Missouri extract from
John Reed Swanton's

The Indian Tribes of North America

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(Missouri) Extract from

The Indian Tribes of North America

by John R. Swanton

Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145—1953

[726 pages—Smithsonian Institution]

(pp. 260-265)


Caddo. Within historic times no Caddoan tribe is known to have lived within the limits of the present State of Missouri, but occupancy by Caddo is indicated by certain archeological remains in the extreme southwestern section. (See Texas.)

Dakota. Representatives of this tribe were a party to a treaty made in 1830, relinquishing lands in Missouri to the Whites. (See South Dakota.)

Delaware. In 1818 a grant of land in southern Missouri was made to some of the Delaware Indians but it was re-ceded by them in 1829. (See New Jersey.)

Foxes. Representatives of this tribe were a party to treaties with the United States Government concerning Missouri lands made in 1804 and 1830. (See Wisconsin.)

Illinois. Some of the tribes of the Illinois group at one time lived close to, and probably for a short time within, the eastern boundaries of Missouri. (See Illinois.)

Iowa. The Iowa perhaps lived for a time in that part of Missouri north of Missouri River. (See Iowa.)

Kickapoo. The Kickapoo lived in Missouri for awhile after they had sold their lands in Illinois but soon passed on to Kansas. (See Wisconsin.)

Missouri. Meaning either " (people having) dugout canoes," or "(people having) wooden canoes," which amounts to the same thing. Through a misunderstanding, the name has been supposed to apply to the river which now bears the name, and it has been interpreted as meaning "big muddy." They were also called:

Niútachi, their own name.
Waçux¢a, by the Osage.
Wa-ju'-xd¢a, by the Quapaw.

Location.—The best-known historical location of the Missouri was on the river which bears their name on the south bank near the mouth of Grand River. Berry and Chapman (1938) have recently sought to identify this site, and probably correctly, with what they call the Utz site at a place called The Pinnacles in Saline County, Mo., a few miles above the mouth of the Grand. (See also Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.).

Connection.—The Missouri belonged to the Chiwere division of the Siouan linguistic family, the other tribes under this head being the Iowa and Oto.

According to tradition, the Missouri, Iowa, and Oto separated from the Winnebago at some indefinite period in the past and moved southwest to Iowa River where the Iowa remained, the others continuing to the Missouri, which they reached at the mouth of Grand River. Here, in consequence of a dispute between two chiefs, the tribe split again, the Missouri remaining where they were, while the Oto continued on up the Missouri River. From what we know of the relationship between the tribes in question, such successive fissions are not inherently improbable, though they may not have occurred at the places indicated. No doubt, events that happened gradually have been represented as occurring abruptly within limited periods. (For a further discussion of the Chiwere migration legends, see Iowa under Iowa and Oto under Nebraska.) Whatever their earlier history Marquette (1698) reported their presence on the Missouri River in 1673, and they were probably at the point above indicated, though his map is too inaccurate to place this beyond question. Here, or in the immediate neighborhood, they remained until 1798, when they suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Sauk and Fox Indians and scattered to live for a time among the Osage, Kansa, and Oto. By 1805 they had recovered to some extent, and Lewis and Clark found them in villages south of the River Platte. As a result of another unfortunate war, however, this time with the Osage, part joined the Iowa but the greater part went to the Oto to live, and followed their fortunes, participating with them in all treaties from 1830 onward.

Population.—Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 1,000 Missouri in 1780. In 1702 there were supposed to be 200 families. In 1805 Lewis and Clark placed the entire population of the tribe at 300 souls, but in 1829, when they were with the Oto, they counted but 80. Only 13 Indians of the Missouri tribe were returned by the census of 1910, and in 1930 they were not separated from the Oto (q. v.).

Connection in which they have become noted.—Historically the Missouri tribe itself is remembered particularly for the tragic manner in which it was almost destroyed, but, as in many other cases, its name has attained a distinction out of all proportion to the aboriginal standing of the people. It is associated with that of the largest branch of the largest river of North America and to one of the great States of the American Union. There is a post town in Clay County, Mo., called Missouri City; another Missouri City in Fort Bend County, Tex.; and a city in Harrison County, Iowa, known as Missouri Valley, besides a Missouri Branch in Wayne County, W. Va.

Omaha. Representatives of this tribe were party to a treaty made in 1830 relinquishing lands in Missouri to the United States Government. (See Nebraska.)

Osage. A corruption of their own name Wazhazhe, which in turn is probably an extension of the name of one of the three bands of which the tribe is composed. Also called:

Anahou, a name used by the French, perhaps the Caddo name.
Bone Indians, given by Schoolcraft.

Connections.—The Osage were the most important tribe of the division of the Siouan linguistic stock called by J. O. Dorsey (1897) Dhegiha, which included also the Omaha, Ponka, Kansa, and Quapaw.

Location.—The greater part of this tribe was anciently on Osage River, Mo., but from a very early period a smaller division known as Little Osage was on the Missouri River near the village of the Missouri Indians (q. v.). (See also Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.)

Subdivisions and Villages.—The two principal local divisions were the Great and Little Osages, mentioned above. About 1802 a third division, the "Arkansas Band," was created by the migration of nearly half of the Big Osage to Arkansas River under a chief known as Big Track. The names of the following Osage villages, some of them having the names of their chiefs, have been recorded:

Big Chief, 4 miles from the Mission in Indian Territory in 1850.
Black Dog, 60 miles from the Mission in Indian Territory in 1850.
Heakdhetanwan, on Spring Creek, a branch of Neosho River, Indian Territory.
Intapupshe, on upper Osage River about the mouth of Sac River, Mo.
Khdhasiukdhin, on Neosho River, Kans.
Little Osage Village, on Osage Reservation, Okla., on the west bank of Neosho River.
Manhukdhintanwan, on a branch of Neosho River, Kans.
Nanzewaspe, in Neosho valley, southeastern Kansas.
Nikhdhitanwan, at the junction of the Sao and Osage Rivers, Mo.
Paghuukdhinpe, on the east side of Verdigris River, Okla.
Pasukdhin, an ancient village name and also name of a late village on Verdigris River, Okla.
Santsepasu, location uncertain.
Santsukhdhin, native name of the Arkansas band, the village being located on Verdigris River, Okla., 60 miles above its mouth.
Takdheskautsiupshe, unidentified.
Tanwakanwakaghe, at the junction of Grand and Osage rivers, Mo.
Tanwanshinka, on Neosho River, Okla.
Wakhakukdhin, on Neosho River, Okla.
White Hair's Village, on the east side of Little Osage River in the northern part of the present Vernon County, Mo.
History.—Tradition indicates a prehistoric seat of the Osage on the Ohio River, but the first historical notice of them appears. to be on Marquette's autograph map of 1673, where they are located in the region with which they are usually associated. They continued there until the separation of the Arkansas band already mentioned. By that time the Little Osage had moved from the Missouri to a position within 6 miles of the Great Osage. During the eighteenth century and the first part of the nineteenth, the Osage were at war with practically all the other tribes of the Plains and a large number of those of the woodlands, to many of which their name was a synonym for enemy. On November 10, 1808, the Osage signed a treaty ceding all their territorial claims in the present States of Missouri and Arkansas to the United States. The remainder was further curtailed by treaties signed in 1825, 1839, and 1865, and the limits of their later reservation were established by act of Congress of July 15, 1870. They have since been allotted land in severalty and are now citizens of Oklahoma.

Population.—Mooney's (1928) estimate of Osage population as of the year 1780 is 6,200. In 1804 Lewis and Clark estimated 500 warriors in the Great Osage band, nearly half as many Little Osages, and 600 in the Arkansas band. Sibley (1832), about the same time, gave 1,250 warriors. Morse (1822) estimated that there was an Osage population of 5,200; in 1829 Porter gave 5,000; in 1843 the United States Indian Office enumerated 4,102; Schoolcraft (1851-57) records 3,758 exclusive of an important division known as Black Dog's band; in 1877 the United States Indian Office had 3,001; in 1884, 1,547; in 1886, 1,582; and in 1906, 1,994. The census of 1910 gives 1,373, all but 28 in Oklahoma, but the United States Indian Office Report for 1923 has 2,099. In 1930, 2,344 were reported, and in 1937, 3,649.

Connection in which they have become noted.—As above stated, the Osage attained a high reputation as fighters among all the tribes of the southern Plains and many of those of the Gulf region. They are also remarkable for their social organization as set forth in the reports of Dr. Francis La Flesche (1921, 1925, 1928). The name became affixed to the Osage River, a considerable branch of the Missouri, which rises in Kansas but flows principally through the State of Missouri; also to counties in Kansas and Missouri; a fork of the Gasconade River, Mo.; a creek in Arkansas; and to places in Carroll County, Ark.; Franklin County, Ill.; Mitchell County, Iowa; Becker County, Minn.; Osage County, Okla.; Coryell County, Tex.; Monongalia County, W. Va.; Weston County, Wyo.; Osage Beach in Camden County, Mo.; Osage City in Cole County, Mo.; and Osage City in Kansas. Indirectly they have also furnished one of the popular names of the bois d'arc, Osage orange, the favorite wood for making bows among the tribes of the southern Plains between the lower Mississippi and the Pueblo country.

Oto. As stated in treating of the Missouri (q. v.), the Oto accompanied that tribe into this State, left them when they were both on the Missouri River near Grand River, and moved northeast into Kansas. (See Nebraska.)

Sauk. Representatives of this tribe were parties to the treaties involving Missouri land cessions made in 1804 and 1830. (See Wisconsin).

Shawnee. A part of the Shawnee Indians settled about Cape Girardeau in southeastern Missouri early in the nineteenth century. They ceded their lands to the U. S. Government in 1825. (See Tennessee.)