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Omaha (ōˈməhä, –hô) [key], Native Americans whose language belongs to the Siouan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They, with the Ponca, migrated from the Ohio valley to the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers and from there to Iowa. At the mouth of the Niobrara River in Nebraska they separated from the Ponca. The Omaha moved farther up the Missouri River, but after an outbreak (1802) of smallpox, which considerably reduced their population, they moved to NE Nebraska. A typical tribe of the Plains area, they lived in earth lodges in the winter and tepees in the summer. They warred intermittently against the Sioux. In 1854 the Omaha ceded all their lands W of the Missouri River to the United States and moved to Dakota co., Nebr. In 1865 they sold part of their reservation to the United States for the use of the Winnebago. An act of 1882 granted the Omaha the right to own land individually; some continued to live on the Omaha Reservation in NE Nebraska. In 1990 there were over 4,000 Omaha in the United States.

See A. Fletcher, A Study of Omaha Indian Music (1893); A. Fletcher and F. La Flesche, The Omaha Tribe (1907); R. F. Fortune, Omaha Secret Societies (1932).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: North American indigenous peoples

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