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The Otoe-Missouria

The bear, the eagle, the beaver, the bison, the deer, the owl and the pigeon are the clan totems of the Otoe-Missouria of Oklahoma. These symbols comprise the basis of the seal of the tribe that is found at the center of their white tribal flag.

These seven creatures ring a prayer feather which lies in the center of the Otoe- Missouria seal. All appear in natural colors upon the seal and flag. Ringing the totems is a serrateded band of inner yellow triangles and outer red triangles. Beyond this in black lettering is the wording "Seal of the Otoe Missouria Tribe". The wording is highlighted by thin black lines forming the outer edge of the seal and running behind the words. At the top of the seal are a pair of feather decorations similar to those worn as warrior headdresses. The entire seal was designed by a member of the tribe, but it is not known whether or not the flag was adopted via resolution. It has, however become the de facto flag and seal of the Otoe-Missouria through common usage.

The Otoe-Missouria were once part of a greater nation that comprised what is now the Ho-chunk (Winnebago), the Iowas, and the two current tribal entities, the Otoe and the Missouria. As the ancient great tribe was forced ever further south and west from their original homes around the Great Lakes, they broke apart, slowly forming the current nations. By the time of the white man's appearance, the four distinct nations were in existence.

The final split occurred while the people dwelt along the banks of the Missouri River. It was here that the Otoe separated from the Missouria after a quarrel between the chiefs of the combined tribes. The son of the chief of what would become the Otoe supposedly seduced the daughter of the other. Because of the son's actions, the tribe that was driven away became known as the Otoe or lechers (ENAT, 172). Those that remained became the Missouria or the "people with dugout canoes" (ENAT, 136).

In 1829, the Missouria, after having been repeatedly attacked by nearby tribes, especially the Osage, rejoined with their relatives, the Otoe forming the Otoe-Missouria of today (ibid.). The 1,250 members of the modern Otoe-Missouria (REAI, 11) are currently based in Red Rock, Oklahoma.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603