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Arikara Indians. Signifying “horns,” or “elk,” and having reference to their ancient manner of wearing the hair with two pieces of bone standing up, one on each side of the crest; -ra is the plural suffix. Also called:
Arikara Connections. The Arikara belonged to the Caddoan linguistic stock and were a comparatively recent offshoot of the Skidi Pawnee.
Arikara Location. In historic times they have occupied various points on the Missouri River between Cheyenne River, South Dakota, and Fort Berthold, North Dakota. (See also Montana and Nebraska.)
The Arikara are sometimes spoken of as a confederacy of smaller tribes each occupying its own village, and one account mentions 10 of these, while Gilmore (1927) furnishes the names of 12, including 4 of major importance under which the others were grouped. These were as follows:
Earlier sources give other names which do not agree with these:
After parting from the Skidi in what is now Nebraska, the Arikara gradually pushed north to the Missouri River and on up that stream. In 1770 when French traders opened relations with them they were a little below Cheyenne River. Lesser and Weltfish (1932) suggest that they may have been the Harahey or Arahey of whom Coronado was told rather than the Pawnee. Lewis and Clark found them, reduced considerably in numbers, between Grand and Cannonball Rivers. In 1823 they attacked the boats of an American trader, killing 13 men and wounding others, and in consequence of this trouble they abandoned their country and went to live with the Skidi on Loup River. Two years later they returned to the Missouri, and by 1851 they had pushed as far north as Heart River. Meantime wars with the Dakota and the smallpox had reduced them so much that they were glad to open friendly relations with two other tribes, similarly reduced, the Hidatsa and Mandan. In 1862 they moved to Fort Berthold. In 1880 the Fort Berthold Reservation was created for the three tribes, and the Arikara have ever since lived upon it, though they are now allotted land in severalty, and on the approval of the allotments, July 10, 1900, they became citizens of the United States.
Arikara Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that in 1780 there were about 3,000 Arikara. In 1804 Lewis and Clark gave 2,600. In 1871 they numbered 1,650; in 1888 only 500; and in 1904, 380. The census of 1910 returned 444 of whom 425 were in North Dakota. In 1923 the United States Indian Office gave 426. The census of 1930 returned 420, and the United States Indian Office in 1937, 616.
Connection in which the Arikara have become noted. The Arikara are noted merely as the most northerly of the Caddoan tribes and from their probable influence in introducing a knowledge of agriculture to the people of the upper Missouri. Arickaree in Washington County, Colo., perpetuates the name.
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