Arikara (ərĭkˈərə) [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Caddoan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Archaeological evidence shows that they occupied the banks of the upper Missouri River since at least the 14th cent. A semisedentary group, they lived in earth-covered lodges. In winter they hunted buffalo, returning to their villages for spring planting; the Arikara were influential in bringing agricultural knowledge from the Southwest to the prehistoric peoples of the upper Missouri River. They traded corn with hunting tribes in return for buffalo hides and meat, and they were active in bartering with early white traders, who frequently called them the Rees. They were closely associated with the Mandan and the Hidatsa; these three tribes now share the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. There were some 1,600 Arikara in the United States in 1990.
See D. J. Lehmer, Arikara Archaeology (1968); E. T. Denig, Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri (1975).