The Omaha live mostly in and around the northeastern Nebraska town of Macy on a portion of their aboriginal lands retained under an 1854 treaty. Their language is in the Dhegiha branch of the Siouan language family, which also includes the Osage, Ponca, Kansa and Quapaw. Prereservation Omaha relied mainly on maize, beans, and squash as well as hunting and gathering. Having lost most of their land, they have mostly shifted to wage labor. They have continued to be significant participants in local development and identity politics through casino gaming, negotiations over the repatriation of human remains and grave goods, and the maintenance of cultural heritages.
Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.
North America --Plains and Plateau
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Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.
The documents in the Omaha collection (NQ21) cover a variety of cultural, historical and environmental information on different sections of Omaha society from pre-contact times to early 2000s.
The work of Alice Fletcher, an anthropologist who lived with the Omaha for thirty years in 1875-1905, and Francis La Flesche, a native Omaha, is the basic and most comprehensive document in the collection (LaFlesche and Flesche 1911, no. 3). The collection also includes two works by a missionary/anthropologist, James Dorsey, who worked among the Omaha in 1878-1980 (Dorsey 1984, no. 2; 1896, no. 4). Together, these works provide the earliest systematic attempts at understanding and reconstructing pre-reservation Omaha society and culture.
The remaining documents describe and examine more specific aspects of Omaha culture including acculturation with particular reference to women (Mead 1952, no. 3), religious life and organization of secret societies (Fortune 1932, no. 5), and recent dynamics of ethnicity and identity especially among current generation Omaha peoples in Nebraska (Riddington 1997, no. 35). One of the documents is a short review of Omaha culture and history originally published as a chapter in the Handbook of North American Indians (Liberty, Wood and Irwin 2001, no. 34).
For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document. For information on the culturally related Osage, see the Osage (NQ22) collection in eHRAF World Cultures.
Buffalo police – Use POLICE ( 625)
Council of seven chiefs –the executive governing body of Omaha society– Use COUNCILS ( 623) with CABINET ( 645)
Gentes – Use SIBS ( 614)
Sacred pole – Use SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES ( 778)
Sacred tent – Use SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES ( 778)
Scouts – Use AUXILIARY CORPS ( 708) with MILITARY ORGANIZATION ( 701)
Sub-gentes and sections – Use LINEAGES ( 613) with COMMUNITY STRUCTURE ( 621)
Treaties with the USA government – Use INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ( 648)
Wakónda –invisible life force– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776)
War Chief – Use MILITARY ORGANIZATION ( 701) with LOCAL OFFICIALS ( 624)
Wawan – Use PEACEMAKING ( 728) with INTER ETHNIC RELATIONS ( 629)