The Historic Period, beginning in 1700, is the last classified era of Native American development. These were the Indians the European explorers and settlers of our region would come into contact with. Our region was the hunting ground of several tribes including the Osage, Delaware, Kickapoo, Shawnee, Piankashaw and perhaps others. The Osage tribe was master of the area. (The Osage Indians were first recorded in 1673 by the French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette). Only the Osage Indians seemed to be native to Missouri and the Ozark region. All the other tribes had been driven from east of the Mississippi River to our region as the white man made his gradual advance across the eastern portion of North America.
The Osage empire covered roughly a portion of four states: Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. How many people this represented is not known, but the war-like Osage had the numbers to rule this area preeminently against the other tribes that flanked them on every side. As quoted from History of Early Reynolds County Missouri, by James E. Bell, “Due to their marriage customs, the Osage were tall, physically strong, and possessed unquestionable courage. The smaller, weaker males often were denied marriage and the mightiest warriors got the girl plus all her sisters. In this way they had a form of selective breeding, which undoubtedly accounts for most of the tribe being over six feet tall.” When the first white settlers came to our region in the early 1800’s, it is estimated that there were about 20,000 Indians in Missouri. Early maps verify the presence of a village of Delaware Indians along the Black River.
The Osage Indians gave up their claim to most of the Ozark Plateau in a treaty with the federal government in 1808. As paraphrased from Mr. Bell’s book, the Osage always considered this treaty not to exclude their right to use the Ozarks for their frequent hunting trips. This often caused many problems for the first white settlers even though the Indians were mostly friendly and often hunted and traded with the white man. The ever increasing white population in conjunction with the various treaties that relocated the many tribes that were common to this area, made it rare to see a Native American in this locale after 1830. Sadly, the Trail of Tears passed through our region.
There are many Indian legends about our Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area. To read the tragic Legend of Taum Sauk Mountain, click here.
While on your Missouri Vacation in our region, view the many Indian artifacts in our Iron and Reynolds County Museums. Keep your eyes open while hiking along the rivers and streams, and in our parks. Artifacts are just waiting to be found!
(Sources of De Soto information, from simple to detailed, by Conquistadors, DeSoto’s Missouri Chronicles, by: Biedma, Rangel, Elvas as presented by Donald E. Sheppard) Other reference: “A History of Missouri from the Earliest Explorations and Settlement until the Admission of the State into the Union”, Volume II, 1908, by Louis Houck