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How do you pronounce the word "Otoe"? What does it mean?

It's pronounced "oh-toh." It is probably a shortened version of a place name or band name in their own language.

Where do the Otoes live?

The Otoe Indians are original people of Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa. The Otoe tribe was forced to move to a reservation in Oklahoma during the 1800's, and most Otoe people are still living in Oklahoma today.

What language do the Otoe Indians speak?

The Otoe people speak English today. In the past they spoke their native Chiwere language, which they shared with the neighboring Ioway and Missouri tribes. If you'd like to know an easy Otoe word, "aho" (pronounced ah-hoe) is a friendly greeting used by men and boys, and "aha" (pronounced ah-hah) is a greeting used by women and girls.

How do Otoe Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?

They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Otoe children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play. Older boys also liked to play lacrosse.

An Otoe mother traditionally carried a young child in a cradleboard on her back--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were men and women's roles in the Otoe tribe?

Otoe men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Otoe women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking. Only men became Otoe chiefs, but both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.

What were Otoe homes like in the past?

During the fall and winter, the Otoe Indians lived in settled villages of round earthen lodges. Otoe lodges were made from wooden frames covered with packed earth. During the spring and summer, the Otoes moved from camp to camp as they followed the buffalo herds. During those times, the Otoes lived in buffalo-hide tents called tipis (or teepees). Tipis were carefully designed to set up and break down quickly. An entire Otoe village could be packed up and ready to move within an hour.

What was Otoe clothing like? Did the Otoes wear feather headdresses and face paint?

Otoe women wore deerskin skirts and poncho-like blouses. Otoe men wore breechcloths with leather leggings. The Otoes wore moccasins on their feet, and in cold weather, they wore long buffalo-hide robes.

Otoe Indian men didn't traditionally wear long warbonnets like the Sioux. They often wore otter-skin turbans instead. Otoe warriors usually wore their hair in the Mohawk style or shaved their heads completely except for a scalplock (one long lock of hair on the back of their heads).

Sometimes they added a porcupine roach to make this hairstyle more impressive. Otoe women wore their hair either loose or braided. Both men and women wore tribal tattoos and also painted their faces for special occasions.

What was Otoe transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?

Otoe Indians didn't live near the ocean, and when they went fishing, they usually fished from shore. When they traveled over land, the Otoes used dogs pulling travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.

What was Otoe food like in the days before supermarkets?

The Otoe Indians were big game hunters. During the spring and summer, the Otoe tribe followed the buffalo herds, and their diet consisted mostly of meat. In the fall, the Otoes returned to their villages to harvest corn, beans and squash. In the winter, they ate dried food, hunted small game, and fished in the rivers.

What were Otoe weapons and tools like in the past?

Otoe hunters used bows and arrows. Fishermen used fishing spears and basket traps. In war, Otoe men fired their bows or fought with war clubs and hide shields.

What are Otoe arts and crafts like?

Otoe artists are famous for their wood carving, beadwork, and parfleche (decorated rawhide containers.) Here are some photographs of Ioway-Otoe beadwork.

What kinds of stories do the Otoes tell?

There are lots of traditional Otoe legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Otoe Indian culture. Here is the sage of two mythical Iowa-Otoe brothers. It is very long, but perhaps your class might like to read just the first section.