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ETHNONYMS: Pandani, Panimaha, Ree, Ricari, Ricaree, Sanish, Starrahhe

The Arikara are a group of Caddoan-speaking American Indians who in historic times lived along the Missouri River in northern South Dakota and west-central North Dakota. The Arikara are culturally related to the Pawnee. They are believed to have originated in the Southeast and migrated north along the Missouri River before reaching the Dakotas sometime around 1770. At that time they numbered between three thousand and four thousand people. In 1837 the Arikara were severely affected by a smallpox epidemic, and in 1862, their numbers much reduced, they joined the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes. In about 1870 all three groups were settled on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. In the 1980s they numbered about one thousand.

The Arikara were primarily an agricultural people living in permanent villages of semisubterranean earth lodges located on bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. They cultivated maize, beans, squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers and also hunted bison, deer, and antelope and gathered wild foods. Politically, the Arikara were organized into a loose Confederacy of villages led by a head chief assisted by a tribal council of village chiefs. Religious life and ceremonies centered around the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of maize, the principal food resource.

See also Hidatsa; Mandan


Abel, Annie Heloise, ed. (1939). Tabeau's Narrative of Loi-sel's Expedition to the Upper Missouri. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Macgowan, E. S. (1942). "The Arikara Indians." Minnesota Archaeologist 8:83-122.

Meyer, Roy W. (1977). The Village Indians of the Upper Missouri: The Mandans, Hidatsas, and Ankaras. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

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Arikara (ərĬk´ərə), Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Caddoan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Archaeological evidence shows that they occupied the banks of the upper Missouri River since at least the 14th cent. A semisedentary group, they lived in earth-covered lodges. In winter they hunted buffalo, returning to their villages for spring planting; the Arikara were influential in bringing agricultural knowledge from the Southwest to the prehistoric peoples of the upper Missouri River. They traded corn with hunting tribes in return for buffalo hides and meat, and they were active in bartering with early white traders, who frequently called them the Rees. They were closely associated with the Mandan and the Hidatsa; these three tribes now share the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. There were some 1,600 Arikara in the United States in 1990.

See D. J. Lehmer, Arikara Archaeology (1968); E. T. Denig, Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri (1975).

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Pawnee Caddoan-speaking tribe of Native North Americans. They are related to the Arikara, who once occupied the Central Platte and Republican River areas in Nebraska. In the mid-1990s, some 1,500 lived on reservations in Oklahoma.

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