First published in three parts in 1902, 1904, and 1907, The Arapaho quickly established itself as a model of description of Indian culture. Its discussion of Arapaho dance andødesign provides one of the most thorough studies of Indian symbolism ever written.
Alfred L. Kroeber was sent in 1899 to study the Southern Arapaho in western Indian Territory (present Oklahoma). In 1900 he lived in the camp of the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming, and in 1901 he visited the Gros Ventre, a related tribe, in Montana. He researched his subject at first hand, speaking with Arapaho men and women of all ages about their customs, beliefs, and ceremonies.
The Arapaho touches upon nearly every imaginable facet of the Indians' culture. Careful attention is paid to ceremonies, games, religion and stories of the supernatural, tribal organization, kinship, decorative art and regalia, and the articles of everyday life: clothes, pottery, utensils, tens, and the all-important pipe.