Origin of Tribal Name

The Downstream People

Many generations ago, the Quapaw were a division of a larger group known today as the Dhegiha. The Dhegiha split into the tribes known as the Quapaw, Osage, Northern Ponca, Ponca, Kansa, and Omaha today. Oral history describes this group lived together near the confluence of the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, which would be near modern-day Evansville, IN. Later they would live along the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, near modern-day St. Louis. Tribal history indicates that near this location the people were moving, they came upon the river, and a dense fog had arisen. The people created a rope by braiding a grapevine and while crossing the river, the vine snapped.

 The Omaha people continued against the current, which is the origin of their name. The Quapaw believe our people were at the end of the rope and we floated down the river after the rope broke, separating our people from the group. The Quapaw moved down the Mississippi River into Arkansas, this is the origin of the word Ogaxpa, which can be translated as "downstream people".

Listen to Quapaw Tribal audio.

Language Comparison for the Quapaw Name in Quapaw & Related Languages

Dhegiha Language Family Comparison

  • o-ka-xpa (okáxpa) - Quapaw, people who went downstream, Quapaw gens (clan) of the same tribe, Dwelt on right side of tribal circle (RR-Quapaw)
  • u-ga-xpa (ugaxpa) - Quapaw Tribe (Omaha)
  • u-ga-xpa ga-xa (u-gá-xpa ga-xa) - Quapaw Creek, Okla (FL-Osage)
  • o-ka-xpa (okáxpa) - Quapaw Indians (CQ-Osage)
  • o-ga-xpa (ogáxpa) - Quapaw tribe or people, The down-stream people, so called because their ancestors went down the Mississippi, while the Omahas, Ponca, Osages, and Kansa, went up that stream, after leaving the mouth of the Ohio (River). The Ogáxpa or Kwapas have been called Shappas, Shapahas, Kapahas, Quappas, Quapaws, etc. They were also known in early colonial days as the Akansa or Arkansa (Kanza)

  • o-ka-xpa-de (okáxpade) - knock off, cause to fall off (RR-Quapaw)
  • u-ga-xpa-the (u-gá-xpa-the) - to be thrown from a horse (FL-Osage)
  • o-ka-xpa (okáxpa) - throw off suddenly severing or moving something or someone from something (CQ-Osage)
  • o-ga-xpa-ye (ogáxpaye) - knock somebody off from a height, as from a horse, perch, etc. (Kanza)

  • o-ki-xpa-de (okíxpade) - lose something (RR-Quapaw)
  • u-xpa-the-the (uxpathe the) - lose (Omaha)
  • u-xpa-the (u-xpá-the) - lost (FL-Osage)
  • o-xpa-the (oxpáðe) - lose something specific or someone specific, get lost, become lost, be lost, fall from a height (CQ-Osage)
  • o-xpa-the (óxpaðe) - lose things, lose stuff (CQ-Osage)
  • o-xpa-the-the (oxpáðeðe) - cause to be lost (CQ-Osage)
  • o-xpa-ye (oxpáye) - fall from a height, fall off, get lost, become lost (Kanza)
  • o-gu-xpa-ye (ogúxpaye) - lose something for someone (Kanza)


  • Language comparison by Billy Proctor, Quapaw Tribal Member