An Omaha Indian is a member of the Omaha Tribe, a Native American tribe that is based in Nebraska and whose name means "against the current." The Omaha Tribe originally was located just west of what is now known as the Missouri River, and it moved farther west every eight to 15 years before making their way to the land that is now Nebraska. The tribe has its own government made up of elected tribal members, and it has its own police and other services. A typical Omaha Indian now speaks English, but some elders still speak the Omaha-Ponca language.
For many years, members of the Omaha Tribe were hunters and planters, depending on the season. The responsibility of a Omaha Indian men was to clear fields so that the women could do the planting. The basic Omaha Indian crops consisted of maize, melons, squash and beans. The men did the hunting, killing bears, buffalo, deer and small mammals as well as fish and birds.
Members of the early Omaha Tribe normally lived in tepees during the summer hunting months and lodges during the winter. The Omaha women built the tepees out of buffalo skin. The lodges were about 8 feet (2.4 m) high and had a room shaped like a dome.
The Omaha Tribe was slow in discovering the usefulness of horses. The Omaha normally traveled by foot while using dogs to aid in transportation. After the Omaha discovered the horse, they used it extensively for hunting, hauling and going to war.
The Omaha style of dress consisted of leggings made out of buckskin and embroidered shirts. They also wore moccasins. The men kept their hair long and wore earrings.
The tribe numbered almost 3,000 members in 1780. It dwindled to 300 members by 1802 because of illness and warfare. The powerful Pawnee Nation served as the protectors of the Omaha Tribe.
The explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark encountered the Omaha Tribe in 1804. Following Clark's recommendation, the French set up a trading post in Omaha territory in 1812. During the next 20 years, the Omaha tribe developed friendly relations with whites, specifically the pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, who traveled through the Omaha's land on their way to Utah in the 1850s.
In 1854, the Omaha Tribe sold its hunting grounds in Nebraska to the United States government for $850,000 US Dollars. That same year, the U.S. developed the Omaha Indian Reservation in Nebraska. The reservation covers about 12,400 acres (50 square km).