The Missouria or Missouri Indians, a Siouan tribe, lived in and gave their name to the state of Missouri. Their name means “one who has dugout canoes” in the Illinois language. In their own language, the Missouri called themselves Niúachi.
They began migrating south in the 1500s and By 1600, the Missouria lived near the confluence of the Grand and Missouri Rivers and extended as far north as the Platte River. The French explorer Jacques Marquette contacted the tribe in 1673 and paved the way for trade with the French.
At some point, the Missouria migrated west of the Missouri River into Osage territory where they acquired horses and began hunting buffalo.
The French explorer Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont visited them in the early 1720s and married the daughter of a chief. The couple settled nearby and Veniard created alliances with the people. He built Fort Orleans in 1723 as a trading post near present-day Brunswick, Missouri that was occupied until 1726.
They suffered greatly from smallpox in 1829. In 1830 and 1854, they signed treaties with the U.S. government to cede their lands in Missouri. They soon relocated to the Otoe-Missouria reservation, created on the Big Blue River at the Kansas-Nebraska border. The US pressured the two tribes into ceding more lands in 1876 and 1881. The government pressured the two tribes into ceding more lands in 1876 and 1881 and most of them moved to a reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma.) By 1885, there were only 40 known Missouria Indians to have survived.
Today, they are federally recognized as the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, based in Red Rock, Oklahoma. The combined tribes have a population of about 3,050 people today.
8151 Hwy 177
Red Rock, Okalahoma 74651
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated October 2020.