Indigenous Missourians: Ancient Societies to the Present by Greg Olson
The history of Indigenous people in present-day Missouri is far more nuanced, complex, and vibrant than the often-told tragic stories of conflict with white settlers and forced Indian removal would lead us to believe. In this path-breaking narrative, Greg Olson presents the Show Me State’s Indigenous past as one spanning twelve millennia of Native presence, resilience, and evolution. While previous Missouri histories have tended to include Indigenous people only during periods when they constituted a threat to the state’s white settlement, Olson shows us the continuous presence of Native people that includes the present day.
Beginning thousands of years before the state of Missouri existed, Olson recounts how centuries of inventiveness and adaptability enabled Native people to create innovations in pottery, agriculture, architecture, weaponry, and intertribal diplomacy. Olson also shows how the resilience of Indigenous people like the Osages allowed them to thrive as fur traders, even as settler colonialists waged an all-out policy of cultural genocide against them.
Though the state of Missouri claimed to have forced Indigenous people from its borders after the 1830s, Olson uses U.S. Census records and government rolls from the allotment period to show that thousands remained. In the end, he argues that, with a current population of 27,000 Indigenous people, Missouri remains very much a part of Indian Country, and that Indigenous history is Missouri history.
About the Author
Greg Olson served as the Curator of Exhibits and Special Projects at the Missouri State Archives from 2000–2018 and is the author of six books, including: The Ioway in Missouri; Voodoo Priests, Noble Savages, and Ozark Gypsies: The Life of Folklorist Mary Alicia Owen; and Ioway Life: Reservation and Reform, 1837–1860.
Published by University of Missouri Press, 2023. Hardcover, 448 pages.