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Arapahoe County: A Brief History

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Arapahoe County is a great place to live! Of course, our favorite part of Arapahoe County is Aurora! But there is something for everyone in Arapahoe County between the urban areas or Aurora and Centennial and the open plains in the eastern part of the county.

The elongated shape of Arapahoe county can seem strange but there is a long and rich history of why it looks like it does. Arapahoe County was founded well before there was even something resembling a town in Aurora. Even Denver wasn’t anything but an idea at that point!

The name comes from the Arapahoe Nation, who lived on these lands for centuries prior to European descendants settling the region. Although the Arapahoe nation people now make less than 1% of the population, the County honors them not only in name but also in tradition.

The Arapahoe Nation

It is estimated that the ancestors of the Arapahoe people came to what is now Colorado more than three thousand years ago, around 1000 B.C.E. from the Manitoba region. They call themselves Hinono’eino, literally meaning “our people’’ and were called ’the people of the clouds’’ by other Native American tribes in the region, as they frequented the nearby mountains.

For most of their history, the Arapahoe was an agricultural society, producing maize and other crops to supplement their diet of hunting and gathering in the plains.

With the first arrival of settlers, the Arapahoe people made extensive agreements with French traders, not only obtaining new crops but also technology, including rifles. This led to a sharp rise in their population, which, influenced by the push from the east by European settlers became dissatisfied and developed a rich warrior culture. As the number of immigrants rose, and especially after gold was discovered, hostilities became imminent.

By the time the County was founded in 1855, most of the Native population either fled or died by the hand of the armed forces.

History of the County

The then area of the county was almost three times as large as it is today, as it included the consolidated city-county of Denver, the new Adams, and the current Arapahoe County, firstly called South Arapahoe county once it was split into three parts.

After the gold rush in 1858, the population of the county grew, and they became disconnected with administrations in Kansas and Nebraska, wanting to form their own self-rule. They voted to form their own Territory of Jefferson, that included Arapahoe County. The seat of government for this County was none other than Denver. This didn’t have any federal approval. In 1902, the seat moved to Littleton and has developed ever since.

Find Out More

Arapahoe County is a modern, developed and forward-looking county, dedicated to the growth, fiscal responsibility, and innovative economy. The city of Aurora is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, and Arapahoe County is one of the best places to live in the whole region.

To find out more about the history of our great city and county, check out the Aurora History Museum (directions below). The museum is only 15 minutes from our Aurora veterinary clinic.

Not only is the history museum a great place to find out more but you can also explore the natural history of the county by visiting the nearby Cherry Creek State Park. While the environment has certainly changed over time, the park preserves much of natural environment that made it so desirable to people throughout history.

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