Home Forum Resources Shop Journey Log Back to map


Lewis and Clark
SHOWING RECORD: 16 of 19   Omaha Indians
PreviousNextJournals and Maps
image: Omaha Indians
Photograph by Werner Forman/Corbis
Omaha Indians

First Noted by Expedition
September 26, 1804

Lewis and Clark passed by the empty Omaha village of Tonwantonga on August 12, 1804. During the 1790s the settlement had housed more than 1,000 Omaha, led by Chief Blackbird. An outbreak of smallpox in 1800-01 reduced them to about 300 people. At the time the Corps passed through, the remaining tribe members were buffalo hunting on the plains.

Lewis wanted to form a council of the Oto-Missouri and their enemy the Omaha to secure peace in the region. Although the absent Omaha couldn't be located in time for the August 18 council, he did learn from the Oto that the current dispute centered on horse stealing and the deaths of two Missouri which followed.

The only encounter with Omaha Indians that Lewis and Clark had was in late September 1804, when Clark saw 48 Omaha prisoners who had been captured in a battle with the Teton Sioux two weeks earlier. The Omaha lived in what is now northeastern Nebraska, where the Niobara River flows into the Missouri; their Sioux enemies lived to the north and west.

Today the tribe is concentrated on a reservation in Nebraska.

From the Expedition Journals

"The ravages of the Small Pox (which swept off 400 men & Womin & children in perpopotion) has reduced this nation not exceeding 300 men. ..."

Subscribe Online
Your subscriptions help National Geographic conservation efforts worldwide >>

Missouri Milkvetch
Silvery Buffaloberry
Slimflower Scurfpea
Omaha Indians
Teton Sioux Indians
Missouri River
Spirit Mound