Poncas, a tribe of Indians in Dakota territory, a branch of the Dakota family. They were originally part of the Omahas, and resided on the Red river of the North. Here they were attacked by the Sioux, and, after losing greatly in numbers, emigrated beyond the Missouri, and built a fortified village on Ponca river. They united for a time with the Omahas, but have generally kept apart. Their constant pursuit by the Sioux kept them wandering and reduced them to a very wretched condition. At the beginning of this century their numbers were very small, but after the coming of Lewis and Clarke, and the treaties of June 28,1817, and June 9, 1825, they rallied rapidly. In 1822 they were estimated at 750, and this has since been their average population. Then a large majority were women, the men having been cut off during the long hunts on which they mainly depended. They claimed the land from Iowa creek to White Earth river. On March 12, 1858, they sold their lands to government and went on a reservation near the Yanktons. The compensation, in instalments, was to be $185,000, with the support of a school and agricultural aid. But their crops failed, and they were killed by Sioux parties and even by soldiers.
A new treaty, March 10, 1865, gave them a reservation of 576,000 acres of bottom lands, near the junction of the Missouri and Niobrara, where they formed three villages. They had no arms for hunting or defence; there was no game on the reservation, and agriculture, from floods and locusts, had been frequently a failure. In the distri^-bution of agencies the Poncas were assigned to the Protestant Episcopal church. Soldiers were sent in 1874 to protect them. They then numbered 730, 132 being half-breeds.