The story of the Native American tribes that inhabited the state nearly 12,000 years ago

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Almost 12,000 years ago, Missouri gained its first inhabitants, the Native Americans.

Missouri takes its name from the Native American tribe of Missouri who lived at the confluence of what is today the Great River and the Missouri. In fact, the original inhabitants of Missouri were part of the Mississippi Native American culture that eventually became a collection of Native American nations.

And because there is a lot of history in how these nations got along, Sarah Scarlett of OzarksFirst and Dr. Brian Calfano draw on the expertise of the State University history professor. from Missouri. Brooks blevins for insight.

“When the first Europeans arrived, around 1700 or so, what you had in Missouri was actually two Native American nations here. you had the Missouria, which were mainly in the northern part of Missouri. And then you got the Osage, who were really the really powerful group that controlled most of the state and used it as a hunting ground because for the most part they lived in a few small areas on the Osage River and the Missouri River, ”Blevins explains. .

“The French showed up around 1700. But in reality, it wasn’t until the mid-1700s that the French first established a permanent colony on the Missouri side of the Mississippi, and that is Sainte-Geneviève. ”

Blevins says St. Louis appeared shortly after the Seven Years’ War, commonly referred to as the French and Indian War. By the late 1700s, Missouri was actually under Spanish control, but very few Spaniards came to Missouri. It remained a French territory, in fact.

“And it wasn’t until the very end of the 1700s, really the 1790s, that the Spanish government finally said, ‘We have to bring people here, we have to bring people.’ and they finally open colonization to us citizens. And when that happens, you start to see a trickle of people from places like Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia starting to cross the Mississippi River. And that begins the American phase of Missouri history at that point, ”Blevins explains.

As Blevins mentioned, Missouri already had Native Americans before the United States existed. But this new US territory would add more Native Americans from the east, creating an immigrant Indian community dominated by the Osages.

When it became American territory in 1803/1804, the American government continued to push Native Americans from their ancestral lands east of the Mississippi to Missouri. And so, in particular the southern half of Missouri becomes, in effect, a dumping ground for the US government for unwanted Native American groups from eastern Mississippi. So in 1821 in southwest Missouri you have the Delaware, you have the Shawnee, you have the Kickapoo, you probably have about a dozen different nations represented in southwest Missouri — the Miamis, the Piankashaws, the Peorias – a whole bunch of people: well over 10,000, what I call in my book “Immigrant Indians; that came voluntarily or that were basically pushed into southwestern Missouri. And so it was throughout the 1820s. Southwest Missouri was Indian territory throughout the 1820s. So it’s very different from the rest of Missouri when we talked 200 years ago and the founding of Missouri as a state. Southwest Missouri does a whole different thing than most of the rest of the state.

Brooks Blevins, professor of history at Missouri State University

But forced migration, known as Trail of Tears, did not end in southwestern Missouri. Blevins says that prior to much of this white colony in southwest Missouri, the U.S. government made treaties with the Native Americans who were here throughout the 1820s.

“In the early 1830s, the government displaced just about all Native Americans from southwestern Missouri. They moved them to Kansas, in what is now Oklahoma, which in the 1830s became Indian territory. And the creation of Indian Territory and what we know as Oklahoma is, in part, inspired by events that occurred in southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas, where these Thousands of Native Americans are trying to convince the US government to give them this place: to essentially give them the Ozarks as a self-sufficient nation in their own right, ”says Blevins.

There wouldn’t be such a nation of the Ozarks. The Missouri Foundation signaled opportunities for whites in the East to the detriment of Native Americans. Today, Missouri maintains Trail of Tears State Park as a memorial.

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