Information on the Missouri Indians
The following excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark and their men present a picture of the Missouri people as the Anglo-Americans saw them. The modern reader must be careful to understand that what these white men saw and recorded was not necessarily correct from the Indian perspective. The Missouri people were a small tribe, and when first encountered by Marquette in 1673 had a village at the mouth of the Grand River. They spoke a Siouan language and were closely related to the Iowas, Otos and Winnebagoes. They were village people who also hunted the buffalo. Their name, which means "people with the dugout canoes," was applied to the state and the river Missouri. In 1798 the Sac and Fox made an attack on the Missouri which devastated the tribe. The survivors lived among the Osage, Kaw and Oto, and in 1829 the Missouris formally united with the Oto tribe.
The following passages have been freely adapted and excerpted from the original texts, and the spelling has been corrected to make them easier to read. For students wishing to quote these passages, the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary Moulton and published by the University of Nebraska Press, is the recommended source. For those who wish more in-depth information about Lewis and Clark's relations with various Indian tribes, including background from the Indian perspective, the best book is James P. Ronda's Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984. The very best way to obtain accurate information from the tribal perspective is to contact tribal councils for individual tribes - in other words, to consult the people themselves.
Did You Know?
In 1846, a slave named Dred Scott sued for his freedom at the St. Louis Courthouse. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the verdict set the stage for the Civil War. Today, the Old Courthouse is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Click to learn more about Dred Scott. More...