The People of the River’s Mouth – In Search of the Missouria Indians

Published: June 9, 2020

Utz village

An artist rendering of the Utz village site at Van Meter State Park in Saline County, MO.

Presentation by Mike Dickey, Historian and Site Administrator at Arrow Rock State Historic Site

Original Presentation was Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Hosted by Missouri River Relief 

Live Streaming sponsored by Rivermiles

Mahkincha - "Maker of Knives"

Painting by Karl Bodmer based on a sketch he had done of a Missouria tribesperson Bodmer met in 1834 at Joseph Robideaux’s trading post near modern day St. Joseph.

Few people know that the Missouri River, and the state named after it, were actually named for a tribe of Native Americans that lived along the river near the mouth of the Grand River. Even fewer people know much about the tribe, which had already begun to decline due to disease by the time European explorers began to encounter them.

Mike Dickey will share the knowledge he gained while researching his book “The People of the River’s Mouth – In Search of the Missouria Indians”.

The Missouria tribe is now headquartered in Red Rock, Oklahoma, but their ancestral homeland is along the Missouri River. They called themselves “Nyut-achi”, or the “People of the River’s Mouth” (probably referring to the Grand River), but history knows them as the “Missouria” (from the Algonquin name for the tribe – meaning “people of the big canoes”).

These people were intimately tied to the Missouri River, and lived both along its banks and in a scattering of villages in mid-Missouri (especially today’s Saline County). They would follow the Grand River north to hunt for bison then return to their villages along the Big Muddy. Today’s Van Meter State Park is the location of a historic Missouria (and Oneonta before them) village.

You can purchase Dickey’s book from the University of Missouri Press website. 

Tribal Seal of Otoe - Missouria Tribe

Tribal Seal of Otoe – Missouria Tribe

Resources & Links

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The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport

is hosted by these wonderful partners.

Streaming is sponsored by Rivermiles, the folks who bring you the MR340.

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Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

And a special tip of the hat to volunteer David Owens who has been doing the sound for the Speaker Series for several years.

Our thanks to Dave and the good people of MoRivCC who are video recording these presentations when possible.

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Kansas City and St. Charles.


The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Missouri River Relief, the Big Muddy Speaker Series or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.


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