Ponca Indians

Ponca Indians. Own name, meaning unknown. Also called:

  • Díhit, Li-hit’ or Ríhit, Pawnee name.
  • Kan’kan, Winnebago name.
  • Tchiáχsokush, Caddo name.

Ponca Connections.-The Ponca spoke practically the same language as the Omaha and formed with them, the Osage, Kansa, and Quapaw, the Dhegiha group of the Siouan linguistic family.

Ponca Location. On the right bank of the Missouri at the mouth of the Niobrara. (See also Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.)

Ponca History. The early life of the Ponca seems to have run parallel with that of the Omaha. They are said to have separated from the latter at the mouth of White River, South Dakata, and to have moved west into the Black Hills but to have rejoined the Omaha a little later. These two tribes and the Iowa then descended the Missouri together as far as the mouth of the Niobrara, where the Ponca remained while the Omaha established themselves below on Bow Creek. They remained in approximately the same situation until 1877 when the larger part of them were forcibly removed to Indian Territory. This action was the occasion for a special investigation, as a result of which about three-quarters continued in the Territory while the remainder preferred to remain in their old country. Their lands have now been allotted to them in severalty.

Ponca Population. Mooney (1928) gives 800, as the probable size of the Ponca tribe in 1780. In 1804 Lewis and Clark estimate only 200 but they had been greatly reduced just before by smallpox. In 1829 they had increased to 600 and in 1842 to about 800. In 1871 they numbered 747. In 1906 the Ponca in Oklahoma numbered 570 and those in Nebraska 263; total, 833. The census of 1910 gave 875 in all, including 619 in Oklahoma and 193 in Kansas. The Report of the United States Indian Office for 1923 was 1,381, evidently including other tribes. The census of 1930 returned 939. In 1937 the United States Indian Office gave 825 in Oklahoma and 397 in Nebraska.

Connection in which the Ponca Indians have become noted. The name Ponca is preserved by a river in South Dakota, Ponca City in Kay County, Oklahoma, and places in Newton County, Arkansas, and Dixon County, Nebraska.

See Further: Ponca Tribe

Ponca, Siouan,

Indian Territory,

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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