. Or there may be a tendency to further empha-
size and exaggerate the salient features; that is, to think the
object, instead of see it.
This will cause the art to be more
symbolic. The first tendency develops into art as we know it;
the second ultimately into writing.
Arapaho art is strongly imbued with the second of these, the
This, its most marked feature, is the subject
of this paper.
The media of this symbolic art are embroidering with colored
beads, quills, or fibres; carving in outline or bas-relief
; and paint-
Pottery and textile fabrics do not occur.
There is practi-
cally no three-dimensional carving (sculpture).