Quapah Origins

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

During the Maina (Wixóčera) Moon, after the corn and vegetables had been planted, the whole band used to go on a hunt, as deer are the fatest at that time of year. One day during the hunt, they killed a large elk and proceeded to distribute the meat to every lodge of the band. There was one long lodge in which a man and his wife lived. Their six daughter and their six husbands all lived with them. All the meat had been distributed, but none was given to the people of this lodge. Therefore, they thought they had been rejected by the rest of the tribe, and when their band moved on in the hunt, this lodge stayed behind. It is said that the Quapah do not know where they came from. The Hočągara think that the Quapah descended from this family that stayed behind.1

Commentary. The Quapah are a Çegiha Sioux nation, closely related to the Kansa, Omaha, Osage, and Ponca. It is said by the Omaha that in ancient times when the tribe was crossing the wide river (presumably the Missouri) the Omaha and Ioway made it to the opposite shore, but the Quapah, either because of the breaking of the vines they were using to cross, or because of a storm, were not able to make the opposite bank and were left behind. This is said to account for their name, which means "Downstream," and the name of the Omaha, which means "Upstream." These tribes were so called when De Soto first came across them in 1541. In a story reminescent of the Hočąk worak above, the Osage and Ponca trace their separation to a dispute over hunting.2

The story implies that at a time when the Ioway (and hence the Hočągara) were in the same tribe as the Omaha-Quapah, this proto-tribe had been migrating east. Wak’ąhaga ("Snake Skin") [portrait] asserted that the Hočągara came from the southwest of their present land.3

Gallatin says, "... but the tradition of these five tribes (the Çegiha) is, that at a distant epoch they, together with the Winnebagoes, came from the north; the Winnebagoes stopped on the banks of Lake Michigan, while they, continuing their course southerly, crossed the Mississippi, and occupied the seats in which they were found by the Europeans."4

Jipson observes, "The date of the Siouan migration is unknown, but it was prehistoric, and may have required years or even centuries for its completion. De Soto found the Quapaw on the western bank of the Mississippi in 1541, and James Mooney thinks they 'brought up the rear, as their name lingered longest in the traditions of the Ohio tribes, and they were yet in the vicinity of that stream when encountered by De Soto'."5

Knowledge of the old clans of the Quapah is uncertain, but the one list obtained seems to show some similarities to the Hočąk divisions:6

Hočągara Quapah (Fletcher & La Flesche) Quapah (Dorsey) Quapah (Hodge)
- Big Chief (Hóⁿgatoⁿga) - -
- Little Chief (Hóⁿgažiⁿga) - -
Thunderbird (Wakąja) Thunder (Wakóⁿta) Wakánʇă Wakanta
Eagle (Čaxšep) - Qid¢ Xidh
Warrior or Hawk - - -
Pigeon (= Small Bird of Missouria). These first four clans are called the "Bird (Wanįk) Clan." Bird (Wažíⁿga) Wajíñʞa Wajingka
[The crane (peją) is said to be a brother of the owls, and owls alternate with the hawk as the clan animal in Chiwere tribes — see Hawk above.] Crane (Pétoⁿ) Pétaⁿ Petang
Waterspirit (Wakčexi) - - -
     Beaver Jawé Jawa
[The Hočągara are said to be the "People of Turtle"] Turtle (Ke) Ke Ke
Bear (Hųč)
     Black Bear Subclan Black Bear (Wása) Wasá Wasa
     Blue [= Grizzly, Mąčo] Bear Subclan Grizzly Bear (Moⁿčú) Maⁿtú Mantu
-   Panther Taⁿd¢áⁿ (táñʞa)  
Buffalo (Če) Buffalo (Te) Te Te
-   Reddish Yellow Buffalo (Tuqé) Tukhe
Elk (Hųwą) Elk (Óⁿpoⁿ) Óⁿphŭⁿ Anpan
Deer (Ča) Deer (Náⁿpaⁿta) Náⁿpaⁿta Nanpanta
Wolf (Šųkčąk) - Dog (Cañʞé) Cangke
Snake (Wak'ą) - Wés‘ă Wesa
Fish (Ho) Fish (Hu) Hu Hu
- Sun (Mí) Mi
- Star (Miháke) Mikáq‘e Mikakh
- - Ancestral (Háñʞa) Hangka
- - - Nikiata
- - - Tizhu [Gentle Sky]

On the basis of linguistic evidence, it is believed that the Quapah and Chiwere (including the Hočągara) separated ca. 1300 AD.7

Cf. Osage and Hočąk Clans Compared, Omaha and Hočąk Clans Compared, Winnebago-Chiwere Clan System, Quapah-Winnebago-Chiwere Clans.

Links: The Wazija, The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave. An American Star Map.

Stories: about the separation of the Hočągara from other Siouan nations: Ioway & Missouria Origins, cf. Introduction, The Hočąk Migration Myth; about the migration of the Hočągara: The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, The Hočąk Arrival Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, The Hočągara Migrate South, The First Sauk and Fox War, The Spanish Fight, cf. Hočąk Clans Origin Myth; mentioning the Omaha: The Omahas who turned into Snakes, Ioway & Missouria Origins, Little Priest's Game, Introduction.

Themes: the Hočągara come to the Wazija from the west: The Hočąk Migration Myth; the Hočągara are the parent tribe from which other (Siouan) tribes separated: Oto Origins, Ioway & Missouria Origins.


1 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 2. The original text (it was told in English) is in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3862 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago I, #3: 96.

2 Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, The Omaha Tribe, 2 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press: 1992 [1911]) 1:36, 38.

3 Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 10:500; Publius V. Lawson, "The Winnebago Tribe," The Wisconsin Archeologist 6, #3 (1907): 77-162 [83].

4 Albert Gallatin, A Synopsis of the Indian Tribes within the United States East of the Rocky Mountains, and in the British and Russian Possessions in North America, in Archaeologia Americana, Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society (Cambridge, Mass.: 1836) 2: 127.

5 Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923) 16.

6 Fletcher and La Flesche, The Omaha Tribe,1: 68. James Owen Dorsey, "The Social Organization of the Siouan Tribes," The Journal of American Folk-Lore, 4, #14 (Jul. - Sep., 1891) and #15 (Oct. - Dec., 1891): 257-266, 331-342 [332]. "The following names of Kwapa gentes were obtained chiefly from Alphonsus Valliere, a full Kwapa, who assisted the author when in Washington, from December, 1890, to March, 1891." Frederick Webb Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico: N-Z, Volume 30 of Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, vol 30 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1910) s.v. "Quapaw," 2:335b-336a.

7 James W. Springer and Stanley R. Witkowski, "Siouan Historical Linguistics and Oneota Archaeology," in Oneota Studies, ed. Guy Gibbon (1982).