The northern Arapaho tribe was welcomed into their home on Saturday.
The sovereign nation was recognized as Longmont’s newest sister city in a ceremony at the Longmont Museum. The union went down in history as the first sister city relationship between a sovereign tribal nation and an American city.
âFirst of all, to my fellow Arapahos on stage and over there we’re home,â said Lee Spoonhunter, co-chair of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, as he watched the Stewart Auditorium.
The crowd responded with a round of applause.
Colorado is the ancestral home of the Northern Arapaho tribe, but an 1860s treaty and loss of land to the Gold Rush left the natives with no place to go. The tribe was forced to settle in the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, the seventh largest reserve in the country at 2.2 million acres. The Eastern Shoshone tribe also live on the reserve.
âWe are pioneers today, each of us working together,â said Spoonhunter. âThe sky is the limit for us. We are a sovereign nation working with our sister city and we will lead the way, hopefully many other cities, counties and states will do it with other tribesâ¦ so that this time in America we will do it right.
Prior to the signing between Spoonhunter and Mayor Brian Bagley, the American Legion Post 32 held an honor guard ceremony, displaying the American flag and reciting the pledge of allegiance. The Wind River Reservation’s Arapaho Warriors Color Guard subsequently presented both the American flag and the tribe’s own flag. Ceremony attendees at sister city of Arapaho in the Wyoming Reservation then recited the Pledge of Allegiance in the Arapaho language.
This part of the ceremony was determined as a compromise, following controversy in the weeks leading up to the signing, when the engagement was not originally going to be part of the ceremony. Members of the American Legion Post 32 had raised the issue of the original decision not to take the Oath of Allegiance, which led to a discussion with the sister cities of Longmont and eventual determination earlier this month. what the ceremony procedure would look like.
Addressing the crowd on Saturday, Bagley said it must be recognized that the city is in the traditional territory of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ute and other indigenous peoples.
“There is a commitment to face the injustices that occurred when the land was taken and to educate our community, ourselves and our children to ensure that these injustices do not happen again,” Bagley said. “One way to make sure that happens is an exchange of love.”
Bagley recounted how a delegation from Longmont visited the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming three years ago to learn more about the Northern Arapaho tribe – sparking what would be an effort to unify as sister towns .
After the signing, representatives of the city and the tribe gave several performances. A Longmont High School drum performance was followed by a series of traditional dances by members of the Northern Arapaho tribe.
Janice Rebhan, President of Longmont Sister Cities, welcomed the tribe to her home.
âThis association between the Longmont and northern Arapaho is unique and hopefully the first in a long line between sovereign nations and local jurisdictions,â Rebhan said. âWe have a lot to learn from each other and together we will build a better future. “
The tribal nation marks Longmont’s third sister city, alongside Chino, Japan, and Ciudad Guzman, Mexico.