Uc.C 20. I



Washington, D. C., August 10, 1907.

SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith the Twenty- seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Eth nology.

The preliminary portion comprises an account of the operations of the Bureau during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1906, and this is followed by a monograph on " The Omaha tribe," by Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche (a member of the Omaha tribe) .

Permit me to express my appreciation of your aid in the work under my charge.

Very respectfully, yours,


'Aettiiy -Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.




Research work ............................................ 7

Permits granted for explorations on public lands ........................... ] 1

Collections ................................ j2

Study of Indian delegations ................................. 12

Editorial work ................................... ] 2

Illustrations ...................................... ] 2

Publications ........................................ 13

Library ................................................................. 13

Clerical work ................................. . ................ 13

Property ____ . ................................. 14

Accompanying paper ................................ 14


The Omaha Tribe, by Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche (a mem

ber of the Omaha tribe); plates 1-65, figures 1-132 ...................... 15

(J55 3







Researches among the Indian tribes were conducted in accordance with the plan of operations approved by the Secretary June 5, 1905; these include investigations among the aborigines of Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Indian Ter ritory, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Florida, and, more especially, researches in the office of the Bureau and in various museums and libraries throughout the country. The scientific staff of the Bureau remains the same as during the previous year wTith the single exception that Mr. F. Wr. Hodge was transferred from the Secretary's office of the Smithsonian Institution to the Bureau, with the title of Ethnologist a step which permits him to devote his entire time to the completion of the Handbook of the Indians.

Aside from his administrative duties, the chief was occu pied with the completion and revision of papers for the Handbook of the Indians and in the preparation of a mono graphic work on the technology and art of the tribes. He also continued his duties as Honorary Curator of the Divi sion of Prehistoric Archeology in the National Museum.

Mrs. M. C. Stevenson remained in the office during the early months of the year, reading the final proofs of her monograph on the Zurii Indians, which issued from the press in December. In January she again entered the field, having selected the pueblo of Taos, New Mexico, as a suit able place for the continuation of her researches. In initi ating her work in this pueblo Mrs. Stevenson encountered



many difficulties, and her progress at first was slow; but later, owing largely to the very courteous cooperation of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, her study of the history, language, and customs of the tribe was facilitated, and was progressing favorably at the close of the year.

During the early part of the year Mr. James Mooney was chiefly occupied, in collaboration with other members of the Bureau, with the Handbook of the Indians, which work was - continued at intervals after he took the field. On September 19, 1905, he left Washington for western Okla homa to continue researches among the Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and allied tribes, partly in fulfillment of the joint arrangement between the Bureau and the Field Museum of Natural History. His stay while with the Kiowa was chiefly at the agency at Anadarko, Oklahoma. Among the Chey enne he made headquarters at Cantonment, Oklahoma, the central settlement of the most conservative element of the tribe. Mr. Mooney returned to Washington about the end of April, and resumed work on his report, giving much attention also to the Handbook of the Indians.

Dr. J. Walter Fewkes completed during the year his report on the aborigines of Porto Rico and neighboring islands. He prepared also an account of his field work in eastern Mexico, conducted under the joint auspices of the Smithsonian Insti tution and this Bureau during the winter of 1905-6. These papers were assigned to the Twenty-fifth Annual Report and were in type at the close of the year. Doctor Fewkes also made considerable progress in the preparation of a bulletin on the antiquities of the Little Colorado valley, Arizona.

During the year Dr. John R. S wanton completed and pre pared for the press all of the Tlingit material, ethnological and mythological, collected by him during previous years; all of the ethnological and a portion of the mythological ma terial has been accepted for introduction into the Twenty- sixth Annual Report. Doctor Swanton interested himself particularly also in the study of the linguistic stocks of Louisi ana and southern Texas, many of which are either on the verge of extinction or are already extinct; and a grammar


and dictionary of the Tunica language is well advanced, while a dictionary of the Natchez is in course of preparation.

Mr. J. X. B. Hewitt was engaged almost entirely in investi gating and reporting on etymologies of terms and names and in elaborating and preparing important articles for the Hand book of the Indians, and also in reading proof of that impor tant work conjointly with the other collaborators of the Office.

During the year Dr. Cyrus Thomas was engaged almost continuously on the Handbook of the Indians, assisting in final revision of the manuscript and in reading proof. Dur ing the first two or three months he assisted also in reading and correcting proofs of Bulletin 28, which treats of Mexican antiquities a work for which his extensive researches regard ing the giyphic writing of middle America especially fitted him.

The manuscript of the body of the Handbook of the In dians was transmitted to the Public Printer early in July. In view of the fact that numerous tribal and general articles were prepared by specialists not connected directly with the Bureau, it was deemed advisable to submit complete galley proofs of the Handbook to each as received. While this in volved considerable delay in the proof reading, the correc tions and suggestions received showred the wisdom of the plan. By the close of the year all the material was in type through the letter "X," and of this, 544 pages, to the article "Her aldry," have been finally printed.

The work on the Handbook of Languages, in charge of Dr. Franz Boas, honorary philologist of the Bureau, wras contin ued during the year. The several sketches of American lan guages sixteen in number which are to form the body of this work are now practically complete, with the exception of those on the Eskimo and the Iroquois. Field work was con ducted during the year by Edward Sapir among the Yakima of Oregon and by Frank J. Speck among the Yuchi in Indian Territory.

Mr. Stewart Culin, curator of ethnology in the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, whose monograph on Indian Games forms the bulk of the Twenty-fourth Annual Report,


was engaged during the year in reading the proofs of that work; but owing to his absence in the field for a protracted period the work was not completed at the close of the year.

The movement for the enactment by Congress of a law for the preservation of American antiquities, which was inaug urated during previous years, was continued by various individuals and institutions during the last year, and the perfected measure became a law in June. With the view of assisting the departments of the Government having charge of the public domain in the initiation of practical measures for the preservation of the antiquities of the Southwest, the Bureau has actively continued the compilation of a card catalogue of the archeological sites, especially the ruined pueblos and cliff-dwellings, and during the year has made much progress in the preparation of a series of bulletins to be devoted to the fuller presentation of all that is known regarding these antiquities. In promoting this work Mr. E. L. Hewett was commissioned to proceed to New Mexico for the purpose of making a survey of the ancient remains of the Jemez Plateau region, a large part of which is now in cluded in the Jemez Forest Reserve. A preliminary report on this work was submitted immediately on Mr. Hewett's return to Washington, and later a paper was prepared in the form of an illustrated descriptive catalogue of the antiqui ties, to be published as Bulletin 32 of the Bureau series. In March Mr. Hewett was called on to represent the Bureau as a member of the Interior Department Survey of certain boundary lines in southern Colorado, the principal object being to determine the relation of the more important ruins of the Mesa Verde region to the boundaries of the proposed Mesa Verde park, a measure for the establishment of which was pending in Congress. Shortly after the receipt of Mr. Hewett's report this measure became a lawr. A leading object kept in view by Mr. Hewett on this expedition was the collection of data for the compilation of a bulletin on the antiquities of the Mesa Verde region, for the Bureau's bulletin series.

In February Dr. Ales Hrdlifka, of the National Museum, was commissioned to proceed to Osprey, on Sarasota bay,


Florida, for the purpose of examining several localities where fossil human bones, apparently indicating great age, have been discovered. The evidence obtained is adverse to the theory of the great antiquity of the remains, but the observations made by Doctor Hrdlicka and Dr. T. Wayland Vaughan, who accompanied him as a representative of the Geological Survey, on the unusual activity of fossilizing agencies in the locality, are of extreme interest.

Dr. Walter Hough, of the National Museum, who has taken a prominent part in the investigation of the antiquities of the Southwest, has in preparation for the Bureau series a bulletin on the antiquities of the Upper Gila valley.


During the year applications for permits to conduct explo rations on the public lands and reservations of the South west were acted on as follows:

(1) In September, 1905, the Southwest Society of the Archaeological Institute of America applied for permission to conduct archeological explorations on Indian reservations and forest reserves in the Southwest, the work to begin in the spring of 1906. Later, permission to make a preliminary reconnaissance during the latter part of 1905 was asked. Recommended by the Bureau; granted by the Office of Indian Affairs and the Forest Service.

(2) In January, 1906, the request of the Bureau of Ameri can Ethnology for authority to prosecute ethnological researches in New Mexico, particularly at Taos, was favor ably acted on by the Office of Indian Affairs.

(3) In April, 1906, the American Museum of Natural History, through Dr. Clark Wissler, Curator of Anthropology in that institution, requested permission to conduct explora tions on Indian reservations in southern California. Recom mended by the Bureau; granted by the Indian Office.

One application for a permit was denied, one was with drawn, and one was pending at the close of the year.



The collections of archeological and ethnological specimens made during the year are more limited than heretofore, owing to the reduced amount of field work undertaken. The most important accession is the product of Mr. E. L. Hewett's explorations among the ancient ruins of the Jemez plateau. Other collections worthy of note are those made by Mr. Mooney in Oklahoma and by Doctor Hrdlic'ka in Florida. All collections were transferred to the National Museum in accordance with established custom.


The study of the Indian delegations visiting Washington during the year was continued, as heretofore. One hundred and forty-two portrait negatives were made and measure ments and casts were obtained in a number of cases.


Mr. John P. Sanborn, jr., who was probationally appointed on April 6, 1905, Editor and Compiler, was permanently appointed October 6; but on October 19 he was, at his own request, indefinitely furloughed. On February 16, 1906, Mr. Joseph G. Gurley was probationally appointed Editor through certification by the Civil Service Commission. The Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Annual Reports and Bulletins 31 and 32 were read and prepared for the press, and proof reading of the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Reports and of Bulletins 30, 31, and 32 further occupied the attention of the Editor, although Mr. Hodge and the various collabora tors on Bulletin 30 (the Handbook of the Indians) assumed the main burden of the reading of that work.


The illustration work, including photography, continued in charge of Mr. De Lancey Gill, who was assisted, as heretofore, by Mr. Henry Walther. The number of illustrations prepared for the reports was 852 and the whole number transmitted to the printer was 1,023.



During the year the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Annual Reports were submitted to the Secretary and the Twenty- fifth was transmitted to the Public Printer, the Twenty-sixth being retained in the Bureau pending the completion of the two next preceding volumes. Bulletin 30 (part 1), submitted at the close of the preceding year, is in press, Bulletin 32 is in the bindery, and Bulletin 31 was transmitted to the printer toward the close of the year. The distribution of publica tions was continued as in former years. Bulletin 28 was published in October and Bulletin 29 and the Twenty-third Annual Report followed in December.


The library remained in charge of Miss Ella Leary, who completed the work of accessioning and cataloguing the books, pamphlets, and periodicals up to date. Owing to the crowded condition of the library, about 600 publications, chiefly periodicals, received by gift or through exchange, but not pertaining to the work of the Bureau, were transferred to the library of the National Museum. During the year there were received and recorded 306 volumes, 900 pamphlets, and the current issues of upward of 500 periodicals. One hun dred and fifty volumes were bound at the Government Print ing Office. The library now contains 12,858 bound volumes, 9,000 pamphlets, and a large number of periodicals which relate to anthropology and kindred topics.


The clerical force of the Bureau consists of five regular em ployees: Mr. J. B. Clayton, head clerk; Miss Emilie R. Smedes and Miss May S. Clark, stenographers; Miss Ella Leary, clerk and acting librarian; and Mrs. Frances S. Nichols, typewriter. During the year Mr. William P. Bartel, messenger, was pro moted to a clerkship and subsequently transferred to the Interstate Commerce Commission.



The property of the Bureau is comprised in seven classes: Office furniture and appliances; field outfits; linguistic and ethnological manuscripts, and other documents; photo graphs, drawings, paintings, and engravings; a working library; collections held temporarily by collaborators for use in research ; and the undistributed residue of the editions of Bureau publications.

The additions to the property of the Bureau for the year include a typewriter and a few necessary articles of furniture .


With this report appears a comprehensive monograph on the Omaha tribe, which, it is believed, constitutes an important contribution to North American ethnology, especially to our knowledge of the great Siouan group. This monograph is peculiarly fortunate in its authorship. For thirty years Miss Fletcher has been a close student of the Omaha, enjoying a measure of their friendship and confidence rarely accorded one of alien race, while Mr. La Flesche, a member of the tribe and the son of a former principal chief, has brought to the work a thorough grasp of the subject combined with an earnest desire to aid in the preservation and diffusion of information relating to his people.

The purpose and plan of the authors are thus succinctly stated :

This joint work embodies the results of unusual opportunities to get close to the thoughts that underlie the ceremonies and customs of the Omaha tribe, and to give a fairly truthful picture of the people as they were during the early part of the last century, when most of the men on whose information this work is based were active participants in the life here described. In the account here offered nothing has been borrowed from other observers; only original material gathered directly from the native people has been used.

The paper is rounded out by the inclusion of a final section dealing with the relations between the Omaha and the whites, in which are traced in outline from the beginning the ever -increasing encroachments of civiliza tion and the gradual but inevitable molding of the weaker race to conform to the conditions imposed by the new order of things.










83993°— 27 ETH— 11 2 - 17


Foreword 29


Location ; linguistic relationships 33

Tribal concept; the name Omaha 35

The five cognate tribes evidence of former unity 37

The Ponca tribe 41

Rites and customs of th<j gentes 42

Legendary accounts 47

Recent history ; personal names 51

The Osage, or Waxha'xhe, tribe 57

Recent history ; organization 57

Kinship groups 58

Adoption ceremony 61

Legendary accounts 62

Personal names 64

The Kansa tribe .„ 66

Gentes 66

The Quapaw tribe 67

Gentes 68


Environment; resultant influences

Omaha Sacred Legend

Early habitat arid conditions

Western movements 72

Contact with the Arikai a 75

Separation of Ponca from Omaha: finding of horses 78

fleeting with the white men 81

Influence of traders 82

The Omaha country 85

Villages on the Missouri 85

Streams known to the Omaha 89

The village 95

Site 95

Dwellings 95

Historic villages and places 99

Tribes known to the Omaha 101

Fauna and flora known to the ( >maha 103

Animals 103

Birds 104

Insects 106

Fish 106

Trees 106



Environment; resultant influences— Continued Page

The human body as known to the Omaha 107

Miscellaneous terms used by the Omaha 110

Natural objects and phenomena 110

Taste 110

Colors Ill

Points of the compass Ill

Divisions of time Ill

Weather signs 112

Summary 112


Rites pertaining to the individual 115

Introduction of the Omaha child to the Cosmos 115

Introduction of the child into the tribe 117

Ceremony of turning the child 117

Consecration of the boy to Thunder , . 122

Ceremonial introduction to individual life and to the supernatural 12S


Tribal organization 134

Basic princ pies 1 34

The Im'tJiuga the Omaha tribal form 141

Gentes of the Omaha tribe 142

Hon/gashenu division 1 42

We/zhinshte gens 142

Inkexcabe gens 146

Hon/ga gens 153

Tha'tada gens 159

Kon/<;e gens 169

P'shta'cuMa division 171

Mon/thinkagaxe gens 171

Tecin/de gens 175

Tapa' gens 177

Ingthe/zhide gens 183

Inshta/cunda gens 185

The Omaha gens not a political organi/atiou 195

Interrelation of the two grand divisions 19(i


Tribal government 199

Development of political unity 1 99

Chieftainship 202

Orders of chiefs 202

The Council of Seven Chiefs 206

Emoluments of chiefs and keepers 212

Offenses and punishments 213


The Sacred Pole - 217

Origin 217

Mark of honor 219

The Sacred Tents - - - - 221

Legend and description of the Sacred Pole .". 223

Sacred Packs and contents 226


The Sacred Pole Continued Page

Anointing the Sacred Pole 230

Ritual songs 233 .

Ceremonies of the Sacred 1*016 243

The He'dewachi 251


The quest of food 261

The ritual of the maize 261

Cultivation of maize 269

Names of parts and of preparations of maize 269

Hunting 270

Rules observed in butchering 271

Te'une, or annual buffalo hunt 275

The wathon/ 276

The White Buffalo Hide 283

The ritual of the White Buffalo Hide 286

The Ponca feast of the soldiers 309

Ritual 310

Fishing 312


Social life 313

Kinship terms 313

Courtship and marriage 318

Care and training of children 327

Etiquette 334

Avocations of men 338

Avocations of women 339

Cooking and foods 340

Dressing and tanning skins 342

Quill work 345

Weaving 347

Personal adornment .• 349

Clothing 354

The waiu/ or robe. 356

Personal significance 356

Social significance 358

Language of the rol >e 360

Property 362

Amusements 363


Music 371

Instruments 373

Songs, singing, and rhythm 373

The Wa'wa" ceremony 376

The ceremony among the Ponca 400


Warfare 402

Influence on tribal development 402

Waiu/waxube 404

Authorization of a war party '. 405

Organization of a war party 408

Dress of warriors . . 409


Warfare Continued

Influence on tribal development Continued Page

Sacred War Pack and contents 411

Departure ceremonies of an aggressive war party 415

The we't< >n waan 421

Sending out scouts 423

Departure of a defensive war party 426

Return of a war party 431

The Wate'gictu 434

(irraded war honors 437

War honor decorations ,__ 438

The Ponca ceremony of conferring war honors _ 439

"The Crow " 441

The feather war bonnet 446

Weapons 448

Contents of the Tent of War 452

The Sacred Shell 454

The Cedar Pole 457


Societies _ 459

Social societies _ 459

The Hethu'shka , _ 459

The Pu'gtho" 481

The Ki'kunethe ' 485

The T'e ga'xe 486

The Monwa'dathi" and the Toka'lo __ 486

Secret societies _ 480

The MoMm' ithaethe 486

TheTe' ithaethe 487

The \Vanon/xe ithaethe 489

The Ingthun/ ithaethe 490

The Hon/hewachi 493

The one hundred wathin/ethe 495

The Watha'wa (Feast of the Count 497

The Feast of the Hoa/hewachi 500

The tattooing 503

The Washis'ka athin (Shell society) 509

Origin 509

Organization 516

Regular meetings 520

Ceremonies on the death of a member 553

Magic ceremony for punishing offenders 554

The In'kugthi athin (Pebble society) 565

< )peniug ritual 568

Ritual for sweat lodge, No. 1 571

Ritual for sweat lodge, No. 2 574

Ritual for sweat lodge, No. 3 575


Disease and its treatment 582

Some curative plants 584


Death and burial customs. 588



I 'age

Religion and ethics 595

The keeper 595

We'waype 596

Wakon/da. 597

Interrelation of men and animals 599

Veneration for the Ancients 601

Position of chiefs 601

Totems 602

Magic 602

Warfare and ethics 602

Terms for good traits and conduct 603

Terms for bad traits and conduct 604

Proverbs 604


Language 605


Conclusions 608

APPENDIX: Recent history of the Omaha tribe 611

Contact with the white race 611

Early traders 612

Introduction of metal implements 613

Decline of old avocations and the effect on the people 614

Changes in ornaments and deeorati< >n 61 5

Introduction'of cloth. 616

Introduction of guns 617

Introduction of money ; pelt values 617

Introduction of intoxicants 618

Drunkenness and its punishment 618

Government control of traders 619

Introduction of new foods, games, and diseases 620

Introduction of new words 620

Treaties with the United States 622

Work of missionaries 625

The Mission 627

New reservation and agency 629

Agency buildings _ 630

Pressure of traders on tribal affairs 630

Joseph La Flesche 631

" The village of the ' make-believe ' white men ' ; 633

Survey of the reservation 634

Extermination of the buffalo 634

Establishment of ' ' the Council " 635

The Ponca tragedy 635

Appeal for land patents 636

Present condition 641

Original owners of allotments on Omaha reservation 643



PLATE 1. Francis La Flesche 30

2. Standing Buffalo 49

3. White Eagle (Xitha'cka) 49

4. Wexgac;api 50

5. Standing Bear 51

6. Smoke-maker (Shu'degaxe) 52

7. Gahi'ge. 52

8. Black Crow (Kaxe^-abe) 54

9. Big Goose 55

10. Buffalo Chip 55

11. Big Snake 56

12. Osage chief 57

13. Osage Chief 57

14. Washiu/ha (Osage) __ 58

15. Black Dog and other Osage chiefs- 62

16. Kansa chief- 66

17. Tipis 71

18. Bark houses 74

19. Earth lodge. 75

20. Blackbird hills, Nebraska 83

21. Country known to the Omaha ( map) _ 88

22. Earth lodge framework and structure _ .* 97

23. Part of Omaha village (about 1860)_ 99

24. Nuga'xti 145

25. lnshtaxthabi, the last imlhon^ 147

26. Mixgthitouin and grandchild _ 153

27. Sacred Tent of the White Buffalo Hide 155

28. Hu'petha _ 163

29. \\Vthishnade ( Waje'pa) ._ 168

30. Mu/xanonzhiu_ 170

31. Gahi'zhi-'ga (Little Chief) _ 170

32. Shon/geyka (White Horse) 173

33. Ton/wongaxezhiuga (Little Village Maker) _ 173

34. WahoQ/thiQge 176

35. Uho^geno'Vlii11 _ 184

36. An old Omaha chief 204

37. Gthedou/nonzhiu ( Standing Hawk ) and wife 204

37.v. Tattooed Osage_ 219

38. The Sacred Pole 224

39. Fshiba/hi 280

40. Arrow release 282

41. The White Buffalo Hide 284

42. An elderly beau. 325

43. Pe'degahi and wife 337

44. Domestic scene 340

45. Costume and adornment of woman .„.«, 347





PLATE 46. Costume and adornment of man 347

47. Bead necklaces 34g

48. Crupper for horse used by woman 353

49. Costume and adornment of man _ . . 354

50. Costume and adornment of man 354

51. Moccasins worn by men and women 356

52. The language of the robe 360

53. The language of the robe 361

54. Wolfskin war robe worn by Zhinga/gahige 409

55. War honor decorations 441

56. Ponca chief 442

57. Ponca chief. 446

58. The Sacred Shell 456

59. "The Four children," Shell society 516

60. Members of the Shell society 519

61. Members of the Shell society 519

62. Members of the Shell society 519

63. Members of the Shell society 519

64. Members of the Shell society 519

65. Title map, Omaha reservation, Thurston county, Nebraska 643

FIGURE 1. Skin boat or " bull-boat " 37

2. Diagram of Ponca hu' thuya 42

3. Cut of hair, Waca'be gens (Ponca) 42

4. Cut of hair, Thi'xida gens (Ponca) 43

5. Cut of hair, Ni'kapashna gens ( Ponca) 44

6. Cut of hair, Pon/caxti gens (Ponca) 45

7. Cut of hair, Washa'be gens ( Ponca) 45

8. Cut of hair, Wazha'zhe gens (Ponca) 46

9. Diagram of Osage hu'thuga usual order 58

10. Diagram of Osage hu'thuga hunting order 58

11. Diagram of Osage hu'thuga sacred order 58

12. Kansa chief 66

13. Quapaw man 67

14. Quapaw woman. , 68

15. Big Elk 83

1 6. Tipi 96

17. Common form of cache 98

18. Logan Fontenelle 101

19. Family group 139

20. Diagram of Omaha hu'thuga (tribal circle) 141

21. Wand used in ceremony when first thunder was heard in the

spring 143

22. Mon/hinthinge, last keeper of the Tent of War, and his daughter. . 144

23. Cut of hair, We'zhinshte gens 144

24. Cut of hair, Nini'bato11 subgens 148

25. Cut of hair, Ho^ga gens 149

26. Du/bainonthin 151

27. VVasha'be 155

28. Cutof hair, Hon/ga gens 155

29. Mouxe'wathe 158

30. Cut of hair, Waca'be eubgens 160

31. Cut of hair, Wazhin/ga itazhi subgens 161

32. Cut of hair, Ke'i" subgens 161

33. Cut of hair, Te'pa itazhi subgens 162



FIGURE 34. Cha'cath^ge ., 167

35. Cut of hair, Kon/<;e gens 1(59

36. Cut of hair, Mon/thinkagaxe gens 172

37. Cut of hair, Tecin/de gens 1 75

38. Cut of hair, Tapa7 gens 1 7<<

39. Cin/dexonxon ( Mike'nitha) 1 ,SO

40. Hethirkuwinxe (son of Shon/geeabe; 182

41. Cut of hair, I^the'/hide gens 184

42. Cut of hair, Inshta'cunda gens 188

43. Teu/konha 189

44. Wanon/kuge 1 92

45. Diagram of ball game 197

46. Kaxe/nouba, who frequently served as a "soldier " 210

47. Rattlesnake heads and fangs 214

48. Tattooed design, " mark of honor " (Osage) 220

49. Joseph La Flesche 222

50. Monchuxnonbe (Shu/denac;i) 223

51. A section of the Sacred Pole showing incrustation from ancient

anointings : 225

52. Pack belonging to Sacred Pole 226

53. Pipe belonging to Sacred Pole 227

54. Pipe-cleaner 227

55. Divining arrows 228

56. Brush used in painting Sacred Pole 228

57. Ancient Cedar Pole 229

58. Communal ceremonial structure ( native drawing) 232

59. r/.hin/eti 234

60. Wakon/monthin 250

61 . Wakon/monthin's house 250

62. He'dewaehi pole (native drawing) 254

63. Painting on warrior's face 256

64. Pipe belonging to White Buffalo Hide 285

65. Playing on the flute 318

66. Omaha mother and child 328

67. Sitting posture of women 330

68. Bowl made from walnut burr 339

69. Burden strap 340

70. Implements for dressing skins 34;]

71. Scraping a skin 344

72. Hairbrushes 348

73. Costumes of young men 349

74. Man's necklace 35(1

75. Man's garters 35 1

76. Mounted warriors 352

77. Painting a tent cover 353

78. Paint brush 353

79. Ornamentation of chiefs' leggings 354

80. Shirt 355

81. Woman's costume 356

82. Language of the robe Anger 361

83. Group of Omaha boys 365

84. Implements used in game of pa'pfazhnhc 367

85. Flute or flageolet 372



FIGURE 86. Deer-hoof rattle (native drawing) : 372

87. Objects used in Wa/vvan ceremony 377

88. Pipe bearers and pipes in Wa'wa" ceremony 385

89. Hun/ga painting 397

90. .Sacred War Pack (unopened ) 4] 1

91. Sacred War Pack (opened to show contents) 412

92. Flag found in Sacred War Pack 412

93. Objects from Sacred War Pack 413

94. Swallowtail kite from Sacred War Pack_ 413

95. Wolf skin and other objects from Sacred War Pack 414

96. Eagle feather in bone socket, from Sacred War Pack 414

97. Pipes from Sacred War Pack 415

98. Deer-tail headdress . _ 438

99. War club (native drawing) 449

100. Quiver 450

101. Mon/hinthinge _ 453

102. Bag containing Sacred Shell 454

103. Bag opened to show Sacred Shell 455

104. Sacred Shell and contents 456

105. Tattooed design "mark of honor" 505

106. Design tattooed on hand of Ponea girl (native drawing) 507

107. Mythic animal in legend of Shell society (native drawing) 515

108. Diagram illustrating meeting of Shell society 51 7

109. Moccasin design belonging to "eldest son's" regalia, Shell society

(native drawing) 519

110. Otter-skin bag, Shell society 520

111. Diagram showing positions of officers and of ceremonial articles

at meeting of Shell society. 521

112. Diagram showing arrangement and four ceremonial movements

of officers at meeting of Shell society 526

113. Pack belonging to a lodge of the Shell society 554

114. Largest bag in pack (rig. 113) 555

115. Bag found in pack (fig. 113) 556

116. Bag found in pack (fig. 113) 556

117. Objects found in bag (fig. 116) 557

118. Bag found in pack (fig. 113) 558

119. Contents of bags (figs. 118, 120) ...- 559

120. Bag found in pack (fig. 113) 560

121. Bag found in pack (fig. 113) 560

122. Tobacco bag and figure found in pack (fig. 113) 561

123. Diagram illustrating arrangement of Shell society at secret meet

ing for punishment of an offender 562

124. Diagram illustrating final ceremony of secret meeting of Shell

society 563

125. Waki'dezhinga '. 567

126. Graded school at Walthill, Nebraska 625

127. The old "Mission," now fallen to decay 627

128. An Omaha girl, a ' ' Mission ' ' scholar 628

129. The Omaha church 629

130. A modern Indian home, not far from the site of the old

"Mission" 639

131. An Omaha farmer's home 640

132. A well-to-do Omaha farmer and his family 641

All vowels have the continental values.

Superior n (n) gives a nasal modification to the vowel immediately preceding.

x represents the rough sound of Ti in the German ih has the sound of ih in the. f has the sound of ill in thin. Every syllable ends in a vowel or in nasal n (n~) . 28


The following account of the Omaha tribe embodies the results of personal studies made while living among the people and revised from information gained through more or less constant intercourse throughout the last twenty-nine years. During this period the writer has received help and encouragement from the judicious criti cisms of Prof. Frederic Ward Putnam, head of the Department of Anthropology of Harvard University, and the completion of the task undertaken has been made possible by means of the Thaw Fellow ship. Objects once held in reverence by the Omaha tribe have been secured and deposited in the Peabody Museum for safe-keeping. Professor Putnam, curator of that institution, has permitted the free use of the Omaha material collected under its auspices and preserved there, for reproduction in the present volume.

At the time the writer went to live among the Omaha, to study their life and thought, the tribe had recently been forced to abandon hunting, owing to the sudden extinction of the buffalo herds. The old life, however, was almost as of yesterday, and remained a com mon memory among all the men and women. Many of the ancient customs were practised and much of the aboriginal life still lingered.

Contact with the white race was increasing daily and beginning to press on the people. The environment was changing rapidly, and the changes brought confusion of mind to the old people as well as to many in mature life. The beliefs of the fathers no longer applied to the conditions which confronted the people. All that they formerly had relied on as stable had been swept away. The buffalo, which they had been taught was given them as an inexhaustible food supply, had been destroyed by agencies new and strange. Even the wild grasses that had covered the prairies were changing. By the force of a power he could not understand, the Omaha found himself re stricted in all his native pursuits. Great unrest and anxiety had come to the people through the Government's dealings with their kindred, the Ponca tribe, and fear haunted every Omaha fireside lest they, too, be driven from their homes and the graves of their fathers. The future was a dread to old and young. How pitiful was the trouble of mind everywhere manifest in the tribe can hardly be pic tured, nor can the relief that came to the people when, in 1882, their lands were assured to them by act of Congress.



The story of their relations with the Government, of contact with the white race, of the overthrow of their ancient institutions, and of the final securing of their homes in individual holdings on their tribal lands, is briefly told in an appendix to this volume. To-day, towns with electric lights dot the prairies where the writer used to camp amid a sea of waving grass and flowers. Railroads cross and recross the gullied paths left by the departed game, and the plow has oblit erated the broad westward trail along the ridge over which the tribe moved when starting out on the annual buffalo hunt. The past is overlaid by a thriving present. The old Omaha men and women sleep peacefully on the hills while their grandchildren farm beside their white neighbors, send their children to school, speak English, and keep bank accounts.

When these studies were begun nothing had been published on the Omaha tribe except short accounts by passing travelers or the com ments of government officials. None of these writers had sought to penetrate below the external aspects of Indian life in search of the ideals or beliefs which animated the acts of the natives. In the account here offered nothing has been borrowed from other observers; only original material gathered directly from the native people has been used, and the writer has striven to make so far as possible the Omaha his own interpreter.

The following presentation of the customs, ceremonies, and beliefs of the Omaha is a joint work. For more than twenty-five years the writer has had as collaborator Mr. Francis La Flesche (pi. 1 ), the son of Joseph La Flesche, former principal chief of the tribe. In his boy hood Mr. La Flesche enjoyed the opportunity of witnessing some of the ceremonies herein described. Later these were explained to him by his father and by the old men who were the keepers of these ancient rites and rituals. Possessed of a good memory and having had awakened in his mind the desire to preserve in written form the his tory of his people as it was known to them, their music, the poetry of their rituals, and the meaning of their social and religious ceremonies, Mr. La Flesche early in his career determined to perfect himself in English and to gather the rapidly vanishing lore of the tribe, in order to carry out his cherished purpose.

This joint work embodies the results of unusual opportunities