(redirected from Poncas)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Siouan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
..... Click the link for more information.
). According to tradition the group lived in the Ohio valley but migrated to the mouth of the Osage River. There the Ponca and the Omaha separated from the main Siouan group and went to SW Minnesota. War with the Sioux forced the Ponca to flee to the Black Hills, in South Dakota. The Ponca subsequently rejoined their allies and moved to the mouth of the Niobrara River, in Nebraska. The Ponca remained there, but the other groups moved on. Lewis and Clark met them in 1804 when the Ponca, recovering from a smallpox epidemic, numbered only some 200. The Ponca's culture was of the Plains area; they farmed corn and hunted buffalo. Raids by the Sioux forced the Ponca to migrate to Oklahoma in 1877. A commission appointed (1880) by President Rutherford B. Hayes studied the land claims of the Ponca; as a result most of them remained in Oklahoma, while a group numbering some 200 returned to their former home in Nebraska. In 1990 there were about 2,800 Ponca in the United States.


See J. H. Howard, The Ponca Tribe (1965); J. Jablow, Ethnohistory of the Ponca (1974).

References in periodicals archive ?
John Bourke, later wrote that the Poncas were "molesting nobody, and subsisting on charity.
For several weeks the Poncas recuperated in the company of their kinfolk, before embarking on the last leg of their journey home.
Shortly before Crook was to seize the Poncas and return them to Indian Territory, he received a visit from Bright Eyes and Reverend J.
The strategy settled on by the team was to file a Habeas Corpus petition against General Crook, the official who held the Poncas in custody.
Lambertson was also surprised to discover that the defendant, General Crook, was a hostile witness, as were several of Crook's subordinates who had carried out the Interior Department's orders by arresting the Poncas.
He also ruled that General Sherman, who had issued the order to General Crook, had acted unconstitutionally by taking the Poncas into military custody, rather than remanding them to civilian authorities, where they would have been able to challenge the charges against them in a court of law.
Due in large measure to Crook's efforts, Congress enacted a bill in 1881 permitting the Poncas to return to their homeland and offering modest compensation for their sufferings.
Carl Schurz, formerly a Communist revolutionary in Germany, the primary architect of the Indian reservation system, and the Poncas' unrepentant tormentor, was assigned--as his final duty as Interior Secretary--to supervise the return to the Poncas of lands taken from them by the federal government and reassigned to the Sioux.
The most unbearable indignity came when his only son was numbered among the Ponca children forcibly wrested from their families and sent to an Indian boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Nearly everybody who knew Big Snake referred to the kind-tempered Ponca chief as a gentle giant.