Friday, September 30, 2022

Siouan Language Roots-Chiwere by Zina Abbott


Last month, inspired by my research into the Omaha tribe of Native Americans, I discovered they were part of the Dhegihan division of the Western Siouan Language group. As this group migrated west and south from the Great Lakes region, they broke off and separated into what today is several different tribes. To find that post, please CLICK HERE. ­

What really sparked my interest was that I discovered their new homelands along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were leap-frogged with that of other Siouan-language people of the Chiwere-Winnebago language division, also from the same general region, that also migrated west and south. I wish to share about the Chiwere tribes in this post.

1635 Native American Tribal Map

Around the 16th century, successive groups of the Ho-Chunk and Siouan-speaking tribes of the Western Great Lakes and Upper Midwest split off and migrated west and south. These became distinct tribes, the Otoe, the Missouria, and the Ioway. All these tribes were part of the Chiwere-Winnegago language division of the greater Siouan family, with the Otoe, Missouria, and Ioway specifically Chiwere.

Indian Tribes of Iowa

The Iowa, also known as Ioway, and the Bah-Kho-Je or Báxoje, which in English means gray snow. The Iowa, along with the Missouria and Otoe tribes were once part of the Ho-Chunk people. Members of these tribes are all Chiwere language-speaking peoples. They left their ancestral homelands in Southern Wisconsin for Eastern Iowa, a state that bears their name.

White Cloud head chief of the Iowa-painted by George Catlin

In 1837, the Iowa were moved from Iowa to reservations in Brown County, Kansas, and Richardson County, Nebraska. The Iowa moved to Indian Territory in the late 19th century and settled south of Perkins, Oklahoma.


Indian Map Nebraska-red- Dhegihan; blue: Chiwere

The Otoe were once part of the Ho-Chunk and Siouan-speaking tribes of the Western Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. Around the 16th century, the Otoe, along with the Missouria and Ioway, split off as they migrated west and south and became distinct tribes. The Otoe settled in the lower Nemaha River Valley of what is today southeastern Nebraska, but ranged into Kansas, Iowa, and Missouria.  

Indian Tribes in Kansas- Dhegihan; blue: Chiwere

They lived in elm-bark lodges while they farmed, and used tipis while traveling, like many other Plains tribes. They often left their villages to hunt buffalo. Later, they adopted the horse culture and semi-nomadic lifestyle of the Great Plains and made the American bison central to their diet and culture

Oto Delegation to Washington D.C. 1881

In the early 19th century, many of their villages were destroyed due to warfare with other tribes. European-American encroachment brought disease, leading to their decline.

Missouria - Otoe - Ponca by Bodmer

Today, Otoe people belong to the federally recognized tribe, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, which is headquartered in Red Rock, Oklahoma.

Indian Tribes of Missouri- Red: Dhegihan; Blue: Chiwere

The Missouria or Missouri, who, in their own langugage, call themselves Niúachi, also spelled Niutachi, historically lived along the Grand River at its confluence with the Missouri River, the mouth of the Missouri River at its confluence with the Mississippi River, and in present-day Saline County, Missouri. They stayed closely connected to the Otoe. The now live primarily in Oklahoma. The state of Missouri and the Missouri River are named for the tribe.

I will cover the Ho-Chunk and Winnebago in a separate post.


My two most recent publications, Bee Sting Cake by Brunhilde and Loving Lila are both Thanksgiving romances.


BeeSting Cake by Brunhilde has been published and is available. To find the book description and purchase options, please CLICK HERE.



Loving Lila is currently on pre-order and will be released October 10th. To find the book description and purchase options, please CLICK HERE.







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