Celebrating the First Missourians
During Native American Heritage Month, we pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans, the first Americans. Missouri’s original inhabitants were peoples from several tribes, including Chickasaw, Illini, Ioway, Missouri (our state’s namesake), Osage, Otoe, and Quapaw. Missouri’s Native American roots are centuries old and remain a significant part of our state’s unique identity. Discover the story of early Native Americans in our area, even before Missouri became a state in 1821, through objects, including stone tools, arrowheads, beadwork, and clothing on display in the Missouri State Museum on the first floor of the State Capitol. Admission is free. For more information, call 573-751-2854 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Today, more than 72,000 Missourians identify their race, either entirely or in part, as American Indian/Alaska Native. One way to respect our history is to prevent others from discriminating against Missourians who belong to the Native American community. In fact, the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) protects all Missourians from adverse treatment because of their race or ancestry and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), a state agency, enforces the MHRA by investigating complaints made by persons who believe they have been discriminated against in employment, housing, or places of public accommodation. If you suspect you have been discriminated against due to your race or another protected category, contact MCHR at 877-781-4236 or take this quick assessment to determine if the MHRA applies to your situation.
Celebrate Native American Heritage Month by exploring these sites, activities, and events in our state:
- "Missouri" is a Siouan Indian word defined as "town of the large canoes," "wooden canoe people," or "he of the big canoe." Set afloat in your own canoe on one of Missouri’s many scenic waterways.
- Were your ancestors Native Americans? Research your family tree at the National Archives, Central Plains Region in Kansas City, located at 400 West Pershing Road, which houses various records from 12 tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, census rolls, land allotment files, and more.
- Missouri State University will celebrate Native American Heritage Month throughout November. Various films on Native American heritage are available at the university's Multicultural Resource Center, 901 South National Avenue, Springfield. The MRC will also host the 8th Annual Native American Heritage Month Powwow on Saturday, Nov. 3, from noon to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 4, from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call 417-836-5652 or e-mail CharlotteHardin@MissouriState.edu.
- Enjoy the Magnificent Missouri Dinner Series for the first of a five-dinner series to celebrate Missouri’s food history and support conservation to keep Missouri magnificent. The event takes place on Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Audubon Center at Riverlands, 301 Riverlands Way, West Alton, overlooking the Mississippi River. Arrive at 3:30 p.m. for a short “birdwalk” with a knowledgeable guide. Enjoy award-winning Missouri wines and local beer at 4:30 p.m. on the Center’s deck and overlook, with a Native American dinner featuring fresh, local ingredients at 5:30 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 314-239-2284 or e-mail email@example.com.
- The Heart of America Indian Centerin Kansas City, 600 West 39th Street, opens its doors to the public at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7, for Culture Night, a free community gathering showcasing American Indian food (potluck), beading, drumming, discussion, and children's activities. Call 816-421-7608 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
- St. Charles Community College will host a series of events to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, including a luncheon presentation entitled “The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving” on Nov. 7, a lecture and a showing of the film Thunderheart on Nov. 27, and a dance performance by Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company on Nov. 29. All events are free and open to the public and will take place on campus in the Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building, St. Peters. For more information, contact Kelley Pfeiffer at 636-922-8544 or email@example.com.
- Mo Brings Plenty of the Lakota Nation is the featured lecturer at the Kansas City Public Library Southeast Branch, 6242 Swope Parkway, on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 4:30 p.m. The speaker was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He is a gifted musician, actor, model, and devoted spokesperson for the rights of Indian communities. For more information, call 816-701-3484.
- Imagine 18th century Osage village life in what is now a peaceful hilltop spot that once was home to up to 3,000 Native peoples and about 200 lodges. Osage Village State Historic Site, located on Highway C in Walker, Missouri, features a trail and outdoor exhibits that help visitors visualize the former community. Print a site map and walking tour to enhance your time at this state park.
- Take a subterranean adventure! Osage Indians were the first to discover a cavern they called “The Devil’s Den,” which, hundreds of years later, is one of the state’s most visited underground attractions, Marvel Cave.
- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, 4525 Oak Street, features a suite of American Indian galleries honoring the artistic achievement of Native peoples from across North America. Discover pottery, basketry, quill and beadwork, textiles, painting, and sculpture in 6,100 square feet of galleries, among the largest devoted to American Indian art in any comprehensive art museum in the world. For more information, call 816-751-1278.
- Several Missouri State Parks preserve sites of historic importance related to Native American cultures, including Towosahgy State Historic Site in East Prairie, where visitors can view earthen mounds built by Mississippian peoples living in Missouri between 1000 and 1400 C.E.; excavation sites at Iliniwek Village State Historic Site in modern-day Wayland, Missouri, where 8,000 Indians of the Illinois tribe once thrived; and Trail of Tears State Park, in Jackson, Missouri, where, in 1838 and 1839, thousands of Cherokee peoples crossed the Mississippi River in a forced migration from their native lands to the then newly-created Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.