Ponca Tribe

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Various Spellings: Ponca Tribe, Ponca, Poncar, Poncarar

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.

The Ponca Tribe today is primarily associated with the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma[1].


Brief Timeline

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."
1966-- Ponca Tribe of Nebraska terminated, Tribal membership 442, Tribal land (Acres) 838

Brief History

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.


The Poncas were historically associated with two reservations -- the Ponca Reservation in Nebraska and the Ponca Reservation in Oklahoma.

Additional References to the History of the Tribe

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 Tribe of Nebraska

Ponca Nation
20 White Eagle Drive
Ponca City, OK 74601

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



  • 1817 June 17, 
  • 1825 June 9, Poncar Village,  
  • 1858 March 12, Washington D.C., reservation, annuities 
  • 1865  March 10, Washington D.C. 

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.

Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs from the Ponca Agency, 1859-1880

Copies of Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs from the Ponca Agency for the years 1859-1880 are included in Microcopy 234 of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Rolls 670-677. Copies of those rolls are also available at the Family History Library (their microfilm numbers 1661400 - 1661407).

Annual Census Rolls, 1885-1939

Census records for the Ponca Tribe in Nebraska are included in the rolls for the Santee Agency, 1888-1917, the Yankton Agency, 1918-1931, and the Winnebago Agency, 1934-1939.

Census records for the Ponca Tribe in Oklahoma are included in the rolls for the Ponca Agency, 1886-1927 and the Pawnee Agency, 1920-1939.

Reports of Field Offices

Copies of the Reports of Inspection of the Ponca Agency, 1874-1880 and of the Ponca, Pawnee, and Otoe Agency, 1881-1900, are included in Microcopy M1070 of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Rolls 37-39. A copy of that roll is also available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (their microfilm number 1617710 thru 1671712)

Important Web Sites


  1. Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 134, 12 July 2002 Available online


  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published