Missouri was once home to a thriving mound-building culture, and at one time St. Louis was nicknamed Mound City. Today, as you enter the city following the track of Route 66, there is no obvious sign of the more than 40 prehistoric mounds that once dotted the landscape. All the mounds except one were razed over time—their soil used for road fill to expand the city limits.
The Osage also have historical claims in the area. They were a nomadic tribe that ranged across Missouri up until the early 1800s before gradually being forced to cede their territory and move to an established reservation in Kansas then to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Osage Nation is one of several tribes that have roots in Missouri. The land was also occupied by the Iowa, Otoe and Missouria tribes—all of whom were also eventually forced onto reservations in Indian Territory.
Sugarloaf Mound, the sole remaining prehistoric mound in St. Louis, is located at 4420 Ohio Street, near HWY 55 (an alternate route to 66 between Chicago and St. Louis). Its unassuming height of approximately 100 feet can be mistaken for a small hill—especially since a modern house sits perched along the side of it.
The property is now owned by the Osage Nation. Although the mound wasn’t built by Osage people, evidence suggests Osage ancestors included a mound building society. For more information on the Osage, visit www.osagenation-nsn.gov
Old Courthouse St. Louis History Galleries
Museum of Westward Expansion Collections
11 North 4th Street
St. Louis, MO 63102
Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies Powwow
Washington University Athletic Complex
330 N. Big Bend Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63130
Missouri and the Missouri River are named after the Missouria Tribe. In the language of the Illinois Indians, Missouria roughly translates to: “One who has dugout canoes.” In their own language, the Missouria called themselves Niuachi, meaning: “People of the river’s mouth.”
In 1804, the Otoe and Missouria tribes were the first in the region encountered by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they explored the lands west of the Mississippi River at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson.
For more information on the Lewis and Clark expedition, visit www.nps.gov/lec