Quapaw Indians

Quapaw Tribe: Meaning “downstream people.” They were known by some form of this word to the Omaha, Ponca, Kansa, Osage, and Creeks. Also called:

  • Akansa, or Arkansas, by the Illinois and other Algonquian Indians, a name probably derived from one of the Quapaw social subdivisions.
  • Beaux Hommes, a name given them by the French.
  • Bow Indians, so-called probably because the bow wood from the Osage orange came from or through their country.
  • Ima, by the Caddo, probably from one of their towns.
  • Papikaha, on Marquette’s map (1673).
  • Utsushuat, Wyandot name, meaning “wild apple,” and referring to the fruit of the Carica papaya.

Quapaw Connections. The Quapaw were one of the five tribes belonging to what J. O. Dorsey (1897) called the Cegiha division of the Siouan linguistic stock.

Quapaw Location. At or near the mouth of Arkansas River. (See also Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.)

Quapaw Villages

  • Tongigua, on the Mississippi side of Mississippi River above the mouth of the Arkansas, probably in Bolivar County, Miss.
  • Tourima, at the junction of White River with the Mississippi, Desha County, probably the town’ elsewhere called Imaha.
  • Ukakhpakhti, on the Mississippi, probably in Phillips County.
  • Uzutiuhi, on the south side of the lower course of Arkansas River not far from Arkansas Post.

Quapaw History

Before the French became acquainted with this tribe (in 1673) the Quapaw had lived on Ohio River above its junction with the Wabash, and that portion of the Ohio was known as Arkansas River by the Illinois from this circumstance. It was formerly thought that the Pacaha or Capaha met by De Soto in this part of Arkansas were the tribe in question, but it is not probable that they had left the Ohio then, and the name Capaha, the form on which the relationship is supposed to be established, is probably incorrect. In 1673 Marquette visited them and turned back at their towns without descending the Mississippi any farther. La Salle in 1682, Tonti in 1686, and all subsequent voyagers down and up the Mississippi mention them, and they soon became firm allies of French. Shortly after Marquette’s visit they were ravaged by pestilence and the Ukakhpakht and the village was moved farther downstream. A few years before 1700 the people of Tongigua moved across and settled with those of Tourima, and still later all of the towns moved from the Mississippi to the Arkansas. Le Page du Pratz (1758) encountered them about 12 miles above the entrance of White River. Sibley (1832) found them in 1805 on the south side of Arkansas River about 12 miles above Arkansas Post.

By a treaty signed at St. Louis, August 24; 1818, the Quapaw ceded all their claims south of Arkansas River except a small territory between Arkansas Post and Little Rock, extending inland to Saline River. The latter was also given up in a treaty signed November 15, 1824, at Harrington’s, Arkansas Territory and the tribe agreed to live in the country of the Caddo. They were assigned by the Caddo a tract on Bayou Treache on the south side of Red River, but it was frequently overflowed, their crops were often destroyed, and there was much sickness, and in consequence they soon returned to their old country. There they annoyed the the white settlers so much that by a treaty signed May 13, 1833, the United States Government conveyed to them 150 sections of land in the extreme southeastern part of Kansas and the northeastern part of Indian Territory, to which they in turn agreed to move. February 23, 1867, they ceded their lands in Kansas and the northern part their lands in Indian Territory. In 1877 the Ponca were brought to the Quapaw Reservation for a short time, and when they removed went to their own reservation later west of the Osage most of the Quapaw went with them. Still later the lands of the Quapaw were allotted in severalty and are now citizens of Oklahoma.

Quapaw Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1650 the Quapaw numbered 2,500. In 1750 Father Vivier stated that they had about 400 warriors or about 1,400 souls. In 1766, however, the British Indian Agent, John Stuart, reported that they had but 220 gunmen. Porter estimated that the total Quapaw population in 1829 was 500. In 1843 it was 476. In 1885 there were 120 on the Osage Reservation and 54 on the Quapaw Reservation, and in 1890, 198 on both. The census of 1910 gave 231, but the Indian Office Report of 1916, 333, and that of 1923, 347. The census of 1930 returned 222.

Connection in which they have become noted. The native form of the name of this tribe, Quapaw, is but seldom used topographically, although there is a village of the name in Ottawa County, Okla., but Arkansas, the term applied to them by the Illinois Indians, has become affixed to one of the largest branches of the Mississippi and to one of the States of the American Union. It has also been given to a county and mountain in Arkansas and to cities in that State and in Kansas.


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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