Missouri Indian Tribes

Caddo Indians. 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 Indians. Representatives of this tribe were a party to a treaty made in 1830, relinquishing lands in Missouri to the Whites.

Delaware Indians. 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.)

Fox Indians. Representatives of this tribe were a party to treaties with the United States Government concerning Missouri lands made in 1804 and 1830.

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

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

Missouri Indians. 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:

Niúachi, their own name.
Waçux¢a, by the Osage.
Wa-ju’-xd¢ǎ, 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

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

Osage Indians

Oto Indians. As stated in treating of the Missouri, 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 Indians. Representatives of this tribe were parties to the treaties involving Missouri land cessions made in 1804 and 1830. (See Wisconsin.)

Shawnee Indians. 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.


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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