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Tribal territory of the Otoe
Otoe-Missouria Tribe Seal
Missouri indian Otoe indian and chief of the Puncas by Karl Bodmer

The Otoe or Oto are a Native American people. The Otoe language, Chiwere, is closely related to that of the Iowa and Missouri.

The Otoe were once part of the Siouan tribes of the Great Lakes region, commonly known as the Winnebago. At some point, a large group separated themselves and began to migrate to the South and West. This group eventually split into at least three distinct tribes: the Ioway, the Missouria and the Otoe, who finally settled in the lower Nemaha Valley. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the Otoe were the first tribe encountered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, meeting at a place that would become known as Council Bluffs. As the Pawnee did, they periodically left their villages to hunt on the Great Plains for buffalo. Between 1817 and 1841, the Otoe lived around the mouth of the Platte River in Nebraska, and during this time the remaining families of the Missouria rejoined them. The tribe was noted in the 1830s to have extreme problems with alcohol, sometimes making themselves destitute by trading vital supplies for alcohol. As their dependence on alcohol grew, they became so drunken they no longer went on hunts for themselves, but resorted to looting vacant Pawnee villages while the Pawnee were out hunting.[1] Christian missionaries built a mission there. The vast majority of the Otoe-Missouria lands, lying south from the Platte River in eastern Nebraska, were ceded to the U.S. by treaty in 1854, leaving them with a reservation along the Big Blue River on the present Kansas-Nebraska border.

During the 1870s, the tribe split into two ideological factions. The Coyote band favored an immediate move to Indian Territory, where they believed they could perpetuate their traditional tribal life outside the influence of the whites. The Quaker band favored continuance on their present land, even if it meant selling the western half of their current reservation back to the whites. By the spring of 1880, about half of the tribe had left the reservation and taken up residence with the Sac and fox tribe in Indian Territory. By the next year, in response to dwindling prospects of self-sufficiency and continued pressure from white settlers, the federal agents allowed the tribe to sell the Big Blue reservation, and the Otoe-Missouria purchased a new reservation in the Cherokee Outlet in the Indian Territory, in what is now Noble and Pawnee Counties, Oklahoma.

Today the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians are a federally recognized tribe, based in Red Rock, Oklahoma.

Meeting place of LewisClark and Indians
Otoe delegation. Photographer John K. Hillers

See also


  1. ^ Page 200, The Pawnee Indians, by George Hyde, University of Oklahoma Press (1988 first publication 1951, revised edition 1974), trade paperback, 372 pages ISBN 0-8061-2094-0

External links



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