Omaha Tribe of Nebraska

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 368
Macy, NE 68039

Contact Information

402-837-4443

Website

http://tero.omahatribe.com/

Casino(s)

Cultural History

The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska used to be a larger tribe composed of two tribes, the Omaha and the Quapaw Tribes. The tribe used to live in the area which is near the Ohio and the Wabash rivers. This was during the sixteenth century when these two tribes were still considered to be one large tribe. The tribe then migrated to the west and it was during the migration that they split into the Omaha tribe and the Quapaw Tribe of today. The Quapaw tribe then settled into an area now known as the Arkansas while the other tribe, the Omaha, also known as the U-Mo'n-Ho'n which means upstream, settled in an area near the Missouri River. Their former settlement is now popularly known as the Northwestern Iowa. It was European Pierre Charles le Suer who first recorded his contact with the tribe during the seventeenth century. His journal described the Omaha village as a village with almost four hundred dwellings and has a population of not less than four thousand. The village of the tribe was said to be located in along the areas near the Big Sioux River near the its confluence along with the Missouri River near the Sioux City in Iowa. The river was once known as the "River of the Mahas." French Guillaume Delisle labeled the tribe as "The Maha, a wandering nation" whose communities were located along the northern extension of the Missouri River. Soon enough, more and more French became fur traders, and organized contacts with the tribe. 

It was during an epidemic which was brought upon by the Europeans when the tribe’s population declined. The epidemic killed almost two thirds of the tribal members leaving the tribe to an all time low population. One of their most important social figures, Chief Blackbird dies the same year because of the epidemic. It would be noted that Blackbird was the first one who introduced trading with the French and the Spanish.

The territories of the tribe were soon diminished by treaties. The Treaty of the Prairie du Chien signed in 1830 took away the claims of Omaha to their lands located in Iowa, in the east of the Missouri River. Despite the ceding of the land, the tribe was still given their hunting rights in the areas.

The Omahas' culture relied mainly on their belief that there should be an inseparable union between the sky and the earth. Their houses were built as earth lodges using ingenious structures ans timber frame as well as a thick soil covering. The center of their fireplace was an important aspect in their homes, as it is the place where they recall the creation myth.

As of the 2000 Census data, there are 5,194 tribal members residing in the Omaha Indian Reservation. They speak the Siouan language which most linguists say, is very similar to that of the Ponca who used to be a part of the Omaha tribe prior to their separation in the middle of the eighteenth century. They are currently engaged in business ventures such as farming, gaming and education.

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