For years the Northern Arapaho wandered the plains; a people without a country. By 1876, with the land gone to whites and no reservation to settle on, the Northern Arapaho again met with government officials. By this time, the government no longer regarded the tribes as nations with whom treaties had to be made. Instead, an "agreement" was reached in which the Northern Arapahos, Cheyennes, and Sioux waived all claim to any lands and promised to settle on reservations set out by the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.
Again, the Northern Arapaho Chiefs Black Coal, Little Wolf, and Sharp Nose signed the agreement, not wanting to forfeit rations their people needed to stay alive. But instead of going to the reservations, they kept pressing the government for a separate reservation in Wyoming. Finally, after Northern Arapaho warriors worked as scouts in 1876 and 1877, the government allowed the tribe to remain in Wyoming Territory.
Based on government promises, the tribe hoped to move to the Powder River Country on their own reservation. Instead, they were settled "temporarily" on the Shoshoni reservation in 1878. Eight years later, government agent Sanderson Martin informed them the government had no intention of forming a separate reservation near the Powder River. The Northern Arapaho were on the Shoshoni reservation to stay.
In those eight years, the tribe settled
in two large camps, ten miles apart, along the Little Wind River, whilst a
third group, under Chief Black Coal, lived near the forks of the Popo Agie
and Wind River close to the St. Stephens Indian Mission. On this new land,
they worked to establish the farms and ranches that can still be seen today.
Not until 1927, when the government paid four and a half million dollars to the Shoshoni tribe for reservation land given to the Northern Arapaho, could the Northern Arapaho people feel secure that this new and beautiful land at the base of the Wind River Mountains was finally home.