Facts about the Ponca Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Ponca Native
American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions
did the Ponca tribe live, what clothes did they wear
food did they eat? Discover what happened to the
Ponca tribe with facts about their wars and
Picture of the Ponca Native Indian
above picture depicts the eighteen year son of a
Ponca Native Indian called Hongs-kay-dee,
meaning Great Chief who was the son of Chief
Smoke. It was painted in 1832 by the famous
artist George Catlin (1796-1872). The brave is
wearing a blanket robe trimmed with fur and bedecked
with wristbands, necklaces and earrings. An
arrow quiver is carried across his back. The
proud young chief wore striking horizontal
stripe of red face paint and wore a roach
headdress decorated with eagle feathers.
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Ponca
The name, Ponka, was used by other Native Indian
tribes to mean "Head Cutters" which reflected
the Ponca custom, also shared by the Osage and
Omaha tribes, of scalping and then decapitating
their enemies. The many different tribes of the
Great Plains developed sign language in order to
communicate with each other and the sign to
indicate a Ponca indicated this custom. Their
original homelands were in Ohio where they lived
in small longhouse villages and raised crops of
maize, beans and squash. The first
encounters with Europeans were with fur traders.
With the introduction of the horse in the 1750's
they migrated to the Great Plains, in the modern
states of south Dakota and Nebraska, to hunt
buffalo. This complete change of habitat led
their adoption of the nomadic lifestyle of the
Plains Indians. The encroachment of the lands
resulted in the Ponca being forcibly moved to a
reservation in Oklahoma and the tragic story of
Chief Standing Bear.
Where did the Ponca tribe live?
The Ponca are people of the Woodlands and later
the Great Plains Native
American cultural group. The location of their
tribal homelands are shown on the map. The
geography of the region in which they lived
dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Ponca
The American Great Plains
region mainly extended across the
present-day states of Iowa, Kansas,
Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota
and South Dakota.
The Plains Ponca tribe inhabited South Dakota and
Land: Grass covered prairies with streams
Climate: The climate was hot summers and
Animals: The animals included the
Bison (Buffalo), deer, cougars, elk, bear,
beaver, porcupine, antelope, prairie dogs,
eagles and wolves
Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn, beans, sunflower seeds
Fish: Various fish including sturgeon,
crayfish and mussels
What did the Ponca tribe live in?
The Ponca tribe originally lived in small
fortified villages of thatched bark
When the tribe migrated to the Great Plains they
Tepee as a convenient, temporary
shelter for summer hunting trips. They also
built earth lodges, similar to those built by
What language did the Ponca tribe speak?
The Ponca tribe spoke the Dhegihan dialect of
the Siouan language, closely related
linguistically to the Omaha tribe.
What food did the Ponca tribe eat?
The food that the Ponca tribe ate included ate
included fish and meat. Buffalo, deer
(venison), black bear, elk and
wild turkey. Their food was supplemented with wild vegetables
and roots such as spinach, prairie
turnips and potatoes and flavored with wild
herbs. Food in the form of dried buffalo meat
pemmican was stored for use when food was
What weapons did the Ponca use?
The weapons used included bows and arrows,
lances, stone ball clubs, hatchet axes, spears,
and knives. Painted war shields were used when
riding on horseback as a means of defence.
What clothes did the Ponca men wear?
The men of the
tribe included buckskin tunics and leggings or
breechcloths in the warmer weather. Warm buffalo
robes or cloaks were also worn to protect
against the rain and the cold. The men wore
sandals or moccasins, a soft, light beige,
slip-on shoe, consisting of a sole and sides
made of one piece of leather. Roach headdresses
adorned their heads.
What clothes did the Ponca women wear?
women of the tribe wore knee-length dresses and
leggings and buffalo robes during bad weather.
The clothes of both men and women were adorned
with ornaments, especially necklaces, wrist
bands and earrings. As trade with the settlers
increased and trade cloth became available both
the men and women of the tribe wore bright silk
kerchiefs that were either tied or fastened with
a ring or braided holder.