Omaha Tribal Historical Research Project, Inc. [OTHRP]


Omahas in History


                  Photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Dr. Francis LaFlesche, esq.

anthropologist, author, attorney




Francis La Flesche

Francis La Flesche started out as an informant to the Rev. James O. Dorsey's work on recording the language and culture of the Omaha.  Many of these stories related by La Flesche were published by Dorsey in The ¢egiha language [the speech of the Omaha and Ponka tribes of the Siouan linguistic family of North American Indians]. Series: Contributions to North American ethnology; v.6  Washington: Govt. Print. Off., 1890.

La Flesche went on to become the first Native American Anthropologist co-authoring with Alice C. Fletcher in 1905-06 "The Omaha Tribe" which was printed in 1911 as the the 27th Annual Report by the  Bureau of Ethnology thus establishing a model for all future anthropologists.  Reprints of this report are available today as a two volume set published by Bison Books.

Other works on the Omaha authored by La Flesche include:

Omaha bow and arrow makers, Annual report 1926
Death and funeral customs among the Omaha, NY 1889
The Middle Five, also available in reprint form.





How the Rabbit Caught the Sun in a Trap

Obtained from Frank LaFlesche by Rev. James M. Dorsey

Once upon a time the Rabbit dwelt in a lodge with no one but his grandmother.  And it was his custom to go hunting very early in the morning.  no matter how early in the morning he went, a person with a very long foot had been along, leaving a trail.  And he (the Rabbit) wished to know him.  “Now,” thought he, “I will go in advance of the person.”  Having arisen very early in the morning, he departed.  Again it happened that the person had been along, leaving a trail.  Then he (the Rabbit) went home.  Said he, “Grandmother, though I arrange for myself to go first, a person anticipates me (every time).  Grandmother, I will make a snare, and  will catch him.”

“Why should you do it?” said she.

“I hate the person,” he said.  And the Rabbit departed.  When he went, again had the footprints gone along.  And he lay waiting for night (to come).  And he made a noose of a bow-string, putting it in the place where the footprints used to be seen.  And it came to pass that he reached there very early in the morning for the purpose of looking at his trap.  And it happened that he caught the Sun.  Running very fast, he went homeward to tell it.  Said he, “Grandmother, I have caught something or other, but it scares me.”

“Grandmother I wished to take my bow-string, but I was scared every time,” he said.  He went thither with a knife. And he got very near it.

“You have done wrong.  Why have you done it?  come hither and untie me,” said the Sun.

The Rabbit, although he went thither, was afraid, and kept on passing partly by him (or, continued going by a little to one side).  And making a rush, with his head bent down (and his arm stretched out), he cut the bow-string with the knife.  And the Sun went on high.  And the Rabbit had the hair between his shoulders scorched yellow, it having been hot upon him (as he stooped and cut the bow-string).  (And the Rabbit arrived at home.)

“I am burnt.  O, grandmother! the heat has left nothing of me,” said he. 

She said, “Oh, my grandchild!  I think that the heat has left to me nothing of him!”  (From that time the rabbit has had a singed spot on his back, between the shoulders.)



Photograph courtesy of OTHRP Archives

Francis LaFlesche wearing a buffalo robe.



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RR 1 Box 79A
Walthill, NE 68067

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