By Merrah Harris 
 Miami R-1 School, April 16, 2011 
At one point in time, the first Indian tribes all originated from the Great Lakes area. The Oumessourit started migrating from the Great Lakes in the 17th century. At the start of the 1600's, the Oumessourit established their homes at the joining of the Missouri and Grand River. Their settlement ended during the 18th century when they split from the Otoe tribe because of a love affair between two tribal chief's children, which forced the girl's clan to leave and go up the river.

The word "Oumessourit", which means people of the dug out canoes, first appeared as a name and a location on a map of French explorer Jacques Marquette in 1673. This then became the name of a tribe of Indians who lived along the Missouri River.

The Oumessourit Indian tribe referred to themselves as descendants of the Oneota tribe. The name Missouria came from the Oumessourit and remained for the tribe, the river, the territory, and eventually the state. It was later changed to Missouri.

The river the Missouria Indians had lived off has not always existed. The river was formed during the late Tertiary Period. About twenty million years ago, the Missouri River marked the Southern and Western edge of many huge sheets of ice that covered the land. Everything the Missouria Indians needed to exist was in the area where Van Meter State Park is now located. The Missouria lived off the bountiful resources that the river, marshes, prairie and the Pinnacles had to offer. While other tribes moved through there, and lived nearby, the Missouri tribe had already been there for centuries.

The Missouria were "prairie dwellers". They lived in large rush mat-covered houses with 15-25 people in each house. There averaged to be about 5,000 people spread out across each village. The Missouria grew corn, beans, and squash in the spring, which was mostly grown in the bottomlands. In June, they left to hunt for bison and returned in August to harvest their crops. The men often left on hunting trips in the winter while the women stayed and looked after things.

During the 17th century, the Missouria tribe went through many hardships. Diseases brought over by Europeans, like Smallpox, lessened their tribe by nearly 1,000. In the 1730's, the Sac attacked the Missouria tribe killing hundreds of tribal members. In 1758, there were only about 750 Missouria Indians remaining. In the late 1770's, the Missouria Indians were forced to join in with the Otoe tribe because of their lack of allies. Later on in 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark noted that there was an estimation of 300 Missouria Indians living with the Otoe. In 1829, there were about 80 Indians and in 1908, the last remaining full-blooded Missouria Indian died.

In the 20th century, we do not usually think about how our land was first established. Who would have thought that the Native Americans were our first settlers to ever step foot on the land of Miami? We went from large covered rush houses, riding horses, and hunting bison to homes with glass windows and electricity, cars, and short trips to the store. What a change and what a change for the better.

(1999-2010) Missouri Indian Tribe History Retrieved April 3, 2011 from
(1998-2009) Native American Facts for Kids Retrieved April 8, 2011 from
Homeland of the Missouri Indians Retrieved April 14, 2011 from Missouri Department of Natural Resources |
Pritzer, Barry M. (February 3, 2011) Missouria Retrieved March 18, 2011 from Oxford University Press, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.|
Sullivans Farms | Friends of Miami, Inc. | © 2001-15 | webmaster | Last update: 12/19/14