Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma
The name "Quapaw" is a derivative of the tribal term Ugakhpa, meaning "downstream people." It is believed the Quapaw were part of a larger group known as the Dhegiha Sioux that split into the tribes known today as the Quapaw, Osage, Ponca, Kansa and Omaha. Originally they all resided in the Ohio River downstream to the Mississippi River, eventually reaching what is now Arkansas.
In the mid 1600s, the French explorers Marquette and Joliet were traveling down the Mississippi using Illini Indians as their guides. The guides referred to the Quapaw tribe as "Akansea," which later became the word Arkansas. The downstream people settled where the Arkansas River met the Mississippi, organizing into four villages and this is where the Quapaw stayed until they were pushed out by Euro-Americans several hundred years later.
Like many other American Indian tribes, the Quapaw experienced a severe population decline due to European diseases. In the late 1600s, it's estimated there were more than 5,000 Quapaw, but over a period of 80 years, their population dropped to 700. Sadly, due to the massive decline in population, much of early Quapaw history and lore, which was passed on orally, died with its storytellers.
The French were the first Europeans to contact the Quapaw, and the tribe allied itself with the French in exchange for weapons. The Quapaw were faithful to their French allies in the tumultuous century that followed when major Europeans powers were vying for control of the continent. In 1803, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States and in ensuing years, like other tribes, the Quapaw signed multiple treaties with the U.S. government only to see the U.S. continue demanding more Quapaw land.
In 1833, a final treaty provided for a reservation in the far northeastern corner of Indian Territory. Due to astute work by Quapaw Tribal Secretary, Abner W. Abrams, the tribe managed allotment in such a way that no Quapaw lands were open to white settlers. Today the Quapaw celebrate and preserve their heritage and history with the Quapaw Tribal Museum and the Quapaw Tribal Library.