ST. LOUIS – Monday is widely known as Columbus Day. But in recent years, more and more towns and cities across the country have elected to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day as an alternative to – or in addition to – the day intended to honor Columbus’ voyages.
In observance of Indigenous Peoples Day, FOX 2 examined the indigenous peoples of the St. Louis area.
The Missouri Botanical Garden says that the St. Louis region is, “On ancestral and traditional land of the Chickasaw Nation, Illini Tribe, Ioway Tribe, Kickapoo Tribe, Osage Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, and the Quapaw Nation.”
Members of the Osage Nation lived in what is now Missouri. They first lived in the Ohio River Valley, but migrated to the Mississippi River Valley around 400 to 500 CE. Andrea Hunter, the Osage Nation’s director and tribal historic preservation officer, speculates that the Osage were part of the Cahokia civilization, the society that built mounds around 1000 to 1200 CE.
The Osage Nation also lived along the Missouri River and near what is now the Lake of the Ozarks. The Missouri Historical Society said Osage people used the area’s rivers to fish, travel, and trade.
The U.S. government continued to expand westward, and the Indian Removal Act of 1830 made it legal for members of the Osage Nation to be removed from Missouri. Tribes then moved to Oklahoma. According to an article on Fort Scott National Historic Site’s website, “By 1872, encroachment from American settlers forced the Osage Tribe to relinquish most of their remaining ancestral homelands and relocate to their present reservation in Oklahoma (Ceded Lands Map).”
The Indian Removal Act was passed nearly 200 years ago and the Missouri Historical Society said it is still having “repercussions, from land claims to establishing sovereignty to violence against Native women.”