Missouri Bicentennial Minutes: Native Peoples at Statehood

Mar 11, 2021

American Indians remained in Missouri at statehood, although many had left. The Otoe-Missouria, Ioway, Sac and Fox, and Kickapoo had land remaining in Missouri. The once-powerful Osage still remained across much of western Missouri, beset by intertribal and American hostility.

Major Stephen Long summarized the situation of various tribes in southeast Missouri in 1819-1820: “A miserable remnant of the Shawnee, Delaware, and [Peoria] tribes, with a few Chickasaws and Cherokees, were at this time scattered through the country, from the Mississippi at the mouth of Apple Creek westward to the sources of Black River. They were, however, about to remove farther west, and many of them were already on their way to the country about the upper branches of White River…”

Some Shawnee and Delaware had settled Missouri on a Spanish land grant at the invitation of Louis Lorimier after defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Ohio in 1794. Lorimier’s death in 1812, the War of 1812, and initial rejection of their land claim triggered their gradual departure. By 1820, 400 remained in Perry and Cape Girardeau counties on Apple Creek.

Despite accommodations to their American neighbors, settlers often robbed them or drove them from their land. For example, the Apple Creek chief, Wapapilethe, once returned from hunting to find all his possessions stolen. The final blows to the Shawnee-Delaware were the final rejection of their land claim, and the failure of William Clark, who sympathized with the Indians, to win the governor’s race. Most Indians left the state by the early 1830s for treaty lands in present-day Kansas.