Ponca Tribe

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The Ponca Tribe was located in villages along Ponca Creek near the Niobrara River in what is now northeastern Nebraska when they first encountered the European settlers.


1789 -- First contact with Europeans

1817 -- First Treaty with the U.S. government

1825 -- Second Treaty with the U.S. government

1858 -- Third Treaty with the U.S. government

1877 -- Forced Removal to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) of 681 Ponca.

1878 -- Reservation established on Salt Fork River west of the Arkansas River in Indian Territory

1878 -- Chief Standing Bear left the reservation in Indian Territory to take his son's body back to the tribe's traditional grounds for burial. His arrest resulted in a famous trial that recognized Indians as "persons."

The Ponca Tribe signed three treaties with the United States government -- the first in 1817; the second in 1825; and the third in 1858. Each was an attempt to affirm their peaceful intent and to regulate trade in the area in which they lived.

Treaties between the government and other tribes gave the land claimed by the Ponca to the Sioux. As a result, in 1877, the Ponca were forced to remove to Indian Territory, specifically to the Quapaw Reservation. Two groups were removed that year, for a total of just under 700 tribal members. The following year, the Ponca established their own settlement from land on both sides of the Salt Fork River, from the west bank of the Arkansas River. An agency was established on the Salt Fork River, two miles from where it joined with the Arkansas.

In the 1880s, the Ponca split into two -- the Northern Ponca Tribe on the Niobrara River in Nebraska and the Southern Ponca in what is now Oklahoma.

Frederick Webb Hodge, in his Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, gave a more complete history of the Ponca tribe, with estimations of the population of the tribe at various time periods. Additional details are given in John Swanton's The Indian Tribes of North America and in David Bushnell's Villages of the Algonquian, Siouan and Caddoan Tribes West of the Mississippi.

For additional history of the tribe, read more....

Tribal Headquarters

Ponca Nation
20 White Eagle Drive
Ponca City, OK 74601

Tribe phone -- 580-762-9567
Tribe fax -- 580-762-2743


Ponca Agency

Many of the earlier records kept by the Ponca Agency (later the Winnebago Agency) in Nebraska have been transferred to the Kansas City Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Adminstration. Included among the records housed in this facility are copies of the Indian census rolls 1880-1928, family record books 1886-1891, vital statistics records 1885-1906 and 1937-1947, marriage registers, 1900, copies of birth and death certificates 1938-1945, annuity payrolls 1884-1907, and allotment rolls 1869.

Some records for the Ponca are included in the collections of the Pawnee Agency in Oklahoma which are now housed in the Fort Worth Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration. A brief inventory of records available at this facility is available online.

Important Web Sites

The Official Web Site of the Ponca Nation

Ponca Tribe Archives