Otoe and Missourias Tribes
The Otoe and Missouri Tribes share distinctive roles in Missouri state history. The tribes offered vital trade relationships with Spanish, French, and Americans, and the tribes were also the initial ones to meet with Lewis and Clark in 1804, who were there at the behest of Thomas Jefferson. Initially, during their time living in the Missouri region, these tribes were very distinct from each other. The tribes did, however, merge into one tribe, the Otoe-Missouria nation, after European contact brought a Smallpox epidemic in the late 18th century. The disease tragically and overwhelmingly reduced the numbers of both communities, thus requiring both nations to group into one to survive. Since the Otoe-Missouria inhabited fertile farmland, the U.S. government created the Big Blue Reservation to concentrate the tribe and make room for settlers. The reservation not only took away large portions of the tribe’s land, but also kept them from their traditional way of life, which revolved around the bison and their migratory patterns. The combined Otoe-Missourias’ suffered starvation and disease before forced removal to Oklahoma in 1881. While the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Headquarters are in Oklahoma today, their indelible influence is still here in Missouri. The Otoe-Missouria are the namesake of the state and the river, and their leadership in trade helped to establish the thriving economy surrounding the Missouri River that we still see today.
(Source: Otoe and Missouria: 500 Years of History, 2014.)
To find more information about the Otoe and Missouria Tribes, visit The Otoe Missiouria Tribe’s website. For resources available at University of Missouri, visit the Native American Studies Library Guide. There you can find titles such “Talking Indian: Reflections on Survival and Writing,” written by Pawnee/Otoe-Missouria author Anna Lee Walters.