The Omaha tribe
began as a larger woodland tribe comprised of both the Omaha and Quapaw. The original tribe inhabited the area near the Ohio and
Wabash rivers, near present-day Cincinnati, Ohio.
As the tribe migrated west it split into what
became the Omaha
tribe and the Quapaw tribes. The Quapaw settled in what is now
and the Omaha
tribe, known as "those going against the wind or current" settled near the
river in what is now northwestern Iowa. Conflict with the
Sioux and the
splitting off of part of the tribe into the Ponca, forced the
Omaha tribe to
retreat to an area around Bow Creek,
Omaha Scouts in 1865
Their territory extended from near
south to Rulo,
Nebraska, and up to 150 miles
west, an area of 35,600,000 acres. They had villages at Homer and
Nebraska and probably several
other locations up and down the river.
Every eight to fifteen years
they moved their village of 50-100 lodges to clean ground and new
hunting areas. In the beginning, it was their custom to build
bark lodges; however, this was replaced with idea of teepees borrowed
from the Sioux and earthen lodges borrowed from their allies, the
The tribe usually wore breech-cloths,
buckskin dress, and moccasins. The men wore their hair in a
scalp-lock, usually having the rest of the hair braided and hanging
down on each side of their head. Polygamy was practiced, but the
maximum number of wives that any one man could have was three. They are also the originators of the picturesque Omaha
dance which soon became common to most of the plains tribes.
were thriving as hunters and farmers when they first encountered white
fur traders around 1750 in the Bellevue area.
Buffalo served as their primary provision, providing food,
clothing, blankets, rope, moccasins, fuel, shelter, and utensils. To supplement their diet, the Omaha also
planted gardens containing, corn, beans, squash and melons.
In 1780, the
tribe had almost 3,000 members but by 1802 they had declined to a mere
300 due to sickness and warfare. The
settled in what is now Dakota County,
Lewis and Clark came
upon them in 1804.