Omaha Decorative Bag


                                  Photograph courtesy OTHRP Archives

Omaha Girl with Baby


Umonhon Historical Timeline:


1800 First Smallpox epidemic. Blackbird died from smallpox.  He was buried, tradition tells, by his own request that his remains were interred on the hill in a sitting position, facing the river, and his horse, a splendid animal, was entombed alive with his master.  The chief on his death-bed: "Let my spirit rest in peace on the highest hill of the Missouri River, [so that] his friends the white man may see him and greet then with pleasant smiles, and welcome then to my children, and my land of beautiful forests and prairies of peace and plenty."   On October 1, by the secret treaty of San il defefonso, Napoleon secured Louisiana from Spain.  The territory ceded was to be the same which Spain had received from France 37 years earlier.  Jacques Clamorgan obtained exclusive trading privileges with the Omahas and the Poncas.

1801 Francois Marie Perrin du Lac [a young French writer] came to the United States in 1801 with a particular desire to visit the upper Missouri and its Indians.  He visited the Mahas and the Poncas, Perrin du Lac and ten other [one perhaps Truteau] traders continued as far up the Missouri as the White River.

1802  Lewis and Clark expedition with 45 men in a 55-foot keelboat and two pirogues.  Lewis and Clark found the Omaha village on Omaha Creek abandoned because the Omaha were on their annual summer buffalo hunt.  The smallpox epidemic of 1800 and the devastation it had caused among the tribes were noted.  The "big village" was abandoned about this time because of the epidemic.

1803 Second Smallpox epidemic.

1804 July: Pierre Dorion (1740-1810) joined the Lewis and Clark expedition as an interpreter.  August 29, Pierre Dorion Metis (1780/82-1814) and a large band of Yankton (70 men and boys) including Sergeant Pryor meet the Lewis and Clark expedition on the Missouri just above the mouth of the James River.  Pierre's father was with the Lewis and Clark expedition at this time.

1805 Francois Marie Perrin du Lac's Voyages dans les Deux Louisianes was published in Paris in 1805.  Pierre Dorion (1740-1810) of the Lewis and Clark expedition as an interpreter is sent back to St. Louis with chiefs of the Yankton, Omaha, Otoe and Missouri Tribes.

1806 The Lewis and Clark expedition shot a Montana Peigan man in the back claiming he attempted to steal a gun.  As a result no whiteman was allowed in the Peigan Territory.

1812-14 War of 1812 against England lasting two and a half years officially ending with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. Governor William Clark wrote the Secretary of War on September 18:  "The British are making great exertions to gain over the Osage, Kunzio, Otoes, and Sioux of the Missouri which I am trying to prevent." Clark had appointed Manuel Lisa subagent for the nations living on the Missouri about the mouth of the Kansas.  Manuel Lisa has been of great service in preventing British influences the last year [1814] by sending large parties [of Indians] to war against each other or against tribes allied with the British. Manuel Lisa's Indian harassments [British influenced] evidently forced an end to the Missouri Fur Company's upper river activities in the late winter of 1812-13.  Arikaras, Cheyennes, Gros Ventre, Crows, and Arapahoes were arrayed on the side of the British who were inciting them to war against the Americans. 

1815 Portages Des Sioux Treaty, "Friendship and Protection" with and under U.S.

1820 Second Treaty, ceded most of Iowa

1821 Omaha chiefs and other Indians were escorted East in the late fall by agent Benjamin O'Fallon.  Arrived in Washington on November 29.  They were entertained at the White House by President Monroe and artist Charles Bird King. Onípontongaís speech came out of this meeting.  Sioux War Count Hides: Used up the Omaha

1823 Duke Paul Welhelm visited the village.  The pressure from surrounding tribes, and especially the Sioux made the position of the Omaha precarious creating the need to participate in the fur trade, increasing pressure from land-hungry Americans and the need for U.S. government protection.

1825 Fort Atkinson Treaty, ceded Iowa.  October 6 the Mahas met at Council Bluffs [Iowa] to sign treaties.

1828 Delegations from Omaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Republic, Iowa, Sac, Kansa were called together by agent John Dougherty.  Met in Council at cantonment Levenworth on June 23 and made a peace treaty.

1830 Third Smallpox epidemic.  October:  agent John Dougherty reported from cantonment Leavenworth on October 29: "They were dying so fast and taken down at once in such large numbers that they had ceased to bury their dead.  Their misery was so great and so general that they seemed to be unconscious of it and to look upon the dead and dying."   Reporting January 30 on civilization of the Missouri River Indians agent John Dougherty stated:  "As to the conditions of the Indians in Missouri generally I can only say that the Omahas and other tribes from the diminution and scarcity of game in this country starve at least half the year, and are very badly clad." Prairie du Chien Treaty.

1830's-1850's Onípontongaís chieftainship.

1831 Henry Fontenelle was born at Fort Laramie August 10, 1831.  Educated under the direction of Father De Smet, historical Catholic missionary and apprenticed himself to the wheelwright trade in Kansas City.  He conducted a large merchandise store and made lots of money.  Mr. Fontenelle took an active part in the organization of Thurston County.  Married Miss Emily Pappam of St. Louis.

1832 Dr. Johnston Lykins reported February 1832 that John believed that more than 4,000 Pawnees, Otoes, Omahas, and Poncas had died of smallpox.

1836 Platte Purchase Treaty

1838 Mormon camp

1840 Kit Carson:  As much as has been said about this beloved man there still remains a very important romance of him which up to this time has remained unprinted.  In the early day Carson tired of the wilderness of Iowa and keen for a new adventure crossed the Missouri and pitched his camp in an Omaha village situated then where the famous village of Bellevue is now.

This was in the early 1840s and a white woman was an unknown quantity.  When Kit Carson arrived he was hailed with delight and soon became warm friends of the boys for they were all young men then.

One evening when they were gathered around the cheerful fireplace of the log hut where Fontenelle lived and transacted business smoking their pipes.  Sarpy jokingly remarked, "Kit, why don't you get married?"

"Well, to speak the truth," retorted the young trapper, "I believe I will if I can get Moneta [a young and pretty Indian girl]."

* * * *

Kit, kissing his wife good-bye and mounting his horse, rode away into the wilderness of the north.  This was their farewell and they never met again.

During Kit's time with his wife there were born to them a boy and a girl, said to be almost as fair as white children.  When the Omahas moved to their present home in 1854 she and her children came with them, and for her somber and melancholy ways came to be known among her people as "old granny."  When between the ages of 10 and 12 years the boy and girl took sick and died.  A few years afterward the mother followed and her body was interred on the hill back of the house where Eugene Fontenelle lives now.

Mrs. Fontenelle was present at the funeral and remembers seeing Mrs. Carson at Bellevue when she was a little girl.  This lady says every evening Granny would go forth to the4 top of a certain favorite high hill and shading her eyes with her hand, look long and earnestly toward the horizon of the west, as if trying to discern some object in the distance.  If the woman's heart could have been mirrored perhaps it might have reflected the image of Kit.

1846-1848 Winter Quarters:  Friday, August 28:  At half past 9 AM President Brigham Young met with the high council of the camp in a double tent with the principal Omaha chiefs and braves and about 80 of the Omahas and after shaking hands smoked the pipe of peace.  Big Elk, principal chief and Logan Fontenelle, the interpreter, were present.

President Young spoke to the Omahas in substance as follows:  We are on our journey to California and the United States has called on us for soldiers and left us without teamsters, and with your permission we would like to winter here.  We can do you good We will repair your guns, make a farm for you and aid you in any other way that our talents and circumstances will permit us.  We would also like to get some of your honorable men to watch our cattle.

Written permission of the Omahas for the Mormons to temporarily occupy their camp.

1854-1874 Make-Believe Village

1854 Treaty creating Reservation

1854 Nebraska Territory established

1854-1868 Joseph Inshta Monze [Iron eyes] LaFlesche chieftainship, last traditionally chosen chief.

1854-1880's Agency at Macy

1856-1868 Presbyterian Mission School

1862 U.S. Homestead Act (model for allotment)

1865 Winnebago Reservation established from 1/3 of the Umonhon Reservation in a forced sale.

1869-1880 Quaker Agency at Macy

1870's Macy built

1876 Last Umonhan Buffalo Hunt

1880's-2005 Agency established at Winnebago

1880's Tribal Enrollment List established

1880's New Reform Church started

1881 Standing Bear Trial

1881 Susette LaFlesche Tibbles, daughter of Inshta Monze, first Native writer & artist of either sex published, January, St. Nicholas Magazine, "Nedawi" signed "Bright Eyes" her Umonhon name.

1882 Umonhon Allotment

1882 Omaha Sociology by Presbyterian minister James Owen Dorsey, 3rd Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology published

1889 Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte, first Native woman doctor, daughter of Inshta Monze

1889 Thurston County established

1889 Sacred Pole (removed to care of Peabody Museum at Harvard)

1889 White Buffalo Hide (stolen) and Pipes leave the community

1890's - 2005 Council of Elders continues to meet (but in secret)



                     Photograph courtesy OTHRP Archives

Two Omaha children

Omaha Shawl


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