Skip to Main Content

Native American/Indigenous Studies: MO Indigenous Nations

A guide for finding resources to do with the first peoples of America and other colonized areas.

Tribes of Missouri

There are currently no federally recognized tribes in Missouri. Most Native Americans were forced to leave the state during Indian Removal and this included all original tribes in Missouri. Information on this page concerns the original tribes of Missouri and the tribes who moved here after being forced from their land before they too were removed during Removal.

connections-iconOsage Nation

The territory of the Osage Nation originally stretched from Wisconsin to Louisiana and covered much of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The Osage Nation was involved with many conflicts with other tribes in the area, especially those tribes that were moved into their traditional territory as a part of Indian Removal. Because of this the United State Government negotiated the ceding of Osage lands and the establishment of a reservation in Kansas in 1825. After the Civil War and the difficulties that the Osage Nation faced due to the Kansas-Missouri border war, they were relocated again to what was then Indian Territory, now Osage County, Oklahoma, in 1871. The Osage were unique in that they were able to sell their reservation land in Kansas to the U.S. government for a favorable price and buy their reservation in Oklahoma; this helped them greatly when the U.S. government would attempt to steal that land through allotment. Today the Osage Nation remains the only federally recognized reservation in Oklahoma and are still very involved in the energy business of the state due to the large amounts of oil under their land. The Nation has over 13,000 enrolled members and is doing very well for themselves. More information about the Osage Nation can be found on their website

All information in this summary can be found on the Osage Nation Website, the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, and the Oklahoma government website. 

connections-iconOtoe-Missouria Tribe

The Otoes and Missourias were originally two different distinct Plains tribes that were distantly related, however after contact and many deaths due to disease the two tribes merged in order to better hold onto their territory. The Otoe Missouria were not subject to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, however after several conflicts with incoming white settlers, they were confined to the Big Blue River Reservation in Nebraska in 1855. In 1881, what remained of the tribe after the struggle to adjust to reservation life was moved to Red Rock, Oklahoma which is where the tribe resides to this day. There are currently approximately 3,000 enrolled members of the Otoe Missouria Tribe. More information about the tribe can be found on their website

All information in this summary can be found on the Otoe Missouria Website. 

The Libraries also hosted an event with the Otoe Missouria Tribe on November 4, 2015. Find out more about it here

connections-iconIoway Tribe

The Ioway, or Iowa Tribe, originally lived primarily in what is now Iowa, but with territory stretching from Minnesota to northern Missouri. After several cedings of territory to white settlers, the Iowa Tribe was moved to an area spanning the Kansas-Nebraska border in 1838. In 1878 several tribal members split from the main tribe after conditions on the Kansas-Nebraska reservation became too onerous to bear. These tribal members moved to what was then Indian Territory, now Perkins, Oklahoma. These tribal members then became the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, while those who remained became the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. Today the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma has over 800 enrolled members while the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska has around 2,000 enrolled members. More information can be found on their respective government's websites. 

Information in this summary can be found on the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma's website, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska's website, and through the BIA.

connections-iconIllini Tribe

The Illini Tribe, or Illinois Tribe, was originally a confederation of 12-13 tribes whose territory spanned from the Great Lakes Region down to northern Missouri. Some of the tribes that made up the confederation include, but are not limited to, the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankeshaw, and Wea Tribes. The Illini Confederacy is the descendants of the legendary Mound Builders. The Illini population was devastated by disease in the 18th century after extensive contact with settlers and traders as well as by warfare, what remained of the Illini Confederacy was moved onto a reservation in Kansas in 1832, while there they reconstituted themselves as the Peoria Confederacy and they consisted of the aforementioned tribes. In 1867, after the Civil War, the tribe relocated to what was then Indian Territory, now Miami, Oklahoma. Today the Peoria Tribe has around 3,000 enrolled members. More information can be found on their government's website

Information in this summary can be found either on the Peoria Tribe Website or through the Illinois State Museum.

connections-iconQuapaw Tribe

The Quapaw Tribe, pronounced O-Gah-Pah, originally lived in Arkansas with their territory stretching up to Southern Missouri. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Quapaw Tribe ceded millions of acres of land to the U.S. Government in treaties in 1818 and 1824 leading to the tribe being removed to Indian Territory in 1826. On the journey to Indian Territory and for several years afterward, the Quapaw endured numerous hardships and their population was decimated. Eventually a reservation was established for the Quapaw in Northeastern Oklahoma in 1834 and the remaining tribe members moved there. The Quapaw tribe resides there to this day and currently has over 3,000 enrolled members. More information can be found on their government's website.

All information in this summary can be found on the Quapaw Tribe's Website, the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, and the Oklahoma government website

Other Tribes that ceded land in Missouri

These nations were pushed westward to Missouri by white encroachment and then ceded land to the US Government during Removal and were settled elsewhere.

  • Shawnee
    • Originally a Woodland Nation located in present-day Ohio and Kentucky. After being pushed westward by white settlers, some Shawnee received a land grant from the Spanish in 1793 near Cape Girardeau. These Shawnee lived here until Indian Removal in 1830 when they ceded their land and were relocated to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. A group of Shawnee did split off from the Missouri Shawnee and moved further South into Oklahoma and Texas, they are now known as the Absentee Shawnee. Further information on the Shawnee can be found on their respective websites. There are three federally recognized Shawnee Tribes, all of which are located in Oklahoma: The Absentee Shawnee Tribe, The Shawnee Tribe, & The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.
  • Delaware
    • The Delaware People, or Lenape, were also originally an Eastern Woodland Nation located in present-day New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Lenape lost much of their homeland to white settlers in what is known as the "Walking Purchase" in the early 18th century. After this the Lenape were forced to move westward. Eventually they made their way to Indiana and Missouri. They were then forced to relocate again in 1830 to Kansas. Finally in 1860 they were forced to relocate to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Further information on the Delaware can found on the websites of the three federally recognized tribes, two of which are located in Oklahoma. The Delaware Tribe of Indians, The Delaware Nation,  & The Stockbridge-Munsee Community, this group is made up of Mohicans and Lenape.
  • Kickapoo
    • The Kickapoo Tribe was originally located near the Great Lakes in what is now present-day Michigan, however after the Iroquois War in the late 17th century and encroachment from the white settlers the Kickapoo were forced westward to Wisconsin. The Kickapoo then migrated down to what is now Illinois where they resided for several decades. The Kickapoo then began to make several treaties with the U.S. government moving them further south. One of these treaties relocated the tribe to Missouri. The group in Missouri was then relocated to Kansas where they reside today. Further information on the Kickapoo can be found on the websites of the tribes. There are currently three federally recognized Kickapoo tribes as well as a band located in Mexico. The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, The Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, and the Tribu Kikapu. 
  • Sac & Fox
    • The Sac (Sauk) and Fox (Meskwaki) were originally two distinct Woodland cultures who banded together in the 18th century in response to the encroachment of white settlers. The two tribes, who were acting as a single political entity at this point, ceded their homelands to the U.S. Government in the Treaty of 1804. In 1815, a group of Sac and Fox were moved to Northeastern Missouri and became the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri. In 1837, this group was removed to Kansas and Nebraska. Further information on the Sac and Fox can be found on the sites of the nations. There are three federally recognized Sac and Fox nations; The Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska, The Sac and Fox Nation, and The Sac and Fox (Meskwaki) Nation of the Mississippi in Iowa.
  • Omaha
    • The Omaha were originally located in the Ohio River Valley and migrated to Northern Missouri and the Plains in the 18th century. Their territory mainly existed in Nebraska and Iowa which is where they continue to reside today. Their land in Missouri was ceded in 1836 and they were confined to a reservation in Nebraska. They were later able to negotiate the return of some of their lands in Iowa. Further information about the Omaha Tribe can be found on their site. 

These nations were originally located in the Midwest & Plains and ceded hunting grounds in Missouri