Last modified: 2017-08-23 by rick wyatt
Keywords: omaha | nebraska | iowa | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 20 January 2008
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Omaha - Nebraska & Iowa
Just as the modern city of Omaha, which is named for the Tribe, acts as a sort of transition to the Great Plains, the former lifestyle of the Omaha bridged the worlds of the sedentary and the wandering Tribes located west of the Missouri River. The Omaha lived in permanent homes, in permanent villages, and maintained a farming culture. But, each year when the season of the great buffalo migration occurred, they would pack up and follow the herds. During the buffalo season the Omaha used tepees and existed like the Tribes of the Great Plains such as the Sioux and Cheyenne.
The Omaha are closely related to the Ponca and were at one times neighbors separated by the Niobrara River in Nebraska (ENAT, 167-168). The association with rivers was important in the delineation of tribal boundaries. They acted as natural, easily recognizable markers that separated the lands of one Tribe from that of another. The significance of river boundaries is evident in the Tribe's name. Omaha, or more properly, "Umonhon" means "Those who go against the current".
Today the Omaha possess a reservation in northeast Nebraska, some seventy miles north of the city that bears their name. A small portion of the reserve reaches into western Iowa, thus the official name. The current tribal enrollment is around 6,000 people.
The native tongue of the Omaha is the Omaha-Ponca dialect of Dhegeli, a Siouan language. Dhegeli features prominently on the flag of the Omaha people.
© Donald Healy 2008
That flag uses a silver-gray background with a narrow black stripe running across the base. Upon the black stripe is the translation of the OmahA NAME - "Against the Current" in white letters. Along both the inner and outer edges of
the flag, tilted ninety degrees, is the phrase "Heritage for Peace". This phrase, appearing in black letters runs from the bottom to the top along the left side and from top to bottom along the right side. Across the top, in large black letters appears "Omaha Tribe" while in smaller lettering directly underneath is "of Nebraska & Iowa".
The center of the bears an Omaha headdress in black and facing toward the left. This is surrounded by a wide red ring from which emanates eight rays, four each to the left and right. A narrow black band separates this ring from the central circle that bears the headdress. The red ring bears seven words in the Dhelegi dialect, starting from the center left: "InKECABE", "THAIDA', "KOnCE", "MOnTHInKAGAXE" and working downward: "HOnGA", "InTACUNDA" and "TAPA". No explanation or translation for these seven words has been found. Between the upper four words and the central device appears the phrase "Umoniha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa". All lettering on the red ring appears in white.
[Thanks to the staff at the Crazy Horse monument in South Dakota for providing a photo of the Omaha Nation flag.]
© Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 20 January 2008