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Omaha Indians in Nebraska

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Omaha Indian at Work
Omaha Indian at work in his shop.

The Omaha tribe of Indians live in the State of Nebraska about 80 miles north of the city of Omaha, on a reservation 12 miles in length north and south, and bounded on the east by the Missouri River and on the west by the Sioux City and Omaha Railroad. Of the various tribes living in Nebraska when the white settlers first entered the Territory the Omaha are the only Indians remaining upon their ancient home lands. In the absence of any written records it is almost impossible to fix dates, but it seems probable that the Omaha have dwelt near their present location for the past two centuries or more. Their traditions point to an earlier home in the Ohio valley, whence they were driven by wars: slowly migrating across the Mississippi River, up the Des Moines and its tributaries to their headwaters, thence westward until the Missouri was reached. Crossing this river, the people gradually made their way south to their present place of residence.

The Omaha belong to the same linguistic family as the Ponca, Osages, Kansas, Otoe, Dakotas, Mandan, Winnebago, and many other tribes. While some of these cognate tribes can understand each other’s speech, as is the case with the Omaha, Ponca, Quapaw, and Osages, others when they meet are unable to make themselves intelligible to one another, as in the instance of an Omaha meeting a Dakota or Winnebago or Mandan. During the long period which has elapsed since these tribes were united to one another or to a parent stock, their various languages have undergone great modifications and change, so that at the present time it requires the skill of the linguistic student to discern the relationship between the peoples speaking these different tongues.

Omaha Indians in Nebraska

 


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