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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 

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, 

W.  LI.  HOLMES,  Chief. 

•  '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 








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 

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 

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 

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 

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~) . 


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  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 — a  life  that  has  passed  away,  as  have  those 
who  shared  in  it  and  made  its  history  possible. 

Mr.  Edwin  S.  Tracy  has  given  valuable  assistance  in  transcribing 
some  of  the  songs,  particularly  those  of  the  Shell  society.  Several  of 




the  songs  presented  were  transcribed  and  arranged  for  translation  on 
the  piano  by  the  late  Prof.  John  Comfort  Fillmore,  who  for  several 
years  had  carefully  studied  the  music  of  the  Omaha. 

To  enumerate  all  the  Omaha  men  and  women  who  have  contributed 
of  their  knowledge  and  memory  toward  the  making  of  this  volume 
would  be  to  catalogue  the  best  part  of  the  tribe.  Unfortunately,  but 
very  few  are  now  living  to  see  the  outcome  of  the  assistance  they  ren 
dered  during  the  gathering  of  the  material  herein  preserved  for  their 
descendants.  A.  C.  F. 



The  people  of  the  Omaha  tribe  live  in  the  State  of  Nebraska,  in 
Burt,  Cuming,  and  Thurston  counties,  about  80  miles  north  of  the 
city  which  bears  their  name. 

The  Omaha  tribe  has  never  been  at  war  with  the  United  States  and 
is  the  only  tribe  now  living  in  the  State  of  Nebraska  that  was  there 
when  the  white  settlers  entered  the  country. 

In  1882  Congress  passed  an  act  under  which  every  Omaha  man, 
woman,  and  child  received  a  certain  number  of  acres  of  the  land 
which  the  tribe  selected  as  their  reservation  in  1854,  when  they  ceded 
to  the  United  States  their  extensive  hunting  grounds.  The  Omaha 
are  dependent  for  their  livelihood  on  their  own  exertions  as  farmers, 
mechanics,  merchants,  etc. ;  by  the  act  of  1882,  they  were  placed  under 
the  laws,  civil  and  criminal,  of  the  State  of  Nebraska.  Their  ancient 
tribal  organization  has  ceased  to  exist,  owing  to  changed  environ 
ment,  the  extinction  of  the  buffalo,  and  the  immediate  presence  of  the 
white  man's  civilization.  Nothing  remains  intact  of  the  ancient  cus 
toms  except  the  practice  of  exogamy  between  the  kinship  groups 
and  the  people  still  give  their  children  names  that  belong  to  the 
gentes  into  which  the  children  are  born.  A  few  of  the  societies  exist 
but  their  influence  is  on  the  wane,  although  they  are  enjoyed  because 
of  their  social  character  and  the  pleasure  derived  from  their  songs 
and  dramatic  dances,  which  revive  the  memory  of  the  days  when  the 
Omaha  were  a  distinct  and  independent  people. 

In  June,  1884,  the  Omaha  tribe  numbered  1,179.  In  that  month 
the  allotment  of  lands  to  members  of  the  tribe  was  completed.  The 
people  were  divided  as  follows: 

Males.          Females. 

Adults 305  338 

Under  18  years 259  277 

Total 564  615 

Excess  of  females  over  males,  51.     Of  these,  33  were  adults  and  18 

were  minors. 

Number  of  families,  246. 
Families  having  no  children,  41. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 3  33 

34  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH. ANN.  27 

Owing  to  the  unwillingness  of  the  people  to  speak  of  the  dead,  it 
was  impracticable  to  attempt  to  get  the  exact  number  of  children 
that  had  been  born. 

The  following  summary  shows  the  proportion  of  the  sexes  at  differ 
ent  stages  of  life: 

Males.  Females. 

Under  3  years 87  82 

Between  3  and  7  years 69  82 

Between  7  and  17  years 103  113 

Between  17  and  40  years 192  232 

Between  40  and  55  years 72  55 

Over  55  years 41  51 

The  marked  disproportion  between  the  sexes  of  ages  between  17 
and  40  years  may  be  due  to  the  fact  that  during  this  stage  of  life  all 
the  men  were  exposed  to  the  hazards  of  hunting  and  of  war.  As 
these  avocations  of  the  men  did  not  cease  until  1876,  eight  years  before 
this  census  was  taken,  the  influence  of  these  duties  on  the  length  of 
life  of  the  men  is  probably  shown  in  the  above  table. 

For  many  centuries  before  they  became  known  to  the  white  race 
through  early  travelers,  traders,  and  colonists,  the  aboriginal  peoples 
of  North  America  north  of  Mexico  had  been  passing  and  repassing  one 
another  from  east  to  west  or  west  to  east,  and  from  north  to  south  or 
from  south  to  north."  Many  traces  of  these  ancient  movements  had 
been  overlaid  by  movements  the  outcome  of  which  is  shown  by  the 
map,  and  it  is  the  task  of  the  archeologist  to  disclose  them  and  read 
their  history.  That  the  system  of  inland  waterways  and  the  exten 
sive  coast  lines  on  two  oceans  have  favored  the  spread  of  the  culture 
of  one  region  to  another  seems  not  improbable,  viewed  in  the  light  of 
recent  researches,  while  the  accumulating  evidence  showing  attrition 
between  the  various  stocks  indicated  on  the  map  in  time  will  permit 
of  generalizations  touching  the  cultural  development  of  the  native 
peoples  of  this  continent. 

The  Omaha  tribe  belongs  to  the  Siouan  linguistic  stock.  The  map 
referred  to  represents  the  majority  of  this  stock  as  having  already 
moved  westward  beyond  the  Mississippi  while  some  branches  had 
advanced  nearly  to  the  eastern  foothills  of  the  Rocky  mountains  and 
north  to  the  fifty-third  parallel.  There  were  also  a  few  outlying  Siouan 
communities — those  who  may  have  lagged  behind — for  example,  the 
group  dwelling  on  the  eastern  slope  of  the  Appalachian  mountains 
and  spreading  down  toward  the  coastal  plains  of  the  Atlantic,  and  a 
group  on  the  northern  coast  of  the  Gulf  of  Mexico  that  seem  to  have 
been  cut  off  from  that  portion  of  their  kindred  who  had  pressed  to  the 
southwest.  The  story  told  by  the  map  both  explains  and  is  explained 

a  Consult  the  Map  of  the  Linguistic  Families  of  American  Indians  north  of  Mexico  (in  the  Seventh  An 
nual  Report  and  in  Bulletin  SO,  part  1,  of  the  Bureau  of  American  Ethnology),  which  shows  approxi 
mately  the  territories  occupied  by  tha  several  linguistic  stocks  when  they  became  known  to  the  whites. 


by  the  traditions  of  many  of  the  tribes  belonging  to  this  linguistic 
stock.  All  of  these  traditions  speak  of  a  movement  from  the  east  to 
the  west,  covering  a  long  period  of  time.  The  primordial  habitat  of 
this  stock  lies  hidden  in  the  mystery  that  still  enshrouds  the  beginnings 
of  the  ancient  American  race;  it  seems  to  have  been  situated,  how 
ever,  among  the  Appalachian  mountains,  and  all  their  legends  indi 
cate  that  the  people  had  knowledge  of  a  large  body  of  water  in  the 
vicinity  of  their  early  home.  This  water  may  have  been  the  Atlantic 
ocean,  for,  as  shown  on  the  map,  remnants  of  Siouan  tribes  survived 
near  the  mountains  in  the  regions  of  Virginia,  North  Carolina,  and 
South  Carolina  until  after  the  coming  of  the  white  race. 

In  the  extended  westward  migration  of  the  Siouan  stock  groups 
seem  to  have  broken  off,  some  earlier  than  others,  and  to  have  made 
their  way  into  localities  where  certain  habits  incident  to  their  environ 
ment  appear  to  have  become  fixed  on  them,  and  contact  with  other 
stocks  during  the  migration  to  have  influenced  their  culture.  A 
group  which  kept  together  until  within  the  last  few  hundred  years 
seems  to  have  been  composed  of  the  five  closely  cognate  tribes  now 
known  as  the  Omaha,  Ponca,  Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw.  Their 
languages  as  yet  have  hardly  differentiated  into  distinct  dialects. 
There  are  other  groups  of  the  Siouan  stock  which,  from  the  evidence 
of  their  language,  were  probably  similarly  associated  tribes.  Some 
of  these  groups  seem  to  have  developed  individual  peculiarities  of 
language  which  prevented  them  from  coalescing  with  their  kindred 
when  in  the  course  of  wanderings  they  met.  An  instance  in  point  is 
the  meeting  and  journeying  together  of  the  Iowa  and  the  Omaha 
without  establishing  tribal  union.  Although  they  belonged  to  the 
same  linguistic  stock,  the  Iowa  tongue  was  practically  unintelligible 
to  the  Omaha.  The  final  parting  of  these  tribes  took  place  within 
the  last  two  centuries. 

The  five  cognate  tribes,  of  which  the  Omaha  is  one,  bear  a  strong 
resemblance  to  one  another,  not  only  in  language  but  in  tribal 
organization  and  religious  rites.  This  account  of  the  Omaha  tribe 
with  incorporated  notes  taken  among  their  close  cognates  is  pre 
sented  in  order  to  facilitate  a  comparative  study  not  only  of  these 
tribes  but  of  others  of  the  Siouan  stock,  in  the  hope  of  thereby 
helping  to  solve  some  of  the  problems  presented  by  this  extensive 
linguistic  group. 


Uki'te,  the  word  for  tribe,  has  a  double  import :  As  a  verb,  it  means 
"to  fight;"  as  a  noun,  it  signifies  "tribe."  It  seems  probable  that 
the  noun  has  been  derived  from  the  verb;  at  least  it  throws  light 
on  the  Omaha  concept  of  what  was  an  essential  to  the  formation  of 
a  tribe.  The  verbal  form  signifies  "to  fight"  against  external  foes, 

36  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

to  take  part  in  conflicts  in  which  honor  and  fame  can  be  won. 
Those  who  thus  fought  had  to  stand  as  one  body  against  their  assail 
ants.  The  term  uki'te  is  never  applied  to  quarrels  among  members 
of  the  tribe  in  which  fists  and  missiles  are  used;  the  words  niun', 
nage',  Tci'na  are  used  to  designate  such  contentions,  from  which  the 
winner  receives  no  renown.  Vki'te  alone  in  the  Omaha  tongue  means 
"to  fight"  as  men  against  men.  The  warriors  of  a  tribe  were  the 
only  bulwark  against  outside  attacks;  they  had  to  be  ever  ready 
"to  fight"  (uki'te),  to  defend  with  their  lives  and  safeguard  by  their 
valor  those  dependent  on  them.  The  word  uki'te,  as  "  tribe,"  explains 
the  common  obligation  felt  by  the  Omaha  to  defend,  as  a  unit,  the 
community,  the  tribe. 

The  descriptive  name  Omaha  (umon'7ion,  "against  the  current" 
or  "upstream")  had  been  fixed  on  the  people  prior  to  1541.  In 
that  year  De  Soto's  party  met  the  Quapaw  tribe;  guapaw,  or 
uga'xpa,  means  "with  the  current"  or  "downstream,"  and  is  the 
complement  of  umon'Jion,  or  Omaha.  Both  names  are  said  by  the 
tribes  to  refer  to  their  parting  company,  the  one  going  up  and  the 
other  going  down  the  river. 

There  are  two  versions  of  how  this  parting  came  about.  One 
account  says  that — 

The  people  were  moving  down  the  Uha'i  ke  river,  a  When  they  came  to  a  wide 
river  they  made  skin  boats  (see  fig.  1)  in  which  to  cross  the  river.  As  they  were  cross 
ing,  a  storm  came  up.  The  Omaha  and  Iowa  got  safely  across,  but  the  Quapaw  drifted 
down  the  stream  and  were  never  seen  again  until  within  the  last  century.  When  the 
Iowa  made  their  landing  they  camped  in  a  sandy  place.  The  strong  wind  blew 
the  sand  over  the  people  and  gave  them  a  grayish  appearance.  From  this  circum 
stance  they  called  themselves  Pa'xude,  "gray  head,"  and  the  Omaha  have  known 
them  by  that  name  ever  since.  The  Iowa  accompanied  the  Omaha  up  the  Mis 
sissippi  to  a  stream  spoken  of  as  "Raccoon  river" — probably  the  Des  Moines,  and 
the  people  followed  this  river  to  its  headwaters,  which  brought  them  into  the  region 
of  the  Pipestone  quarry. 

The  other  version  of  the  parting  between  the  Omaha  and  the 
Quapaw  is  that — 

When  the  wide  river  was  reached  the  people  made  a  rope  of  grape  vines.  They 
fastened  one  end  on  the  eastern  bank  and  the  other  end  was  taken  by  strong  swim 
mers  and  carried  across  the  river  and  fastened  to  the  western  bank.  The  people 
crossed  the  river  by  clinging  to  the  grapevine.  When  about  half  their  number  were 
across,  including  the  Iowa  and  Omaha,  the  rope  broke,  leaving  the  rest  of  the  people 
behind.  Those  who  were  left  were  the  Quapaw.  This  crossing  was  made  on  a  foggy 
morning,  and  those  left  behind,  believing  that  their  companions  who  had  crossed 
had  followed  the  river  downward  on  the  western  side,  themselves  turned  down 
stream  on  the  eastern  side,  and  so  the  two  groups  lost  sight  of  each  other. 

If  an  Omaha  were  accosted  by  a  stranger  and  asked  to  what  tribe 
he  belonged,  or  were  the  same  question  to  be  asked  him  in  the  dark, 
when  recognition  was  impossible,  he  would  reply,  Umon'hon  btJiin  ha, 
"I  am  an  Omaha."  Should  he  be  asked  "Who  are  you?"  he  would  say: 

a  Uha'i    ke,  "  the  river  down  which  they  came;"   the  name  is  still  applied  by  the  Omaha  to  the  Ohio 



"I  am  [giving  his  name]  the  son  or  the  nephew  of  So-and-so,"  men 
tioning  the  name. 

If  a  group  of  Omaha  should  be  asked  to  what  tribe  they  belonged, 
they  would  reply,  "We  are  Omaha."  If  they  were  asked,  "Who 
are  you?"  the  one  making  answer  would  say,  "I  am  the  son  or 
nephew  of  So-and-so,  and  these  are  the  sons  of  So-and-so." 

If  young  men  were  playing  a  game  in  which  there  were  two  parties 
or  sides,  as  in  ball,  and  one  of  the  players  should  be  asked,  "To  which 
side  do  you  belong?"  he  would  say,  TJie'giha  U~hinJia,  "I  belong  to  this 

FIG.  1.    Skin  boat  or  "bull-boat." 

side  or  party."  TJie'giha  means  "on  this  side,"  and  the  word  can 
be  used  only  as  a  designation  of  a  side  or  party  in  a  game.  It  has 
no  tribal  significance  whatever,  nor  has  it  ever  been  used  to  indicate 
the  Omaha  people  or  their  place  of  abode. 


Traditions  common  to  the  Omaha,  Ponca,  Osage,  Kansa,  and 
Quapaw  tribes  state  that  they  were  once  one  people.  Their  lan 
guage  bears  witness  to  the  truth  of  this  tradition  and  the  similarity 

38  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

of  their  tribal  organization  offers  equally  strong  testimony.  It  would 
seem  that  the  parent  organization  had  so  impressed  itself  upon  the 
mode  of  life  and  thought  of  the  people  that  when  groups  branched 
off  and  organized  themselves  as  distinct  tribes  they  preserved  the 
familiar  characteristic  features;  for  all  of  these  cognate  tribes 
have  certain  features  in  common.  All  are  divided  into  kinship 
groups  which  practise  exogamy  and  trace  descent  through  the  father 
only.  Each  group  or  gens  has  its  own  name  and  a  set  of  personal 
names,  one  of  which  is  bestowed  on  each  child  born  within  the  gens. 
These  personal  names  refer  either  to  the  symbol  which  belongs  to 
and  marks  the  kinship  group  or  to  the  rites  allied  to  the  symbol, 
which  were  the  especial  charge  of  the  gens. 

According  to  traditions  preserved  among  the  Omaha,  Ponca, 
Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw  tribes,  their  severance  from  the  parent 
organization  of  which  they  once  formed  a  part,  as  well  as  their 
later  partings  from  one  another,  did  not  occur  through  any  concerted 
action;  they  were  the  result  of  accident,  as  in  the  case  already  cited 
of  the  Omaha  and  the  Quapaw,  or  of  strifes  fomented  by  ambitious 
chiefs,  or  of  circumstances  incident  to  following  the  game.  A  tradi 
tion  of  the  Wazha'zhe  or  Osage  tells  that  they  broke  away  frorn  the 
Ponca  because  of  a  quarrel  over  game.  The  Wazha'zhe  gens 
of  the  Ponca  have  a  like  story,  which  says  "The  parting  was  due 
to  a  quarrel  about  game.  Those  who  left  us  became  lost  but  we 
hear  of  them  now  as  a  large  tribe  bearing  our  name,  Wazha'zhe." 

Tradition  indicates  also  that  when,  for  some  reason  or  other,  a 
group  broke  off,  not  all  of  the  members  belonged  to  one  gens  but 
to  several  gentes  of  the  parent  organization,  and  when  this  group 
organized  as  a  distinct  tribe,  those  of  gentile  kindred  retained  their 
identity  in  name  and  the  practice  of  a  common  rite,  and  formed 
a  gens  in  the  new  tribe.  These  traditions  are  corroborated  by  con 
ditions  which  obtain  in  all  of  these  cognate  tribes. 

For  instance,  among  the  Omaha,  Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw  a 
turtle  group  is  found  as  a  subgens  in  each  tribe,  and  in  each  instance 
its  members  are  the  keepers  of  the  turtle  rites  of  the  tribe. 

Again,  among  the  Omaha,  Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw  the  Kansa, 
or  Wind  people,  form  a  gens  in  each  tribe,  and  in  each  of  the  tribes 
are  the  keepers  of  rites  pertaining  to  the  wind. 

Among  the  Omaha,  Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw  tribes  there  is  in 
each  a  gens  similar  to  the  Mon'thinkagaxe  ("earth  makers"). 

A  Nu'xe,  or  Ice  gens,  is  found  in  the  Ponca  tribe,  and  the  name 
is  borne  also  by  a  subgens  in  each  the  Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw 

There  is  a  tradition  that  the  Ponca  were  once  a  gens  in  the  Omaha 
tribe  and  broke  away  in  a  body,  and  that  when  they  became  a  tribe 


the  subdivisions  of  the  Ponca  gens  became  the  gentes  of  the  Ponca 
tribe.  This  may  possibly  be  true.  It  would  seem,  however,  that 
in  earlier  days  some,  at  least,  of  the  Ponca  had  accompanied  the 
Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw  groups  when  they  separated  from  the 
parent  organization,  and  when  these  groups  became  distinct  tribes 
the  Ponca  kindred  appear  to  have  combined  to  form  a  Ponca  gens, 
for  we  find  a  gens  of  that  name  in  each  of  the  cognate  tribes  just 

Another  class  of  evidence  which  has  relation  to  the  former  union  of 
these  tribes  is  found  in  personal  names,  some  of  which  refer  to  cere 
monies  no  longer  observed  in  the  tribe  in  which  the  names  exist  but 
still  practised  in  some  of  the  cognate  tribes — a  fact  which  indicates 
apparently  that  the  rite  was  once  known  and  observed  by  the  tribe 
in  which  the  personal  name  is  now  found.  For  instance,  in  the 
Washe'to11  subgens  of  the  P'shta'puMa  gens  of  the  Omaha  tribe  is 
the  name  Ushu'demonthin,  meaning  "he  who  walks  in  the  mist"  or 
"in  the  dust  raised  by  the  wind."  This  name  has  no  significance 
taken  merely  as  an  Omaha  name,  but  its  meaning  becomes  apparent 
when  we  turn  to  the  cognate  Osage.  In  that  tribe  there  is  a  gens 
called  Monso'tsemonin,  meaning  "they  who  walk  concealed  by  the 
mist  or  dust."  The  word  refers  to  a  rite  in  the  keeping  of  this  gens, 
a  rite  that  pertained  to  war.  When  a  war  party  was  about  to  make 
an  attack  or  was  forced  to  retreat,  it  was  the  office  of  this  gens  to 
perform  the  rite,  which  had  the  effect  of  causing  a  mist  to  rise  or  a 
strong  wind  to  blow  up  a  cloud  of  dust  in  which  the  warriors  could 
walk  concealed  from  their  enemies.  Again,  the  Omaha  personal 
name  Uzu'gaxe,  meaning  "to  clear  the  pathway,"  finds  its  explana 
tion  in  the  office  of  the  Osage  gens  of  the  same  name,  whose  duty  it 
was  to  find  a  way  across  or  around  any  natural  obstacle  that  lay 
in  the  path  of  a  war  party,  as  a  safe  place  to  ford  a  dangerous  river 
or  a  pathway  over  or  around  a  cliff. 

Instances  similar  to  those  cited  above  could  be  multiplied,  all 
going  to  show  that  rites  and  customs  lost  in  one  tribe  have  frequently 
been  preserved  in  another  of  these  cognates.  It  is  probable  that 
were  all  the  rites  and  customs  of  these  tribes  brought  together  and  a 
comparative  study  made  of  them,  much  of  the  ancestral  organiza 
tion  from  which  these  cognates  took  their  rise  might  be  discovered 
and  light  thrown  on  the  question,  Why  certain  forms,  religious  and 
secular,  were  lost  and  others  retained  and  developed;  also,  as  to 
which  of  these  were  original  with  the  people,  which  were  adopted, 
and  of  the  latter  from  what  culture  they  were  taken. 

In  all  the  traditions  that  touch  on  the  common  source  from  which 
these  cognates  have  come  no  reference  to  the  name  of  the  parent 
or  common  organization  is  to  be  found.  Ponca,  Kansa,  Wazha'zhe 

40  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [BTH.  ANN.  27 

(Osage)  are  old  terms  the  meanings  of  which  are  lost;  these  occur 
as  names  of  gentes  in  the  cognate  tribes,  and  three  of  the  five  cog 
nates  bear  them  as  tribal  names.  It  is  to  be  noted  that  the  descrip 
tive  nar  es  Omaha  and  Quapaw  do  not  appear  in  any  of  these 
tribes  as  terms  denoting  kinship  groups.  Among  the  names  used 
to  denominate  kinship  groups  we  find  one  occurring  frequently  and 
always  used  to  designate  a  group  that  holds  important  offices  in 
the  tribe.  The  same  term  also  appears  in  the  designation  of  tribal 
divisions  which  are  more  comprehensive  than  the  gens.  This  name  is 
IIon'ga,  meaning  "leader."  In  the  Kansa  tribe  there  are  gentes  called 
the  Great  Hon'ga,  the  Small  Hon/ga,  and  the  Separate  Hon/ga.  In 
the  Quapaw  are  two  gentes  having  this  name,  the  Great  and  the  Small 
Hon/ga.  In  the  Omaha  the  term  is  applied  to  one  of  the  two  grand 
divisions  of  the  tribe,  the  Hon'gashenu,  Hon/ga  people,  and  one  of  the 
gentes  in  this  division  bears  the  name  Hon/ga.  In  the  Osage,  one  of 
the  five  divisions  of  the  tribe  is  called  Hon/ga.  Within  this  division 
there  is  also  a  Hon'ga  gens.  Another  of  the  divisions  of  the  Osage  is 
called  Hon/ga  utanatsi,  Separate  Hon/ga.  The  following  Osage  tra 
dition  tells  who  the  Hon/ga  utanatsi  were  and  how  they  came  to  be  a 
part  of  the  Osage  organization: 

The  Osage  in  their  wanderings  on  the  hunt  came  across  a  tribe  whose  language  was 
the  same  as  their  own.  This  strange  people  called  themselves  HcP'ga.  The  Osage 
made  peace  with  them  and  invited  them  to  join  and  become  a  part  of  the  Osage  tribe. 
The  Hon/ga  tribe  consented,  and  it  is  their  descendants  who  are  known  to-day  as  the 
HcP'ga  utanatsi. 

The  term  Hon/ga  utanatsi  may  be  roughly  translated  as  "  the 
Separate  Hon'ga,"  but  the  words  utana  tsi  imply  something  more  than 
merely  "separate;"  they  explain  why  this  group  had  to  be  so  desig 
nated.  The  strange  Hon/ga  whom  the  Osage  met  and  invited  to  become 
a  part  of  their  tribe  would  not  give  up  their  own  name  Hon/ga,  and  as 
the  Osage  were  themselves  called  Hon/ga  people,  explanatory  words 
had  to  be  added  to  the  name  Hon/ga  in  order  to  identify  and  at  the 
same  time  to  distinguish  the  newcomers  from  the  rest  of  the  tribe. 
These  explanatory  words  were  utana  tsi,  by  itself  ("  separate  ") .  Hence 
the  group  in  the  Osage  tribe  called  Hon/ga  utanatsi. 

The  name  of  the  Hon/ga  utanatsi  gens  of  the  Kansa  tribe  has  the 
same  meaning,  and  indicates  that  the  Kansa  people,  as  did  the  Osage, 
claimed  Hon/ga  as  their  common  name. 

There  is  a  tradition  preserved  among  the  Ponca  that  in  the  past 
they  and  the  other  cognate  tribes  knew  the  Omaha  by  the  name 
Hon'ga.  An  incident  is  related  that  explains  the  meaning  of  a  name 
given  to  a  small  stream  in  northern  Nebraska,  Hon/ga  she'nonwatha- 
i  ke  (or  Hon'gawa'xthi  i  ke),  "where  the  Hon/ga  were  slaughtered." 
On  this  creek  a  battle  is  said  to  have  taken  place  in  which  the  Omaha 


met  with  a  disastrous  defeat  from  an  unknown  enemy,  which  deci 
mated  the  tribe.  The  tradition  concerning  the  name  of  this  stream 
is  known  to  both  Omaha  and  Ponca,  and  in  both  tribes  the  tradition 
is  that  the  name  Hon/ga,  as  here  used,  referred  to  the  Omaha.  The 
Omaha  name  for  the  month  of  January  was  Hon/ga  umu'bthi,  mean 
ing  "  the  drifting  of  the  snow  into  the  lodges  of  the  Hon'ga,"  that  is, 
of  the  tribe. 

From  these  traditions  and  the  use  of  the  term  Hon/ga  as  applied 
to  divisions  and  gentes  in  the  Omaha,  Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw 
tribes,  together  with  the  fact  that  these  tribes  either  claimed  for  them 
selves  this  name  or  were  known  to  one  another  by  it,  it  seems  not 
improbable  that  Hon/ga  may  have  been  the  name  by  which  the 
people  called  themselves  when  they  were  living  together  as  one  com 
munity  or  tribe.  The  general  meaning  of  Hon/ga  ("leader")  is  not 
unlike  that  belonging  to  names  by  which  other  Indian  tribes  designate 
themselves,  i.  e.,  "the  men,"  "the  people,"  etc.  The  term  Hon/ga  is 
sometimes  combined  with  another  word  to  form  the  title  of  an  officer, 
as  Nudon  Hon/ga,  "war  leader"  or  "captain." 

The  f ollowing  data  concerning  the  gentes,  personal  names,  and  other 
features  of  the  Omaha  cognate  tribes  are  taken  from  original  notes 
made  by  the  writers. 


Pon'ca  is  an  old  word,  the  meaning  of  which  is  lost.  It  occurs  as 
the  name  of  a  gens  or  subdivision  of  a  gens  in  the  Osage,  Kansa,  and 
Quapaw  tribes,  but  not  in  the  Omaha,  a  fact  which  may  have  sig 
nificance  because  of  the  tradition  that  the  Ponca  constituted  a  gens 
of  the  Omaha  before  the  separation  of  the  tribes.  As  the  Omaha 
retained  at  the  parting  possession  of  the  sacred  tribal  objects,  their 
rituals  and  ceremonies,  the  Ponca  were  everward  after  spoken  of  as 

There  are  seven  gentes  in  the  Ponca  tribe,  namely:  Waca'be, 
Thi'xida,  Ni'kapashna,  Pon/caxti,Washa'be,Wazha/zhe,  Nu'xe.  These 
camped  in  the  order  indicated  in  the  diagram  (fig.  2),  beginning  on  the 
southern  side  of  the  eastern  entrance  of  the  tribal  circle,  to  which 

a  The  Ponca  tribe  is  now  divided.  One  part  is  living  in  northern  Oklahoma  on  lands  purchased  by  the 
Government  from  the  Cherokee  in  1883,  which  were  allotted  in  severally  to  the  tribe  some  ten  years  later. 
The  other  part  lives  in  northern  Nebraska  on  the  Niobrara  river.  Their  land  was  given  them  in  1881,  and 
some  years  later  was  allotted  to  them  under  the  Severally  act.  Already  these  two  parts  are  spoken  of  by 
different  designations.  Those  in  Oklahoma  are  "the  hot-country  Ponca;"  those  in  Nebraska,  "the  cold- 
country  Ponca  "  Relations  between  the  Ponca  and  the  United  States  were  officially  opened  by  a  treaty 
made  in  1817  "to  reestablish  peace  and  friendship  as  before  the  war  of  1812."  In  1825  another  treaty  was 
made  by  which  only  American  citizens  were  to  be  allowed  to  reside  among  the  tribe  as  traders,  and  the 
tribe  agreed  to  delegate  the  punishment  of  offenders  to  the  United  States  Government.  In  1858  the 
Ponca  ceded  their  hunting  grounds  to  the  United  States,  reserving,  however,  a  certain  tract  for  their 
own  use.  In  1865  the  Government,  by  treaty,  reconfirmed  this  tract.  In  1877  the  tribe  was  forcibly 
removed  to  the  then  Indian  Territory  (now  Oklahoma).  See  note,  p.  51. 



[ETII.  ANN.  27 

the  Ponca  give  the  name  Jiu'fhuga,  the  word  used  by  the  Omaha 
also  to  designate  their  tribal  circle. 


1.    WAfA'BE    GENS 

To  the  Hi'cada  subgens  of  the  Wa 
ca'be  gens  belonged  the  keeping  of  the 
ritual  songs  sung  at  the  ceremony  held 
when  the  first  thunder  was  heard  in 
the  spring.  This  subgens,  whose  tabu 
was  birds,  was  spoken  of  as  the  Eagle 
group  of  the  gens,  and  the  people  were 
supposed  to  be  connected  with  thun 
der.  At  death  they  went  to  the  thun 
der  villages,  and  their  voices  would  be 
heard  in  the  thunder-storms.  They 
were  forbidden  to  climb  trees,  as  by  so 
doing  they  would  be  going  upward,  thus 
anticipating  their  deaths  and  therefore 
shortening  their  lives.  In  the  legend 
(see  p.  48)  the  people  of  this  gens  were 
said  to  wear  wreaths  of  cedar ;  in  all  the 
cognate  tribes  cedar  was  associated 
with  thunder  rites  (note  the  Ni'ka 
wakondagi  of  the  Osage  (p.  60) ;  the 
Cedar  Pole  of  the  Omaha  (p.  229) ;  the 
association  of  the  bear  and  the  eagle  in 
the  Tha' tada  gens  of  the  Omaha  (p.  1 59) ; 
also  the  connection  of  thunder  with  war 
and  of  the  eagle  with  war  and  thun 
der.  The  position  of  the  Waca'be  gens 
in  the  Ponca  tribal 
circle  was  similar  to 

that  of  the  We/zhinshte  gens  in  the  Omaha  tribal 
circle,  which  was  also  associated  with  thunder. 

It  was  a  custom  in  the  Ponca  tribe  for  each  gens 
to  have  its  peculiar  manner  of  marking  arrows,  so 
there  should  be  no  dispute  in  hunting  as  to  the  gens 
to  which  a  fatal  arrow  belonged.  This  mark,  how 
ever,  did  not  exclude  or  interfere  with  a  man's  pri 
vate  mark.  The  arrow  of  the  Waca'be  had  the 
shaft  red  about  one-half  the  length  of  the  feathers. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  children's  hair  consisted  in  closely  crop 
ping  one  side  of  the  head  and  leaving  the  other  side  untouched  to  the 
neck  (fig.  3.) 

FIG.  2.    Diagram  of  Ponca  hu'thuga. 

1.  WAQA'BE.  Black  bear.  Subgentes:  (a) 
Waga'be;  tabu,  fat  of  the  black  bear.  (6) 
Hi'cada  (stretched,  referring  to  the  stretch 
of  the  legs  in  running);  tabu,  birds.  2. 
THI'XIDA.  Meaning  lost.  Subgentes:  (o) 
Thi'xida;  tabu,  blood.  (6)  Ingtho^'cincne- 
deweti  (ingthon'<;in$nedc,  puma;  weti,  to 
dwell  in);  tabu,  blue  (or  green)  paint.  3. 
NI'KAPASHNA.  A  man's  skull.  Subgentes: 
(a)  Taha'to"  itazhi  (ta,  deer;  ha,  skin;  to", 
possess;  i'tazhi,do  not  touch);  tabu,  deer. 
(6)  Teciu'de  itazhi  (te,  buffalo;  qin'dc, 
tail;  itazhi,  do  not  touch);  tabu,  buffalo 
tail.  4.  Pon'CAXTi.  Real  or  original  Ponca. 
Subgentes:  (a)  Pon'caxti;  (6)  Moiko11' 
(mystery  or  medicine);  one  tabu,  buffalo 
head.  5.  WASHA'BE.  A  dark  object,  as  seen 
against  the  horizon;  tabu,  skin  of  buf 
falo  calf.  6.  WAZHA'ZHE.  An  old  term. 
Subgentes:  (a)  Wazha'zhe  (real  Wa- 
zha'zhe);  name  said  to  refer  to  the  snake 
after  shedding  old  skin  and  again  in  full 
power.  (6)  Wazha'zhexude  (gray  Wa 
zha'zhe);  refers  to  the  grayish  appearance  of 
the  snake's  cast-off  skin;  one  tabu,  snakes. 
7.  NU'XE.  Ice;  tabu,  male  buffalo. 

FIG.  3.  Cut  of  hair,  Wa 
ca'be  gens  (Ponca). 



2.    THI'XIDA    GENS 

It  is  said  that  the  Pawnee  call  all  the  Ponca  by  the  name  Thi'xida. 
To  this  gens  belonged  a  pack  used  in  testing  the  truth  of  warriors 
when  they  were  accorded  wrar  honors.  Formerly  there  were  two  of 
these  packs,  but  one  was  buried  some  twenty  years  ago  with  its 
keeper,  Ton/deamonthin.  The  other,  near  the  close  of  the  last  cen 
tury,  was  kept  by  Shu'degaxe.  The  ceremony  of  conferring  honors 
was  similar  to  the  Omaha  Wate'gictu  (p.  434).  To  this  gens  belonged 
the  right  to  preside  at  the  election  of  chiefs. 

The  members  of  the  subgens  Ingthon'ciacnedeweti  painted  the 
peace  pipe  (that  used  in  the  Wa'wa"  ceremony,  p.  376)  on  one  side 
of  their  tents  and  the  puma  on  the  other.  The  tabu,  green  or 
blue  paint,  was  used  on  these  pipes.  Du  was  the  word  for  green; 
du  pake,  blue ;  f abe  means  black ;  the  words  indicate  that  the  two  colors 
were  regarded  as  the  same,  one  being  merely  a  darker  shade  than 
the  other.  The  skin  of  the  puma  was  used  to  cover  or  wrap  up  these 
pipes.  The  name  of  the  sub 
division  (meaning  "to  dwell 
\vith  the  puma")  refers  to  the 
covering  of  the  peace  pipes; 
these  and  the  puma  were  rep 
resented  in  the  tent  decora 
tion  and  helped  to  interpret 
the  name  of  the  subgens — 
"  those  who  dwell  \vith  the 
covered  pipes  that  give 
peace."  The  arrow  shafts  of  this  gens  were  painted  black  where  the 
feathers  were  fastened,  and  the  sinew  was  painted  red  to  represent 
the  tabu  of  the  gens,  blood. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  child's  hair  consisted  in  leaving  only  a 
roach  running  from  the  forehead  to  the  nape  of  the  neck.  This 
roach  was  trimmed  by  notching  it  like  a  saw.  A  small  tuft  of  hair 
was  left  on  each  side  of  the  roach  (fig.  4).  This  notched  roach  is 
similar  to  the  cut  of  hair  of  a  buffalo  gens  in  the  Oto  tribe  (also  of 
the  Siouan  stock),  and  but  for  the  notching  is  like  that  of  a  buffalo 
gens  of  the  Omaha.  These  resemblances  suggest  that  the  tabu  of 
the  gens  may  refer  to  the  blood  of  the  slain  buffalo. 

The  people  of  this  gens  were  said  to  have  the  power  to  cure  pain 
in  the  head,  in  the  following  manner:  The  sufferer  brought  a  bow 
and  arrow  to  the  Thi'xida,  who  wet  the  arrow  with  saliva,  set  it 
on  the  bow  string,  pointed  it  at  the  sick  man's  head  four  times, 
then  rubbed  the  head  with  the  arrow,  and  so  effected  a  cure  of  the 


r  Z 

J        ,& 


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

44  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

3.    Nl'KAPASHNA    GENS 

The  name  Ni'kapashna  ("skull")  is  said  to  refer  to  the  exposure  of 
the  bone  by  the  process  of  scalping.  This  gens  had  charge  of  the 
war  pipes  and  directed  the  council  of  war.  To  them  belonged  also 
the  supervision  of  all  hunting  of  the  deer. 

When  a  member  of  the  subdivision  Taha'to11  itazhi  died,  moccasins 
made  from  the  skin  of  the  deer  (which  was  tabu  to  the  living)  w^ere 
put  on  his  feet  that  he  might  not  "lose  his  way,"  but  go  on  safely 
and  "be  recognized  by  his  own  people"  in  the  spirit  world. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  child's  hair  consisted 

in  removing  all  the  hair  except  a  fringe  around 
the  head,  as  shown  in  figure  5. 

4.    PON/CAXTI    GENS, 

The  Pon/caxti  (xti,  "original,"  or  "real") 
camped  in  the  rear  part  of  the  tribal  circle,  fac 
ing  the  opening.  This  gens  and  its  subdivision, 
FIG.  5.  cut  of  hair,  Ni'ka-  the  Monkon/,  had  charge  of  the  principal  pipes, 
one  of  which  was  the  chief's  pipe  that  was  used 
for  conjuring.  In  this  gens  was  preserved  the  tradition  of  the 
finding  of  the  Omaha  Sacred  Pole ;  it  was  a  man  of  the  Monkon/  sub- 
gens  who  in  the  race  was  the  first  to  reach  the  Pole  (p.  218). 

There  were  only  two  ceremonies  during  which  the  Ponca  tribe  was 
required  to  camp  in  the  order  shown  on  the  diagram,  when,  as  it  was 
said,  "the  people  must  make  the  hu'thuga  complete."  These  cere 
monies  were  the  Feast  of  Soldiers,  which  generally  took  place  while 
the  tribe  was  on  the  buffalo  hunt,  and  Turning  the  Child.  At  the 
latter  ceremony  the  lock  was  cut  from  the  boy's  head  and  a  name 
which  belonged  to  its  gens  was  given  to  the  child.  The  Monkon/  subdi 
vision  had  the  direction  of  both  of  these  ceremonies.  The  ceremony 
connected  with  the  child  took  place  in  the  spring.  A  tent  was  pitched 
in  front  of  the  Monkon/  subdivision  and  set  toward  the  center  of  the 
tribal  circle,  "made  complete"  for  this  ceremony.  The  tent  was 
dedicated — "made  holy" — a  stone  placed  in  the  center  near  the  fire 
and  sweet  grass  laid  on  it.  It  was  the  duty  of  the  mothers  to  bring 
their  children  to  the  old  man  to  whom  belonged  the  hereditary  right 
to  perform  the  ceremony  of  Turning  the  Child.  After  the  child  had 
entered  the  tent  he  took  it  by  the  hand,  led  it  to  the  center  of  the 
tent,  and  stood  it  on  the  stone,  facing  the  east;  then  he  lifted  the  child 
by  the  shoulders,  turned  it  to  the  south,  and  let  its  feet  rest  on  the  stone. 
In  the  same  manner  he  again  lifted  the  child,  turned  it  to  the  west, 
and  then  rested  its  feet  on  the  stone.  Once  more  he  lifted  it,  as  before, 
causing  it  to  face  the  north,  and  set  its  feet  on  the  stone;  finally  he 
lifted  it  back,  with  its  face  to  the  east.  "  The  Turning  of  the  Child," 
the  old  informant  said,  "brought  the  child  face  to  face  with  the  life- 



IG.  G.    Cut  of  hair,  Po°'- 
caxti  gens  (Ponca). 

giving  winds  of  the  four  directions,"  while  "  the  stone  represented  long 
life."  The  child's  baby  name  was  then  "thrown  away,"  and  a  name 
from  the  gens  to  which  its  father  belonged  was  publicly  announced 
and  bestowed  upon  it.  All  children  were  "turned  "  but  only  boys  had 
the  lock  of  hair  severed  from  the  crown  of  the 
head,  the  lock  being  laid  away  in  a  pack  kept  by 
the  old  man  who  performed  the  rite.  The  boy 
was  then  taken  home  and  the  father  cut  his  hair 
in  the  symbolic  manner  of  his  gens.  (See  Omaha 
rite  of  Turning  the  Child,  p.  117.) 

(For  an  account  of  the  Feast  of  the  Soldier 
and  its  ritual,  see  pp.  309-311.) 

This  gens  had  duties  also  in  connection  with 
the  buffalo  hunt. 

The  people  of  the  Monkon/  subdivision  painted  their  tents  with 
black  and  yellow  bands. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  child's  hair  consisted  in  leaving  only  a 
tuft  on  the  forehead,  one  at  the  nape  of  the  neck,  and  one  on  each 
side  of  the  head  (fig.  6). 


The  name  of  this  gens,  Washa'be,  was  the  same  as  the  name  of  the 
ceremonial  staff  used  by  the  Omaha  leader  of  the  annual  tribal  buffalo 
hunt,  and  also  of  that  subdivision  of  the  Omaha 
Hon/ga  gens  which  had  charge  of  the  tent  contain 
ing  the  White  Buffalo  Hide,  of  its  ritual,  and  of  that 
of  the  maize  (see  p.  261).     The  Ponca  gens,  like  the 
Omaha  Washa'be  subdivision,  had  duties  connected 
with  the  tribal  buffalo  hunt,  and  was  associated 
with  the  Monkon'  subdivision  of  the  Pon'caxti  gens 
in  regulating  the  people  at  that  time  and  appointing 
officers  to  maintain  order  on  the  hunt.     There  were 
no  ceremonies  in  the  Ponca  tribe  relative  to  the 
planting  or  the  care  of  maize.     The  Ponca  are  said 
to   have  depended    for   food   principally    on   hunting,  and  to  have 
obtained  their  maize  more  by  barter  than  by  cultivation. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  child's  hair  consisted  in  leaving  only  a 
tuft  on  the  forehead  and  one  at  the  nape  of  the  neck  (fig.  7). 


The  name  Osage  is  a  corruption  of  the  native  term  wazha'zlie. 
Whether  or  not  in  the  tabu  and  customs  of  this  gens  the  Ponca  have 
conserved  something  of  the  early  rites  of  the  Wazha'zhe,  or  Osage, 
people  (rites  connected  with  the  snake)  can  be  determined  only  by 
more  careful  research  than  it  has  been  possible  for  the  writers  to 

FIG.  7.  Cut  of  hair,  Wa 
sha'be  gens  (Ponca). 

46  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [BTH.  ANN.  27 

A  member  of  this  gens  must  not  touch  or  kill  a  snake,  and  care  had 
to  be  exercised  always  to  enter  the  tent  by  the  door,  otherwise  snakes 
would  go  in  and  do  harm.  Mothers  in  this  gens  were  very  particular 
to  impress  on  their  children  the  importance  of  entering  the  tent  by 
the  door  and  little  children  were  watched  lest  one  should  creep  under 
the  tent  cover  and  so  bring  harm  to  itself  or  the  inmates. 

A  man  harboring  a  grudge  against  a  person  could  bring  about  the 
punishment  of  that  individual  by  dropping  inside  the  offender's  tent 
a  figure  of  a  snake  cut  out  of  rawhide.  Shortly  afterward  the  man 
would  be  bitten  by  a  snake.  A  drawing  made  of  the  snake  to  be  cut 
out  showed  it  to  be  a  rattlesnake. 

When  any  one  in  the  tribe  chanced  to  be  bitten  by  a  snake,  he  sent 
at  once  for  a  member  of  the  Wazha'zhe  gens,  who  on  arriving  at  the 
tent  quickly  dug  a  hole  beside  the  fire  with  a  stick,  and  then  sucked 
the  wound  so  as  to  draw  out  the  blood  and  prevent  any  serious  trouble 
from  the  injury.  The  purpose  in  digging  the  hole 
could  not  be  learned  from  the  writer's  informant. 
When  on  the  tribal  hunt,  the  women  gathered 
the  bones  of  the  buffalo  and  boiled  them  to  ex 
tract  the  marrow  for  future  use.  If  a  person 
wished  to  tease  a  woman  so  employed,  he  would 
catch  up  with  a  stick  and  throw  away  some  of  the 
scum  from  the  pot.  This  act  would  prevent  any 

FIG.  s.  Cut  of  hair,  Wa-  more  marrow  from  leaving  the  bones,  and  the  only 
way  to  undo  the  mischief  was  to  send  for  a  Wa 
zha'zhe,  who  on  arriving  removed  by  means  of  a  stick  some  of  the  fat 
from  the  boiling  bones.  The  marrow  would  then  come  out  freely  at 
once  and  the  woman  wrould  be  able  to  secure  an  ample  supply  of 
tallow.  "That  is  the  mystery  of  my  people,"  said  the  old  informant, 
with  a  sly  smile,  in  response  to  inquiries  on  the  subject. 

It  is  said  that  the  WTazha'zhe  were  a  warlike  and  quarrelsome  peo 
ple,  and  that  at  the  organization  of  the  tribe  a  peace  pipe  was  given 
into  their  keeping.  By  accepting  this  trust  they  committed  them 
selves  to  more  peaceful  and  orderly  conduct  in  the  tribe.  It  is  still 
a  matter  of  dispute  within  the  gens  as  to  which  of  the  two  subdi 
visions  the  custody  of  the  peace  pipe  originally  belonged,  whether 
to  the  "real"  or  to  the  "gray"  Wazha'zhe. 

The  office  of  tribal  herald  was  in  this  gens. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  consisted  in  leaving  a  lock  on  the 
forehead,  one  at  the  back  of  the  head,  and  one  over  each  ear  (fig.  8). 

7.    Nll'XE    GENS 

The  name  of  this  gens,  Nu'xe  ("ice"),  found  also  in  the  Osage  tribe, 
refers  to  the  hail.  The  Osage  gens  of  this  name  is  closely  associated 
with  the  Buffalo-bull  people,  and  in  this  connection  it  is  to  be  noted 


that  the  tabu  of  the  Ponca  Nu'xe  gens  is  the  male  buffalo.  The 
Osage  have  a  tradition  that  the  Ponca  were  once  a  part  of  their 
tribe,  but  that  very  long  ago  the  people  became  separated  on  the 
buffalo  hunt,  and  the  Ponca  never  came  back.  It  will  be  noted  that 
the  Osage  have  a  Ponca  gens  and  the  Ponca  a  Wazha'zhe  gens,  that 
there  is  a  Waca'be  gens  in  each  tribe,  also  a  Hi'cada  gens,  which  in 
each  tribe  had  rites  referring  to  thunder;  all  of  these  resemblances 
are  probably  the  result  of  movements  which  took  place  long  before 
the  Ponca  and  the  Omaha  were  as  closely  associated  as  at  a  later 
period,  prior  to  finally  becoming  distinct  tribes. 


The  people  came  across  a  great  water  on  rafts — logs  tied  together — and  pitched 
their  tents  on  the  shore.  While  there  they  thought  to  make  themselves  w'sMo", 
limits  or  bounds  within  which  to  move,  and  regulations  by  which  their  actions  were 
to  be  governed.  They  cleared  a  space  of  grass  and  weeds  so  that  they  could  see  one 
another's  faces,  and  sat  down,  and  there  was  no  obstruction  between  them. 

While  they  were  deliberating  they  heard  the  hooting  of  an  owl  in  the  timber  near  by, 
and  the  leader,  who  had  called  the  people  together,  said,  "That  bird  is  to  take  part  in 
our  action;  he  calls  to  us,  offering  his  aid."  Immediately  afterward  they  heard  the 
cry  of  the  woodpecker  and  his  knocking  against  the  trees,  and  the  leader  said,  "That 
bird  calls  and  offers  his  aid;  he  will  take  part  in  our  action." 

The  leader  then  addressed  the  man  he  had  appointed  to  act  as  servant,  and  said,  "Go 
to  the  woods  and  get  an  ash  sapling."  The  servant  went  out  and  returned  with  a 
sapling  having  a  rough  bark.  "This  is  not  what  we  want,"  said  the  leader.  "Go 
again,  and  get  a  sapling  that  has  a  smooth  bark,  bluish  in  color  at  the  joint "  (where  a 
branch  comes).  The  servant  went  out,  and  returned  with  a  sapling  of  the  kind 

When  the  leader  took  up  the  ash  sapling,  an  eagle  came  and  soared  above  where  the 
council  sat.  He  dropped  a  downy  feather;  it  fell,  and  balanced  itself  in  the  center  of 
the  cleared  space.  This  was  the  white  eagle.  The  leader  said,  "This  is  not  what  we 
want;"  so  the  white  eagle  passed  on. 

Then  the  bald  eagle  came  swooping  down  as  though  making  an  attack  upon  its  prey, 
balanced  itself  on  its  wings  directly  over  the  cleared  space,  uttering  fierce  cries,  and 
dropped  one  of  its  downy  feathers,  which  stood  on  the  ground  as  the  other  eagle's 
feather  had  done.  The  leader  said,  "This  is  not  what  we  want;"  and  the  bald  eagle 
passed  on. 

Then  came  the  spotted  eagle  and  soared  over  the  council  and  dropped  its  feather, 
which  stood  as  the  others  had  done.  The  leader  said,  "This  is  not  what  we  want;" 
and  the  spotted  eagle  passed  on. 

The  eagle  with  the  fantail  (imperial  eagle,  Aquila  heliaca  Savigny)  then  came,  and 
soared  over  the  people.  It  dropped  a  downy  feather  which  stood  upright  in  the  center 
of  the  cleared  space.  The  leader  said,  "This  is  what  we  want."  The  feathers  of  this 
eagle  were  those  used  in  making  the  peace  pipes,  together  with  the  other  birds  (the 
owl  and  the  woodpecker)  and  the  animals,  making  in  all  nine  kinds  of  articles.  These 
pipes  were  to  be  used  in  establishing  friendly  relations  with  other  tribes. & 

"Obtained  from  chiefs  and  other  prominent  Ponea. 

&  This  account  of  the  Ponca  introduction  to  the  Wa'wa"  pipes  should  be  compared  with  the  Omaha 
account  of  receiving  these  pipes  from  the  Arikara  (p.  74)  and  the  Omaha  ceremony  (p.  37G).  The  nine 
articles  are  as  follows:  Owl  feathers,  eagle  feathers,  woodpecker,  rabbit,  deer,  ash  tree,  paint,  cat-tail,  and 

48  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


When  the  peace  pipes  were  made  (those  for  "establishing  friendly  relations  with 
other  tribes  "),  seven  other  pipes  were  made  for  the  keeping  of  peace  within  the  tribe. 
These  pipes  were  also  for  use  to  prevent  bloodshed.  If  one  man  should  kill  another, 
in  such  a  case  the  chiefs  were  to  take  a  pipe  to  the  aggrieved  relatives  and  offer  it  to 
them.  If  they  refused,  the  pipe  was  to  be  again  offered  them;  if  the  pipe  was  offered 
and  refused  four  successive  times,  then  the  chiefs  said  to  them,  "You  must  now  take 
the  consequences;  we  will  do  nothing,  and  ycu  can  not  ask  to  see  the  pipes,"  meaning 
that  if  trouble  should  come  to  any  of  them  because  of  their  acts  taken  in  revenge  they 
could  not  appeal  for  help  or  mercy. 

When  these  seven  pipes  were  finished  they  were  taken  to  be  distributed  among  the 
different  bands  of  the  tribe. 

The  first  band  to  which  the  pipe  bearers  came  was  the  Waca'be.  They  were  found 
to  be  engaged  in  a  ceremony  that  did  not  pertain  to  peace,  but  rather  to  the  taking  of 
life.  The  Hi'cada  sat  in  a  tentVith  red-hot  stones,  and  had  on  their  heads  wreaths  of 
cedar  branches.  The  pipe  bearers  passed  them  by,  and  even  to  this  day  they  are 
reminded  of  this  occurrence  by  the  other  bands  saying,  "You  are  no  people;  you  have 
no  peace  pipe!" 

The  next  band  the  pipe  bearers  came  to  was  the  Thi'xida.  To  them  a  pipe  was 
given,  and  they  were  to  have  charge  of  the  council  which  elected  chiefs. 

Next  they  came  to  the  Ni'kapashna,  and  to  them  a  pipe  was  given,  and  they  were  to 
have  the  management  of  the  council  of  war  and  also  the  direction  of  the  people  when 
they  went  to  hunt  the  deer,  so  that  order  might  be  preserved  in  the  pursuit  of  that 

The  Pon/caxti  and  the  Monkon/  were  reached  next,  and  a  pipe  was  given  them. 

The  Washa'be  were  next,  and  a  pipe  was  given  them.  This  band,  together  with  the 
Monkon/,  were  given  charge  of  the  tribal  buffalo  hunt — the  direction  of  the  journey, 
the  making  of  the  camps,  and  the  preservation  of  order.  From  these  two  bands  the 
two  principal  chiefs  must  come. 

When  the  pipe  bearers  reached  the  Wazha'zhe  the  latter  were  divided ,  and  there  were 
trouble  and  murder  between  the  factions.  So,  instead  of  giving  them  a  flat-stemmed 
pipe,  they  gave  them  one  with  a  round  stem,  ornamented.  Because  of  the  feud  there 
was  carelessness,  and  to  this  day  there  is  a  dispute  as  to  the  division  to  which  the  pipe 
for  the  maintenance  of  peace  was  presented. 

When  the  pipe  bearers  reached  the  Nu'xe,  they  gave  them  a  pipe  arid  an  office  in  the 
buffalo  hunt. 

Each  band  had  its  pipe,  but  there  was  one  pipe  which  was  to  belong  to  the  chiefs. 
This  could  be  filled  only  by  the  leading  chiefs,  and  was  to  be  used  to  punish  people 
who  made  trouble  in  the  tribe.  It  was  placed  in  charge  of  the  Monkon/  band. 

When  a  man  was  to  be  punished,  all  the  chiefs  gathered  together  and  this  pipe  was 
filled  by  the  leader  and  smoked  by  all  the  chiefs  present.  Then  each  chief  put  his 
mind  on  the  offender  as  the  leader  took  the  pipe  to  clean  it.  He  poured  some  of  the 
tobacco  ashes  on  the  ground,  and  said,  "This  shall  rankle  in  the  calves  of  the  man's 
legs."  Then  he  twirled  the  cleaning  stick  in  the  pipe  and  took  out  a  little  more  ashes, 
and,  putting  them  on  the  earth,  said,  "This  shall  be  for  the  base  of  the  sinews,  arid  he 
shall  start  with  pain  "  (in  the  back).  A  third  time  he  twirled  the  cleaning  stick,  put 
more  ashes  on  the  earth,  and  said,  "This  is  for  the  spine,  at  the  base  of  the  head."  A 
fourth  time  he  twirled  the  cleaning  stick  in  the  pipe,  poured  out  the  ashes,  put  them 
on  the  ground,  and  eaid,  "  This  is  for  the  crown  of  his  head."  This  act  finished  the 
man,  who  died  soon  after. 









Standing  Buffalo  (pi.  2),  of  the  Wazha'zhe  gens,  told  the  follow 
ing  story  some  ten  years  ago : 

When  I  was  a  boy  I  often  asked  my  mother  where  my  people  came  from,  but  she 
would  not  tell  me,  until  one  day  she  said,  "  I  will  give  you  the  story  as  it  has  been 
handed  down  from  generation  to  generation. 

"In  the  real  beginning  Wakon/da  made  the  Wazha'zhe— men,  women,  and 
children.  After  they  were  made  he  said  'Go!'  So  the  people  took  all  they  had, 
carried  their  children,  and  started  toward  the  setting  sun.  They  traveled  until 
they  came  to  a  great  water.  Seeing  they  could  go  no  farther,  they  halted.  Again 
Wakon/da  said  '  Go! '  And  once  more  they  started,  and  wondered  what  would  happen 
to  them.  As  they  were  about  to  step  into  the  water  there  appeared  from  under  the 
water  rocks.  These  projected  just  above  the  surface,  and  there  were  others  barely 
covered  with  water.  Upon  these  stones  the  people  walked,  stepping  from  stone  to 
stone  until  they  came  to  land.  When  they  stood  on  dry  land  the  wind  blew,  the 
water  became  violent  and  threw  the  rocks  upon  the  land,  and  they  became  great 
cliffs.  Therefore  when  men  enter  the  sweat  lodge  they  thank  the  stones  for  pre 
serving  their  lives  and  ask  for  a  continuation  of  their  help  that  their  lives  may  be 
prolonged.  Here  on  the  shore  the  people  dwelt;  but  again  Wakou/da  said  'Go!' 
And  again  they  started  and  traveled  on  until  they  came  to  a  people  whose  appearance 
was  like  their  own;  but  not  knowing  whether  they  were  friends  or  foes,  the  people 
rushed  at  each  other  for  combat.  In  the  midst  of  the  confusion  Wakon/da  said, 
'Stand  still!'  The  people  obeyed.  They  questioned  each  other,  found  they  spoke 
the  same  language,  and  became  friends. 

"  Wakon/da  gave  the  people  a  bow,  a  dog,  and  a  grain  of  corn.  The  people  made 
other  bows  like  the  one  given  them  and  learned  to  use  them  for  killing  wild  animals 
for  food  and  to  make  clothing  out  of  their  skins.  The  dogs  gave  increase  and  were 
used  as  burden  bearers  and  for  hunting.  The  corn  they  planted,  and  when  it  grew 
they  found  it  good  to  eat,  and  they  continued  to  plant  it. 

"The  people  traveled  on  and  came  to  a  lake.  There  the  Omaha  found  a  Sacred 
Tree  and  took  it  with  them.  The  people  (Ponca)  went  on  and  came  to  a  river  now 
called  Nishu'de  (the  Missouri).  They  traveled  along  its  banks  until  they  came  to 
a  place  where  they  could  step  over  the  water.  From  there  they  went  across  the  land 
and  came  to  a  river  now  called  Nibtha'cka  (the  Platte).  This  river  they  followed, 
and  it  led  them  back  to  the  Missouri. 

"Again  they  went  up  this  river  until  they  came  to  a  river  now  called  Niobrara, 
where  we  live  to-day." 

The  latter  part  of  this  legend,  which  deals  with  the  Ponca  move 
ments  after  the  Omaha  found  the  Sacred  Tree,  has  been  obtained 
from  a  number  of  old  men.  All  follow  the  general  outline  given 
by  Standing  Buffalo,  while  some  preserve  details  omitted  by  him, 
as  the  meeting  with  the  Padouca  (Comanche),  the  obtaining  of 
horses,  etc.,  which  are  given  elsewhere.  (See  p.  78.) 


The  following  account  of  how  White  Eagle  (pi.  3)  came  to  be  a 
chief  was  given  by  him  ten  years  or  more  ago  and  was  introductory 
to  the  information  he  then  imparted  to  the  writers.     He  regarded 
83993°— 27  ETH— 11 4 

50  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

the  story  as  important,  for  it  served  to  make  clear  his  tribal  status 
and  therefore,  he  thought,  to  give  weight  to  his  statements  concern 
ing  the  Ponca  tribe.  The  story  is  repeated  here  as  throwing  light 
on  Ponca  customs  during  the  eighteenth  century: 

A  chief  by  the  name  of  Zhingaxgahige  (Little  Chief),  of  the  Washa'be  band,  had 
a  son  who  went  on  the  warpath.  The  father  sat  in  his  tent  weeping  because  he  had 
heard  that  his  son  was  killed,  for  the  young  man  did  not  return.  As  he  wept  he 
thought  of  various  persons  in  the  tribe  whom  he  might  call  on  to  avenge  the  death 
of  his  son.  As  he  cast  about,  he  recalled  a  young  man  who  belonged  to  a  poor  family 
and  had  no  notable  relations.  The  young  man's  name  was  Wa£a/bezhinga  (Little 
Bear).  The  chief  remembered  that  this  young  man  dressed  and  painted  himself 
in  a  peculiar  manner,  and  thought  that  he  did  so  that  he  might  act  in  accordance 
with  a  dream,  and  therefore  it  was  probable  that  he  possessed  more  than  ordinary 
power  and  courage.  So  the  chief  said  to  himself,  "I  will  call  on  him  and  see  what 
he  can  do." 

Then  the  chief  called  together  all  the  other  chiefs  of  the  tribe,  and  when  they  were 
assembled  he  sent  for  Little  Bear.  On  the  arrival  of  the  young  man  the  chief 
addressed  him,  saying,  "My  son  went  on  the  warpath  and  has  never  returned.  I  do  not 
know  where  his  bones  lie.  I  have  only  heard  he  has  been  killed.  I  wish  you  to  go  and 
find  the  land  where  he  was  killed.  If  you  return  successful  four  times,  then  I  shall 
resign  my  place  in  your  favor." 

Little  Bear  accepted  the  offer.  He  had  a  sacred  headdress  that  had  on  it  a  ball  of 
human  hair;  he  obtained  the  hair  in  this  manner:  Whenever  men  and  women  of  his 
acquaintance  combed  their  hair  and  any  of  the  hair  fell  out,  Little  Bear  asked  to  have 
the  combings  given  to  him.  By  and  by  he  accumulated  enough  hair  to  make  his 
peculiar  headdress.  This  was  a  close-fitting  skull  cap  of  skin;  on  the  front  part  was 
fastened  the  ball  of  human  hair;  on  the  back  part  were  tied  a  downy  eagle  feather  and 
one  of  the  sharp-pointed  feathers  from  the  wing  of  that  bird.  He  had  another  sacred 
article,  a  buffalo  horn,  which  he  fastened  at  his  belt. 

Little  Bear  called  a  few  warriors  together  and  asked  them  to  go  with  him,  and  they 
consented.  Putting  on  his  headdress  and  buffalo  horn,  he  and  his  companions  started. 
They  met  a  party  of  Sioux,  hunting.  One  of  the  Sioux  made  a  charge  at  Little  Bear, 
who  fell  over  a  bluff.  The  Sioux  stood  above  him  and  shot  arrows  at  him ;  one  struck 
the  headdress  and  the  other  the  buffalo  horn.  After  he  had  shot  these  two  arrows  the 
Sioux  turned  and  fled.  Little  Bear,  who  was  unipjured,  climbed  up  the  bluff,  and, 
seeing  the  Sioux,  drew  his  bow  and  shot  the  man  through  the  head.  Besides  this  scalp 
Little  Bear  and  his  party  captured  some  ponies.  On  the  return  of  the  party  Little 
Bear  gave  his  share  of  the  booty  to  the  chief  who  had  lost  his  son. 

Little  Bear  went  on  three  other  expeditions  and  always  returned  successful,  and  each 
time  he  gave  his  share  of  the  spoils  to  the  chief.  When  Little  Bear  came  back  the 
fourth  time  the  chief  kept  his  word  and  resigned  his  office  in  favor  of  the  young  man. 

Little  Bear  was  my  grandfather.  When  he  died  he  was  succeeded  by  his  eldest  son, 
Two  Bulls.  At  his  death  his  brother,  Wexgayapi  (pi.  4),«  who  was  my  father,  became 
chief,  and  I  succeeded  him. 

a  An  old  Ponca,  speaking  of  We'gagapi,  said:  "  He  was  a  successful  man,  and  had  a  pack  which  had 
descended  to  him.  He  always  carried  it  in  war.  Both  he  and  the  original  owner  of  the  pack  are  said  to 
have  had  dreams  of  wolves."  We'gacapi  had  the  honor  of  having  some  of  his  brave  deeds  preserved 
hi  song  by  the  Hethu'shka  society,  and  the  song  is  known  to  members  of  the  society  in  both  the  Ponca 
and  Omaha  tribes. 








The  following  list  of  Ponca  names  was  taken  in  November,  1874, 
while  the  entire  tribe  was  living  on  the  Niobrara  river.0 

The  total  population  of  the  tribe  at  that  time  was  733,  divided  as 
follows : b 

Full  bloods.  Mixed  bloods.  Full  bloods.  Mixed  bloods. 

Men 172  32  Girls 129  45 

Women 164  21  Families 185  32 

Boys 135  35 

The  people  dwelt  in  three  villages.  The  village  at  the  United 
States  agency  contained  89  families  and  377  persons.  The  village 
called  Hubthon/  ("those  who  smell  of  fish")  had  46  families  and  144 
persons.  "Point"  village  had  82  families  and  248  persons. 

There  were  eight  chiefs,  each  of  whom  had  his  "band."  These 
bands  were  probably  composed  of  persons  from  the  gens  or  subgens 
to  which  the  chief  belonged. 

Families.  Persons. 

White  Eagle's  band  (Waca'be,  Hi'fada  subgenej 26  89 

Big  Soldier's  band  (Waca'be,  Hi'<?ada  subgens) 31  97 

Traveling  Buffalo's  band  (Thi'xida). . 23  72 

Black  Crow's  band  (Ni'kapashna) 28  90 

Over  the  Land's  band  (Pon/caxti  and  Monko"') 21  73 

Woodpecker's  band  (Washa/be) 27  75 

Standing  Bear's  band  ( Wazha'zhe) 20  82 

Big-hoofed  Buffalo's  band  (Nu'xe) 9  22 

a  In  1858  the  Ponca  ceded  their  hunting  grounds  to  the  United  States,  and  reserved  for  their  home  the 
land  about  their  old  village  sites  on  the  Niobrara  river  They  were  never  at  war  with  the  Government  or 
the  white  race.  Their  reservation  was  reconfirmed  to  them  by  the  Government  in  1865.  In  1868  a  large 
reservation  was  granted  to  the  Sioux,  hi  which  the  Ponca  reservation  on  the  Niobrara  was  included. 
The  Ponca  tribe  was  ignorant  of  this  official  transfer  of  its  land.  In  1877  the  Ponca,  without  any  warning, 
were  informed  they  must  move  to  the  Indian  Territory,  and  the  eight  chiefs  were  conducted  there 
by  an  official  and  told  to  select  a  new  reservation  The  reason  for  leaving  their  old  home  was  not  explained 
to  the  protesting  chiefs  or  to  the  people.  The  chiefs  who  went  with  the  official  refused  to  select  a  home  in 
"the  strange  land."  They  begged  to  be  allowed  to  go  back.  Being  refused,  they  left  the  official,  and,  in 
the  winter,  with  but  a  few  dollars  and  a  blanket  each ,  started  home,  walking  500  miles  in  forty  days.  When 
they  reached  the  Niobrara  the  United  States  Indian  agent  summoned  the  military  and  on  the  Istof  May 
the  entire  tribe  was  forcibly  removed  to  the  Indian  Territory.  The  change  from  a  cool  climate  to  a  warm 
and  humid  one  caused  suffering.  Within  a  year  one-third  of  the  people  were  dead  and  nearly  all  the  sur 
vivors  were  sick  or  disabled.  A  son  of  Chief  Standing  Bear  (pi.  5)  died  The  father  could  not  bury  him 
away  from  his  ancestors,  so  taking  the  bones,  he  and  his  immediate  following  turned  from  "the  hot 
country,"  and  in  January,  1879,  started  to  walk  back  They  reached  the  Omaha  reservation  in  May, 
destitute,  and  asked  the  loan  of  land  and  seed,  which  was  granted.  As  they  were  about  to  put  in  a  crop, 
soldiers  appeared  with  orders  to  arrest  Standing  Bear  and  his  party  and  take  them  back.  They  were 
obliged  to  obey.  On  their  way  south  they  camped  near  Omaha  city.  Their  story  was  made  known,  the 
citizens  became  interested,  lawyers  offered  help,  and  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus  was  secured.  The  United 
States  denied  the  prisoners'  right  to  sue  out  a  writ,  because  "an  Indian  was  not  a  person  within  the  mean- 
ingof  the  law."  The  case  came  before  Judge  Dundy,  who  decided  that  "An  Indian  is  a  person  within  the 
meaning  of  the  law,"  and  that  there  was  no  authority  under  the  laws  of  the  United  States  forcibly  to 
remove  the  prisoners  to  the  Indian  Territory,  and  ordered  their  release.  In  the  winter  Standing  Beai  vis 
ited  the  principal  cities  of  the  East,  repeating  the  story  of  his  people.  The  United  States  Senate  ordered 
an  investigation  of  the  Ponca  removal,  when  all  the  facts  were  brought  out,  Those  Ponca  who  chose  to 
remain  in  Oklahoma  were  given  good  lands.  Their  old  home  on  the  Niobrara  was  restored  to  Standing 
Bear  and  his  followers  and  lost  property  was  paid  for  In  September,  1908,  Standing  Bear  died  and 
was  buried  with  his  fathers.  By  his  sufferings  and  courage  he  was  instrumental  in  putting  an  end  to 
enforced  Indian  removals. 

6  Data  furnished  by  Office  of  Commissioner  of  Indian  Affairs. 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 



White  Eagle's  band 

Ci'ha— Soles  (O. :  Te'pa,  Tha'tada,Tapa'). 
Qithe/dezhinga— Little  heel  (O.,  I"shta'- 


De/monthin — Talks  walking. 
Gahi'ge    zhinga— Little  chief  (O.:    Inke'- 

cabe,  Kon'ce). 

Gaku'winxe — Whirled  by  the  wind. 
Gamon'xpi — Wind  strikes  the  clouds  (O.: 

Wazhin/ga,  Tha'tada). 
Gashta'gabi — Beaten  into  submission. 
Ha'nugahi — Nettle  weed. 
Ke'tonga — Big    turtle    (O.:       Wazhin/ga, 

Mi/xazhinga —  Duck . 
Monchu'nita — Grizzly  bear's  ears. 
Monchu/wathihi — Stampedes  the  grizzly 


Monchu'zhinga — Little  grizzly  bear. 
Mone'gahi — -Arrow  chief  (O.,  Pke'cabe). 
Mon'shonzhide — Red  feather. 
Mon/tega — New  arrow. 
Ni'stumo^hi11 — Walking   backward    (O.: 

Xu'ka,  Tha'tada). 

NL:hu'dezhon — Missouri  River  timber. 
Niwa'i — Gives  water. 
Non/pabi — One  who  is  feared  (O.:     Wa- 

ca'be,  Tha'tada). 

Nudon/honga — Leader  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Nudon/monthin — Warrior  walking. 
On/poncabe — Black  Elk. 
Pe'degahi — Fire  chief  (O.:     Wazhin/ga, 


Shontonga — Gray  wolf. 
Shu'degaxe — Smoke  maker  (pi.  6). 
Shui'na— Meaninguncertain(0.:Waca'be, 

Shuka'monthin — Walking  in  groups  (O., 

Teco117— White    buffalo    (0.:    Wazhin/ga, 


Tenu'gacabe — Black  bull. 
ThiV'bagigthe — Lightning    passing    (O., 

ThiVbatigthe— Sudden     lightning    (O., 

Inshta/cunda) . 
Tide'gigthe — Passes  by  with  a  roar. 

Tixuthionba — Lightning  flashes  in  the  tent 

Wahu'to^he— Gun. 
Wain/gabtha — Spreads  robe. 
Wazhi/dathin — Has  red  medicine. 
Xitha'yka— White  eagle  (O.,  Tapax). 

Mi'gashonthin — Traveling         sun       (O., 

Mi'texi — Sacred   moon    (0.,    Mon/thinka- 


Big  Soldier's  band 


Agi/chidatonga — Big  soldier. 

A'hincka— White  wings  (O.:  Te'pa,  Thax- 


A'shkano^e — Short  runner. 
A^ewo" — Covered  with  frost. 
Gahi'ge— Chief    (0.:     l-'ke'cabe,    Te'pa, 

Thaxtada),  plate  7. 
Hexxude — Gray  horns  (O.,  Tecin/de). 
Ixkuhabi — He  who  causes  fear 
Inshtaxduba — Four    eyes   (O.:   Waca'be, 

Ki'shtawagu — Said  to  be  a  Pawnee  name 

(0.,  Mc^'th^kagaxe). 
Mon/hingahi — Knife  chief. 
Mon/thumonce — Metal  or  iron  chief. 
Nmixba— Pipe  (0.,  Terpa.  Tha^ada). 
Nonba/monthin — Two    walking  (0.:    Wa- 

zhiu/ga,  Tha'tada). 
Non/gemonthin — Travels  running  (O . ,  Mon/- 


Nudon/axa — Cries  for  war. 
Pahon/gamonthin— Walking  first  (O.,  Inkex- 

Shage'duba— Four  hoofs  (O.,  TapaO- 
Shu'kabi — Bunch  of  clouds. 
Taton/gapa — Bull  head. 
Tenuxga9ka — White  bull. 
Te'thiti— Buffalo     rib      (().:      Waca'be, 


Thi'tiaxa — Cries  for  rib. 
U/honzhinga— Little    cook    (O.,    P'shta'- 


Uzhon/ge — Road. 
Wacaxbezhinga — Little    black    bear  (O.: 

Waca'be,  Tha'tada). 

oThis  list  is  necessarily  incomplete.  Names  found  in  tribes  other  than  the  Ponca  are  followed  by 
the  names  of  the  respective  tribes,  accompanied  by  those  of  the  gentes  where  known,  in  parentheses. 
(O.=  Omaha.) 









Wakon/dagi — Monster. 

Wazhin/ga— Bird    (O.:    Wazhin/ga,    Tha'- 

Wazhin/gacabe — Blackbird  (O.,  Mjon'thin- 

Wazhin/gagahi — Bird  chief  (O. :  Wazhin/ga, 


We/zhnonwathe — He  who  causes  fog. 
Zha'becka — White  beaver. 
Zhin/gapezhi — Bad  little  one. 
Zhon/xude — Gray  wood. 


A'onwin — Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Mi'tena — Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Mi'waco" — White  moon  (O.,  Ho^'ga). 
Non9e/in9e— Meaning  uncertain  (O.,Wex- 


Tecon/dabe— White  buffalo  (O.,  Ho^ga). 
TeccP'wi11— White    buffalo    woman    (O., 

Ton/ingthihe — Sudden  appearing  of   new 

moon  (O.,  Pke'cabe). 
Zhoni/wathe — To  carry    wood    (O.,  Wex- 



Traveling  Buffalo's  band 


Gaku'winxe — Soaring    eagle    (O.:  Te'pa, 

IIa/shimonthin — Walking  last  in  a  file  (O., 

Inshta/cunda) . 
He'shathage — Branching    horns   (O.,    In- 


Hewon/zhintha — One  horn  (Dakota). 
Hezha'ta— Forked  horns  (0.,  Tapa'). 
Hezhin/ga — Little  horn. 
Ka'xenonba — Two  crows  (O.,  Ho^ga). 
Keba'ha — Turtle    showing    himself    (O., 

Ma'azhinga— Little  cotton  wood  (O.:  Wa- 

zhin/ga,  Thaxtada). 
Mixa'cka — White  swan  (O.,  Mon/thinka- 

gaxe).    t 
Mona/zhinga— Little    bank    (O.,     Pgthe7- 


Monchu/gka — White  bear. 
Mo^hi'ahamo^hi11 — Moving    above    (O., 


No^e'thiku — Cramped  hand. 
On/pontonga— Big   Elk    (O.,  We'zhi^hte). 

Pa/thinnonpazhin — Fears  not  Pawnee  (O.: 

Waca'be,  Tha7tada). 
Shaxgecka— White  claws  (O.,  Thaxtada). 
Sha'geshuga — Thick  claws. 
Sha'nugahi — Meaning      uncertain      (O., 

Shathu' — Gurgle  (water). 
Tato^ga — Great    male    deer    (old    name) 

(O.,  Tapa')- 

Taton/ganonzhin — Standing  bull. 
Tenu/ganonba— Two    buffalo    bulls    (O., 


Tenu/gazhinga— Little  bull  (0.,Tecin/de). 
LT/don— Good. 
Uga/shonton — The    traveler  or  wanderer 

(O..  Tecin/de). 
Wabarhizhinga — The    little    grazer    (O., 

Wa5a/betonge — Big  black  bear  (O.,  Mon/- 

Wada^thinge — Refers  to  chief  (O.,  Inke'- 

cabe) . 

Wamix— Blood  (O.,  Ko^'ce). 
Wanon/xe — Ghost. 

Washixchucabe — Black  man  (Sioux). 
Washin/nuka — Wet  fat,  or  fresh  fat. 
Washixshka— Shell  (O.,  Mon/thinkagaxe) . 
Washu'she — Brave  (O.,  Inke/cabe). 
Wazhin/cka — Wisdom  (().,  Inshtaxcunda). 
Wazhin/gaci — Yellow  bird. 
Wazhinwathe — He  who  provokes  anger. 
Xitha'cka— White  eagle  (O.,  Tapax). 


Mi'gasho^thi" — Traveling  moon  (O.,Inkex- 

Mi/gthedonwin — Moon  hawk  woman  (O., 

Mi^thito"^ — Return   cf    new  moon  (O., 

Inshta/cunda) . 
Mi'cPbatM11 — Moon  moving  by  day  (O., 

Inshta'cunda) . 

Mi'tena — Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Nazhe'gito0 — Meaning        uncertain    (O., 

Nonce/in9e — Meaning       uncertain       (O., 

Ton/ithin — Xew       moon       moving       (O., 

Wate'win — May  refer  to  the  stream  Wate 

(O.,  Thartada). 
We/tonna — Meaning    uncertain    (O.,     In- 




[ETH.  ANN.  -~i 


Black  Crow's  band 

A/kidagahigi — Chief    who    watches    (O., 


Cikonxega — Brown  ankles  (O.,  Inke'cabe). 
Gahi'gewashushe — Brave  chief. 
Gahi'gezhinga— Little  chief  (O.,  Kon/ce). 
Gthedon'nonzhin — Standing       hawk    (O.: 

Wazhin/ga,  Tha'tada). 
Gthedon/xude— Gray       hawk    (O.:    Wa- 

zhin/ga,  Tha'tada). 
Hexcithinke — New  yellow  horn  (O.,  We'- 

zhinshte) . 

Hethi'shizhe — Crooked  horn. 
Hin/xega — Brown  hair  (Omaha). 
Hu'tontigthe — Cries  out  in  the  distance. 
I/bahonbi— He    is    known    (O.,     Pshta'- 

cunda) . 

Inchun/gacka— White  weasel  (O.,  Tapa'). 
Kaxe'cabe— Black     crow     (O.,     Tapa'), 

plate  8. 
Ke'zhinga— Little  turtle  (O.:  Ke'in,  Tha'- 

tada) . 

Mika' — Raccoon . 
Mixabaku— Bent  goose  (O.:  Ke'in,  Tha'- 

tada) . 

Monchu'dathin — Crazy  bear. 
Mon/geutin — Strikes  the  breast. 
Monhin/thinge— No  knife    (0.,   We'zhin- 


Monnon'uton — Paws  the  earth. 
Mon/shkaaxa — Cries     for     crawfish     (O.: 

Waca'be,  Tha'tada). 
Monshon/9ka— White  feather  (O.,  Ingthe'- 


Nonba'aton — Treads  on  two. 
Non/getithe — Passes  by  running. 
Nonka'tu— Blue-back  (0.,  Ingthe'zhide). 
Nudon/gina — Returns  from  war. 
Shon'gehincabe — Black  horse. 
Tato^gam^thi11— Big  deer  walking  (O., 


Taxxticka — ^White  deer. 
Wafe'zhide — Red  paint. 
WancP^azhi— Without  fear  (O.,   Ingthex- 

Zhingaxun5a — Little  runner. 


Gthedon/8htewin — Hawk      woman      (O., 

Mi/gthedon/win  —  Moon  hawk  woman  (O. 

Inkercabe)  . 
Mo^shadethi"  —  One  moving  on  high  (O., 

Ton/ingina  —  New    moon    coming  (O.,   In- 



Over  the  Land's  band 


Ci^decka  —  White  tail  (Omaha). 
Ci^dedc^ka—  Blunt  tail  (O.^Vzhi^hte). 
^ithi^ge—  No  feet. 
Ezhnon/nonzhin—  Stands  alone. 
Gthedon/  texi  —  Sacred  hawk. 
Ho  n/gazhinga—  Little  Hon/ga  (O.  ,  Hon/ga). 
Pke^ga  —  Big     shoulder     (O.,     Pshta'- 

cunda)  . 

Inshta'pede  —  Fire  eyes  (O.,  Pke^abe). 
Keon/hazhi—  Turtle   that   flees   not    (0.: 

Waca'be,  Thaxtada). 
Kigthaxzhonzhon  —  Shakes     himself     (O., 


Mikaxxage  —  Crying  raccoon  (O.,  Tapax). 
Monkaxta  —  On  the  land  (old  name,  now 

used  among  the  Dakota). 
Monkon/tonga  —  Big  medicine. 
Monzhon/ibahon  —  Knows  the  land. 
Non/gethia  —  Not      able      to      run 


Nugax  —  Male  (O.,  Pke^abe). 
Nugarxte  —  Original     male      (O., 

zhiushte)  . 

C^^c^zh^ga—  Littleelk(O.,We/zhinshte). 
Shenon/zhin—  Stands  there. 
Te^o^hi11—  Buffalo*        walking         (O., 


Tenuxgawakega  —  Sick  bull. 
Thaexgethabi  —  One   who   is    loved    (O., 


Thexbaxon  —  Broken  jaw. 
Thexdewathe  —  Looks  back. 
Thihiexnon  —  Frightens  the  game. 
Une/gthonxe  —  Seeks  poison. 
Waba^izi—  Yellow  grazer  (O.,  Mo^thi11- 


Wagixon  —  Thunder  bird  (Dakota). 
Washkon/zhinga  —  Little  strength. 
Wa/xanonzhin  —  Standing  in  advance  (O., 


Xitha'gahige—  Eagle  chief  (0.,  TapaO  . 
Xitha'gaxe—  Eagle  maker  (0.,  Tapa7). 
Zhinga/nudon  —  Little  warrior. 












Acextonga  —  Meaning        uncertain        (O., 

Gthedon/wintexe  —  Sacred    hawk    woman 

(0.,  Tapax). 

Mixakonda  —  Sacred  moon  (O.,  Tecin/de). 
Mixbthiwin  —  Meaning       uncertain       (O., 

Mi/monshihathin  —  Moon   moving  on  high 

(0.,  Thaxtada). 

Mi'tena  —  Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Ho^ga). 
Mixwacon  —  White  moon  (O.,  Ho^ga). 
Ponca/50n  —  White    Ponca   (O.,    Mo^thi"- 

kagaxe)  . 
Zhon/inwathe  —  To  carry  wood  (O.,  Wex- 



Woodpecker's  band 

A/gahamonthin  —  Walks      outside     (O.: 

Xuxka,  Thaxtada). 
C/in/decabe  —  Black  tail. 
E/thonthonbe  —  To  appear  repeatedly  (O., 


Hexaxga9abe  —  Black  elk. 
Hexa^amc^thi11  —  Standing  elk  (0.,  Mon/- 

Hinci/zhinga  —  Little     yellow     hair     (O., 

Huxhazhi  —  Meaning       uncertain        (O., 


Inshtaxcabe  —  Black  eyes  (O.,  Tefi^de). 
Inshta/dathin—  Crazy  eyes. 
Inshtaxduba  —  Four    eyes    (0.,    Wacaxbe, 


Kon/yetonga  —  Big  Kansa. 
Maxciton  —  Lone  cedar  tree. 
Mixkafixthaha  —  Lean  coyote. 
Mixxatonga  —  Big  goose  (pi.  9). 
Mon/fedon  —  Meaning  uncertain    (O.,    In- 


Monchuxcindethinge  —  Bob-tailed  bear. 
Mongaxazhi  —  Not    afraid    of    arrows    (O., 

Mon/thinkagaxe)  . 
Mon/gazhinga  —  Little  skunk. 
NonXcondazhi  —  Does      not      dodge     (O., 


No^kacka  —  White  back. 
NonzhinXmonthin  —  Rain        travels        (O., 


Nudouxhonga — Leader  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Pa<;ixduba — Four      buffaloes — very      old 

name  (0.,  Ko^ce;  Osage). 
Shaxge — Hoofs. 

ShonXgefabe — Black  horse  (0.,  Tapax). 
Texcehincabe — Black  hair  on  belly  of  buf 
falo  (O.,  Tapa'). 

Texnuga— Buffalo  bull  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Tezhexbate— Buffalo  chip  (pi.  10). 
Texzhinga— Little    buffalo    (O.,    I°gthex- 

Thigthixcemonthin — Zigzag  lightningwalk- 

ing  (0.,  Inshtax9unda) . 
Tishixmuxa — Spreading    tent   poles    (O., 

Ingthexzhide) . 
Uga^hc^zh^ga — Little  traveler  (O.,  Mon/- 

thinkagaxe) . 
Ugthaxatigthe — He  who  shouts   (victory 

Uhon/nonba — Two  cooks  (O.:  Wazhin/ga, 

UhonXzhinga— Little    cook    (0.,     Inshtax- 

?unda) . 

Wahaxi— Yellow  skin  (0.,  Inshtaxcunda). 
Waho^th^ge— Orphan  (O.  Tegin/de). 
Wa/inonzhin — Standing    over    them    (O., 

Ingthexzhide) . 
Wapaxde — One    who    cuts    the    carcass 

(O.,  Tapax). 
Washkon/monthi11 — Walking  strength  (O..: 

Wazhin/ga,  Thaxtada). 
Zhingaxgahige — Little  chief  (0.,  Tapa') 
Zhingaxwashushe — Little  brave. 


GthedonXwintexi — Sacred     hawk    woman 

(0.,  Inkexcabe). 
Mixgthedonwin — Moon  hawk  woman  (0., 

Migthixtonin  —  New   moon.      (O.,    Inkex- 


Mi'tena — Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Mix wagon — White  moon  (O.,  HonXga). 
Monsha/dethin — Moving  on  high  (O.,  In- 

Po^caco" — Pale  Ponca.     (O.,  Mon/thinka- 

Po^cawi11 — Ponca  woman   (O.,   Mon/thin- 

kagaxe) . 
Wihextonga — Big  little  sister  (O.,  Wexzhin- 




[ETH.  ANN.  27 


Standing  Bear's  band 

Axgahawashushe — Distinguished  for  brav 
ery  (0.:  Wacaxbe,  Tha'tada). 
Axthiude— Abandoned       (0.,        Inshtax- 

cunda) . 
Bachixzhithe — To  rush  through  obstacles 

(0.,  Tapax). 
£igthexnonpabi— One  whose  footprints  are 

feared  (0.,  Mon/thinkagaxe) . 
Da/donthinge— Has  nothing  (0.,   KoD/ce). 
Gacuxbe — Meaning         uncertain         (O., 

Gahi'gezhinga— Little    chief    (0.,    Inkex- 

yabe) . 
Gakuwinxe — Eagle    soaring    (0.:    Texpa, 


Hexaxga — Rough  horns  (O.,  Tapax). 
Hon/gashenu — Hon/ga    man    (O.,  Inshtax- 


Inde/xaga — Rough  face. 
Ki'monhon — Facing  the  wind  (O.,  Inshtax- 

Ko^cehc^ga — Kansa  leader  (O.,  Mon/thin- 

kagaxe) . 
Macixkide — Shooting   cedar  (0.,   Inshtax- 


Monchuxduba — Four  bears,  grizzly. 
Monchuxkinonpabi — The     bear     who     is 


Monchuxnonzhin — Standing  bear. 
Monchuxtonga — Big  bear. 
Monshtin'cka— White  rabbit  (O.:  \Vazhin/- 

ga,  Thaxtada). 
Nixjuba — Little  water. 
No^kahega— Brown  back  (O.,  Tapax). 
Nonon/bi— One    who    is    heard  (0.,  Te- 

Nonpe/wathe — One    who    is    feared    (O.: 

WazhiD/ga,  Tha'tada). 
Nonxi/dethinge — The  incorrigible. 
Nushiaxhaginon — Returns  bending  low. 
Pethirshage — Curly  brows. 
Shon/gehinci — Yellow  horse. 
Tade'umo^hi11 — Walking       wind       (O., 


Tai/hintonga — Big  mane. 
Taton/ganonzhinzhinga — Little     standing 

Taton/gashkade— Buffalo  playing  (O.,  Te- 

Tenu/gazhinga—  Little    buffalo   bull  (O., 

Thexcecabe  —  Black    tongue    (O.,    Inke/- 

5abe)  . 
Ucuxgaxe  —  To  make  paths  (0.,   Inshte/- 

cunda)  . 

Uzhaxta  —  Confluence. 
Waan/—  To  sing  (O.,  Ingthexzhide). 
Wabaxa5e—  He  puts  to  flight  (O.,  Inshtax- 

yunda)  . 
Wabahi'  zhinga  —  Little        nibbles        (O., 

Wagixasha  —  Meaning    lost    (O.,     Inshta/- 

da  —  Power  (O.,  Mon/thinkagaxe)  . 
Wanonxshezhinga  —  Little  soldier  (O.,   In- 


Washko11^—  Strong    (O.,    Inshtaxcunda). 
Washuxshe  —  Brave  (O.,  Inkexcabe). 
Waxthidaxe  —  Sound     of     claws     tearing 

(0.:  Wazhin/ga,  Thaxtada). 
Wathixxekashi  —  He  who  pursues  long. 
Waxpexsha  —  Old     name,     meaning    lost 

(O.,  Tapax). 
Wazhexthinge  —  Without     gratitude     (O., 


Wexc'a  —  Snake  (O.,  Inshtaxcunda). 
We/9'ahonga  —  Snake  leader  (O.,  Tapax). 
Wex9'atonga  —  Big  snake  (pi.  11). 
Wexc'azhinga—  Little  snake  (0.,  Inshta'- 


Xithaxnika  —  Eagle  person  (O.,  Tapax). 
Xithaxzhinga—  Little    eagle    (O.:    Texpa, 



Ayexxube  —  Sacred    paint    (O.,  Wexzhin- 

ehte)  . 

Mixtena  —  Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
Noncexince  —  Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Wex- 

No^he^ito11  —  Meaning     uncertain      (O., 

MonXthinkagaxe)  . 
Taxcabewin  —  Black  deer  woman  (O.,  Wex- 

zhinshte)  . 
Te/conwin  —  White    buffalo    woman    (O., 

Ton/ingthihe  —  New    moon     soaring     (O., 


UmonXhonwau  —  Omaha  woman. 
Wihextonga—  Big    little    sister   (O.,    Wex- 














Big-hoofed  buffalo's  band 

Btho^ti—  Scent  borne  by  wind  (O.,  We'- 

Qi^dethiho11—  Lifting    the   tail    (O.,    Te- 

fin/de)  . 
Du'bamc^thi11  —  Four  walking  (O.,  Inke'- 

cabe)  . 
Insha/gemonthin  —  Old   man   walking   (O., 

Pshta'bayude  —  Shedding  hair  about  the 

eyes  (O.,  Ho^ga). 
NcP'gethia  —  Not  able  to  run  (O.,  Tecin/de). 

a  —  Little  ice. 
Pahe'agthi"  —  Sits  on  hill. 
Pude'tha  —  Meaning  unknown  (O.,  Inke'- 

cabe)  . 

Sha/benonzhin  —  Stands  dark  (O.,  Hon/ga). 
—  White   horse   (O.,    Mon/thin- 


Tenu/gagahi  —  Male     buffalo     chief     (O.: 
Wazhin/ga,  Tha'tada). 

TenuxgaKhagetonga  —  Big-hoofed  bull. 

Thae'gon—  Pitiful. 

Uhon/gemonthin—  Walking  at  end   of  file 

(0.,  Ingthe'zhide). 
Uhon/genonzhin  —  Standing  at  end  of  file 

(O.,  Ingthe'zhide). 
Uki'pato11—  Rolling  himself   (O.,    Ingthe' 

U'shkadazhi  —  Undaunted  (O.,  Mon/thin- 

Uthi'xide  —  Looking    about    (O.,     Inkex- 

Uzhna/gaxe  —  To   make   clear    (refers    to 

buffalo  wallows)  (O.,  Tecin/de). 
Waca'apa  —  Meaning  uncertain  (O.:  Wa- 

ca'be,  Tha'tada). 

zh^ga  —  Little    black    bear    (O.: 

Waya'be,  Tha'tada). 


Mi/mite  —  Meaning  uncertain  (O.,   Inke/- 

We't^na  —  Meaning  uncertain  (O.,  Inke'- 

cabe)  . 


The  Osage  tribe  is  composed  of  five  kinship  groups,  each  of  which 
is  made  up  of  a  number  of  subgroups.  Of  these  latter  many  have  a 
group  attached  that  acts  as  sho'lca — servant  or  attendant  at  a  given, 
ceremony.  Of  the  five  kinship  groups  two  always  camp  on  the  north 
ern  side  of  the  eastern  opening  of  the  tribal  circle.  The  other  three 
remain  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  circle,  but  change  their  relative 
positions.  The  tribe,  therefore,  has  two  grand  divisions,  tho,t  on  the 
northern  side  being  composed  of  two  kinship  groups  and  that  on  the 
southern  side  of  three  kinship  groups. 

a  The  Osage  now  live  in  the  northern  part  of  Oklahoma,  on  the  Arkansas  river.  This  locality  was  not 
their  home  when  they  were  first  met  by  the  white  race.  They  were  then  dwelling  on  the  western  side  of  the 
Mississippi,  both  north  and  south  of  the  Missouri,  including  the  Ozark  Mountain  region,  the  name  Ozark 
being  a  corruption  of  the  native  term  Wazha'zhe.  The  territory  occupied  by  the  Osage,  lying,  as  it  did, 
adjacent  to  the  Mississippi  river,  was  very  soon  needed  by  the  white  people  who  were  pressing  westward. 
The  Osage  made  a  number  of  cessions  to  the  United  States,  the  earliest  in  1808,  when  they  parted  with  ter 
ritory  on  the  Mississippi.  In  1818  they  gave  up  their  claim  to  land  on  the  Arkansas  and  Verdigris  rivers. 
In  1825  they  ceded  all  their  lands  in  Missouri  and  Arkansas.  Further  cessions  were  made  in  1839  and  1865. 
Finally,  in  1871  and  1872  lands  were  purchased  from  the  Cherokee  in  the  then  Indian  Territory,  and  on 
these  lands  the  Osage  are  living  to-day.  The  payments  for  lands  ceded  by  them  in  Missouri  and  Kansas 
were  placed  in  the  United  States  Treasury  at  interest,  yielding  the  Osage  a  considerable  sum  per  capita 
and  relieving  the  people  from  urgent  necessity  to  labor  in  order  to  obtain  food  and  clothing— a  condition 
not  altogether  favorable  to  the  best  development  of  a  naturally  strong  and  promising  tribe.  ( Pictures  oi 
Osage  chiefs  are  shown  in  pis.  12,  13,  15.) 



[ETH.  AXN.  27 

Owing  to  the  shifting  of  the  positions  of  the  three  groups  forming 
the  southern  side,  there  were  three  arrangements  of  the  tribal  circle 

(see  figs.  9-11),  which  was  called  tsi'- 
uthuga.  This  is  the  same  as  the  Omaha 
liu'ihuga,  with  the  dialectic  difference 
in  pronunciation.  Moreover,  the  Osage 
circle  was  symbolically  oriented,  as  was 
the  case  with  the  Omaha,  the  actual 
opening  being  in  the  direction  the 
tribe  was  moving.  The  marked  simi 
larity  in  the  form  of  camping  and  in 
the  fundamental  ideas  representing  the 
tribal  organization  seems  to  show  that 
the  two  tribes  are  organized  on  the 
same  plan.  (See  p.  138.) 

FIG.  9.    Diagram  of  Osage  hu'thuga— usual  order.    1.  HON'GA    UTANATSI  (pp.  58-59).    2.  WAZHA'ZHE 

(p.  59).    Subgroups:  (a)  Wazha'zhecka;  (ft)  Ke'k'i";  (c)  Mike'estetse;  (d)  Wa'tsetsi;  (e)  Uzu'gaxe;  (/) 

Tathi'hi;  (g)  IIu    zhoigara.    3.  HON'GA  (p.  60).    Subgroups:  (a)  Waca'beto->;  (6)  Ingro°'ga    zhoigara; 

(c)  Opxo";  (d)  Mon>kagaxa;  (e)  Pon'ca    washtage;  (/)  Xi'tha;  (g)  I'batsetatse.    4.  TSI'ZHU  (p.  60). 

Subgroups:  (a)  Tsi'zhu    wano°;   (6)  Sin'tsagre;    (c)  Pe'tontonga    zhoigara;    (d)  Tseto'ga    i-tse;   (e) 

Mi'k'i-    wano-s  (/)  Ho°  zhoigara;  (g)  Tsi'zhu    uthuhage.    5.  NI'KA  WAKONDAGI  or  GRON'IN  (p.  60- 

61).    Subgroups:  (a)  Xon'tsewatse;  (b)  Nu'xe. 
FIG.  10.    Diagram  of  Osage  hu'thuga— hunting  order.    2.  WAZHA'ZHE.    3.  HON'GA.    1.  HON'GA    UTANATSI. 

4.  TSI'ZHU.    5.  NI'KA  -WAKONDAGI  or  GRON'iN.    The  dots  represent  the  same  order  of  subgroups  as 

given  in  figure  9 
FIG.  11.    Diagram  of  Osage  hu'thuga— sacred  order.  3.  HON'GA.    1.  HON'GA  UTANATSI.    2.  WAZHA'ZHE. 

4.  TSI'ZHU.    5.  NI'KA  WAKONDAGI  or  GRON'IN      The  dots  represent  the  order  of  the  subgroups,  which 

is  the  same  as  in  figure  9. 


1.  Hon'ga  utanatsi  j 

2.  Wazha'zhe  >  Comprising  southern  half  of  liu'ihuga. 

3.  Hon'ga 

5.  Ni'ka  wakondagi  or  Gronin  |  _ 

i    T™ '„!.,,  (  Comprising  northern  half. 

4.  Tsi'zhu 

a  The  information  here  given  relative  to  the  names,  duties,  and  positions  of  the  kinship  groups  was  fur 
nished  by  the  following  men,  members  of  the  tribe:  Shon'to"5abe,  Wazha'zhewadai°ga,  Washi»'ha  (pi.  14), 
and  Big  Heart. 






The  meaning  and  significance  of  this  name  have  been  already 
explained.  (See  p.  40.)  The  Hon/ga  utanatsi  are  spoken  of  as 
"Instructor  of  rites." 

Subdivision:  Mon'hinci  ("stone  knife").0  This  group  was  sho'Jca, 
or  servant,  to  the  Hon/ga  utanatsi.  This  office  was  an  honorable  one, 
being  that  of  intermediary  between  the  officials  in  charge  of  a  cere 
mony  and  the  people  who  took  part  in  it. 


This  is  an  old  and  untranslatable  term.  The  group  was  divided 
into  seven  subgroups,  each  with  its  distinctive  name  and  attendant 
sho'ka  group,  but  all  having  a  right  to  the  general  name  Wazha'zhe. 


(a)  Wazha'zhe  cka  ("the  white"  or  "pure  Wazha'zhe");  ^ka  is 
the  Osage  equivalent  of  the  Omaha  xti,  meaning  "original,"  "un 
mixed."  This  group  is  the  keeper  of  the  seven  pipes  for  making 
peace  within  the  tribe.  Ingron/ga  ni  montse  ("puma  in  the  water") 
is  the  name  of  the  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(6)  Ke'k'in  ("great  turtle"). 

Pak'a  zhoigara  (pak'a,  mystery;  zJioigara,  those  who  are  with,  i.  e., 
the  group  whose  rites  pertain  to),  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(c)  Mike'estetse,  the  cat-tail  (Typha  latifolia). 
Ka'xewahuca,  the  loud-voiced  crow,6  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(d)  Wa'tsetsi.     It  is  said  that  a  comet  fell  from  the  morning  star 
and  came  to  join  the  council  of  this  subgroup.     Xutha'pacon  zhoigara 
(xuiha'pafOn,  the  bald  eagle),  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(e)  Uzu'gaxe&  (uzuf,  straight;  gaxe,  to  make — they  who  make  the 
path  straight).     It  was  the  duty  of  this  subgroup  to  make  clear  the 
way  of  a  war  party ;  to  find  a  safe  way  around  any  obstruction.    The 
scouts  of  the  war  parties  were  taken  from  this  group. 

Monso'tsemonin  (mon,  land;  so'tse,  smoke;  monin,  to  walk — they 
who  walk  in  smoke,  fog,  or  dust),  the  Sho'ka  subdivision,  was  called 
on  to  cause  a  fog,  or  a  wind  to  raise  the  dust  in  order  to  conceal  the 
movements  of  a  war  party. 

(/)  Tathi'hi,  white-tail  deer. 

Watsi'tsazhinga  zhoigara  (watsi'tsazhinga,  small  animals),  subdi 

a  Articles  of  utility  in  the  past,  although  they  may  have  passed  out  of  daily  use  among  the  people,  are 
frequently  conserved  in  sacred  rites.  For  example,  the  stone  knife  was  the  only  kind  of  knife  tnat  could 
be  used  ceremonially  and  its  name  appears  as  a  personal  name  among  the  Omaha  families  that  had 
hereditary  duties  connected  with  rites  that  belonged  to  the  I°shta'§u"da  and  We'zhi°shte  gentes. 

*  The  name  of  this  subdivision  appears  as  a  personal  name  in  the  Omaha  tribe. 

60  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

(g}  Hu  zhoigara  (7m,  fish).  Enon/mintse  ton  (enon,  they  alone; 
mintse,  bow;  ton,  to  have  or  possess— they  alone  possess  the  bow), 
Sho'ka  subdivision.  These  were  known  as  the  bow  makers. 


This  kinship  group  was  divided  into  seven  subgroups,  as  follows : 

(a)  Waca'be  tou    (wapa'be,  bear;  ton,   to  possess). 

Waca'be  cka  ("white"  or  "original  bear"),  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(&)  Ingron/ga  zhoigara  (ingron'ga,  puma).  • 

Hinwa'xaga  zhoigara  (hinwa'xaga,  porcupine),  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(c)  O'pxon,  elk.     Tahe'shabe  zhoigara  (tahe'shabe,  male  elk  with 
dark  horns),  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(d)  Mon'inkagaxe  (moninJca,  earth;  gaxe,  to  make — earth-makers). 

(e)  Pon'ca  washtage  (washtage,  peace).     This    subgroup    had  the 
office  of  peacemakers. 

(/)  Xitha  ("white  eagle"). 

(g)  Hon'gashinga  ("  little  Hon/ga").  I 'batsetatse  (ibatse,  coming 
together;  tatse,  the  wind — associated  by  rites  pertaining  to  the  wind), 
Sho'ka  subdivision.  The  office  of  herald  was  in  this  group. 


This  kinship  group  also  had  seven  subgroups : 

(a)    Tsi'zhu  wanon  (wanon,  the  oldest;   age  implies  wisdom),   or 
Wakon'da  nonpabi  (wakon'da,  gods;  nonpabi,  afraid  of). 
Waba'xi,  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(&)  Sin'tsagre  (''wearing  the  wolf's  tail  on  the  scalp  lock"). 
Shon'ke  zhoigara  (shon'lce,  wolf),  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(c)  Pe'ton  tonga  zhoigara  (pe'ton,  crane;  tonga,  big). 

(d)  Tseto'ga  intse   (tseto'ga,  buffalo   bull;  intse,  face).     It  is   said 
that  Waba'xi  went  in  search  of  game.     He  found  a  buffalo,  pointed 
his  finger  at  its  face,  and  killed  it;  Wakon'da  reproved  him  for  the 
act.     Because  of  this  deed  his  people  were  called  Buffalo-face  people. 

Tsea'ko11,  Sho'ka  subdivision. 

(e}  Mi'k'in  \vanon  (mi,  sun;  Jc'in,  to  carry;  wanon,  the  oldest). 
Tsi'zhu  washtage  (washtage,  peaceful),  division.  This  division  made 
peace.  Red-eagle  people. 

(/)  Hon  zhoigara  (hon,  night) . 

Ta'pa  zhoigara  (ta'pa,  the  name  of  the  Pleiades),  Sho'ka  subdi 

(g)  Tsi'zhu  uthuhage  (utJmhage,  the  last).  The  last  household 
refers  to  the  end  of  the  line  of  the  group. 


This  kinship  group  had  three  subgroups.  (Derivation  of  name: 
Ni'ka,  people;  wakondagi  refers  to  the  thunder — the  Thunder  people). 

(a)  Xon'tsewatse  (xontse,  cedar;  watse,  to  touch,  as  the  striking 
of  an  enemy).  The  name  refers  to  the  cedar  tree  upon  which  the 
thunder  rested  as  it  descended. 


This  subgroup  acts  as  sho'ka  in  the  rites  of  the  Thunder  people. 

(&)  Nu'xe,  ice.  This  is  the  name  of  a  people  from  the  upper 
world.  When  one  came  down  he  was  asked,  "What  are  you?" 
He  answered,  "I  am  Nu'xe/'  ice  or  hail. 

Sub-Shoka  group,  Tseto'ga  zhoigara  (tseto'ga,  buffalo  bull). 

The  two  divisions  of  the  Osage  tribe  were  called  the  Tsi'zhu  and 
the  Ho"'ga.  The  Tsi'zhu  was  composed  of  two  kinship  groups 
and  occupied  the  northern  side  of  the  tribal  circle  viewed  as  having 
the  opening  at  the  east.  The  position  of  the  Osage  Thunder  group 
was  similar  to  that  occupied  by  the  Omaha  Pshta'puMa,  whose 
name  and  rites  referred  to  thunder,  and  the  Tsi'zhu  division  seems 
in  a  measure  to  correspond  to  the  ideas  symbolized  by  the  northern 
half  of  the  Omaha  tribal  circle.  (See  p.  138.) 

The  Hon/ga  division  was  composed  of  three  kinship  groups.  Those 
given  in  the  diagram  on  page  58  show  that  their  positions  with  rela 
tion  to  one  another  changed  during  tribal  rites  and  ceremonies,  but 
remained  stable  in  comparison  with  the  Tsi'zhu  division.  The  simi 
larity  between  the  position  and  the  duties  devolving  on  this  southern 
half  of  the  oriented  Osage  tribal  circle  and  those  of  the  correspond 
ing  division  of  the  Omaha  suggests  a  strong  probability  that  both 
organizations  had  a  common  pattern  or  origin. 

While  the  Ponca  tribe  does  not  present  the  picture  of  a  closely 
organized  body,  the  similarity  in  the  position  of  the  Nu'xe  gens  of 
the  Ponca  as  compared  with  that  of  the  Nu'xe  group  of  the  Osage 
seems  to  indicate  the  perpetuation  of  some  idea  or  belief  common 

to  the  two  tribes. 


The  ceremony  of  adoption  into  the  Osage  tribe  throws  light  on 
the  functions  and  symbolism  of  the  Osage  groups.  It  was  described 
by  old  chiefs  as  follows: 

When  a  war  party  took  a  captive,  anyone  who  had  lost  a  child  or  who  was  without 
children  could  adopt  the  captive  to  fill  the  vacant  place.  After  the  ceremony  the 
person  became  an  Osage  in  all  respects  as  one  born  in  the  tribe  and  was  subject  to 
the  duties  and  requirements  of  the  family  into  which  he  entered  by  a  kind  of  new 

When  a  captive  was  held  for  the  purpose  of  adoption,  the  captor  sent  an  invitation 
to  the  leading  men  of  the  Tsi'zhu  washtage,  who  were  peacemakers,  and  also  to  the 
chiefs  of  the  Pgro^ga,  who  had  charge  of  war  rites.  Food  was  prepared  and  set  before 
these  leaders,  when  the  host,  in  a  solemn  speech,  set  forth  his  desire  to  adopt  the  cap 
tive.  Thereupon  these  leaders  sent  for  the  leading  men  who  were  versed  in  the  rituals 
of  the  groups  which  were  to  take  part  in  the  ceremony.  These  were  the  Nu'xe,  ice; 
the  O/pxon,  elk;  the  Fbatse,  wind;  the  Wa'tsetsi,  water;  and  the  Hon/ga,  who  were 
the  loaders  of  the  tribal  hunt.  When  all  were  assembled  the  captive  was  brought  and 
placed  in  the  back  part  of  the  lodge  opposite  the  entrance,  the  seat  of  the  stranger. 
Then  the  ritual  used  at  the  initiation  and  naming  of  a  child  born  in  the  tribe  was  given. 
This  ritual  recounts  the  creation  and  history  of  the  tribe  and  the  four  stages  of  man's 
life.  At  the  close  the  captive  was  led  to  the  chief  of  the  Tsi'zhu  washtage,  who 

62  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  AXN.  27 

passed  him  on  to  the  Ingron/ga,  whose  place  was  on  the  south  side  of  the  tribal  circle. 
By  this  act  the  captive  symbolically  traversed  the  tribal  circle,  passing  from  those  on 
the  north,  who  made  peace,  to  those  on  the  south,  who  had  charge  of  war — the  act  indi 
cating  that  he  was  to  share  in  all  that  concerned  the  tribe. 

Then  the  chief  of  the  Ingron/ga  took  a  sharp-pointed  flint  knife  and  made  a  qiiick 
stroke  on  the  end  of  the  captive's  nose,  causing  the  blood  to  flow.  The  chief  of  the 
Tsi'zhu  washtage  wiped  away  the  blood .  Then  the  chief  of  the  \\Vtsetsi  brought  water, 
and  the  chief  of  the  Hon/ga  food  (corn  or  meat),  and  these  were  administered  to  the 
captive  by  the  chief  of  the  Tsi'zhu  washtage,  who  then  took  the  sacred  pipe,  filled  it, 
and  placed  on  it  fronds  of  cedar  brought  by  the  Fbatse.  The  pipe  was  lit  and  cere 
monially  smoked  by  the  captive.  Then  the  chief  of  the  Nu'xe  brought  buffalo  fat  and 
anointed  the  body  of  the  captive,  after  which  the  chief  of  the  Oxpxon  painted  two 
black  stripes  across  the  face  from  the  left  eyebrow  to  the  lower  part  of  the  right  cheek. 
This  done,  the  chief  of  the  Tsi'zhu  washtage  announced  the  name,  Ni'wathe  ("made 
to  live  "),  and  the  captive  became  the  child  of  the  man  who  adopted  him. 

The  letting  of  blood  symbolized  that  the  captive  lost  the  blood  and  kinship  of  the 
tribe  into  which  he  had  been  born.  All  trace  of  his  former  birth  was  removed  by  the 
washing  away  of  the  blood  by  the  Wa'tsetsi.  He  was  then  given  food  by  those  who  led 
the  tribe  in  the  hunt  when  the  food  supply  was  obtained.  The  new  blood  made  by 
the  Osage  food  was  thus  made  Osage  blood. 

This  symbolic  act  was  confirmed  and  sanctified  by  the  smoking  of  the  pipe,  the 
aromatic  cedar  being  provided  by  the  Fbatse.  Finally,  the  anointing  of  the  body  by 
the  Nu'xe  (who,  together  with  the  Buffalo  people,  controlled  the  planting  of  the  corn) 
brought  the  captive  entirely  within  the  rites  and  avocations  of  the  tribe.  The  black 
stripes  put  on  by  the  CKpxo"  were  in  recognition  of  the  Thunder  as  the  god  of  war  and 
the  captive's  future  duties  as  a  warrior  of  the  tribe.  The  giving  of  the  name  Xi'wathe 
explained  and  closed  the  ceremony. 

It  was  further  explained  that  the  drama  "  means  to  represent  the 
death  of  the  captive  not  only  to  the  people  of  his  birth  but  to  his  past 
life,  and  his  rebirth  into  the  family  of  the  Osage  who  saved  him  and 
"made"  him  "  to  live"  by  adopting  him." 

At  the  close  of  the  ceremony  all  the  chiefs  who  had  taken  part  in 
the  rites  partook  of  the  feast  which  the  man  who  adopted  the  captive 
had  provided  for  the  occasion.  Not  long  after,  the  name  Xi'wathe 
was  dropped  and  the  adopted  child  without  further  ceremony  was 
given  a  name  belonging  to  the  father's  group. 



(Given  by  Black  Dog,  pi.  15.) 

The  Wazha'zhe  kinship  group  had  seven  pipes.  These  were  used  to  make  peace 
within  the  tribe.  If  a  quarrel  occurred,-  one  of  these  pipes  was  sent  by  the  hand  of 
the  sho'ka,  and  the  difficulty  was  settled  peaceably. 

When  the  Wazha'zhe  met  the  Hon/ga,  they  were  united  by  mean.?  of  one  of  these 
peace  pipes.  After  they  were  united  they  met  the  Hon/ga  utanatsi,  who  had  a  pipe 
of  their  own;  but  peace  was  made,  and  the  Hon/ga  utanatsi  united  with  the  Wazha'zhe 
and  the  Hon/ga.  Later  these  three  met  and  united  with  the  Tsi'zhu. 

According  to  Big  Heart  and  others,  each  of  the  five  groups  had 
its  own  traditions,  and  one  did  not  interfere  with  another. 



Way  beyond  (an  expression  similar  to  "  once  upon  a  time  ")  a  part  of  the  Wazha'zhe 
lived  in  the  sky.  They  desired  to  know  their  origin,  the  source  from  which  they 
came  into  existence.  They  went  to  the  sun.  He  told  them  that  they  were  his  chil 
dren.  Then  they  wandered  still  farther  and  came  to  the  moon.  She  told  them 
that  she  gave  birth  to  them,  and  that  the  sun  was  their  father.  She  told  them  that 
they  must  leave  their  present  abode  and  go  down  to  the  earth  and  dwell  there.  They 
came  to  the  earth,  but  found  it  covered  with  water.  They  could  not  return  to  the 
place  they  had  left,  so  they  wept,  but  no  answer  came  to  them  from  anywhere.  They 
floated  about  in  the  air,  seeking  in  every  direction  for  help  from  some  god;  but  they 
found  none.  The  animals  were  with  them,  and  of  all  these  the  elk  was  the  finest 
and  most  stately,  and  inspired  all  the  creatures  with  confidence;  so  they  appealed 
to  the  elk  for  help.  He  dropped  into  the  water  and  began  to  sink.  Then  he  called 
to  the  winds  and  the  winds  came  from  all  quarters  and  blew  until  the  waters  went 
upward  as  in  a  mist.  Before  that  time  the  winds  traveled  only  in  two  directions, 
from  north  to  south  and  then  back  from  south  to  north;  but  when  the  elk  called  they 
came  from  the  east,  the  north,  the  west,  and  the  south,  and  met  at  a  central  point,  o 
and  carried  the  water  upward. 

At  first  rocks  only  were  exposed,  and  the  people  traveled  on  the  rocky  places  that 
produced  no  plants,  and  there  was  nothing  to  eat.  Then  the  waters  began  to  go  down 
until  the  soft  earth  was  exposed.  When  this  happened  the  elk  in  his  joy  rolled  over 
and  over  on  the  soft  earth,  and  all  his  loose  hairs  clung  to  the  soil.  The  hairs  grew, 
and  from  them  sprang  beans,  corn,  potatoes,  and  wild  turnips,  and  then  all  the  grasses 
and  trees. 

The  people  went  over  the  land,  and  in  their  wanderings  came  across  human  foot 
prints,  and  followed  them.  They  came  upon  people  who  called  themselves  Wazha'- 
zhe.  The  Hon/ga  and  the  Elk&  affiliated  with  them,  and  together  they  traveled 
in  search  of  food.  In  these  wanderings  they  came  across  the  Hon/ga  utanatsi.  The 
Wazha'zhe  had  a  pipe.  This  they  filled  and  presented  to  the  Hon/ga,  who  accepted 
it,  and  thus  the  Hon/ga  utanatsi  were  incorporated  with  the  three  affiliated  bands. 
Then  they  came  upon  the  Tsi'zhu,  and  they  were  taken  in,  with  their  seven  bands. 


The  Eo^ga  came  down  from  above,  and  found  the  earth  covered  with  water. 
They  flew  in  every  direction  seeking  for  gods  to  call  upon  who  would  render  them 
help  and  drive  away  the  water;  but  they  found  none.  Then  the  elk  came  and  with 
his  loud  voice  shouted  to  the  four  quarters.  The  four  winds  came  in  response  to 
his  call,  and  they  blew  upon  the  water  and  it  ascended,  leaving  rocks  visible.  The 
rocks  gave  but  a  limited  space  for  the  people  to  stand  on.  The  muskrat  was  sent 
down  into  the  water  and  was  drowned.  Then  the  loon  was  sent,  but  he  also  was 
drowned.  Next  the  beaver  was  sent  down,  and  was  drowned.  Then  the  crawfish 
dived  into  the  waters,  and  when  he  came  up  there  was  some  mud  adhering  to  his 
claws,  but  he  was  so  exhausted  that  he  died.  From  this  mud  the  land  was  formed. 

The  stars  are  believed  to  be  the  children  of  the  sun  and  moon.  The  people  of  the 
WVtsetsic  are  said  to  have  been  stars  that  came  down  to  the  earth  like  meteors  and 
became  people. 

a  Note  the  name  I'batsetatse("  winds  coming  together")  of  the  Sho'ka  subdivision  of  (g)  of  the  Ho°'ga 
group  (p.  60). 

b  The  O'pxo»,  or  Elk,  is  (c)  of  the  Hon'ga  group.  Note  the  use  of  the  term  Ho"'ga  in  this  legend  as  the 
name  of  a  people,  in  connection  with  what  has  already  been  pointed  out  on  pp.  40-41. 

c  The  Wa'tsetsi  subgroup  (d)  of  the  Wazha'zhe  group,  p.  59. 

64  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


There  are  people  who  came  from  under  the  water.  They  lived  in  the  water  weeds 
that  hang  down,  are  green  in  color,  and  have  leaves  on  the  stem.  The  people  who 
lived  in  water  dwelt  in  shells  which  protected  them  from  the  water,  keeping  the 
water  out  and  serving  as  houses. 

There  were  creatures  who  lived  under  the  earth,  as  the  cougar,  the  bear,  the  buf 
falo,  and  the  elk.  These  creatures  came  up  out  of  the  ground.  The  land  creatures 
and  those  that  lived  in  shells  came  to  the  earth,  and  the  star  people  came  down;  all 
three  came  together,  intermarried,  and  from  these  unions  sprang  the  people  of  to-day. 

The  men  of  the  Hon'ga  division  cut  the  hair  so  that  there  should 
be  five  bunches  in  rows  running  from  front  to  back. 

The  men  of  the  Tsi'zhu  division  wore  the  hair  in  three  bunches — 
one  just  above  the  forehead,  one  at  the  top  of  the  head,  and  one 
at  the  nape  of  the  neck. 

The  following  Osage  names  were  obtained  in  1896: 



A'huzhine — Little  wings. 
Blo'gahike — All  the  chiefs. 

Bpabaxon — Cut  head.     Refers  to  war.     Cutting  off  the  head. 
Dhon/tsewahi — Bone  heart  (0.,  Tapa'). 
Dton/wongaxe — Village  maker  (0.,  Mon/thinkagaxe) . 

Dton/wonihi — Refers  to  war.     The  warriors  cause  the  villagers  to  stampede. 
Gahi'geste— Tall  chief  (O.,  Pke'cabe). 

Gahixgkewadainga — Chief's  power  to  control  the  people  (O.,  Mon/thinkagaxe) . 
Gka/washinka — Little  horse. 

Gkon/sanonbawahri — Kills  two  Kansa.     War  name. 
Gkon/sawatainga — Gkon'sa,  Kansa;  watainga,  eccentric  (old  word). 
Gredon/shinka — Little  hawk  (0.,  Tha'tada). 
Grezhe'ruse— War  name.     Captures  spotted  horses. 
Haxu/mizhe — Woman's  name.     Ropes. 

Howa'saope — War  name.     Goes  on  the  warpath  after  mourning. 
Hua'shutse — Red  eagle. 

Inshta/  monze — Inshta' ',  eye;  monze,  protruding  like  breasts  (O.,  We'zh^shte). 
Mon/hogrin  monkasabpe — Sitting  by  the  bank.     Refers  to  a  village  site. 
Mon/kasabe — Black  breast.     Refers  to  the  elk. 
Mon/zenonopiu — Iron  necklace. 
Mon/zhakita — (Monzha,  land;  kita,  watches — watches  over  the  land).      Refers  to  the 

wind  (0.,  Kon/ce). 
Mon/zhakuta— (-fiTwfa,  shoots;  guards  or  shoots  over  the  land).     Refers  to  the  wind 

(O.,  Kansa). 

Ni'wathe — Made  to  live.     (See  Adoption  ceremony,  p.  61.) 
Nonbe'ze — Yellow  claws.     Refers  to  the  eagle. 
Opxonshibpe — Elk  entrails. 

Ota'non — Space  between  two  objects.     Refers  to  warriors  passing  between  the  tents. 
Othu'hawae — Envious. 

Pahu'cka — White  hair.     Refers  to  white  buffalo  (O.,  Hon/ga  and  Tapa'). 
Pasu'— Hail. 

Ponhon/gregahre— War  name.     One  who  strikes  the  enemy  first. 
Sa'pekie — Paints  himself  black. 


Tonwongaxe — Village-maker  (O.,  Mon/thinkagaxe). 

Tsesi n/eno npe — B uff alo-tail  necklace . 

Tsi/zhuhonka  (2) — Hon/ga  household.     Leader  name. 

Tsixzhuninkashinka — Little  Hon/ga  household. 

Tsixzhushinka — Little  household. 

Tsi'zhutsage — Old  man  of  the  Tsi'zhu  gens. 

Tso'he — Puckery  taste.     Nickname. 

Uki'sa — Deserted  (as  an  empty  village  or  house)  (O.,  Pshta'fuMa). 

Wakon/daokie — Talks  to  \Vakou/da  (an  old  Omaha  name — Mon/thinkagaxe). 

Wathigronringe  (2) — No  mind  (O.,  Mon/thinkagaxe). 

Watsa/nonzhin — War  name.     One  who  grasps  the  enemy. 

Wazhin/bpizhi — Anger. 

Wazhin/gasabpe — Blackbird  (O.,  Mon/thinkagaxe). 

Wazhin/hotse — Gray  bird.     Refers  to  hawk  (O.,  Tapa'). 

Wazhin/sabpe — Cautious  mind. 


Mirtai"ga — Coming,  or  new  moon  (O.). 
Mi/taingashinka— Little  new  moon. 



Barzontsie — War  name.     Going  into  the  midst;  attacking  a  village. 

Bpa'htato11!" — Big  head.     Refers  to  buffalo  head. 

Bpa/rinwawexta — War  name.     Attacking  the  Pawnee. 

Donhe/monin — Good  walker. 

Gahi'gashi — Not  a  chief. 

Gka'wasabpeagthi" — One  who  rides  a  black  horse. 

Gkon/segaxri — War  name.     One  who  kills  a  Kansa. 

Gkon/sekibpa — War  name.     Meeting  the  Kansa. 

Gredon'monin — Walking  hawk  (0.,  Pke'cabe). 

Ho'moni n — Howler. 

Hone'go" — War  name.     Refers  to  the  success  of  the  warrior.     Success  comes  as  though 

seeking  the  man. 

Hutha/watoninte — War  name.     The  light  of  the  eagle  soaring  on  high. 
In/dokawadainga — War  name.     Refers  to  taking  trophies. 
Mon/zeunonzhin — Iron  shirt  (Ponca). 

Ni'gka'sabegaxri — War  name.     One  who  kills  a  black  man. 
Ni/kanontsewa — War  name.     One  who  kills  the  enemy. 
Ni'koibro11 — Smelling  a  human  being  (O..  Tha'tada). 
Otha'hamo11!11 — War  name.     Follower;  one  who  follows  the  leader. 
Shon/gkeihi — War  name.     Refers  to  the  barking  of  dogs  when  the  warriors  approach. 
Tha/bthinwaxri— Kills  three. 
Tsewa'hu — Buffalo  bone. 

Wa/bisuntse — War  name.     A  warrior  presses  an  enemy  to  the  ground. 
Wa'dashtae — War  name.     Refers  to  setting  fire  to  the  grass  to  scare  out  the  enemy. 
Wadoh'kie — War  name.     Refers  to  taking  the  scalp. 
Wahon/gashi — Mischievous.     Nickname. 
Wa/inno"zhin — War  name.     Holding  the  captive. 
Waki'ashke — Refers  to  hunting  and  packing  the  buffalo  meat. 
Watse'wahe — War  name. 
Waxri' — Stingy.     Nickname. 

Wazha'kibpa — War  name.     Refers  to  meeting  a  W'azha'zhe. 
We'ingaxe — Refers  to  hunting.     Making  a  pack  strap. 
83993°— 27  ETII— 11 5 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 


Be'ga'xazhi  (pi.  12) — War  name.     One  who  can  not  be  outstripped.     Refers  to  run 

Bpahi'thagthi" — Good  hair. 
Ho'thagthi" — Good  voice. 
Migk'in/wadainga — Eccentric  sun  carrier. 

Mixhice — Yellow    hair. 

Refers  to  buffalo  calf. 
Mio/tamonin — S  t  r  a  i  g  h  t 

sun  or  moon. 
Shinnica — Refers    to    in 
tercepting  the  game. 
We/tonmonin  —  War 
name.     Refers    to   the 
women    singing    weton 


The  name  Kansa 
is  an  old  term.  As 
the  rites  pertaining 
to  the  winds  belong 
to  the  Kansa  gens  in 
the  several  cognate 
tribes,  it  may  be 
that  the  word  had 
some  reference  to 
the  wind. 


The  following  list 
of  gentes  is  not  com 
plete,  nor  has  it  been 
possible  to  obtain 
satisfactory  infor 
mation  as  to  the  lo 
cation  of  each  gens 
in  the  tribal  circle, 
owing  to  the  disintegration  of  the  tribe  and  the  breaking  up  of  their 
ancient  customs  and  ceremonies.  The  information  obtained  goes  to 

a  Of  the  Kansa  tribe  fewer  than  300  are  now  living;  these  are  in  northern  Oklahoma.  Their  lands  adjoin 
those  of  the  Osage.  They,  too,  have  been  pushed  from  the  place  where  they  were  dwelling  when  the  white 
people  first  came  into  their  vicinity.  They  were  then  northwest  of  the  Osage,  in  the  region  along  the  river 
which  bears  their  name.  They  began  ceding  land  to  the  United  States  in  1825.  Further  relinquishments 
were  made  in  1846,  and  again  in  1859  and  1802.  In  1872  their  present  reservation  was  purchased  from  the 
Osage.  While  the  Kansa  have  not  been  so  reduced  as  the  Quapaw,  they  have  failed  to  maintain  fully  their 
old  tribal  organization;  though  much  has  lapsed  from  the  memory  of  the  people  owing  to  disuse  of  former 
customs  and  rites,  considerable  knowledge  of  the  ancient  tribal  life  still  might  possibly  be  recovered.  (Por 
traits  of  Kansa  chiefs  are  shown  in  pi.  16  and  fig.  12.) 

FIG.  12.     Kansa  chief. 






show  that  their  former  organization  was  similar  to  that  of  the  other 
cognates,  that  the  tribe  was  composed  of  two  great  divisions,  and 
that  the  names  of  Kansa  gentes  are  to  be  found  in  the  Osage,  Ponca, 
Omaha,  and  Quapaw  tribes.  The  names  obtained  and  verified  are: 

1.  Monin/ka  ("earth").     This  name  corresponds  to  Mon/inkagaxe  of  the  Osage  tribe, 
and  to  Mon/thinkagaxe  of  the  Omaha  tribe,  both  of  which  mean  "  earth  makers." 

2.  Wazha/zhe.     This  name  occurs  as  the  name  of  the  Osage  tribe  and  of  one  of  the 
large  kinship  groups  in  that  tribe;  also  as  the  name  of  a  gens  in  the  Ponca  tribe. 

3.  Ponca.     This  name  occurs  as  the  name  of  a  gens  in  the  Osage  and  Ponca  tribes. 

4.  Kansa.     There  is  a  Kansa  gens  in 
the  Omaha  tribe. 

5.  Wazhin/ga  inikashikithe  (icazhin/- 
ga,  bird;  inikashikithe  corresponds  to 
the  Omaha  i'nikashiga,  and  means  that 
with  which  they  make  themselves  a 
people — that  is,  by  observing  a  com 
mon  rite  they  make  themselves  one 
people).     (See  Wazhin/ga  subgens  of 
the  Tha'tada,  p.  160.)     Birds  figure  in 
the  rites  of  all  the  cognates,  and  are 
tabu  in  those  gentes  practising  rites 
which  pertain  to  certain  birds. 

6.  Te    inikashikithe    (te,     buffalo). 
Buffalo  rites  occur  in  all  the  five  cog 

7.  O'pxo"   inikashikithe    (o/pxon, 
elk).    Gentes  bearing  the  name  of  the 
elk  occur  in  the  Osage  and  Quapaw 
tribes,  and  in  the  Omaha  the  elk  is 
tabu  to  the  Werzhinshte  gens. 

8.  Hon  (night) .    This  name  occurs  in 
the  Osage  tribe  as  the  name  of  a  group. 

9.  Ho^gash^ga   ("little   Ho^ga"). 
This  name  occurs  in  the  Osage  and 
Quapaw  tribes,  and  the  name  Ilo^ga 
in  the  Omaha  and  Osage  tribes. 

10.  Hon/gatonga  ("big  Hon/ga").     This  name  is  found  also  in  the  Quapaw. 

11.  Tsedu'ga  ("  buffalo  bull ").     This  occurs  also  in  the  Osage  tribe. 

12.  Tsi'zhu  washtage  (washtage,  docile,  peaceable).     Tsi'zhu  is  the  name  of  a  large 
group  of  the  Osage,  and  Tsi'zhu  washtage  of  the  peacemakers  of  that  group. 


The    origin    of    the   word    quapaw   has    already    been    explained 
(see  p.  36). 

<*  The  remnant  of  the  Quapaw  tribe  (hardly  a  hundred  in  number)  are  living  in  the  northern  part  of 
Oklahoma.  (See  figs.  13,  14.)  When  first  met  by  the  white  people  they  were  living  south  of  the  Osage. 
The  Quapaw  came  into  contact  with  the  French  and  Spanish  traders  of  the  sixteenth  century,  being  in  the 
line  of  march  of  these  early  traders  from  the  South.  With  the  stimulus  given  to  immigration  and  settle 
ment  after  the  Louisiana  Purchase,  their  lands  were  soon  wanted.  In  1818  they  ceded  to  the  United  States 
their  country  lying  between  the  Arkansas,  Canadian,  and  Red  rivers,  receiving  a  tract  for  themselves 
south  of  the  Arkansas  and  Washita  rivers.  This  reservation  they  relinquished  in  1824,  retiring  to  a 
smaller  tract  in  the  vicinity  of  their  present  home.  Their  vicissitudes  have  been  such  as  to  shatter  their 
tribal  life,  so  that  it  is  now  difficult  to  obtain  accurate  information  concerning  their  ancient  organiza 
tion.  Only  fragments  can  be  gathered  here  and  there,  to  be  pieced  together  by  knowledge  gained  from 
those  cognates  who  have  been  more  fortunate  in  preserving  their  old  tribal  form  and  rites. 

FIG.  13.    Quapaw  man. 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 


It  has  been  difficult  to  obtain  definite  information  concerning  the 
gentes  of  the  tribe.  The  people  have  become  so  disintegrated  that 
questions  are  usually  met  with  a  weary  shake  of  the  head  as  the 
answer  comes,  "All  is  gone;  gone  long  ago!"  A  fragmentary  list  of 
gentes  has  been  secured.  Some  of  the  following  may  be  subgentes. 
There  were  two  divisions  in  the  tribe,  but  how  the  following  groups 
were  divided  between  these  it  has  been  thus  far  impossible  to  learn. 

1.  IIon/gatonga—  Big  Hon/ga. 

2.  Ho  n/gazhinga—  Little  Hon/ga. 

3.  Wazhin/ga  inikashiha   (wazhinga,  bird; 

inikashiha,  meaning  with  which  they 
make  themselves  a  people,  i.  e.,  by  the 
rite  of  which  the  bird  is  the  symbol). 

4.  Te'nikashiha  (te,  buffalo). 

5.  On/pon  inikashiha  (on/po«,  elk). 

6.  Hu'inikashiha  (hu,  fish). 

7.  Ke'nikashiha  (ke,  turtle). 

8.  Nan/panta — deer. 

9.  Wa'sa    inikaahiha    (wasa,    black 

10.  Monchu/     inikashiha 
grizzly  bear). 

11.  Miha'ke 

12.  Pe'to"  inikashiha  (peton,  crane). 

13.  Mi'inikashiha  (mi,  sun). 

14.  Wakon/ta  inikashiha — Thunder. 

nikashiha      (miha'ke, 

FIG.  14.    Quapaw  woman. 

The  foregoing  brief  account 
of  the  four  tribes  that  are  close 
cognates  of  the  Omaha  has  been 
given  for  the  following  reasons : 
First,  to  indicate  some  of  the 
peculiarities  of  tribal  organiza 
tion  which,  while  common  to 
all,  are  remarkably  developed 

among  the  Omaha,  as  will  be  apparent  from  the  following  detailed 
account  of  that  tribe. 

Second,  to  suggest  the  importance  of  careful  study  of  such  a  cognate 
group  as  likely  to  throw  light  on  the  manner  in  which  tribes  have 
come  to  be  built  up  into  separate  organizations  and  to  bear  on  the 
reason  why  each  shows  different  phases  of  development. 

In  the  Omaha  and  the  four  cognates  there  appear  to  be  certain 
stable  characteristics  which  indicate  a  common  ideal  of  organization, 
as  the  two  divisions  of  the  tribal  circle  and  the  functions  pertaining 
to  each ;  the  ceremonies  connected  with  warfare  and  the  awarding  of 
war  honors.  There  seems  to  be  also  a  common  type  of  religious 


ceremonial  for  the  recognition  of  those  cosmic  forces  which  were 
believed  to  affect  directly  the  life  of  man,  as  the  rites  attending  the 
naming  of  children  and  the  class  of  names  given,  and  the  customs 
relating  to  birth  and  to  death.  These  resemblances  between  the 
tribes  will  become  clearer  as  the  story  of  the  Omaha  tribe  is  told  and 
discussion  is  had  of  customs  among  the  cognates  which  seem  to  be 
similar  in  purpose  even  when  they  differ  in  details,  the  differences 
being  as  suggestive  as  the  similarities.0 

a  Since  the  foregoing  brief  account  of  the  Osage  tribe  was  written  an  ethnological  study  of  that  tribe 
has  been  undertaken  by  Mr.  Francis  La  Flesche  for  the  Bureau  of  American  Ethnology.  It  is  expected 
that,  as  a  result  of  this  investigation,  additional  light  will  be  thrown  on  the  relationship  between  the 
ribes  of  the  cognate  group  to  which  the  Osage  and  the  Omaha  belong. 




The  Omaha  do  not  claim  to  have  been  born  in  the  region  they 
now  occupy.  On  the  contrary,  their  traditions,  like  those  of  their 
cognates,  .place  their  early  home  in  the  East,  "near  a  great  body 
of  water."  This  account  of  their  ancient  environment  had  become 
blended  with  the  idea  of  a  physical  birth,  as  was  explained  by  Shu'- 
denaci  when  he  repeated  the  fragmentary  Legend,  at  the  time  the 
Sacred  Pole  was  turned  over  to  the  writers  to  be  deposited  for  safe 
keeping  in  the  Peabody  Museum  of  Harvard  University.  This 
Legend  was  in  the  custody  of  those  who  had  charge  of  that  cere 
monial  object  and  was  considered  sacred. 

The  Legend  says: 

In  the  beginning  the  people  were  in  water.  They  opened  their  eyes  but  they 
could  see  nothing.  From  that  we  get  the  child  name  in  the  Ho^ga  gens,  Nia'di 
inshtagabtha,  "  eyes  open  in  the  water."  As  the  people  came  out  of  the  water  they 
beheld  the  day,  so  we  have  the  child  name  Ke'tha  gaxe,  "to  make  (or  behold)  the 
clear  sky."  As  they  came  forth  from  the  water  they  were  naked  and  without  shame. 
But  after  many  days  passed  they  desired  covering.  They  took  the  fiber  of  weeds 
and  grass  and  wove  it  about  their  loins  for  covering. 

It  is  noteworthy,  when  taken  in  connection  with  the  traditions 
and  usages  already  mentioned  as  associated  with  the  name  Hon/ga, 
(p.  40)  that  the  personal  names  which  refer  to  the  birth  of  the  people 
are  preserved  in  the  Hon/ga  gens. 

The  Legend  continues: 

The  people  dwelt  near  a  large  body  of  water,  in  a  wooded  country  where  there  was 
game.  The  men  hunted  the  deer  with  clubs;  they  did  not  know  the  use  of  the  bow. 
The  people  wandered  about  the  shores  of  the  great  water  and  were  poor  and  cold. 
And  the  people  thought,  What  shall  we  do  to  help  ourselves?  They  began  chipping 
stones;  they  found  a  bluish  stone  that  was  easily  flaked  and  chipped  and  they  made 
knives  and  arrowheads  [sic]  out  of  it.  They  had  now  knives  and  arrows  [sic],  but 
they  suffered  from  the  cold  and  the  people  thought,  What  shall  we  do?  A  man 
found  an  elm  root  that  was  very  dry  and  dug  a  hole  in  it  and  put  a  stick  in  and  rubbed 
it.  Then  smoke  came.  He  smelled  it.  Then  the  people  smelled  it  and  came  near; 
others  helped  him  to  rub.  At  last  a  spark  came;  they  blew  this  into  a  flame  and  so  fire 
came  to  warm  the  people  and  to  cook  their  food.  After  this  the  people  built  grass 
houses;  they  cut  the  grass  with  the  shoulder  blade  of  a  deer.  Now  the  people  had 





fire  and  ate  their  meat  roasted;  but  they  tired  of  roast  meat,  and  the  people  thought, 
How  shall  we  have  our  meat  cooked  differently?  A  man  found  a  bunch  of  clay  that 
stuck  well  together;  then  he  brought  sand  to  mix  with  it;  then  he  molded  it  as  a  vessel. 
Then  he  gathered  grass  and  made  a  heap;  he  put  the  clay  vessel  into  the  midst  of  the 
grass,  set  it  on  fire,  and  made  the  clay  vessel  hard.  Then,  after  a  time,  he  put  water 
into  the  vessel  and  it  held  water.  This  was  good.  So  he  put  water  into  the  vessel 
and  then  meat  into  it  and  put  the  vessel  over  the  fire  and  the  people  had  boiled  meat 
to  eat. 

Their  grass  coverings  would  fuzz  and  drop  off.  It  was  difficult  to  gather  and  keep 
these  coverings.  The  people  were  dissatisfied  and  again  the  people  thought,  What 
can  we  do  to  have  something  different  to  wear?  Heretofore  they  had  been  throwing 
away  the  hides  they  had  taken  from  the  game.  So  they  took  their  stone  knives  to 
scrape  down  the  hides  and  make  them  thin;  they  rubbed  the  hides  with  grass  and  with 
their  hands  to  make  them  soft  and  then  used  the  hides  for  clothing.  Now  they  had 
clothing  and  were  comfortable. 

The  women  had  to  break  the  dry  wood  to  keep  up  the  fires;  the  men  had  some  con 
sideration  for  the  women  and  sought  plans  for  their  relief.  So  they  made  the  stone 
ax  with  a  groove,  and  put  a  handle  on  the  ax  and  fastened  it  with  rawhide.  This 
was  used.  But  they  wanted  something  better  for  breaking  the  wood.  So  they  made 
wedges  of  stone.  [These  were  of  the  same  shape  as  the  iron  wedges  used  for  splitting 
logs,  explained  the  old  narrator.] 

The  grass  shelter  became  unsatisfactory  and  the  people  thought,  How  shall  we  bet 
ter  ourselves?  So  they  substituted  bark  for  grass  as  a  covering  for  their  dwellings. 

The  comfort  derived  from  their  skin  clothing  seems  to  have  sug 
gested  the  idea  of  trying  the  experiment  of  covering  their  dwellings 
with  skins,  for  the  Legend  says: 

The  people  determined  to  put  skins  on  the  poles  of  their  dwellings.  They  tried  the 
deerskins,  but  they  were  too  small.  They  tried  the  elk,  but  both  deer  and  elk  skina 
became  hard  and  unmanageable  under  the  influence  of  the  sun  and  rain.  So  they 
abandoned  the  use  of  the  skins  and  returned  to  bark  as  a  covering  for  their  houses. 

There  is  no  mention  made  in  this  Legend,  or  in  any  known  tradi 
tion,  as  to  when  or  where  the  people  met  the  buffalo ;  but  there  is  an 
indirect  reference  to  the  animal  in  this  Legend  from  which  it  would 
seem  that  the  meeting  with  the  buffalo  must  have  taken  place  after 
they  had  left  the  wooded  region  where  they  could  obtain  elm  bark 
for  the  covering  of  their  houses,  and  that  the  need  of  a  portable 
shelter  started  the  idea  among  the  people  of  experimenting  again 
with  a  skin  covering  for  their  tents,  for  the  Legend  says: 

Until  they  had  the  buffalo  the  people  could  not  have  good  tents.  They  took  one 
of  the  leg  bones  of  the  deer,  splintered  it,  and  made  it  sharp  for  an  awl  and  with  sinew 
sewed  the  buffalo  skin  and  made  comfortable  tent  covers.  (PI.  17.) 

From  this  Legend  and  other  traditions  both  the  buffalo  and  the 
maize  seem  to  have  come  into  the  life  of  the  people  wliile  they  were 
still  in  their  eastern  habitat.  The  story  of  finding  the  maize  is  told 
as  follows  in  this  Legend : 

Then  a  man  in  wandering  about  found  some  kernels,  blue,  red,  and  white.  He 
thought  he  had  secured  something  of  great  value,  so  he  concealed  them  in  a  mound. 
One  day  he  thought  he  would  go  to  see  if  they  were  safe.  When  he  came  to  the  mound 

72  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

he  found  it  covered  with  stalks  having  ears  bearing  kernels  of  these  colors.  lie  took 
an  ear  of  each  kind  and  gave  the  rest  to  the  people  to  experiment  with.  They  tried 
it  for  food,  found  it  good,  and  have  ever  since  called  it  their  life.  As  soon  as  the  people 
found  the  corn  good,  they  thought  to  make  mounds  like  that  in  which  the  kernels  had 
been  hid.  So  they  took  the  shoulder  blade  of  the  elk  and  built  mounds  like  the  first 
and  buried  the  corn  in  them.  So  the  corn  grew  and  the  people  had  abundant  food. 

In  their  wanderings  the  people  reached  the  forests  where  the  birch  trees  grow  and 
where  there  were  great  lakes.  Here  they  made  birch-bark  canoes  and  traveled  in 
them  about  the  shores  of  the  lakes.  A  man  in  his  wanderings  discovered  two  young 
animals  and  carried  them  home.  He  fed  them  and  they  grew  large  and  were  docile. 
He  discovered  that  these  animals  would  carry  burdens,  so  a  harness  was  fixed  on 
them  to  which  poles  were  fastened  and  they  became  the  burden  bearers.  Before 
this  every  burden  had  to  be  carried  on  the'back.  The  people  bred  the  dogs  and  they 
were  a  help  to  the  people. 


The  western  movement  of  the  people  is  not  definitely  traced  in 
any  of  their  traditions,  nor  is  there  any  account  of  the  separations 
of  kindred  which  from  time  to  time  must  have  taken  place.  By 
inference,  there  must  have  been  considerable  warfare,  as  the  making 
of  peace  with  enemies  is  referred  to.  The  tribe  seem  to  have  lin 
gered  long  in  the  northern  territory  now  covered  by  the  States  of 
Minnesota,  North  Dakota,  South  Dakota,  and  Iowa,  and  between  the 
Mississippi  and  Missouri  rivers;  their  claims  to  portions  of  this 
territory  were  acknowledged  in  the  last  century  when  they  joined  in 
the  treaty  made  at  Prairie  du  Chien  in  1_830,  at  which  time  they 
relinquished  all  their  rights  to  this  land  to  the  United  States.  Six 
years  later  they  made  a  like  relinquishment  of  their  claims  east  of 
the  Missouri  river  in  the  States  of  Missouri  and  Iowa.  Tradition  is 
silent  as  to  their  movements  from  the  Lake  region  south  to  the  Ohio 
river,  where  it  is  said  they  parted  from  the  Quapaw,  as  already  told. 

A  period  of  considerably  more  than  three  hundred  years  must  have 
elapsed  between  the  time  of  parting  from  the  Quapaw  on  the  banks 
of  the  Mississippi,  at  the  mouth  of  the  Ohio,  and  the  date  of  the 
Omaha's  first  cession  to  the  United  States,  mentioned  above.  After 
the  separation  from  the  Quapaw  it  is  not  probable  that  the  Omaha 
were  ever  again  as  far  south  as  the  Ohio  river  or  as  far  east  as  Lake 

Tradition  says  that  the  Omaha  after  parting  from  the  Quapaw 
followed  the  Mika'to11  ke  river  (the  Des  Moines)  to  its  headwaters,  and 
wandered  northeast.  One  day  about  thirty  years  ago  the  old  men 
were  talking  of  these  early  movements  of  the  tribe  when  Shu'denaci 
said,  "I  think  that  we  could  trace  the  sites  of  the  old  Omaha  villages 
of  the  time  the  tribe  went  up  the  Mi'kato11  ke".  The  question,  How 
could  the  sites  be  identified?  elicited  the  reply:  "By  the  circles  of 
stones  which  were  left  when  the  people  abandoned  a  village."  It  was 
the  custom  to  place  stones  around  the  bottom  of  the  tent  cover  to 
hold  it  firmly  on  the  ground;  when  the  tent  was  taken  down  the 


stones  were  left  where  they  had  been  used.  Some  of  the  old  men  said 
that  they  had  seen  such  traces  of  deserted  village  sites  east  of  the 
Missouri  in  the  region  where  the  tribe  is  said  once  to  have  lived. 
Dakota  tradition  tells  of  their  meeting  the  Omaha  near  the 
Blue  Earth  and  Minnesota  rivers.  That  the  Omaha  dwelt 
for  a  considerable  time  in  the  forest  region  seems  to  be  borne  out 
by  both  legends  and  rites,  which  show  the  influence  of  the  woods. 
The  Sacred  Pole  was  cut  while  the  people  were  dwelling  in  the 
wooded  country,  as  all  the  traditions  of  the  cutting  seem  to  indicate. 
When  that  occurred  the  Ponca  were  still  with  the  Omaha,  and  their 
legends  are  similar  to  those  of  the  latter  touching  the  finding  and 
cutting  of  the  Pole.  The  tree  from  which  it  was  cut  is  said  to  have 
stood  near  a  lake,  and  the  suggestion  has  been  made  that  the  place 
was  Lake  Andes,  in  Choteau  county,  South  Dakota;  but  this  iden 
tification  has  not  been  accepted  by  the  best  tribal  authorities  and 
traditions  do  not  favor  placing  the  act  in  the  vicinity  of  this  lake. 

It  was  prior  to  the  cutting  of  the  Sacred  Pole  that  the  Omaha  organ 
ized  themselves  into  their  present  order.  The  inauguration  of  the 
rites  connected  with  the  Sacred  Pole  seems  to  have  been  for  the 
purpose  of  conserving  that  order;  and  it  was  after  these  rites  had 
been  instituted  that  the  Omaha  reached  the  vicinity  of  the  Big  Sioux, 
where  on  the  banks  of  a  small  stream  that  flows  in  from  the  north 
east  they  built  a  village.  It  was  while  they  were  living  here  that  a 
disastrous  battle  took  place  (tradition  does  not  say  with  whom),  and 
as  a  result  this  village  seems  to  have  been  abandoned,  after  the  dead 
had  been  gathered  and  buried  in  a  great  mound,  around  which  a  stone 
wall  was  built.  In  the  middle  of  the  last  century  this  wall  was  still  to 
be  seen.  Tradition  says,  "In  this  battle  the  Sacred  Pole  came  near 
being  captured." 

It  was  while  the  Omaha  were  in  the  vicinity  of  the  upper  Mississippi 
that  they  came  into  contact  with  the  Cheyenne.  The  Legend  says, 
"We  made  peace  with  the  Cheyenne.  At  that  time  the  Ponca  were 
with  us,  and  the  Iowa  and  Oto  joined  in  the  peace."  The  old  narrator 
added :  "The  Osage  say  they  were  with  us,  too ;  but  it  is  not  so  told  by 
our  people."  This  overture  of  peace  may  have  been  made  in  conse 
quence  of  the  Omaha  having  invaded  the  Cheyenne  territory  in  the 
northern  movement.  According  to  Dakota  traditions  the  Cheyenne 
were  in  possession  of  the  upper  Mississippi  country  when  the  Dakota 
arrived  there.  It  may  be  difficult  to  determine  whether  or  not  at  this 
time  the  Dakota  as  distinct  tribes  had  come  into  contact  with  the 
Omaha  and  the  Ponca. 

While  in  this  region  experiences  disruptive  in  character  must  have 
visited  the  people — possibly  the  defection  of  the  Ponca — which 
finally  resulted  in  their  complete  separation.  At  any  rate,  something 

74  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

happened  which  caused  the  Omaha  to  take  steps  toward  a  closer 
organization  of  the  people.     The  Legend  says: 

At  this  place  [where  peace  with  the  Cheyenne  had  been  made]  we  formed  a  govern 
ment.  The  people  said,  "  Let  us  appoint  men  who  shall  preserve  order. "  Accordingly 
they  selected  men,  the  wisest,  the  most  thoughtful,  generous,  and  kind,  and  they  con 
sulted  together  and  agreed  upon  a  council  of  seven  who  should  govern  the  people. 

Then  follows  the  account  of  the  organization  of  the  tribe  in  its  pres 
ent  order  and  the  story  of  finding  and  cutting  the  Sacred  Pole.  Both 
of  these  narratives  will  be  given  later  on. 

After  the  great  battle  on  the  Big  Sioux  the  Omaha  seem  to  have 
turned  slightly  southward,  but  to  have  remained  in  the  main  on  the 
east  side  of  the  Missouri,  although  war  parties  apparently  reached 
the  river  and  even  crossed  to  the  farther  side,  where  they  met  and 
fought  the  Arikara,  who  were  dwelling  where  the  Omaha  live  to-day. 
Traditions  are  definite  in  stating  that  ' '  the  Arikara  were  first  encoun 
tered  on  the  west  side  of  the  Missouri." 

About  the  time  of  these  events  the  Omaha  seem  to  have  returned  to 
the  Big  Sioux  and  to  have  built  a  village  where  the  river  makes  a  loop, 
at  a  point  where  a  small  stream  enters  from  a  canyon  which,  the 
Omaha  story  says,  has  "two  cliffs,  like  pinnacles,  standing  at  its 
entrance,  through  which  the  wind  rushes  with  such  violence  as  to 
disturb  the  water."  When  they  built  this  village,  according  to  the 
Legend,  the  Omaha  were  living  in  bark  houses  (pi.  18).  They  had 
met  and  fought  the  Arikara,  but  had  not  yet  adopted  the  earth 
lodge.  The  continued  forays  of  the  Omaha  made  the  Arikara  seek 
peace  and  it  was  in  this  village  at  the  mouth  of  the  canyon  that 
peace  was  made  among  the  Arikara,  the  Cheyenne,  the  Omaha,  the 
Ponca,  the  Iowa,  and  the  Otq,  and  sought  to  be  confirmed  through 
the  ceremony  now  known  among  the  Omaha  as  the  Wa'wan  (see 
p.  376) — the  same  ceremony  as  the  Pawnee  Hako.a 

In  view  of  the  part  this  ceremony  has  played  in  the  life  of  the 
Omaha  and  its  cognate  tribes,  it  is  fitting  to  call  attention  to  the 
extent  of  territory  throughout  which  it  was  observed  before  and  dur 
ing  the  seventeenth  century.  The  early  French  travelers  found  it 
among  the  Caddo  group  in  the  country  now  known  as  Texas,  Loui 
siana,  and  Arkansas,  while  Marquette  met  with  it  among  the  tribes 
living  on  the  Mississippi  when  he  entered  that  stream  from  the  Wis 
consin  river.  The  Omaha  Legend  shows  that  it  was  known  to  the 
Arikara  on  the  Missouri  river  and  was  probably  introduced  by  them 
to  the  Omaha,  Ponca,  Iowa,  Oto,  and  Cheyenne  at  the  village  on  the 
Big  Sioux  river.  The  Cheyenne  seem  to  have  lost  the  rite  in  the 
course  of  their  western  movement,  but  it  has  ever  since  been  prac 
tised  by  the  other  tribes  who  took  part  in  this  peacemaking.  A  rite 
which  was  both  recognized  and  revered  throughout  so  extensive  a 

«  See  Ilako,  in  the  Twenty-second  Annual  Report  of  the  Bureau  of  American  Ethnology,  pt.  n. 


territory,  occupied  by  so  many  tribes,  must  have  been  instrumental 
in  modifying  the  customs  of  the  peoples  practising  it,  in  extending 
the  use  of  certain  symbols,  and  in  bringing  about  some  measure  of 
unity  in  the  forms  of  religious  beliefs. 


Traditions  are  more  explicit  concerning  contact  with  the  Arikara 
than  with  any  other  tribe.  Both  Omaha  and  Ponca  legends  give  evi 
dence  of  the  influence  exerted  on  the  people  by  this  tribe.  When  the 
Missouri  river  was  reached  by  the  Omaha,  they  found  the  Arikara 
there,  cultivating  the  maize  and  living  in  villages  composed  of 
earth  lodges — evidently  a  peaceful,  sedentary  folk.  Omaha  war 
parties  from  the  east  side  of  the  river  harassed  the  Arikara,  who 
were  living  on  the  west 'side.  The  Arikara  sought  to  obtain  peace 
through  the  influence  of  the  Wa'wan  ceremony,  as  already  related, 
but  Omaha  war  parties  seem  finally  to  have  driven  them  from  their 
homes  and  to  have  forced  them  northward  up  the  Missouri  river. 
The  tradition  that  the  Arikara  were  driven  away  from  the  land  the 
Omaha  now  own  is  confirmed  by  a  Ponca  story  that  refers  to  the 
sale  of  the  Omaha  lands  to  the  United  States  Government  in  the 
middle  of  the  last  century;  at  that  time  an  Arikara  said  to  a  Ponca: 
"Had  my  people  known  that  these  lands  were  valuable,  they  would 
have  contested  the  right  of  the  Omaha  to  make  the  sale,  for  the 
Arikara  were  the  first  to  occupy  the  land,  a  proof  of  which  is  to  be 
seen  in  the  remains  of  our  earth  lodges  and  village  sites  on  the  bluffs 
of  the  Missouri."  These  earth  circles  have  often  been  seen  by  the 
writers  on  the  Omaha  reservation,  and  the  traditions  of  the  Omaha 
declare  them  to  be  the  remains  of  the  earth  lodges  occupied  by  the 
Arikara  when  they  dwelt  in  this  region.  Both  Omaha  and  Ponca 
traditions  say  that  the  tribes  were  together  when  they  met  and  drove 
the  Arikara  northward.  It  was  from  the  Arikara  that  the  Omaha 
and  Ponca  learned  to  make  and  use  earth  lodges.  According  to  the 
Omaha  Legend:  "It  was  the  women  who  saved  the  life  of  the  people. 
They  built  the  sod  houses;  they  made  them  by  their  labor.  The 
work  was  divided.  Men  cut  the  poles  and  fixed  the  frame  and  tied 
the  opening  for  the  smoke  hole;  the  women  brought  the  willows  and 
sod  and  finished  the  building." 

In  this  connection  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  while  the  Omaha 
adopted  the  earth  lodge  (pi.  19)  they  did  so  from  a  purely  practical 
point  of  view,  as  affording  them  a  better  permanent  dwelling  than 
tents,  and  were  probably  ignorant  of  the  symbolic  character  of  the 
structure.  With  the  tribe  from  which  it  was  taken  this  lodge  repre 
sented  certain  religious  ideas.  Rituals  attended  the  cutting  of  the 
trees  for  its  structure  and  the  planting  of  the  four  posts  that  inclosed 
the  space  about  the  central  fire.  The  Omaha  did  not  observe  any  of 

76  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

these  ceremonies  nor  did  they  use  the  prescribed  number  of  posts. 
They  set  up  about  the  fireplace  six,  seven,  or  eight  posts  as  suited 
their  convenience,  for  the  sole  purpose  of  supporting  the  roof,  these 
posts  possessing  no  ceremonial  importance  or  other  significance.  The 
Omaha  built  the  earth  lodge  only  for  village  use;  the  tipi,  or  tent, 
was  still  the  habitation  when  on  the  buffalo  hunt.  There  is  a  tra 
dition  that  the  tribe  received  the  maize  from  the  Arikara  but  it  is 
questionable  if  this  was  the  first  knowledge  the  Omaha  had  of  the 
plant.  It  may  be  that  in  their  northward  migrations  the  people 
passed  out  of  the  corn  belt  into  environments  not  favorable  to  its 
cultivation,  so  that  its  general  use  was  partially  discontinued;  but 
nothing  definite  is  known,  although  there  are  indications  favorable  to 
this  conjecture.  If  there  was  any  hiatus  in  the  cultivation  of  the 
maize  among  the  Omaha,  as  the  following  story  might  suggest,  there 
is  nothing  to  indicate  that  the  tribe  has  not  constantly  cultivated  it 
since  the  time  the  Missouri  was  reached.  This  story,  preserved  among 
the  Omaha  but  credited  to  the  Arikara,  tells  how  the  latter  found  the 
maize  and  how  the  former  received  it  from  them : 

The  Arikara  were  the  first  to  find  the  maize.  A  young  man  went  out  hunting.  He 
came  to  a  high  hill,  and,  looking  down  upon  a  valley,  he  saw  a  buffalo  bull  standing 
in  the  middle  of  a  bottom  land  lying  between  two  rivers  where  they  conjoined.  As 
the  young  man  surveyed  the  country  to  find  a  safe  way  of  approaching  the  buffalo 
he  was  impressed  with  the  beauty  of  the  landscape.  The  banks  of  the  two  rivers 
were  low  and  well  timbered.  He  observed  that  the  buffalo  stood  facing  the  north; 
he  saw  that  he  could  not  approach  the  animal  from  any  side  within  bow  shot.  He 
thought  that  the  only  way  to  get  a  chance  to  shoot  the  buffalo  would  be  to  wait  until 
the  animal  moved  close  to  the  banks  of  one  of  the  rivers,  or  to  the  hills  where  there 
were  ravines  and  shrubs.  So  the  young  man  waited.  The  sun  went  down  before 
the  buffalo  moved;  the  young  man  went  home  disappointed.  Nearly  all  night  the 
hunter  lay  awake  brooding  over  his  disappointment,  for  food  had  become  scarce  and 
the  buffalo  would  have  given  a  good  supply.  Before  dawn  the  young  man  arose 
and  hurried  to  the  scene  of  the  buffalo  to  see  if  he  could  find  the  animal  somewhere 
near  the  place,  if  it  had  moved.  Just  as  he  reached  the  summit  of  the  hill,  where 
he  was  the  day  before,  the  sun  arose,  and  he  saw  that  the  buffalo  was  still  in  the  same 
spot.  But  he  noticed  that  it  was  now  facing  the  east.  Again  the  young  man  waited 
for  the  animal  to  move,  but  again  the  sun  went  down  and  the  buffalo  remained  stand 
ing  in  the  same  spot.  The  hunter  went  home  and  passed  another  night  of  unrest. 
He  started  out  again  before  dawn  and  came  to  the  top  of  the  hill  just  as  the  sun  arose, 
and  saw  the  buffalo  still  standing  in  the  same  place,  but  it  had  turned  around  to  face 
the  south.  The  young  man  waited  until  dark  for  the  buffalo  to  move,  and  had  to  go 
again  to  his  home  disappointed,  where  he  passed  another  sleepless  night.  The  hun 
ter's  desire  to  secure  the  game  was  not  unmixed  with  some  curiosity  to  know  why 
the  buffalo  should  so  persistently  remain  in  that  one  spot  without  eating  or  drinking 
or  lying  down  to  rest.  With  this  curiosity  working  in  his  mind,  he  arose  for  the  fourth 
time  before  dawn,  and  hastened  to  the  hill  to  see  if  the  buffalo  was  still  standing  in 
the  same  place.  It  was  again  daylight  when  he  came  to  the  hill,  and  there  stood  the 
buffalo  exactly  in  the  same  place,  but  it  had  turned  around  to  face  the  west.  Being 
now  determined  to  know  what  the  animal  would  do,  the  young  man  settled  down  to 
watch  as  he  had  done  the  three  days  before.  He  thought  that  the  animal  was  acting 
in  this  manner  under  the  influence  of  an  unseen  power  for  some  mysterious  purpose, 


and  that  he,  as  well  as  the  buffalo,  was  controlled  by  the  same  influence.  Darkness 
came  upon  him  again  with  the  animal  still  standing  in  the  same  position.  The  hunter 
returned  to  his  home  and  lay  awake  all  night,  wondering  what  would  come  of  this 
strange  experience.  He  arose  before  dawn  and  again  hurried  to  the  mysterious 
scene.  As  he  reached  the  summit  of  the  hill  the  light  of  day  spread  over  the  land. 
The  buffalo  had  gone.  But  in  the  spot  where  it  had  been  standing  there  stood  some 
thing  like  a  small  bush.  The  young  man  approached  the  place  with  a  feeling  of 
curiosity  and  disappointment.  He  came  to  the  object  that  from  the  distance  appeared 
like  a  small  bush  and  saw  that  it  was  a  strange  plant.  He  looked  upon  the  ground 
and  saw  the  tracks  of  the  buffalo,  and  followed  them  as  they  had  turned  from  the 
north  to  the  east  and  to  the  south  and  to  the  west,  and  in  the  center  there  was  but 
one  buffalo  track,  and  out  of  that  had  sprung  this  strange  plant.  He  examined  the 
ground  near  this  plant  to  find  where  the  buffalo  had  left  the  place,  but  there  were 
no  other  footprints  besides  those  near  the  plant.  The  hunter  hurried  home  and  told 
of  his  strange  experience  to  the  chiefs  and  the  prominent  men  of  his  people.  The 
men,  led  by  the  hunter,  proceeded  to  the  place  of  the  buffalo  and  examined  the 
ground,  and  found  that  what  he  had  told  them  was  true.  They  saw  the  tracks  of 
the  buffalo  where  he  had  turned  and  stood,  but  could  find  no  tracks  of  his  coming 
to  the  place  or  leaving  it.  While  all  of  these  men  believed  that  this  plant  was 
given  to  the  people  in  this  mysterious  manner  by  Wakon/da,  they  were  not  sure 
how  it  was  to  be  used.  The  people  knew  of  other  plants  that  were  used  for  food,  and 
the  season  for  their  ripening,  and,  believing  that  the  fruit  of  this  strange  plant 
would  ripen  at  its  own  proper  time,  they  arranged  to  guard  and  protect  it  carefully, 
awaiting  the  time  of  its  ripening. 

The  plant  blossomed,  but  from  their  knowledge  of  other  plants  they  knew  that 
the  blossom  of  the  plant  was  but  the  flower  and  not  the  fruit.  When  they  were 
watching  the  blossom  to  develop  into  fruit,  as  they  expected  it  would,  a  new  growth 
appeared  from  the  joints  of  the  plant.  Their  attention  was  now  diverted  from  the 
blossom  to  this  growth.  It  grew  larger  and  larger,  until  there  appeared  at  the  top 
something  that  looked  like  hair.  This,  in  the  course  of  time,  turned  from  pale  green 
to  a  dark  brown,  and  after  much  discussion  the  people  believed  that  this  growth 
was  the  fruit  of  the  plant  and  that  it  had  ripened.  Up  to  this  time  no  one  had  dared 
to  approach  within  touch  of  the  plant.  Although  the  people  were  anxious  to  know 
the  use  to  which  the  plant  could  be  put  or  for  which  it  was  intended,  no  one  dared 
to  touch  it.  As  the  people  were  assembled  around  the  plant  undetermined  as  to 
the  manner  of  examining  it,  a  youth  stepped  forward  and  spoke: 

"Everyone  knows  how  my  life  from  my  childhood  has  been  worse  than  worth 
less,  that  my  life  among  you  has  been  more  for  evil  than  for  good.  Since  no  one 
would  regret,  should  any  evil  befall  me,  let  me  be  the  first  to  touch  this  plant  and 
taste  of  its  fruit  so  that  you  may  know  of  its  qualities  whether  they  be  good  or 
bad."  The  people  having  given  their  assent,  the  youth  stepped  boldly  forward  and 
placed  his  right  hand  on  the  blossoms  of  the  plant,  and  brought  his  hand  with  a  down 
ward  motion  to  the  root  of  the  plant  as  though  blessing  it.  He  then  grasped  the 
fruit  and,  turning  to  the  people,  said:  "It  is  solid,  it  is  ripe."  He  then  parted  the 
husks  at  the  top  very  gently  and,  again  turning  to  the  people,  he  said:  "The  fruit 
is  red."  He  took  a  few  of  the  grains,  showed  them  to  the  people,  then  ate  of  them, 
and  replaced  the  husks.  The  youth  suffered  no  ill  effects,  and  the  people  became 
convinced  that  this  plant  was  given  them  for  food.  In  the  fall,  when  the  prairie 
grass  had  turned  brown,  the  stalk  and  the  leaves  of  this  plant  turned  brown  also. 
The  fruit  was  plucked  and  put  carefully  away.  In  the  following  spring  the  kernels 
were  divided  among  the  people,  four  to  each  family.  The  people  removed  to  the 
spot  where  the  strange  apparition  had  taken  place,  and  there  they  built  their  bark 
huts  along  the  banks  of  the  two  rivers.  As  the  hills  began  to  take  on  a  green  tinge 

78  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

from,  the  new  prairie  grass,  the  people  planted  the  kernels  of  this  strange  plant,  hav 
ing  first  built  little  mounds  like  the  one  out  of  which  the  first  stalk  grew.  To  the 
great  joy  of  the  people  the  kernels  sprouted  and  grew  into  strong  and  healthy  plants. 
Through  the  summer  they  grew,  and  developed,  and  the  fruit  ripened  as  did  that  of 
the  first  stock.  The  fruit  was  gathered  and  eaten,  and  was  found  to  be  good.  In 
gathering  the  fruit  the  people  discovered  that  there  were  various  colors — some  ears 
were  white  and  others  were  blue  and  some  were  yellow. 

The  next  season  the  people  reaped  a  rich  harvest  of  this  new  plant.  In  the  fall 
of  the  year  these  people,  the  Arikara,  sent  invitations  to  a  number  of  different  tribes 
to  come  and  spend  the  winter  with  them.  Six  tribes  came,  and  among  them  were 
the  Omaha.  The  Arikara  were  very  generous  in  the  distribution  of  the  fruit  of 
this  new  plant  among  their  guests,  and  in  this  manner  a  knowledge  of  the  plant 
spread  to  the  Omaha. 

The  composition  of  this  story  presents  points  of  interest.  The 
importance  and  the  mysterious  power  of  the  great  game,  the  buffalo, 
reflect  the  thought  of  the  hunting  tribe ;  with  it  is  blended  the  equally 
mysterious  gift  of  the  maize,  so  sacred  to  the  tiller  of  the  ground, 
for  the  buffalo  and  the  maize  represented  the  principal  food  supply 
of  the  people.  The  scene  of  the  marvelous  occurrence  is  placed  in  a 
hilly  country  where  flowed  rivers  and  yet  the  prairie  seems  to  have 
been  near  at  hand,  for  the  story  tells  of  the  observation  of  the  people 
that  "in  the  fall,  when  the  prairie  turned  brown,  the  stalk  and  leaves 
of  this  plant  turned  brown  also,"  and  that  they  timed  the  planting  of 
the  kernels  the  following  spring  by  the  upspringing  of  ' '  the  new  prairie 
grass."  Then  we  are  told  that  "when  the  people  removed  to  the  spot, 
where  the  strange  occurrence  had  taken  place,  they  built  their 
'bark  huts'  along  the  banks  of  the  two  rivers." 

The  bark  hut  (see  pi.  18)  is  a  type  of  dwelling  belonging  to  a  forest 
people.  The  Omaha  used  to  live  in  such  houses,  as  is  told  in  the 
ancient  Legend  here  so  often  quoted,  and  in  other  Omaha  traditions. 
The  people  seem  well  aware  that  they  once  lived  in  bark  houses 
like  those  in  use  among  the  Winnebago  at  the  present  day.  The 
Arikara  were  not  a  forest  people,  and  did  not  use  the  bark  hut.  The 
presence  of  these  details  illustrates  how  a  story  takes  on  coloring 
and  becomes  modified  in  passing  from  a  people  of  one  culture 
to  a  people  of  another.  That  the  cultivation  of  the  maize  was  long 
known  and  practised  by  the  Arikara  is  evident  from  their  rites,  tra 
ditions,  and  customs  when  they  were  first  known  historically;  but 
that  the  Omaha  gained  their  first  knowledge  of  the  plant  from  them 
is  very  doubtful. 


The  Ponca  were  the  last  of  the  cognates  to  form  a  tribe  by  them 
selves.  They  were  with  the  Omaha  at  the  peace  ceremony  with  the 
Arikara  and  other  tribes,  but  their  departure  seems  to  have  taken 
place  not  far  from  that  time  and  on  or  near  the  Missouri  river. 


According  to  Ponca  traditions  already  given,  the  people  followed 
this  stream  northward  to  a  place  where  "they  could  step  over  the 
water/'  and  thence  they  seem  to  have  turned  southward.  As  they 
were  going  " across  the  land/'  they  hunted  buffalo  far  toward  the 
Rocky  mountains,  and  on  one  of  their  hunts  they  encountered  the 
Padouca  (Comanche).  The  following  tradition  tells  of  this  meeting 
and  its  results: 

At  that  time  the  Ponca  had  no  animals  but  dogs  to  help  them  to  carry  burdens. 
Wherever  they  went  they  had  to  go  on  foot,  but  the  people  were  strong  and  fleet; 
they  could  run  a  great  distance  and  not  be  weary.  While  they  were  off  hunting  buffalo 
they  first  met  the  Padouca,  and  afterward  had  many  battles  with  them.  The  Padouca 
were  mounted  on  strange  animals.  At  first  the  Ponca  thought  the  men  and  animals 
were  one  creature,  but  they  learned  better  after  a  while.  The  Padouca  had  bows 
made  from  elk  horn.  They  were  not  very  long,  nor  were  they  strong.  To  make 
these  bows  the  horn  was  boiled  until  it  was  soft.  While  in  this  condition  it  was  scraped 
down,  then  spliced  and  bound  together  with  sinew  and  glue.  Their  arrows  were  tipped 
with  bone.  But  the  weapon  the  Padouca  depended  on  in  fighting  was  a  stone 
battle-ax.  Its  long  handle  was  a  sapling  bound  with  rawhide  to  which  a  grooved  stone 
.ax  head,  pointed  at  both  ends,  was  bound  by  bands  of  rawhide.  This  weapon  made 
them  terrible  fighters  at  close  quarters.  The  weakness  of  their  bows  and  arrows 
reduced  the  value  of  their  horses  in  battle  save  as  a  means  to  bring  them  rapidly  up  to 
their  enemies,  where  they  could  bring  their  battle-axes  into  play.  If  their  foes  were 
armed  with  strong  bows  and  arrows,  the  Padouca  would  suffer  before  they  came  to 
close  range.  To  protect  their  horses  from  arrows  they  made  a  covering  for  the  horses' 
breasts  and  sides,  to  prevent  an  arrow  taking  effect  at  ordinary  range.  This  covering 
(armor)  was  made  of  thick  rawhide  cut  in  round  pieces  and  made  to  overlap  like  the 
scales  of  a  fish.  Over  the  surface  was  sand  held  on  by  glue.  This  covering  made  the 
Ponca  arrows  glance  off  and  do  no  damage.  The  Padouca  protected  their  own  bodies 
by  long  shields  of  rawhide.  Some  of  them  had  breastplates  made  like  those  on  their 
horses.  When  the  Ponca  found  out  that  the  terrible  creature  they  first  encountered 
was  a  man  on  the  back  of  an  animal,  they  called  the  animal  Jcawa,  a  name  in  use  by 
the  Osage  to-day  to  designate  the  horse.  The  Ponca  noticed  the  smell  of  the  horse, 
and  the  odor  would  apprise  them  of  the  approach  of  the  Padouca.  When  a  man 
perceived  the  smell,  he  would  run  and  tell  the  herald,  who  would  at  once  go  about 
the  camp,  and  cry:  "The  wind  tells  us  the  kawa  are  coming!"  So  the  Ponca  would 
make  ready  to  defend  themselves.  The  Ponca  had  many  battles  with  the  Padouca. 
The  Ponca  did  not  know  the  use  of  the  horses,  so  they  killed  them  as  well  as  the 
men.  Nor  could  they  find  out  where  were  the  Padouca  villages,  for  when  the  two 
tribes  met,  the  Padouca  always  moved  in  an  opposite  direction  from  the  location  of 
their  dwellings.  So  the  Ponca  could  not  discover  where  the  Padouca  lived. 

One  day  the  two  tribes  had  a  great  battle.  The  people  fought  all  day  long.  Some 
times  the  Ponca  were  driven,  sometimes  the  Padouca,  until  at  last  a  Ponca  shot  a 
Padouca  in  the  eye,  and  he  dropped  from  his  horse.  Then  the  battle  ceased.  After 
the  death  of  this  man  one  of  the  Padouca  came  toward  the  Ponca  and  motioned  that 
one  of  the  Ponca  should  come  toward  him.  Then  the  Padouca  said  in  plain  Ponca: 
"Who  are  you?  What  do  you  call  yourselves?"  The  Ponca  replied:  "We  call  our 
selves  Ponca;  but  you  speak  our  language  well-,  are  you  of  our  tribe?"  The  Padouca 
said:  "  No;  we  are  Padouca.  I  speak  your  language  as  a  gift  from  a  Ponca  spirit.  As 
I  lay  one  day  on  a  Ponca  grave  after  one  of  our  battles  with  you  a  man  rose  from  the 
grave  and  spoke  to  me,  so  I  know  your  language." 

Then  it  was  agreed  to  make  peace.  Visits  were  exchanged,  the  Ponca  bartered 
their  bows  and  arrows  for  horses,  and  found  out  the  whereabouts  of  the  Padouca  village. 

80  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

The  Padouca  taught  the  Ponca  how  to  ride  and  to  put  burdens  on  the  horses.  When 
the  Ponca  had  learned  how  to  use  horses  they  renewed  war  with  the  Padouca  and 
attacked  them  in  their  village.  The  Padouca  met  the  Ponca  outside  their  village 
but,  being  driven,  jumped  into  the  stockade  which  surrounded  the  village  and  fought 
from  behind  the  barricade.  The  Ponca  made  such  continual  war  on  the  Padouca  and 
stole  so  many  of  their  horses  that  the  Padouca  abandoned  their  village  and  departed 
we  know  not  where.  After  that  the  Ponca  followed  the  Platte  river  east  and  returned 
to  the  Missouri,  bringing  the  horses  back  with  them. 

That  is  how  the  Ponca  first  had  horses,  and  we  have  had  them  ever  since. 

There  is  no  definite  tradition  among  the  Omaha  as  to  the  tribe 
from  which  they  first  obtained  horses.  The  Legend  already  quoted 

It  happened  that  a  man  in  his  wanderings  discovered  two  animals.  At  first  he 
thought  they  were  elk,  but  they  did  not  look  like  elk.  Then  he  thought  they  were 
deer,  but  they  were  larger  than  deer.  He  did  not  know  what  they  were,  although  he 
saw  many.  When  the  man  showed  himself  the  animals  did  not  run  away,  but  circled 
around  him.  He  was  troubled,  and,  fearing  them,  he  tried  to  get  away,  but  the 
animals  kept  about  him;  he  edged  off  and  finally  reached  the  village.  The  people 
were  curious;  they  saw  that  the  animals  were  gentle  and  could  be  led.  Some  of 
the  men  tried  to  mount  them,  but  fell  off,  for  they  did  not  know  how  to  ride. 
The  people  found  the  animals  could  bear  burdens  and  be  led  by  a  string.  There 
were  two,  male  and  female;  they  multiplied ;  and  thus  horses  came  among  the  Omaha. 
The  people  loved  the  horses,  and  when  they  died  the  people  wailed.  So  dogs  were 
no  longer  the  sole  bearers  of  the  people's  burdens. 

There  are  traditions  which  say  that  "horses  came  from  the 

Traditions  concerning  the  movements  of  the  Omaha  when  in  the 
vicinity  of  the  Missouri  river  are  somewhat  more  definite  but  they 
are  still  vague. 

In  1695  Le  Sueur  places  the  Omaha  near  the  Missouri  river,  where 
the  Iowa  had  joined  them.0  As  he  was  about  to  establish  his 
trading  post  on  the  Blue  Earth,  Le  Sueur  sent  runners  to  recall  the 
Iowa  that  they  might  build  a  village  near  the  fort,  as  these  Indians 
were  "industrious  and  accustomed  to  cultivate  the  earth."  The 
trader  hoped  thus  to  procure  provisions  for  his  post  as  well  as  workers 
for  the  mines.6  De  Flsle's  map  (1703)  places  the  Omaha  near  the 
mouth  of  the  Big  Sioux.  About  1737  a  trading  post  was  established 
near  the  southern  end  of  Lake  Winnipeg,  where  the  Omaha  are  said 
to  have  traded ;c  they  have  a  tradition  that  "long  ago  they  visited 
a  great  lake  to  the  far  north  and  traded  there  with  white  men."  This 
post  may  have  been  Fort  La  Heine.  It  appears  on  Jeffery's  map  of 
1762.d  Carver,  who  traveled  in  1766,  says  that  "to  this  place  the 
Mahahs,  who  inhabit  a  country  250  miles  southwest,  come  also  to 
trade  with  them;  and  bring  great  quantities  of  Indian  corn,  to  ex- 

"  Afinnesota  Historical  Collections,  I,  328,  332. 

6  Neill's  The  History  of  Minnesota,  etc.,  164,  Philadelphia,  1858. 

c  Ibid.,  186. 

<J  Ibid.,  300. 


change  for  knives,  tomahawks,  and  other  articles."0  The  Omaha 
knowledge  of  this  northern  country  would  seem  to  have  been  tradi 
tional,  and  may  have  been  connected  with  their  earlier  sojourn  in  the 
wooded  region  of  the  north. 


From  the  Sacred  Legend  already  quoted,  in  which  epochal  events 
of  the  tribe  are  mentioned,  it  appears  that  the  first  meeting  with  the 
white  race  was  in  the  northern  region  near  the  lakes,  where  the 
Omaha  used  birch-bark  canoes.  The  Legend  says: 

One  day  the  people  discovered  white  objects  on  the  waters,  and  they  knew  not 
what  to  make  of  them.  The  white  objects  floated  toward  the  shores.  The  people 
were  frightened.  They  abandoned  their  canoes,  ran  to  the  woods,  climbed  the  trees, 
and  watched.  The  white  objects  reached  the  shore,  and  men  were  seen  getting  out 
of  them.  The  Indians  watched  the  strange  men,  but  did  not  speak  or  go  near  them. 
For  several  days  they  watched;  then  the  strangers  entered  into  the  white  objects 
and  floated  off.  They  left,  however,  a  man — a  leader,  the  Indians  thought.  He 
was  in  a  starving  condition.  Seeing  this,  the  Indians  approached  him,  extending 
toward  him  a  stalk  of  maize  having  ears  on  it,  and  bade  him  eat  and  live.  He  did 
eat,  and  expressed  his  gratitude  by  signs.  The  Indians  kept  this  man,  treating  him 
kindly,  until  his  companions  returned.  Thus  the  white  people  became  acquainted 
with  the  Omaha  by  means  of  one  whom  the  latter  had  befriended.  In  return  the 
white  people  gave  the  Indians  implements  of  iron.  It  was  in  this  way  that  we  gained 
iron  among  us. 

From  the  story  of  this  encounter  and  the  fact  that  the  Omaha  are 
known  historically  to  have  traded  at  a  fort  near  Lake  Winnipeg,  it 
is  probable  that  the  incident  cited  in  the  legend  refers  to  some 
reconnoitering  party  of  wThite  adventurers,  possibly  of  the  Hudson 
Bay  Company,  one  of  whose  number  remained  behind,  and  was  later 
picked  up  or  joined  by  the  rest  of  the  party. 

The  Omaha  had  come  into  contact  with  the  French  prior  to  1724. 
At  that  time,  in  order  to  prevent  the  eastward  spread  of  Spanish 
influence,  a  trading  post  was  established  on  the  Missouri  river.  The 
French  then  counted  on  the  friendship  of  the  Omaha,  Osage,  Iowa, 
Oto,  and  Pawnee,  and  were  instrumental  in  bringing  about  peace 
between  these  tribes  and  the  Padouca  at  a  council  called  by  M.  de 
Bourgmont,  commandant  of  Fort  Orleans,  wrhich  was  held  on  one  of 
the  western  tributaries  of  the  Kansas  river. 

The  following  tradition  may  refer  to  an  occurrence  not  long  prior 
to  this  council: 

"The  Omaha  were  camped  in  the  timber,  and  one  day  a  man 
heard  pounding  in  the  woods.  He  went  to  see  what  caused  the 
strange  noise  and  returned  to  the  camp  in  great  fright.  He  said  he 

o  Carver's  Three  Years'  Travel  Through  the  Interior  Parts  of  North-America,  etc.,  69,  Philadelphia,  1796. 
&  The  Appendix  to  this  volume  deals  with  the  more  recent  history  of  the  Omaha  in  their  relations 
with  the  whites. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 6 

82  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  IETH.  AXN.  27 

had  seen  some  sort  of  a  beast,  his  face  covered  with  hair  and  his  skin 
the  color  of  the  inner  layer  of  the  corn  husk."  This  inner  husk  is 
called  wa'xonha,  and  the  Omaha  name  for  white  man,  wa'xe,  is  prob 
ably  a  corruption  of  this  term. 

The  tradition  continues  as  follows:  "  This  was  not  the  first  meet 
ing  of  the  Omaha  with  the  white  race,  but  the  earlier  encounter  had 
been  forgotten  by  the  people."  This  statement  probably  refers  to 
the  meeting  described  in  the  Sacred  Legend,  as  already  quoted.  The 
"wa'xe  built  houses  out  of  logs,  and  traded  with  the  people."  The 
old  men  of  the  tribe  used  to  declare  that  these  early  traders  were 


Contact  with  the  traders  had  a  disturbing  influence  on  the  politics 
of  the  tribe.  The  traders  lent  aid  to  those  chiefs  and  leading  men 
who  favored  schemes  for  barter,  and  these  Indians  used  the  favors 
shown  them  to  enhance  their  -own  importance  in  the  tribe.  The  fol 
lowing  narrative,  compiled  from  stories  told  by  old  men  of  the  tribe, 
illustrates  this  state  of  affairs : 

The  great-grandfather  of  a  chief  who  was  living  twenty-five  years 
ago  visited  the  trading  post  at  St.  Louis,  and  on  his  return  assumed 
an  air  of  importance,  saying  that  he  had  been  made  a  great  chief  by 
the  white  men.  He  began  to  appoint  "soldiers"  and  ambitious  men 
sought  his  favor.  He  made  Blackbird  a  " soldier"  and  took  him  to 
St.  Louis.  [This  wTas  the  Blackbird  the  apocryphal  story  of  whose 
burial  on  horseback  on  the  bluffs  of  the  Missouri  is  told  by  Lewis 
and  Clark.]  Blackbird  was  a  handsome  man  and  the  white  people 
made  much  of  him,  showing  him  more  attention  than  they  did  his 
companion.  When  Blackbird  returned  to  the  tribe  he  declared  he 
had  been  made  a  chief  by  the  white  people.  Blackbird  was  an 
ambitious  man,  who  loved  power  and  was  unscrupulous  as  to  how 
he  obtained  it.  The  traders  found  him  a  pliant  tool.  They  fostered 
his  ambitions,  supplied  him  with  goods  and  reaped  a  harvest  in  trade. 
From  them  he  learned  the  use  of  poisons,  particularly  arsenic.  If 
an  Indian  opposed  him  or  stood  in  the  way  of  his  designs,  sickness 
and  death  overtook  the  man  and  Blackbird  would  claim  that  he  had 
lost  his  life  through  supernatural  agencies  as  a  punishment  for 
attempting  to  thwart  his  chief.  Because  of  these  occurrences  Black 
bird  was  feared.  He  exercised  considerable  power  and  adopted  the 
airs  of  a  despot.  Before  he  died,  however,  the  secret  of  his  poison 
ings  became  known  and  the  fact  led  to  the  loss  of  much  of  his  power. 
The  romantic  picture  of  his  interment  on  horseback  must  be  credited 
to  grateful  traders,  as  must  also  be  the  bestowal  of  his  name  on  the 
hills  and  creek  where  later  the  Omaha  built  a  village  when  they 



moved  to  their  present  reservation.  It  is  a  fact  that  horses  were 
frequently  strangled  at  funerals  and  their  bodies  left  near  the  burial 
mound,  which  was  always  on  a  hill  or  at  some  elevation,  but  thev 
were  never  buried  alive  or  interred  with  the  -body.  It  is  one  of  the 
humors  of  Indian  history  that  a  relic  hunter  should  have  picked  up 

FIG.  15.    Big  Elk. 

a  horse's  skull  on  one  of  the  Blackbird  hills  and  preserved  it  in  a 
museum  in  memory  of  this  fanciful  entombment. 

The  "Blackbird  hills"  (pi.  20)  are  not  known  to  the  Omaha  by  that 
name,  but  as  On/pontongaxaithon  ("  where  Big  Elk  is  buried").  Big 
Elk  (fig.  15)  died  in  1853.  He  was  the  third  of  his  name,  a  member  of 
the  We'zhinshte  gens,  and  a  leading  chief  of  the  tribe.  According  to 
tradition,  all  three,  named  Big  Elk,  were  men  of  ability,  brave  and 

84  THE    OMAHA    TRTBE  [HTH.  ANN.  27 

prudent  chiefs.  The  last  of  the  name  was  a  man  of  considerable 
foresight  and  what  may  be  termed  an  advanced  thinker.  He  took 
part  in  some  of  the  early  treaties  of  his  tribe  and  visited  Washington 
before  his  death.  On  his  return  from  this  visit  he  called  the  tribe 
together  and  made  the  following  address,  which  is  here  given  as  it 
was  told  more  than  twenty-five  years  ago : 

My  chiefs,  braves,  and  young  men,  I  have  just  returned  from  a  visit  to  a  far-off 
country  toward  the  rising  sun,  and  have  seen  many  strange  things.  I  bring  to  you 
news  which  it  saddens  my  heart  to  think  of.  There  is  a  coming  flood  which  will  soon 
reach  us,  and  I  advise  you  to  prepare  for  it.  Soon  the  animals  which  Wakon/da  has 
given  us  for  sustenance  will  disappear  beneath  this  flood  to  return  no  more,  and  it 
will  be  very  hard  for  you.  Look  at  me;  you  see  I  am  advanced  in  age;  I  am  near 
the  grave.  I  can  no  longer  think  for  you  and  lead  you  as  in  my  younger  days.  You 
must  think  for  yourselves  what  will  be  best  for  your  welfare.  I  tell  you  this  that 
you  may  be  prepared  for  the  coming  change.  You  may  not  know  my  meaning. 
Many  of  you  are  old,  as  I  am,  and  by  the  time  the  change  comes  we  may  be  lying 
peacefully  in  our  graves;  but  these  young  men  will  remain  to  suffer.  Speak  kindly 
to  one  another;  do  what  you  can  to  help  each  other,  even  in  the  troubles  with  the 
coming  tide.  Now,  my  people,  this  is  all  I  have  to  say.  Bear  these  words  in  mind, 
and  when  the  time  comes  think  of  what  I  have  said. 

One  day,  in  1883,  during  the  allotment  of  the  land  in  severalty  to 
the  Omaha  tribe,  as  a  large  group  of  the  Indians  were  gathered  about 
the  allotting  agent  watching  the  surveyor  and  talking  of  the  loca 
tion  of  allotments,  there  stood  on  a  hill  near  by  an  old  Indian.  In 
a  loud  voice  he  recited  this  speech  of  Big  Elk.  At  its  close  he- 
paused,  then  shouted:  "Friends,  the  flood  has  come!"  and  disap 

To  the  best  of  his  understanding  Big  Elk  tried  to  face  his  people 
toward  civilization.  At  the  same  time  he  was  politic  and  kept  the 
tribe  well  in  hand.  Instances  of  his  eloquent  and  courtly  speech 
have  been  preserved  in  official  proceedings  with  the  Government 
and  these  betray  a  dignity  and  heartiness  that  accord  with  the  fol 
lowing  incident:  The  son  who  Big  Elk  hoped  would  succeed  him 
died  in  the  prime  of  young  manhood  and  the  father  grieved  sadly 
for  his  child.  The  death  occurred  while  the  tribe  was  on  the  Elk- 
horn  river.  The  body  was  wrapped  in  skins,  and,  accompanied  by 
near  relatives,  was  carried  across  the  prairies  more  than  a  hundred 
miles,  to  be  laid  on  the  hills  near  the  village  of  his  ancestors.  A 
year  afterward,  when  the  tribe  was  on  its  annual  hunt,  Big  Elk  was 
riding  with  the  people  when  his  eyes  rested  on  a  spirited  horse — the 
best  one  he  owned.  Suddenly  the  memory  of  his  son  came  to  him; 
he  seemed  to  see  the  youth,  and  murmured:  "He  would  have  had 
that  horse  and  all  of  the  best  I  had — but  he  needs  no  gift  of  mine!" 
Just  then  he  saw  an  old  man  whose  fortune  had  always  been  hard 
and  who  had  never  owned  a  horse.  Big  Elk  beckoned  him  to  come 
near,  and  said:  "Friend,  the  horse  my  son  would  have  ridden  shall 


be  yours;  take  him  and  mount."     As  the  old  man  raised  his  arms 
in  thanks  the  chief  turned  and  rode  off  alone. 

The  interference  of  the  traders,  and  later  of  Government  officials, 
in  tribal  affairs,  caused  two  classes  of  chiefs  to  be  recognized — 
those  whose  office  was  due  to  white  influence  and  those  who  were 
chiefs  according  to  tribal  right  and  custom.  The  first  were  desig 
nated  "paper  chiefs,"  because  they  usually  had  some  written  docu 
ment  setting  forth  their  claim  to  the  office;  the  second  class  were 
known  simply  as  "chiefs."  This  conflict  in  authority  as  to  the 
making  of  chiefs  was  a  potent  factor  in  the  disintegration  of  the 
ancient  tribal  life. 



Traditions  are  somewhat  vague  as  to  Omaha  villages  on  the  Mis 
souri  river.  While  in  this  region  the  people  seem  to  have  suffered 
from  wars  and  also  from  lack  of  food.  Near  the  mouth  of  the  White 
river,  South  Dakota,  the  tribe  once  found  a  flock  of  snowbirds, 
which  brought  so  much  relief  to  the  hungry  people  that  the  village 
they  erected  at  that  place  was  known  as  "Where  the  snowbirds 
came."  They  seem  to  have  stayed  in  this  village  for  a  considerable 
time,  but  were  finally  driven  away  by  wars.  There  is  no  mention 
of  any  village  being  built  on  their  southward  movements  until  after 
they  had  passed  the  Niobrara  river.  On  Bow  creek,  Nebraska, 
near  where  the  present  town  of  St.  James  stands,  a  village  of  earth 
lodges  was  erected,  and  here  the  people  remained  until  a  tragedy 
occurred  which  caused  a  separation  in  the  tribe  and  an  abandon 
ment  of  this  village  by  all  the  people.  The  site  was  known  and 
pointed  out  in  the  last  century  as  the  place  where  stood  the 
Ton/wonpezhi,  "Bad  Village." 

The  following  is  the  story  of  how  this  village  came  to  be  aban 
doned  and  received  the  name  of  "Bad  Village."  It  is  a  story  that 
used  frequently  to  be  told  and  is  probably  historical  and  suggests 
how  separations  may  have  come  about  in  the  more  remote  past. 

In  the  Tecin/de  gens  lived  a  man  and  his  wife  with  their  three  sons  and  one  daughter. 
Although  the  man  was  not  a  chief,  he  was  respected  and  honored  by  the  people  because 
of  his  bravery  and  hospitality.  His  daughter  was  sought  in  marriage  by  many 
men  in  the  tribe.  There  was  one  whom  she  preferred,  and  to  whom  she  gave  her 
word  to  be  his  wife.  This  fact  was  not  known  to  her  parents,  who  promised  her  to  a 
warrior  long  past  his  youth.  Against  her  will  she  was  taken  to  the  warrior's  dwelling 
with  the  usual  ceremonies  in  such  marriages.  The  girl  determined  in  her  own  mind 
never  to  be  his  wife.  She  did  not  cry  or  struggle  when,  they  took  her,  but  acted,  well 
her  part  at  the  wedding  feast,  and  none  knew  her  purpose.  When  the  feast  was  over 
and  the  sun  had  set,  she  slipped  away  in  the  dark  and  was  gone.  At  once  a  search 
was  started,  which  was  kept  up  by  the  disappointed  old  warrior  and  his  relatives  for 
several  days,  but  without  success.  The  girl's  mother  grieved  over  the  loss  of  her 

86  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [BTH.  ANN.  27 

daughter,  but  the  father  was  silent.  It  was  noticed  that  a  certain  young  man  was 
also  missing,  and  it  was  thought  that  the  two  were  probably  together.  After  the  girl 
had  been  gone  some  time,  a  boy  rushed  to  the  father's  house  one  morning,  as  the 
family  were  eating  their  meal,  and  said:  "Your  daughter  is  found!  The  old  man 
has  stripped  her  of  her  clothing  and  is  flogging  her  to  death.  Hurry,  if  you  would  see 
her  alive!"  The  father  turned  to  his  sons  and  said:  "Go,  see  if  there  is  truth  in 
this."  The  eldest  refused,  the  second  son  bowed  his  head  and  sat  still.  The  young 
est  arose,  seized  his  bow,  put  on  his  quiver,  and  went  out.  •  The  village  had  gathered 
to  the  scene.  As  the  brother  approached,  he  heard  his  sister's  cries  of  anguish- 
Pushing  his  way  through  the  crowd  he  shouted  words  of  indignation  to  those  who  had 
not  tried  to  rescue  the  girl,  and,  drawing  his  bow,  shot  the  angry  old  man.  The 
relatives  of  the  dead  man  and  those  who  sympathized  with  his  exercise  of  marital 
rights  ran  for  their  bows  and  fought  those  who  sided  with  the  young  rescuer.  A 
battle  ensued;  fathers  fought  sons  and  brothers  contended  with  brothers.  All  day  the 
two  sides  contested  and  many  were  slain  before  night  put  an  end  to  the  conflict. 
The  next  day  those  who  had  fought  with  the  brother  left  the  village  with  him  and 
traveled  eastward,  while  their  opponents  picked  up  their  belongings,  turned  their 
back  on  their  homes  and  moved  toward  the  south.  There  was  no  wailing  nor  any 
outward  sign  of  mourning.  Silently  the  living  separated,  and  the  village  was  left 
with  the  unburied  dead.  *  *  * 

"A  new  generation  had  grown  up,"  this  strange  story  continues, 
"  when  a  war  party  traveling  east  beyond  the  Missouri  river  encoun 
tered  a  village  where  the  people  spoke  the  Omaha  language.  Aban 
doning  their  warlike  intents,  the  Omaha  warriors  entered  the  village 
peaceably,  persuaded  their  new-found  relatives  to  return  with  them, 
and  so  the  Omaha  people  were  once  more  united."  The  village 
where  the  reunion  took  place  was  near  one  then  occupied  by  the 
Iowa,  not  far  from  the  site  of  the  present  town  of  Ponca  City. 

The  attacks  of  the  Dakota  tribes  forced  the  Iowa  to  leave  that 
part  of  the  country  and  they  moved  southward  as  far  as  the  river 
Platte  and  never  again  built  a  town  near  the  Omaha  tribe.  The 
Omaha  were  driven  by  the  Dakota  from  their  village  at  the  same 
time  as  the  Iowa  and  finally  settled  on  a  stream  that  flows  in  a  north 
erly  direction  into  the  Missouri,  which  they  named  Ton/wonni,  or 
Village  creek,  from  the  village  they  built  on  its  wooded  banks.  This 
village  was  erected  near  a  rock  containing  a  hole  or  depression  in 
which  the  fork-tailed  kites  used  to  nest,  and  the  site  was  known  as 
In/be  zhunka  monshonde  te,  "the  fork-tailed  kites'  hole."  The  village 
itself,  built  in  the  last  quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century,  was  called 
Ton/wontonga,  "large  village."  The  stream  on  which  it  was  situated 
is  now  called  Omaha  creek.  It  was  here  that  the  smallpox  and 
cholera  reached  the  people  and  nearly  destroyed  them. 

The  traditions  concerning  the  effects  of  the  scourge  of  smallpox 
vividly  portray  the  terror  and  desperation  of  the  people.  It  is  said 
that  when  the  enfeebled  survivors  saw  the  disfigured  appearance  of 
their  children  and  companions  they  resolved  to  put  an  end  to  their 
existence,  since  both  comeliness  and  vigor  were  gone.  They  did  not 


know  that  new-born  children  would  not  inherit  their  parents'  dis 
figuration,  and  that  in  time  the  tribe  would  again  be  as  they  were  of 
old,  strong  and  well-looking.  Being  determined  to  die,  they  proposed 
to  die  fighting  their  enemies,  therefore  the  tribe — men,  women,  and 
children — moved  out  as  a  great  tribal  war  party  to  find  their  foes 
and  meet  a  valiant  death.  The  Cheyenne  had  been  harrying  the 
people,  so  the  strange  war  party  started  for  the  Che3renne  country. 
The  story  of  this  war  party  runs  as  follows : 

On  their  way  they  encountered  the  Ponca  tribe  returning  from  a  successful  buffalo 
hunt,  well  supplied  with  meat  and  pelts.  The  Omaha  chiefs  sent  messengers  to  the 
Ponca,  explaining  that  their  people  were  going  against  the  Cheyenne,  but  they  were 
in  need  and  asked  for  food.  The  Ponca  drove  the  Omaha  messengers  away  and  shot 
at  them.  This  angered  the  Omaha  and  they  prepared  to  fight  the  Ponca.  In  the 
battle  that  followed  it  was  observed  that  one  of  the  fiercest  warriors  on  the  Ponca 
side  was  an  Omaha,  who  was  known  to  have  married  a  Ponca  woman.  This  warrior 
was  the  nephew  of  a  prominent  man  of  the  Omaha  tribe,  and  therefore  his  capture, 
rather  than  his  death,  was  sought.  At  last  he  was  taken  and  word  was  sent  to  his 
uncle,  who  was  fighting  in  another  part  of  the  field,  that  his  nephew  was  captured, 
and  he  was  asked,  "What  shall  be  done?"  "Hold  him  until  I  come,"  was  the  reply. 
When  the  uncle  arrived  at  the  place  of  capture  hs  saw  his  nephew  standing  with  an 
Omaha  warrior  on  each  side  holding  his  arms.  The  uncle  raised  his  spear  and  plunged 
it  through  the  body  of  the  man  who  had  fought  against  his  kindred. 

The  Ponca  were  driven  from  their  camp  and  lost  possession  of  their  meat  and 
camp- equipage.  Then  the  Ponca  sought  to  make  peace,  and  dispatched  a  man  to  the 
Omaha  with  the  tribal  pipe.  As  he  approached,  the  Omaha  chief  called  out,  "Who 
is  he?"  When  he  was  told,  he  replied:  "The  man  is  a  man  of  blood."  So  the 
pipe  was  refused  and  the  man  driven  back,  but  not  killed.  A  second  man  was  sent. 
He  came  toward  the  Omaha  with  the  pipe  extended  in  his  left  hand  and  his  right 
hand  raised  in  supplication.  Again  the  chief  asked:  "  Who  is  he?"  When  told,  he 
replied:  "He  is  a  man  of  peace."  The  pipe  was  received  and  the  fighting  ceased. 
The  food  of  the  Ponca  was  divided  between  the  two  tribes,  and  the  Omaha  moved  on. 

The  story  goes  on  to  recount  the  desperate  fighting  with  the 
Cheyenne,  the  Pawnee,  and  the  Oto.  At  last  those  that  remained 
of  the  Omaha  returned  to  their  village  on  Omaha  creek.  Here 
Lewis  and  Clark  met  the  people  at  the  beginning  of  the  nineteenth 
century,  and  it  was  from  the  bluffs  near  this  site  in  1836  that  the 
tribe  saw  the  little  steamboat  Antelope  puff  its  way  up  the  Missouri. 
As  the  boat  seemed  to  move  of  itself,  they  called  it  monde'waxube, 
li mystery  boat" — a  term  that  has  lost  its  early  significance,  and 
has  become  the  common  Omaha  name  for  all  steamboats. 

Forays  of  the  Dakota  grew  to  be  more  and  more  frequent,  and  later 
the  Ponca  joined  them  in  these  attacks.  The  Omaha  lost  many  of 
their  horses,  and  life  became  so  unsafe  that  the  people  abandoned  this 
village  and  moved  southwest  in  the  first  quarter  of  the  last  century. 
At  this  period  the  Omaha  were  harassed  on  the  north  by  the  Dakota 
and  Ponca  and  on  the  south  and  west  by  the  Oto  and  Pawnee. 
Peace  was  made  from  time  to  time,  and  as  frequently  broken;  con 
sequently  the  village  on  Omaha  creek  was  never  again  steadily 

88  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

occupied,  although  the  people  frequently  brougnt  their  dead  from 
their  camps  to  the  southward  and  westward  to  be  buried  where  their 
fathers  had  dwelt. 

The  country  through  which  the  tribe  was  accustomed  to  hunt  cov 
ered  a  range  of  several  hundred  miles  north  and  south  and  east  and 
west.  Its  topography  was  well  known  to  the  Omaha,  not  only  the 
general  direction  of  the  rivers  and  their  numerous  branches,  but  the 
turns  and  twists  of  the  streams  and  the  valleys,  also  the  number  of 
days  or  camps  required  to  go  from  one  point  to  another;  short  cuts 
were  known  by  which  time  could  be  saved,  an  important  considera 
tion  in  a  journey  for  which  food  and  shelter  had  to  be  transported. 
It  was  not  unusual  for  directions  as  to  a  certain  route  to  be  supple 
mented  by  a  rude  map  of  the  country  to  be  traversed,  traced  on  the 
ground  with  a  finger  or  a  stick,  on  which  were  indicated  the  trails, 
streams,  and  fords,  and  perhaps  other  details,  as  the  locations  of 
trees,  springs,  or  creeks,  affording  suitable  places  to  make  camps,  and 
of  stretches  where  water  or  wood  would  have  to  be  carried.  These 
maps  were  always  oriented,  so  that  one  could  follow  the  course  laid 
down,  by  the  sun  during  the  day  or  at  night  by  the  north  star.  All 
the  large  rivers  known  to  the  Omaha  flow  in  a  southerly  direction; 
their  tributaries  running  northward  were  said  to  "flow  backward." 

The  accompanying  map  (pi.  21)  shows  the  country  known  to  the 
Omaha  tribe;  the  Omaha  and  Ponca  names  of  the  streams  which 
flow  through  territory  once  claimed  by  the  Omaha  as  their  hunting 
grounds  are  given  below.  Much  of  this  region  was  disputed  by  other 
tribes,  who  coveted  the  "sand  hills  "  to  the  westward,  where  game  was 
plentiful.  The  Omaha  villages  lay  near  the  Missouri,  not  farther  west 
than  the  Elkhorn;  but  the  hunting  grounds  claimed  by  the  tribe 
extended  on  the  east  from  the  Missouri  to  the  Raccoon  or  Des  Moines 
river,  and  on  the  west  to  the  country  of  the  Padouca,  whose  most 
easterly  village,  in  the  forks  of  the  Dismal  river,  was  known  to  the 
Omaha.  The  Pawnee  in  their  northeastern  migration  encroached 
on  the  country  watered  by  the  Loup.  They  moved  down  the  Platte 
to  that  river  and  built  their  villages  there.  In  the  battles  which 
ensued  the  Pawnee  villages  were  destroyed,  but  only  to  be  rebuilt. 
Peace  was  made  between  the  two  tribes,  and  soon  broken.  Wars 
were  followed  by  alliances  against  other  enemies. a  Meanwhile  the 
Pawnee  continued  to  encroach  and  finally  obtained  a  foothold,  but 
the  ancient  hunting  right  of  the  Omaha  on  the  land  was  recognized 
by  the  Pawnee,  for  when  the  two  tribes  hunted  together  north' of 
the  Platte,  as  they  frequently  did  in  the  first  half  of  the  last  century, 
the  Omaha  led,  and  Omaha  officers  controlled  all  persons  taking  part 

oThe  map  indicates  the  places  where  well-known  battles  took  place  during  contentions  for  control  of 
this  territory.  Minor  battle  fields  arc  not  marked;  only  those  are  indicated  in  which  the  number  slain  on 
both  sides  left  a  deep  impression  on  the  memory  of  the  people. 


A  Omaha  villages 

9  Principal  Indian  battlefields 



"T"  II  f 
I    El  L. 

EXPLANATION.  —  The  extensive  shaded  area  represents  the  country  known  to  the 
Omaha;  the  included  area  of  darker  shading  (cross  hatched]  ,  the  country  occu- 
P*e(^  ky  *ke  Omana'-  an<i  tne  small  rectangle  bounded  on  the  east  by  the  Mis- 
souri  River,  the  Omaha  reservation 


in  the  hunt.  When,  however,  the  two  tribes  hunted  together  south 
of  the  Platte,  the  Pawnee  led,  and  the  Omaha  hunters  accepted  the 
control  of  the  Pawnee  directors  of  the  hunt. 

The  territory  lying  west  of  Shell  creek  and  northward  to  the  mouth 
of  the  Niobrara  continued  to  be  a  disputed  hunting  ground  among 
the  Cheyenne,  Dakota,  Pawnee,  Omaha,  and  Ponca  until  nearly 
1857,  when  the  region  was  finally  ceded  to  the  United  States,  In 
the  treaty  of  cession  the  Pawnee  claim  was  recognized  and  payments 
for  the  land  were  made  to  that  tribe. 

The  country  east  of  the  Missouri  was  practically  abandoned  by 
the  Omaha  in  the  eighteenth  century;  their  villages  were  then  west 
of  that  river  and  the  tribal  hunts  were  conducted  to  the  westward, 
but  small  parties  sought  elk  and  deer  east  of  the  Missouri  up  to  the 
middle  of  the  last  century.  The  Omaha  rights  to  the  land  east  of 
that  river  were  recognized  in  the  treaties  made  in  1830,  1836,  and 
1854,  when  that  territory  was  ceded  to  the  United  States. 


The  Elkhorn  and  its  tributaries 

Wate/ Meaning  unknown Elkhorn  river. 

Umon/hon  waa  i  te Where  the  Omaha  planted  .  Bell  creek. 

Logan  hi  te Where  Logan  came  (to  trade) .  Hyde  creek. 

Ti'ha  xa  i  ke Where  the  tent  skins  were  Maple  creek. 

cached  (at  a  time  when  the 

Omaha  went  to  fight  the 


To^wo^h^ga The  little  village Clark  creek. 

Tacpon/hi  bate  ke Thorn-apple  creek Lower    Logan,     including 

Middle  creek. 
Uki'pato"   tenuga  t'ethe  te  Where    Uki'pato"    killed    a  Pebble  creek. 

buffalo  bull, 
Pa/tithihu  izhinge  xa  i  te  Where  the  son  of  Pa'tithihu 

is  buried. 
Niu'thite  te The    ford    (buffalo   hunting  Gainings  creek. 

trail  crossed  here). 

Zha'uzhi  ke Weed  creek Plum  creek. 

Monkon/ninida  ke Sweet-flag  creek Rock  creek. 

Monthin/xudetibe  te Prairie-dog  creek Humbug  creek. 

Monxux  de  anatushi    kitha  Where  there  was  an  explo-  No  name  on  maps;  prob- 
i  te.  sion  of  gunpowder.  ably  dry  run. 

Ni'shkube  te Deep  water Taylor  creek. 

Uhe'caa  i  te Noisy-ford  creek  (so  called  LTnion    creek,    branch    of 

because  the  dangerous  con-      Taylor. 

dition  of  the  ford  caused 

excitement  in  crossing). 

<i  To  the  Omaha  ear  euphony  demands  that  in  composite  terms  but  one  accent  be  used,  that  given  in 
the  first  word. 

90  THE    OMAHA    TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

On/pon  monthinka  thatai  te.   Elk  lick Dry    run,    first   branch    of 


Mi'xa  ucaa  i  te The  lake  that  resounds  with  Lake  west  of  Taylor  creek, 

the  cackling  of  geese.  south  of  Elkhorn. 

E/zhon  w^ax'ghi  te One  elm  tree Dry  run  near  town  of  Stan- 
ton,  north  of  Elkhorn. 

Umon/ecabe  wae  te Where  Umon/ecabe  planted.   Dry     run     near     Bursting 

Powder  creek. 

Utha'dawo11  te Old  name,  Echo  creek North  fork  of  Elkhorn. 

Monhon/honte Miry  creek Willow   creek,    branch    of 

north  fork  of  Elkhorn. 

Hubthu'ga  waci     i     te Where  they  fished  for  trout. .  Battle  creek. 

Monkon/ninida  ke Sweet-flag  lake Lake  near  town  of  Warren, 

above  Battle  creek. 

Hidexthinge  te No-outlet  creek Creek  east  of  town  of  Oak- 
dale,  north  of  Elkhorn. 

Ni'shkube  te Deep  water Creek  near  Oakdale,  south 

of  Elkhorn. 

Te'thishka  i  te Where  the  pack  of  the  Sa-  Upper        Logan        creek, 

cred  Buffalo  Hide  was  un-      branch  of  Logan, 
tied  or  opened. 

The  Platte  and  its  tributaries 

Ni  btha'cka  ke Flat  river Platte  river. 

Tashnon/ge    uzhi  ke Ash  creek Shell  creek. 

Keton/ke Turtle  creek Silver  creek. 

Pon/xe    ton  ke Artichoke  creek Wood  river. 

Nicki'the    ke> Salt  creek Salt  creek. 

Mon/shewakude  uzho"    ke.   Where   Mon/shewakude  lies  Wahoo  creek. 

(was  buried). 
Mon/?eguhe  uzhon    ke Where  Mon/ceguhe  lies  (was  Rock  creek. 

Pa'thi11    tiuthixthigethon..  The    Old    Pawnee    village 

(Pitahawirat).     This    was 

the    village    attacked    by 

Wa'backa.       (See      story, 

p.  406.) 

The  Loup  and  its  tributaries 

Nuton/    ke Plenty  potato  river Loup  river. 

Uki'thacoMe  ke Hugging     closely     (to     the  Looking-glass  creek. 


Zha'beto11    ke Plenty  beaver  creek Beaver  creek. 

Monga/shude  te Dust  creek Council  creek. 

Nibtha/ckazhinga  ke Little  Nibtha'fka Cedar  creek. 

Monga'nade  ke Miry  creek Timber  creek. 

Pa/thintonwonzhinga Little  Pawnee  village Horse  creek. 

Pa/thinmonhontonwon Skidi  village Cottonwood  creek. 

Ni'shkube  te Deep  water Spring  creek. 

Ma'gi  uthuthaha  te Cedar  river North  Loup. 

Nicni'te Cold  water Calamus  river. 

Pehin/xewathe    wathigtho11  Where  Pehin/xewathe  Oak  creek, 

te.  prophesied. 


Zha'betihe  te The  beaver  village No  name  on  maps. 

Shkon/shkontithe  uzhonke. .   In  which  Shkon/shkontithe     Middle  Loup. 

lies  (is  buried). 

No^ebubatigtha  i  te Where  a  hand  was  hung  up. .  Mud  creek. 

Te  ni  u'baacai  ke Where    a   herd    of   buffalo     Clear  creek. 

were  driven  into  the  wa 

Pa/donka  non£a  gaxa  i  ke .  .    Where   the   Padoura   built     Dismal  river. 


Kan/cezhinga  anonzhin  te..   Where  Kan/cezhinga  stood     North  Loup,  west  of  Cala- 

onahill.  mus  river. 

Omaha  Creek  and  its  tributaries 

Ton/wonni    ke Village  creek  (a  village  was     Omaha  creek. 

built  on  this  creek  by  the 

Wace'co11  te White-clay  creek First     branch    of     Omaha 

creek,  near  town  of  Ho 
mer  (no  name  on  maps). 

Ki'bano"    githa   i  te Where  they  raced Second  branch  of  Omaha 

creek  (no  name  on 

Nithaton/    i  te Where    they  drink    water    Third    branch  of    Omaha 

(there  is  a  spring  at  the        creek      (no     name      on 
head   where   the   people        maps), 
stop  to  drink). 

Blackbird  Creeks 

Xa'tha  thethe  te Running  backward South  Blackbird  (flows 

into  the  Missouri). 

Wakon/dagi  pezhi  te The  bad  Wakon/dagi North  Blackbird  (flows  into 

the  Missouri). 

The  Missouri  and  its  tributaries 

Nishu'de  ke '...  Turbid  water Missouri. 

Umon/hon  waa  i  ke Where  the  Omaha  farmed. . .   Big  Papilion. 

Shaon/pethonba  waxthi  i  te.  Where    they   (Omaha  and     Branch  of  the  Papilion. 

Oto)  killed  7  Sioux. 

Uhe'ato"  te The  bridge  creek. Creek  between  Homer  and 

Jackson,  Nebraska  (no 
name  on  maps). 

Ta'gehite The  walnut  creek Elk  creek. 

Wace'co11  te White-clay  creek Branch  of  Elk  (no  name  on 


Ma'xude  waa  i  te Where  the  Iowa  farmed Ayoway  creek. 

Sho^to^a  wabaaca  i  te  .  . .  Where      the     people     were  Branch  of  Ayoway  creek. 

frightened  by  gray  wolves. 

Thi'xeshpo"     ugthe  te Soft-willow  creek Nameless  creek  having  no 

outlet  south  of  Floyds 
river,  flows  into  small 
lake,  Iowa. 

Wakon/daxuti  te Meaning  uncertain Floyds  river. 

Xe Buried Big  Sioux,  Iowa. 

92  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Ton/wonni  ke Village  creek Bow  creek,  Nebraska. 

Ni'ugashude  te Turbid  river White  river. 

Wate' Meaning  unknown Little  Sioux,  Iowa. 

Ni'xebe  te Shallow  water Bayer  creek,  Iowa. 

Di'xe  ut'a    i  te Where    many    died    of    the  Creek  running  by  Council 

smallpox.  Bluffs,  Iowa  (no  name  on 

Wace'co11  thica  i  te Where  they  take  white  clay.  Vermilion     creek,     South 


The  Ponca  and  its  tributaries 

Ni'uthit'e     te Death   river   [called   so  be-  Ponca  river. 

cause    many   Ponca   died 

Hon/ga  waxthi  i  ke Where    the    Hon/ga  people  First   creek   to   the   north 

were  massacred.  (no  name  on  maps). 

Pica'bahehe  ugthe     te (Creek)      running     through  Second  creek  to  the  north 

the  sand  hills.  (no  name  on  maps). 

Pahe/zhon  wec'a  thaxta  i  te.  Where  Pahexzhon  was  bitten  First  creek  to  the  south  (no 

by  a  snake.  name  on  maps). 

Monthin/ka n    te Bare  earth  (so  called  because  Second  creek  to  the  south 

of  the  bare  hill  near  the       (no  name  on  maps). 


Pon/ka    shenonwathai  thu-  Creek  running  straight  on,  North   fork   of   Ponca   (no 
ton  thethe  te.  where  Ponca  were  massa-      name  on  maps). 


E'zhon     tonga     niuthutha-  Large  elm  trees  with  stream  South   fork   of   Ponca   (no 
c'inte.  running  among  them.  name  on  maps). 

Keyabaha  and  its  tributaries 

Xe'i"  azhi  ke Cedar  Ridge  creek  (so  called  Keyabaha. 

from  a  ridge  covered  with 

Mon/gauti  te Skunk  creek Spring  creek. 

Kon/de  uzhiha  te The  plum-bag  creek Burton  creek. 

In/e  uzhi  wachishka  te Rock  creek Creek  next  to  Burton,  west 

(no  name  on  maps) . 

Tax'ti  wachishka  te Deer  creek Creek  next  to  Rock  creek, 

west  (no  name  on  maps) . 
The  Verdigris  audits  tributaries 

Wace'tupezhi  te The  bad  green-clay  creek. . .  Verdigris. 

Wace'tupezhi    hide    uzhin-  The    little    Wace     tupezhi,  First  branch  of  Verdigris 
ga  te.  branch    of    Big    Verdigris      from  the  mouth  on  east 

near  its  mouth.  (no  name  on  maps). 

Ma'ci  uzhi  te Cedar  creek Creek  down  which  railroad 

runs  (no  name  on  maps) ; 
second  branch  of  Verdi 
gris  on  the  east. 

Monchu/tonga  t'etha  i  te.  . .  Where  Big  Grizzly  Bear  was  First  branch  of  Verdigris 

killed.     (A   man  by  this      on  west  side  (no  name  on 
name  tried  to  take  a  horse      maps), 
from  some  men  and  was 
killed   by   them   on   this 



Pa/thin  nadathin  te Where  a  Pawnee  was  crazed 

by  heat.  (A  Ponca  in 
vited  a  Pawnee  to  a  sweat 
lodge  when  the  Ponca 
were  camped  on  this  creek. 
The  Pawnee,  not  being 
able  to  endure  the  heat, 
fled  without  his  clothes  and 
was  not  heard  of  again.) 

Where  Hethi'shizhe  made  a 
feast  to  the  chiefs. 

Third  branch  of  Verdigris 
on  east  (no  name  on 
maps) . 

Hethi'shizhe  gahi    uhonte. 

Zha'be  uti  i  te Where  there  is  a  beaver  vil 
lage,  or  dam. 

Wani'tawaxa  hi     te Where    Wani'tawaxa    came. 

(An  Omaha  by  this  name 
visited  the  Ponca  at  this 

Second  branch  of  Verdi 
gris  on  west  side  (no 
name  on  maps). 

Third  branch  of  Verdigris 
on  west  side  (no  name  on 
maps) . 

Fourth  branch  of  Verdigris 
on  east  side  (no  name  on 

The  Niobrara  and  branches  Jrom  the  Verdigris  on  south  side 

Ni'ubthatha    ke 
Wa'bakihe  t'e  te. 

Tenu'gacabe  wae  te. 

Mi/zhinga  shinnuda  ikinai 

Ubi'cka  izhunge  t'e  te. 

She'hi  ton  te 

Wau'  waxthi  i  te 

Shaon/pa  awachi  i  te. . 
Ma'ah  winthonthon  te 

Un/zhinga  hi  te 

Mona'  ithitin  the" 

Pica7  cka  te 

Gube^i  te 

Uhe/aton  te... 

Wide  river 

Where  AVa'bakihe  died. 

Where  Black  Buffalo  Bull 

Where  a  girl  was  bitten  to 

death  by  a  dog. 
Where  Ubi'cka's  daughter 

Thorn-apple  creek 

Where  some  women  were 
killed  by  a  war  party. 

Where  a  dance  was  held 
over  the  head  of  a  Sioux. 

Creek  of  the  scattering  cot- 
tonwood  trees. 

Hazelnut  creek. . 

The  crooked-cliff  creek. . 

White-sand  creek. 

Hackberrv  creek. 

Tenu'ga  t'e  tha  i  te 

The  bridge  creek.  (At  this 
creek  a  bridge  would  be 
built  of  tent  poles  and 
skins,  the  creek  not  being 

Where  Buffalo  Bull  was 

Niobrara  river. 

First  creek  from  Verdigris 
(no  name  on  maps) . 

Second  creek  from  Verdi 
gris  (no  name  on  maps). 

Third  creek  from  Verdigris 
(no  name  on  maps). 

Fourth  creek  from  Verdi 
gris  (no  name  on  maps). 

Fifth  creek  from  Verdigris 
(no  name  on  maps). 

Sixth  creek  from  Verdigris 
(no  name  on  maps) . 

Seventh  creek  from  Verdi 
gris  (no  name  on  maps). 

Eighth  creek  from  Verdi 
gris  (no  name  on  maps). 

Ninth  creek  from  Verdigris 
(no  name  on  maps) . 

Tenth  creek  from  Verdigris 
(no  name  on  maps). 

Eleventh  creek  from  Ver 
digris  (no  name  on  maps) . 

Twelfth  creek  from  Verdi 
gris,  first  w.  of  Keyabaha. 

Ash  creek.  (?) 

Long  Pine.  (?) 


Wachi'shka  cnede  te. 

Munchu'  uti 

C/in/de  kmoncninda  i  te 

Ni'xue  te.. 
Ni'  bice  te. 


The  long  creek.  (So  called 
because  of  its  length.  At 
the  head  is  a  small  lake 
and  an  old  Padouca  (Co- 
manche)  village  site. 
Here  also  was  found  a 
meteorite  (?)  which  gave 
the  name  In'e  thiho 
i  tho11,  ' '  place  where 
they  lifted  a  stone." 
The  young  men  lifted 
the  stone  to  test  their 

Bear  creek.  (There  used  to 
be  many  grizzlies  at  this 
place.  There  were  cedar 
trees  along  this  creek.) 

Horse-tail  creek.  (The  ap 
proaches  to  the  ford  were 
so  steep  that  in  going 
down  the  horses  trod  on 
one  another's  tails.) 

The  roaring  waters. . . 

[ETH.  ANN.  27 

Plum  Creek.  (?) 

Caci'ka  wabahi  i  te. 

Pahe'nude  te 

The  dry  creek.  (The  peo 
ple  had  to  dig  wells  when 
they  camped  here.) 

Where  they  gathered  tur-  Snake  river, 
keys.  (Many  turkeys 
were  found  here,  starved 
to  death,  and  men  gath 
ered  them  to  pluck  the 
feathers  to  feather  their 

Where  they  fought  with  peb 
bles.  (When  camped  at 
this  creek  the  boys  fought 
one  another,  using  pebbles 
as  missiles.) 

Where  there  is  a  ridge  with  a 
hole  through  it. 

Fairfield  creek.  (?) 

Small  creek  (no  name  on 
maps) . 

Schlegels     creek.  (?) 
(There  was  a  fort  here.) 
Gordons  creek. 

Small  creek  on  north  side 
of  Niobrara,  a  short  dis 
tance  above  Fairfield. 

Creek  on  north  side  of  Nio 
brara,  nearly  opposite 
Horse-tail  creek. 

The  Republican  river 

Waton/thata  i  ke. 
Niwa'xube  ke. . 

Paheshu'de  ke 
Uha'i    ke  . . 


Where  they  ate  squash Republican  river. 

Holy  river Solomon  river,  Kansas. 

Smoky  hill Smoky  Hill  river. 

The  river  down  which  they  Ohio  river. 


Plenty  of  raccoons Des  Moines  river. 




The  site  for  a  village  was  always  chosen  near  a  running  stream 
convenient  to  timber  and  generally  not  far  from  hills,  from  which  an 
outlook  over  the  country  could  be  obtained.  A  watch  was  commonly 
stationed  on  these  hills  to  detect  the  stealthy  approach  of  enemies 
and  to  keep  an  eye  on  the  horses  pastured  near  by,  although  these 
were  usually  herded  by  boys  during  the  day  and  brought  into  the 
village  at  night,  where  each  family  had  a  corral  built  near  its  lodge 
for  safety.  The  bottom  lands  were  the  planting  places;  each 
family  selected  its  plot,  and  as  long  as  the  land  was  cultivated  its 
occupancy  was  respected.  Corn,  beans,  squash,  and  melons  were 
raised  in  considerable  quantities,  and  w^hile  these  products  were 
sometimes  traded,  they  were  usually  stored  for  winter  use. 

Occasionally  a  man  would  take  a  fancy  to  some  locality  and  deter 
mine  to  live  there.  He  would  be  joined  by  his  kindred,  who  would 
erect  their  lodges  near  his  and  cultivate  gardens.  Such  outlying 
little  settlements  were  a  temptation  to  marauding  war  parties,  and 
if  an  attack  was  made  by  a  large  party  of  enemies,  capture  and  death 
were  sure  to  follow;  any  degree  of  safety  was  secured  only  through 
untiring  vigilance. 


The  earth  lodge  and  the  tipi  (tent)  were  the  only  types  of  dwelling 
used  by  the  Omaha  during  the  last  few  centuries. 

The  tipi  (pi.  17  and  fig.  16)  was  a  conical  tent.  Formerly  the  cover 
was  made  of  9  to  12  buffalo  skins  tanned  on  both  sides.  To  cut  and 
sew  this  cover  so  that  it  would  fit  well  and  be  shapely  when  stretched 
over  the  circular  framework  of  poles  required  skilful  workmanship, 
the  result  of  training  and  of  accurate  measurements.  The  cover  was 
cut  semicircular.  To  the  straight  edges,  wrhich  were  to  form  the  front 
of  the  tent,  were  added  at  the  top  triangular  flaps.  These  were  to  be 
adjusted  by  poles  according  to  the  direction  from  which  the  wind  blew, 
so  as  to  guide  the  smoke  from  the  central  fire  out  of  the  tent.  These 
smoke-flaps  were  called  ti'hugabthintha  (from  ti,  "tent  or  house;" 
liugabihiniha,  "to  twist").  At  intervals  from  about  3  feet  above  the 
bottom  up  to  the  smoke-flaps  holes  were  made  and  worked  in  the 
straight  edges.  Through  these  holes  pins  (sticks)  about  8  inches  long, 
well  shaped  and  often  ornamented,  were  thrust  to  fasten  the  tent 
together,  when  the  twTo  edges  lapped  in  front  or  were  laced  together 
with  a  thong.  This  front  lap  of  the  tent  was  called  ti'moHhuke 
(from  ti,  "tent";  montliuhe,  "breast").  The  term  refers  to  the 
part  of  the  hide  forming  the  lap.  The  tent  poles  were  14  to  16  feet 
long.  Straight  young  cedar  poles  were  preferred.  The  bark  was 



[ETII.  ANN.  27 

removed  and  the  poles  were  rubbed  smooth.  The  setting  up  of  a 
tent  was  always  a  woman's  task.  She  first  took  four  poles,  laid  them 
together  on  the  ground,  and  then  tied  them  firmly  with  a  thong 
about  3  feet  from  one  end.  She  then  raised  the  poles  and  spread 
their  free  ends  apart  and  thrust  them  firmly  into  the  ground.  These 
four  tied  poles  formed  the  true  framework  of  the  tent.  Other  poles — 
1 0  to  20  in  number,  according  to  the  size  of  the  tent — were  arranged 
in  a  circle,  one  end  pressed  well  into  the  ground,  the  other  end  laid  in 
the  forks  made  by  the  tied  ends  of  the  four  poles.  There  was  a  defi 
nite  order  in  setting  up  the  poles  so  that  they  would  lock  one  another, 
and  when  they  were  all  in  place  they  constituted  an  elastic  but  firm 

FIG.  16.    Tipi. 

frame,  which  could  resist  a  fairly  heavy  wind.  There  was  no  name 
for  the  fundamental  four  poles,  nor  for  any  other  pole  except  the 
one  at  the  back,  to  which  the  tent  cover  was  tied.  This  pole  was  called 
tefi,n'deugaslike,  "the  one  to  which  the  buffalo  tail  was  tied."  The 
name  tells  that  the  back  part  of  the  tent  cover  was  a  whole  hide, 
the  tail  indicating  the  center  line.  When  the  poles  were  all  set, 
this  back  pole  was  laid  on  the  ground  and  the  tent  cover  brought. 
This  had  been  folded  so  as  to  be  ready  to  be  tied  and  opened.  The 
front  edges  had  been  rolled  or  folded  over  and  over  back  to  the  line 
indicating  the  middle  of  the  cover;  on  this  line  thongs  had  been  sewed 
at  the  top  and  bottom  of  the  cover;  the  cover  was  laid  on  the  ground 




in  such  manner  that  this  back  line  was  parallel  to  the  pole,  which 
was  then  securely  tied  to  the  cover  by  the  thongs.  When  this  was 
done,  the  pole  and  the  folded  tent  cover  were  grasped  firmly  together, 
lifted,  and  set  in  place.  Then,  if  there  were  two  women  doing  the 
work,  one  took  one  fold  of  the  cover  and  the  other  the  other  fold, 
and  each  walked  with  her  side  around  the- framework  of  poles.  The 
two  straight  edges  were  then  lapped  over  each  other  and  the  wooden 
pins  were  put  in  or  the  thong  was  threaded.  Each  of  the  lower  ends 
of  the  straight  edges  had  a  loop  sewed  to  it,  and  through  both  loops  a 
stake  was  thrust  into  the  ground.  The  oval  opening  formed  the  door, 
which  was  called  tizhe'be.  Over  this  opening  a  skin  was  hung.  A 
stick  fastened  across  from  one  foreleg  to  the  other,  and  another  stick 
running  from  one  hindleg  to  the  other,  held  this  covering  taut,  so 
that  it  could  be  easily  tipped  to  one  side  when  a  person  stooped  to 
enter  the  oval  door  opening.  It  was  always  an  interesting  sight 
to  watch  the  rapid  and  precise  movements  of  the  women  and  their 
deftness  in  setting  up  a  tent.  On  a  journey,  no  matter  how  dark  the 
evening  might  be  when  the  tent  was  pitched  the  opening  was  gener 
ally  so  arranged  as  to  face  the  east.  In  the  village,  or  in  a  camping 
place  likely  to  be  used  for  some  time,  a  band  of  willow  withes  was 
bound  around  the  frame  of  poles  about  midway  their  height  to  give 
additional  stability. 

The  earth  lodge  (pis.  19,  22)  was  a  circular  dwelling,  having  walls 
about  8  feet  high  and  a  dome-shaped  roof,  with  a  central  opening  for 
the  escape  of  smoke  and  the  admission  of  light.  The  task  of  building 
an  earth  lodge  was  shared  by  men  and  women.  The  marking  out  of 
the  site  and  the  cutting  of  the  heavy  logs  were  done  by  the  men. 
When  the  location  was  chosen,  a  stick  was  thrust  in  the  spot  where  the 
fireplace  was  to  be,  one  end  of  a  rawhide  rope  was  fastened  to  the 
stick  and  a  circle  20  to  60  feet  in  diameter  was  drawn  on  the  earth 
to  mark  where  the  wall  was  to  be  erected.  The  sod  within  the  circle 
was  removed,  the  ground  excavated  about  a  foot  in  depth,  and  the 
earth  thrown  around  the  circle  like  an  embankment.  Small  crotched 
posts  about  10  feet  high  were  set  8  or  10  feet  apart  and  1J  feet  within 
the  circle,  and  on  these  were  laid  beams.  Outside  this  frame  split 
posts  were  set  close  together,  having  one  end  braced  against  the  bot 
tom  of  the  bank  and  the  other  end  leaning  against  the  beams,  thus 
forming  a  wall  of  timber.  The  opening  generally,  though  not  always, 
faced  the  east.  Midway  between  the  central  fireplace  and  the  wall 
were  planted  4  to  8  large  crotched  posts  about  10  feet  in  height,  on 
which  heavy  beams  rested,  these  serving  to  support  the  roof.  This 
was  made  of  long,  slender,  tapering  trees  stripped  of  their  bark.  These 
were  tied  at  their  large  ends  with  cords  (made  from  the  inner  bark 
of  the  linden)  to  the  beams  at  the  top  of  the  stockade  and  at  the  mid 
dle  to  those  resting  in  the  crotches  of  the  large  posts  forming  the 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11— -7 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

inner  circle  about  the  fireplace.  The  slender  ends  were  cut  so  as 
to  form  the  circular  opening  for  the  smoke,  the  edges  being  woven 
together  with  elm  twine,  so  as  to  be  firm.  Outside  the  woodwork  of 
the  walls  and  roof,  branches  of  willow  were  laid  crosswise  and  bound 
tight  to  each  slab  and  pole.  Over  the  willows  a  heavy  thatch  of 
coarse  grass  was  arranged  so  as  to  shed  water.  On  the  grass  was 
placed  a  thick  coating  of  sod.  The  sods  were  cut  to  lap  and  be  laid 
like  shingles.  Finally  they  were  tamped  with  earth  and  made 
impervious  to  rain.  The  entrance  way,  6  to  10  feet  long,  projected 
from  the  door  and  was  built  in  the  same  manner  as  the  lodge  and 
formed  a  part  of  it.  A  curtain  of  skin  hung  at  the  inner  and  one  at 
the  outer  door  of  this  entrance  way.  Much  labor  was  expended  on 
the  floor  of  the  lodge.  The  loose  earth  was  carefully  removed  and  the 
ground  then  tamped.  It  was  next  flooded  with  water,  after  which 
dried  grass  was  spread  over  it  and  set  on  fire.  Then  the  ground  was 
tamped  once  again.  This  wetting  and  heating  was  repeated  two  or 
three  times,  until  the  floor  became  hard  and  level  and  could  be  easily 
swept  and  kept  clean.  Brooms  were  made  of  brush  or  twigs  tied 
together.  Couches  were  arranged  around  the  wall  in  the  spaces 
between  the  posts  of  the  framework.  These  were  provided  with 
skins  and  pillows  and  served  as  seats  by  day  and  as  beds  by  night. 
In  the  building  of  an  earth  lodge  the  cutting  and  putting  on  of  the 

sods  was  always  done  by  women,  and  as  this 
part  of  the  task  had  to  be  accomplished 
rapidly  to  prevent  the  drying  out  of  the 
sods,  which  must  hold  well  together,  kindred 
helped  one  another.  The  erection  of  this 
class  of  dwelling  required  considerable  labor, 
hence  only  the  industrious  and  thrifty  pos 
sessed  these  lodges. 

Near  each  dwelling,  generally  to  the  left 
of  the  entrance,  the  cache  (fig.  1 7)  was  built. 
This  consisted  of  a  hole  in  the  ground  about 
8_feet  deep,  rounded  at  the  bottom  and 
sides,  provided  with  a  neck  just  large  enough  to  admit  the  body  of  a 
person.  The  whole  was  lined  with  split  posts,  to  which  was  tied 
an  inner  lining  of  bunches  of  dried  grass.  The  opening  was  pro 
tected  by  grass,  over  which  sod  was  placed.  In  these  caches  the 
winter  supply  of  food  was  stored;  the  shelled  corn  was  put  into  skin 
bags,  long  strings  of  corn  on  the  cob  were  made  by  braiding  the 
outer  husks,  while  the  jerked  meat  was  packed  in  parfleche  cases. 
Pelts,  regalia,  and  extra  clothing  were  generally  kept  in  the  cache; 
but  these  were  laid  in  ornamented  parfleche  cases,  never  used  but 
for  this  purpose. 

FIG.  17.    Common  form  of  cache. 


••  "f    ,-  IV     •  * 

r      *  \   *N  . 
•  -7U         >   »       \ 
...   I  _^x 


When  the  people  left  the  village  for  the  summer  buffalo  hunt,  all 
cumbersome  household  articles — as  the  mortars  and  pestles,  extra 
hides,  etc. — were  placed  in  the  caches  and  the  openings  carefullv 
concealed.  The  cases  containing  gala  clothing  and  regalia  were  taken 
along,  as  these  garments  were  needed  at  the  great  tribal  ceremonies 
which  took  place  during  that  period. 

In  a  village  in  which  the  entire  tribe  lived  the  lodges  and  tents  were 
not  arranged  about  a  central  open  space  nor  were  they  set  so  the 
people  could  live  in  the  order  of  their  gentes,  an  order  observed  when 
they  were  on  the  hunt  and  during  their  tribal  ceremonies.  Yet  each 
family  knew  to  what  gens  it  belonged,  observed  its  rites,  and  obeyed 
strictly  the  rule  of  exogamy.  To  the  outward  appearance  a  village 
presented  a  motley  group  of  tribesmen.  The  dwellings  and  their 
adjacent  corrals  wrere  huddled  together;  the  passageways  between  the 
lodges  were  narrow  and  tortuous.-  There  was  little  of  the  picturesque. 
The  grass  and  weeds  that  grew  over  the  earth  lodges  wrhile  the  people 
were  off  on  their  summer  buffalo  hunt  were  all  cut  away  when  the 
tribe  returned.  So,  except  for  the  decorations  on  the  skin  tents, 
there  was  nothing  to  relieve  the  dun-colored  aspect.  (PI.  23.) 

The  village  was  never  wholly  deserted,  even  when  most  of  the  tribe 
left  for  the  annual  buffalo  hunt;  for  the  sick,  the  infirm,  and  the 
very  poor  were  forced  to  remain  behind.  This  class  of  stay-at-homes 
were  called  he'begthin,  "those  who  sit  half-way."  Usually  a  sprinkling 
of  able-bodied  men  remained  with  their  old  or  sick  relatives,  and 
these  served  as  a  guard,  to  defend  the  village  in  case  of  an  attack. 
Occasionally  a  young  man  or  two  would  remain  in  the  village  in  order 
to  be  near  a  sweetheart  who  had  to  stay  at  home  and  help  care  for 
the  sick  in  her  family. 


Ton'wonpezM,  Bad  Village.  This  name,  bestowed  on  an  old  village 
built  by  the  Omaha  in  their  migration  down  the  Missouri  river, 
owes  its  origin  to  a  tragedy  which  for  a  number  of  years  caused  a 
division  in  the  tribe.  (See  p.  85.)  This  village  was  located  on  East 
Bow  creek,  in  the  northeast  part  of  township  32,  range  2  east  of 
the  sixth  principal  meridian,  Cedar  county,  Nebraska. 

Ton'wontongathon,  Large  Village.  This  town  was  on  Omaha  creek 
in  Dakota  county,  Nebraska,  about  half  a  mile  north  of  the  present 
town  of  Homer;  it  was  built  in  the  eighteenth  century,  and  the 
people  were  found  here  by  Lewis  and  Clark  in  1805. 

Tenu' ganonpewaihe  sTikonthaiihon ,  "The  place  where  the  camp  of 
Tenu'ganonpewathe  (father  of  Kaxe'nonba)  was  attacked  "  in  1840 
by  an  unknown  tribe  and  a  number  were  killed  on  both  sides.  The 
fight  took  place  on  Cedar  creek,  Albion  county,  Nebraska,  in  town 
ship  19,  range  8  west  of  the  sixth  principal  meridian. 

100  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETII.  ANN.  27 

Ezhnon> zhuwagthe  sJikonthaiihon ,  "The  place  where  Ezhnon'zhuwa- 
gthe  was  attacked."  This  battle  between  a  part  of  the  Omaha  and 
one  of  the  Sioux  tribes  was  fought  in  the  same  year  (1840)  on  Beaver 
creek,  in  the  southeastern  part  of  township  21 ,  range  7  west  of  the 
sixth  principal  meridian,  Boone  county,  Nebraska. 

Ton'wonzhinga,  The  Little  Village.  This  was  the  name  of  the 
village  built  by  the  Omaha  on  Elkhorn  river,  near  Clark  creek,  in 
Dodge  county,  Nebraska,  in  the  spring  of  1841,  the  tribe  having 
moved  there  from  the  Missouri  river  on  account  of  attacks  by  the 
Sioux.  There  were  few  earth  lodges,  as  the  village  was  occupied  for 
only  two  years,  after  which  the  people  went  back  to  their  old  village 
on  Omaha  creek,  Dakota  county,  Nebraska. 

Pdhu'ihondathon,  "The  hill  rising  in  the  center  of  a  plain."  This 
village  on  Papilion  creek,  about  8  miles  west  of  the  present  town 
of  Bellevue,  was  built  in  1847.  The  tribe  lived  there  until  they 
sold  their  lands  to  the  United  States  Government  in  1854;  two 
years  later  they  moved  to  their  present  reservation  some  80  miles 

Ton'wongaxe  s7ikonthaithon,  "The  place  where  Ton/wTongaxe  was 
attacked."  The  assault  on  the  Omaha  camp  here  referred  to  was 
made  by  the  Yarikton  and  Santee  on  December  12,  1846.  At  the 
time  of  the  attack  the  camp,  composed  mostly  of  old  men,  women, 
and  children,  was  on  the  Missouri  river  near  the  northeast  corner 
of  township  21,  range  11  east  of  the  sixth  principal  meridian,  Burt 
county,  Nebraska.  Ton/wongaxe,  or  Village  Maker,  was  the  only 
chief  present  at  the  time  of  the  attack.  From  this  fact  the  place 
took  its  name.  All  the  other  chiefs  were  on  a  buffalo  hunt,  with 
most  of  the  men  of  the  tribe,  wrho  knewT  nothing  of  the  attack 
until  they  returned.  More  than  80  persons  were  slain. 

U'hontonga  fethaithon,  "Where  U'hontonga  was  killed,"  in  town 
ship  24,  range  17  west  of  the  sixth  principal  meridian,  Loup  county, 
Nebraska.  U'hontonga,  or  Big  Cook,  a  prominent  Omaha,  was  one 
of  the  warriors  killed  in  a  battle  fought  at  this  place  with  the  Oglala 
and  other  Sioux  tribes  in  1852. 

TJiugina  gaxihiitlion ,  "The  place  where  Thugina  (Logan  Fonte- 
nelle)  was  slain."  Logan  Fontenelle  (fig.  18),  a  prominent  half 
breed  of  the  Omaha  tribe,  while  hunting  alone  was  killed  by  the  Oglala 
Sioux  in  the  summer  of  1855.  The  Sioux  made  a  charge  on  the 
Omaha  camp  when  the  Omaha  were  moving.  Some  of  the  Sioux  war 
riors  came  on  Logan  in  a  ravine  where  he  had  dismounted  to  pick 
gooseberries.  When  he  discovered  the  Sioux  he  sprang  on  his  horse 
and  made  for  the  ford  to  rejoin  his  tribe,  who  were  on  the  opposite  side 
of  the  stream,  but  he  was  overtaken  and  killed  before  he  reached  the 
ford.  This  account  of  his  death  was  given  by  Kaxe'nonba,  or  Two 
Crows,  who  went  in  search  of  Logan  immediately  after  the  fight,  and 



traced  the  course  of  his  flight  from  the  gooseberry  bush  to  the  spot 
where  the  body  was  found.  This  fight  took  place  on  Beaver  creek, 
in  the  northern  part  of  township  21,  range  7  west  of  the  sixth  prin 
cipal  meridian,  Boone  county, 

Wanon'kuge  sTikoniha  i  thon  (for 
portrait  of  Wanon'kuge,  see  fig. 
44),  "Where  Wanon'kuge  was  at 
tacked."  This  battle,  between  a 
part  of  the  Omaha  and  the  Oglala 
Sioux,  took  place  in  August,  1859. 
A  number  of  lives  were  lost  in 
the  battle,  the  attacking  party  of 
Sioux  suffering  greater  loss  than 
the  Omaha.  Two  Omaha,  a 
woman  and  a  child,  were  taken 
captive.  The  child  was  returned  , 
and  the  woman,  after  many  ad 
ventures,  found  her  way  back  to 
her  people.  This  fight  was  on  Beaver  creek,  in  township  20,  range  6 
west  of  the  sixth  principal  meridian,  Boone  county,  Nebraska. 

The  following  names  were  given  by  the  Omaha  to  the  cities  and 
towns  named  below: 
Pahi'  zhide  tonwon, 

FIG.  18.     Logan  Fontenclle. 



St.  Louis. 

town      (Referring  to  the  color 
of  Governor  Clark's  hair.) 

We'f'a  fdbe  thiiha  i    thon,    Leavenworth. 

Snake       black   they  take    the  (place) 

Umon'hon  tonwon,  Omaha  City. 

Omaha  town 

SJiao11'  tonwon,  Sioux  City. 

Sioux         town 

Zhon    mufa  i      thon,    Fremont. 

Pole     they  planted    the  place 

Uzha'ta  thon,         Columbus. 

Forks         the     (of  the  Platte  and  the  Loup) 

Ni  flcithe,  Lincoln  (Salt  town,  because  situated  near  the  stream 
to  which  the  people  went  to  gather  salt). 


The  following  are  the  Omaha  names  for  the  tribes  that  are  known 
to  them. 

Of  their  own  linguistic  stock  they  know  the  following: 

Ponca,  Pon/ca. 

Quapaw,  Uga'xpa.     The  name  means  "downstream." 

Osage,  \Vazha/zhe. 

Kaw  or  Kansa,  KoD/ce. 

102  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Iowa,  Ma'xude.  Ma'xude  is  a  corruption  of  Pa'xude,  meaning  "gray  head,"  the 
name  by  which  the  Iowa  call  themselves. 

Oto,  Wathu'tada.     This  is  not  the  name  by  which  the  Oto  speak  of  themselves. 
Missouri,  Niu'tachi.     The  name  means  "those  who  came  floating  down  dead/' 
Winnebago,  Huxtunga. 
Mandan,  Mawa/dani. 

Crows,  Ka'xe  niashiga  (from  ka'xe,  "crow;"  ni'ashiga,  "people"). 
Yankton,  Ihon/tonwin.«    An  Omaha  version  of  the  Yanktons'  own  name. 
Santee,  Incon/ati.a    The  name  means  "those  who  dwell  on  the  white  rocks." 
Oglala,  Ubtha'tha." 

Of  tribes  belonging  to  other  linguistic  stocks  the  Omaha  have 
names  for  the  following: 

Pawnee,  Pa'thi". 

Arikara,  Pa'thinpiya.     The  name  means  "sand  Pawnee." 

Caddo,  Pa'thi  "wacabe.     This  name  means  "black  Pawnee." 

Wichita  are  known  as  Wichita. 

Cheyenne,  Shahi'etha. 

Blackfeet,  Ci'cabe.     The  Omaha  name  means  "blackfeet." 

Sank,  Ca'ge. 

{•Maxpi'ato  ("blue  clouds"). 
Kiowa     J 

Comanche,  Pa'du"ka  (Padouca). 

Kickapoo,  Ili'gabu. 

Potawatomie,  Wahi'uthaxa.  This  name  is  a  corruption  of  the  Oto  name  for  this 
tribe,  Woraxa. 

Bannock,  Ba'uiki.     The  Omaha  name  is  probably  a  modification  of  Bannock. 

Nez  Perces,  Pegacunde.  This  tribe  was  known  through  the  Ponca.  The  name 
given  them  means  "braids  on  the  forehead." 

That  the  Omaha  have  a  name  for  the  Arikara  and  one  which  indi 
cates  a  knowledge  of  their  relationship  to  the  Pawnee,  and  yet  have 
none  for  the  northern  Sioux  tribes  who  belong  to  their  own  linguistic 
stock,  is  an  interesting  point,  particularly  when  taken  in  connection 
with  the  influence  exercised  on  the  tribe  by  the  Arikara,  mentioned 
on  p.  75.  There  is  no  name  for  the  Chippewa  group,  yet  it  is  not 
improbable  that  the  tribes  long  ago  came  more  or  less  into  contact. 
The  similarity  between  the  ' '  Shell  society ' '  of  the  Omaha  and  the 
"Grand  Medicine"  of  the  Chippewa  suggests  some  communication, 
direct  or  indirect,  though  all  knowledge  of  how  the  Shell  society  was 
introduced  has  been  lost.  Nor  do  the  Omaha  seem  to  know  anything  of 
the  tribes  of  the  Muskhogean  or  Iroquoian  stock  to  the  south  and  east; 
nor  of  those  belonging  to  the  Shoshonean  and  Athapascan  stocks  to 
the  west  and  southwest.  They  knew  of  the  Rocky  Mountains,  which 
they  called  Pahe'monshi,  meaning  "high  hills"  or  "mountains."  Yet 
they  seem  never  to  have  come  into  contact  with  the  tribes  living  so  far 
to  the  west.  The  Black  Hills  of  South  Dakota  were  familiar  to  them, 
and  were  known  as  Pahe'cabe,  the  word  meaning  literally  "black 

a  This  is  one  of  the  three  distinctive  names  by  which  the  bands  of  the  Dakota  are  known.  There  is  a 
general  name  for  all  persons  speaking  that  language,  Shaun/  --possibly  a  corruption  of  Sioux. 


The  Ponca  names  for  the  above  tribes  were  similar  to  the  Omaha 
names,  with  few  exceptions.  The  Crows  were  called  by  two  names, 
Hu'patitha  and  Konxe'  wichasha11.  The  names  given  by  Ponca  to 
the  Yankton  and  the  Santee  were  identical  with  those  used  by  the 
Omaha,  but  they  had  distinct  names  for  the  following  bands  of  Sioux: 

Lower  Brule,  Ku'dawichasha.     Lower  people. 
Rosebud  Brule,  Sha/unixti.     Real  or  Pure  Sioux. 
Oglala,  Pine  Ridge  Sioux,  Sichon/xu.     Burnt  leg. 

The  Ponca  have  names  for  the  following  tribes  for  which  the 
Omaha  have  none: 

Cherokee,  Che'thuki.     Probably  a  corruption  of  Cherokee. 
Ni'kathate,  Tonkawa. 

It  is  probable  that  the  Ponca  gained  knowledge  of  these  two  tribes 
while  in  the  Indian  Territory,  and  that  their  posession  of  distinctive 
names  for  the  bands  of  the  Sioux  is  to  be  accounted  for  by  their 
living  near  the  people  and  lighting  both  for  and  against  them  during 
the  last  century. 


Animals  (general  term),  Wani'ta 
[The  asterisk  (*)  indicates  those  used  for  food] 

*  Antelope,  Tachu'ge. 

*  Badger,  Xu'ga. 
Bat,  Dide'shi. 
*Bear,  black,  Waca'be. 

*  Bear,  grizzly,  Mouchu/. 

*  Beaver,  Zha'be. 

*  Buffalo,  Te. 

Cat,  domestic,  Ingthun/ga. 
*Cat,  wild,  Ingthun/ga. 

*  Cattle,  domestic,  Te'yka. 

*  Chipmunk,  Tashni'ga. 

Cougar,  Ingthun9in/ynede  (long-tailed  cat). 
Coyote,  MVkafi. 

*  Deer,  Ta'xti. 
*Dog,  Shin/nuda. 

Donkey  (see  Mule),  Nita'tonga  nushiaha  (big  ears  low). 

Elephant,  Tiba'xia  tha  (push  over  a  house — refers  to  its  strength). 

*Elk,  On/pon. 

Ermine,  Inchun/gagka  (white  mouse). 

Fox,  a  small  variety,  Mouthia/kasheha. 

Fox,  gray,  Maxzhonha. 

Fox,  red,  Ti/konxude. 

Frog,  Te'bia. 

Goat,  He'cakiba. 

Gopher,  Monthin/ga. 

*Hog,  Ku'kufi. 

104  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  IKTH.  AXX.  27 

Horse,  Shon/ge. 

Lion,  Wanixta  waxa  (greater  animal). 

Lizard,  Wagthishka  heduba  (four-legged  bug). 

Lynx,  Ingthun/ga  hin  shkube  (furry  wild  eat). 

Mice,  Inchun/ga. 

Mice  that  live  in  dry  bones,  Tepauti  (tepa,  buffalo  skull;  utc,  to  live  in). 

Mice  that  store  food,  Inchun/ga  waxema  (mice  that  cache). 

Mink,  Tushin/ge. 

Mole,  Nonbexxawin  (hands  turned  backward). 

Monkey,  Ishtin/thinke  (a  mythical,  mischievous,  capricious  being,  representing  the 
wind.  Because  of  its  acts  in  the  myths  its  name  was  transferred  to  the  monkey  when 
the  Omaha  first  saw  that  animal.) 

Mule  (see  Donkey),  Nita  ton/ga  (big  ears). 

*Musk  rat,  CinXnedewagithe. 

*  Opossum,  Inshtin'pa. 
Otter,  Nuzhno11'. 
Porcupine,  Baxhin. 
Prairie  dog,  Monthin/xude. 

*  Rabbit,  Monshtin/ge. 

*  Rabbit,  jack,  Monshtin/cka  (white  rabbit). 

*  Raccoon,  Mikax, 

*  Rat,  Inchon/tonga  (big  mouse). 

*  Sheep,  domestic,  Taxxticka. 

*  Sheep,  Rocky  Mountain,  Pashton/ga. 

*  Skunk,  Mon'ga. 
Snail,  Nihax. 
Snake,  Wexc'a. 

Snake,  black,  Wexc'a  cabe  (black  snake). 
Snake,  bull,  Nithaxxupa  (water  sucker). 
Snake,  garter,  Wexc'anideka. 
Snake,  moccasin,  Shexki. 
Snake,  rattle,  Cathux. 

*  Squirrel,  ground,  Hexxthin. 

*  Squirrel,  tree,  Cin/ga. 

Toad,  Ikon/git'e  (his  grandmother  is  dead). 
Tortoise,  Kexgthece  (striped  turtle). 
*Turtle,  Ke. 

*  Turtle,  diamond-back  (terrapin),  Kehaxmonzhide  (red-breast  turtle.) 

*  Turtle,  snapping,  Kex  tonga  (big  turtle). 

*  Turtle,  soft-shell,  Ke  haxbe  bedon  (flexible-shell  turtle). 
Weasel,  In/chungaci  (yellow  mouse). 

Wolf,  gray,  Shon/tonga. 


Bird  (general  term),  Wazhin'ga 
[The  asterisk  (*)  indicates  those  used  for  food] 

American  bittern,  Mon'xata  wadonbe  (looks  up  at  the  sky). 

*  Bee  martin,  or  king  bird,  Watixduka. 
Belted  kingfisher,  Nonxixde  shkunin. 

*  Blackbird,  Mo-'gthi'xta. 
Blue-bird,  WazhinXtu  (blue  bird). 

Blue  jay,  Pcho^agiudu11  (fond  of  mice). 

*  Crane,  Pexton. 


Crow,  Ka'xe. 

*  Curlew,  Ki'kcPci. 

*  Curlew,  long-billed  (Numenius  longirostris),  Kixkatonga  (big  curlew). 

*  Dove,  Thi'ta. 

*Dove,  Carolina  or  common,  Thitatonga  (big  dove). 

*Duck,  Mi'xazhinga  (little  goose). 

Duck,  blue-winged  teal  (Querquedula  dlscors),  A'hi"  hide  tu,  (blue  wing);  also 
Mi'xa  wagthonxe,  ' '  betrayer  duck, ' '  so  called  because  it  betrayed  the  water  monster  in 
the  myth  of  Ha/xegi . 

*Duck,  mallard,  green  head  (Anas  boschas),  Pa'hitu  (green  neck). 

*  Duck,  wood,  summer  duck,  bridal  duck  (Aix  spousa),  Mi'xa  zhinga  xage  egun  (the 
crying  duck). 

Eagle,  Xitha'. 

Eagle,  bald,  Pacun/  (whitish  head). 

Eagle,  golden  (Aquila  chrysaetus) ,  Xitha'  fka  (white  eagle). 

Eagle,  gray  sea,  Xitha'  gthezhe  (spotted  eagle). 

Flicker,  Thon/ciga. 

*  Goose,  Mi'xa. 

*  Goose,  American  white-footed,  Canadian  goose,  Mi'xa  tonga  (big  goose). 

*  Goose,  lesser  snow  (Chen  hyperborea),  Ki(;nun/. 
Gull,  Ne'tha. 

Hawk,  American  sparrow,  Gthedon/. 

Hawk,  night,  Te'ubixo11  (the  buffalo  inflator). 

Hawk,  red  shoulder,  Gthonshkax. 

Hawk,  red  tail,  In/beciga  (yellow  tail). 

Hawk,  swallow-tailed  or  fork-tailed  kite,  In/be  zhonka  (forked  tail). 

Hawk,  white  tail,  Gthonshka/  xithaegon  (hawk  like  an  eagle). 

Humming  bird,  Wati'ninika  wazhinga  (butterfly  bird). 

*  Lark,  pallid  horned,  Ma'yi  cka. 

Magpie,  American,  Wazhin/be  cnede  (long-tail  bird). 

*  Meadow  lark,  Ta/tithinge. 
Owl,  Pa'nuhu. 

Owl,  barred,  Wapu'gahahada. 

Owl,  horned,  Pa'nuhu  heton  egon  (owl  having  horns). 

Owl,  screech,  Nex  thazhibe. 

Owl,  snowy,  In/chun5Un  (now  white). 

Pelican,  American  white,  Bthexxe. 

*  Prairie  hen  or  chicken  lesser,  Shu. 

*  Quail  (bobwhite),  IFshiwathe  (one  who  fools  (people)). 

*  Robin,  Pa^hi11  wazhinga  (Pawnee  bird). 

*  Snipe,  Ton/in. 
Swallow,  Nishku'shku. 

*Swan,  American  white,  Mi/xayon  (white  goose). 
Thrush,  Tacka^ka. 

*  Turkey,  Cif^ka. 
Turkey  vulture,  Hexga. 
Whippoorwill,  Haxkugthi. 

*  Woodcock,  American  (Philohela  minor),  Paxxthega  (freckled  head). 
Woodpecker,  hairy,  Zhon/panini. 

Woodpecker,  pileated,  ivory  bill,  \Vazhin/gapa  (bird  head)." 
Woodpecker,  red-headed,  Tuxcka  or  Muxxpa. 
Wren,  Kixaxaja  (laughing  bird). 

o  The  head  of  this  bird  is  used  on  the  tribal  and  the  Wa'wan  pipes. 

106  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [HTH.  ANN.  27 



Insects,  bugs,  etc.  (general  term),  Wagthi'shka 

Ants,  Zhon/gthishka  (wood  bugs — no  varieties  distinguished). 
Bee,  Kigtho^xe. 

Beetle,  Wagthi'shka  (the  general  name  for  bugs). 
Butterfly,  Wati'nini  ka. 

Caterpillar,  Wagthi'shka  (general  term  for  bugs). 
Fly,  Hon/t'ega. 

Grasshopper,  Xthonxthor/shka. 
Lightning-bug,  Wanaxxonxon. 
Locust,  Watha'yae  (noisy  bug). 
Mosquito,  Nahonga. 

Spider,  Uki'gthicke  (weaving  itself — no  name  for  varieties). 

Worm,  angle,  Monthin/ka  shibe  (ground  intestine).  No  general  term  for  worms;  all 
are  called  Wagthi'shka,  the  name  applied  also  to  beetles  and  bugs. 


Fish  (general  term),  Huhu 
[The  asterisk  (*)  indicates  those  used  for  food] 

*  Buffalo  fish,  Hui'buta  (round  mouth). 
Catfish,  Tu'ce. 

Crawfish  and  lobster,  Mon/shka. 
Eels,  no  name;  they  are  not  eaten. 

*  Garfish,  Hupa'cicnede  (long-nose  fish). 
Leech,  Kicna'. 

Mussels,  clams,  oysters,  Ti'haba. 

*  Pickerel,  Hugthe'zhe  (spotted  fish). 

*  Trout,  Hubthu'ga  (round  fish). 


Tree,  or  bush  (general  term),  Xtha'be;  wood,  felled  trees  (general  term),  Zhon.  The 
names  below  are  given  according  to  their  customary  use.  The  terminal  syllable  hi 
means  "stalk,"  as  the  stalk  of  the  corn,  the  trunk  of  the  tree,  the  vine  of  the  potato. 

Apple  tree,  She'  hi. 

Ash,  Tazhnon/ge. 

Box  elder,  Zha'beta  zhon  (beaver  wood). 

Buffalo  berry  tree,  Wazhi'de  hi. 

Cedar,  red,  Ma'ci. 

Cherry  tree,  Non/pa  hi. 

Coffee-bean  tree,  Non/tita  hi. 

Cotton  wood,  Mah'ah. 

Elm,  E'zho". 

Hackberry  tree,  Gube'  hi. 

Hazel,  On/zhinga  hi. 

Hickory,  Non/ci. 

Ironwood,  Hext'azhonta. 

Linden,  Hin/de  hi. 

Maple,  Wexnashabethe  hi  (black  dye  tree). 

Mulberry,  Zhonci,  (yellow  wood). 

Oak,  red,  Buxde  hi,  and  Non  bon  naxthi",  "flame  "  (favorite  firewood). 


Oak,  white,  Tosh'ka  hi. 

Osage  orange,  Zhonci  (yellow  wood). 

Plum  tree,  Kon/de  hi. 

Red  haw,  thorn  apple  tree,  Ta£pon/  hi. 

Spruce,  Ma'ci. 

Walnut,  black,  Ta'ge  hi. 

Willow,  Thi'xe. 

Willow,  diamond,  Thi'xe  kibthonbthonxe  (gnarled  willow). 

Willow,  hard,  Thi'xe  £agi  (hard  willow). 

Willow,  soft,  Thi'xe  ushpon  (soft  willow). 


Head  (not  including  face),  Nonshki'. 

Head  (including  face),  Pa. 

Brain,  We'thixthi. 

Side  of  head  from  ear  up,  Nontha/de. 

Ear,  Nita'. 

Helix,  Nitabaxu'ke  (baxu'ke,  ridge). 

Lobe,  Nitaushton/ga  (ushton/ya,  soft). 

Ear  (inner  part  or  organ  of  hearing),  Nonxi'de. 

Top  of  head,  Taxpi'. 

Back  of  head,  Tai'. 

Face,  Inde'. 

Forehead,  Pe. 

Temples,  Nontha/dehonhon  (/io»/to«,  to  throb). 

Center  of  forehead,  Peuta'non  (u(anon,  between). 

Eyebrow,  Inshta/nonxixe. 

Depression  between  eyebrows,  Pau'ckida. 

Eye,  Inshta. 

White  of  the  eye,  Inshta'uc^ka  thon. 

Pupil,  P^shta'  usha  betho11. 

Socket,  Pshta^gtho11  (ugthon,  to  put  into  a  hollow  place). 

Eyelid,  Pehta'ha  (ha,  skin). 

Upper  lid,  Inshta/ha    igabizhe  (igabizhe,  to  wink  with) . 

Eyelashes,  Inshta/thehin. 

Hair  of  head  (human),  Nouzhi/ha  or  PahF. 

Hair  on  forehead,  Pehin/. 

Hair  on  boSy  (human  or  animal),  Hin. 

Nose,  Pa. 

Bridge  of  nose,  Paxixxe. 

Tip  of  nose,  Pash^zhe. 

Nostrils,  Paxxthuge  (xthuge,  hole). 

Wing  of  nose,  Paugaxdazhe  (uga'dazhe,  base). 

Septum,  Paushtou/ga  (shto^ga,  soft) . 

Cheek,  The'xoMe. 

Cheekbone,  Inde/nonhin. 

Mouth,  I. 

Lips,  Fha. 

Corners  of  mouth,  Ixthede. 

Jaw,  Thexba. 

Joint  of  jaw,  Thexbaugthe. 

108  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [KTH.  ANN.  27 

Teeth,  Hi. 

Molars,  Hiu'tc^ga. 

Gums,  Hizhu'. 

Tongue,  The'cc. 

Tip  of  tongue,  Thece'pat/i  (p«ft/,  tip). 

Base  of  tongue,  There'hide  (hide,  base). 

Ridge  above  teeth  and  roof  of  mouth,  Konbthaxde. 

Chin,  I'ki. 

Double  chin,  The/ba/hu. 

Neck,  Pa'hi. 

Chords  at  side  of  neck,  Nu'deko". 

Hollow  at  base  of  neck  in  front,  The/shkaxthuah. 

Two  chords  at  the  back  of  neck,  Tai/kon. 

Hollow  at  nape  of  neck,  Taiu'gthe. 

Throat,  Nu'de. 

Adam's  apple,  Nu'de  tashe  (tashe,  lump). 

Windpipe,  Nu'dexixibe. 

Pharynx,  Wexnonbthe. 

Body,  Zhu'ga. 

Breast,  Mon/ge. 

Mamma,  Monce'. 

Nipples,  Monce'pa. 

Collar  bone,  Mo^ge  wahi  (mon'ge,  breast;  wahi,  bone). 

Sternum,  Temon/hin. 

Ribs,  Thi'ti. 

Short  ribs,  Thi/tiusha/gthe. 

Epigastric  region,  Monhin/be. 

Lumbar  region,  Thie. 

Hypogastric  region,  Tapu'  or  Washna'. 

Umbilical  region,  Ni'xa. 

Navel,  The/tashon. 

Waist,  Texee. 

Spine,  No^xahi. 

Coccyx,  Ci^de  ita  (cin'de,  tail;  ita,  end). 

Back,  No^ka. 

Muscles  on  kside  of  spine,  lower  end,  Takin/de. 

Sinew  beneath  these  muscles,  Teno^kako". 

Fleshy  bunch  on  back  below  neck,  Arbaku. 

Shoulder,  Inke/de. 

Shoulder  blade,  Waba'co". 

Arm,  A. 

Upper  arm,  Auto^ga  (uto^ga,  large  part). 

Lower  arm,  Auxcni. 

Muscles  on  front  of  upper  arm,  A/konta. 

Muscles  on  back  upper  arm,  A'zhuhi. 

Armpit,  Nucr7. 

Elbow,  Actu'hi. 

Wrist,  Nonbe/ushonshou  (ushonshon,  pliable). 

Hand,  N^be'. 

Palm  of  hand,  Nonbexuthonda  (uthonda,  center). 

Fingers,  Nonbe/hi  or  Ucaxbe. 

Thumb,  No^e'hi  utc^ga  (utonga,  big). 

Index  finger,  Nonbexhi    weabacu  (weabagu,  to  point  with). 


Middle  finger,  Nonbexhiuthicon  (uthecon,  middle). 

Finger  next  to  little  one,  Nonbexhi    uzhinga     tithuato"  (uthuaton,  next  to  one). 

Little  finger,  Nonbe/hi     uzhi"ga  (uzhinga,  little). 

Tip  of  finger,  Nonbexhi     itaxe. 

Nails,  Shaxge.     The  same  word  is  applied  to  claws  and  hoofs. 

Knuckles,  Nonbe/ushonshon. 

Contents  of  body,  the  internal  organs,  U'gaxectha. 

Heart,  Nonde. 

Lungs,  Thaxxi. 

Liver,  Pi. 

Gall,  Pizix. 

Kidney,  Tea/contaci. 

Bladder,  Xexxe. 

Intestines,  Shi'be. 

Small  intestine,  Shi/be    uzhinga. 

Large  intestine,  Shi'be     utonga. 

Layer  of  fat  covering  stomach  and  internal  organs,  Hu'xthabe. 

Groin,  Itixwashkon. 

Hips,  CiMe'hi. 

Hip  joint,  Zhegaxugthe;  also  U'gaho",  where  the  cut  is  made  in  butchering. 

Body  between  hip  joint  and  ribs,  "ticklish  place,"  Shtashta'de. 

Legs,  Zhixbe  or  Hi. 

Upper  leg,  thigh,  Zhegaxutonga. 

Inner,  flat  part  of  thigh,  Kexgon. 

Upper  part  of  thigh,  (,'icu'. 

Flat  part  of  thigh  near  buttock,  Zhegax  ubtharka. 

Buttock,  NFde. 

Knee,  whole  of  knee,  Shinon/de. 

Kneejoint,  Hi^kite. 

Kneecap,  Shinon/dewashkou. 

End  of  fibula,  Hia'xte. 

Shin,  Non/xpehi. 

Calf  of  leg,  Hiuca'gi. 

Ankles,  Ciko117. 

Ankle  bones,  Citaxxe. 

Feet,  gi. 

Soles,  Cihaxton. 

Instep,  top,  Ciuxnonxixe. 

Instep,  hollow  below,  (>'iuxnonckida. 

Tendon  achilles,  Hixkon. 

Heel,  githexde. 

Toes,  gipa'hi. 

Great  toe,  Cipaxhi    utonga. 

Next  (second)  toe,  Cipaxhi     utonga    uthuato"  (ntl/uato",  next  to). 

Middle  toe,  Cipaxhi    uthiyo"  (ufhiqon,  middle). 

Next  toe,  gipaxhi    uazhinga    uthuato". 

Little  toe,  Cipaxhi    uzhinga  (uzhinga,  little). 

Bones,  \Vahix. 

Skin,  Ha  or  Xinhax. 

Marrow,  Wazhixbe. 

Veins,  Kon. 

Skull  devoid  of  flesh,  Nixkapa. 

110  THE    OMAHA    TKTBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 



Sky,  Mon/xe. 

Sun,  Mi. 

Moon,  Nion/ba. 

Stars,  Mika'e. 

North  Star,  Mika/emonthinazhi  (mikae,  star;  monthin,  walk  or  move;  azhi,  not). 

Pleiades.  This  constellation  bore  the  ancient  name  of  Tapax  (deer's  head),  but 
this  term,  which  had  a  religious  significance,  was  not  commonly  used,  the  popular 
name  being  Mixaei'zhi^ga  (little  duck's  foot). 

Great  Bear,  Wa'baha,  the  litter. 

The  Morning  or  Evening  Star,  Mikaxetonga  (big  star). 

Meteor,  Mika'e  uxpathe  (stars  fall) . 

Clouds,  Monxpi/. 

Rain,  Non/hin/. 

Mist,  Shu'de  monhon  (smoke  on  the  earth). 

Hail,  Ma'ci. 

Snow,  Ma. 

Thunder,  Ingthun/huton  (Juiton,  to  cry;  ingtltu™  implies  the  idea  of  a  creature  simi 
lar  to  a  bird). 

Lightning,  Thion/ba. 

Rainbow,  Tushni'ge. 

Light,  Ugo^ba. 

Darkness,  Uga/honnonpaye. 

Night,  Hon. 

Day,  On/ba. 

Dawn,  On/ba  contihe  (day  lies  pale). 

Morning,  Hone/gonche. 

Noon,  Mi/thumonflhi  (sun  high). 

Dusk,  Inde/honnonpace  (face  hidden  in  darkness). 

Evening,  Pa'ce. 

Water,  Ni. 

Ice,  Nu'xe. 

Wind,  Tade'. 

Fire,  Pexde. 

Smoke,  ShuMe. 

Charcoal,  Nonxther. 

Ashes,  Monxu/de  (gray  earth). 

Heat,  Naxkade. 

Cold,  LT/cni. 

Earth,  Ton/de. 

Land,  Monzhon. 

Lake,  Ne/utheshon. 

River,  Ni. 

Creek,  Wachv'shka. 


Sweet,  Cki'the. 


Sour,  [  g'a'the. 

Acid,  J 

Stringent,  T'l/xe. 


Bitter,  Pa. 

Taste  of  nuts,]  „ 

m    <       c  e  t     (  ^onbe. 

Taste  of  fat;    J 

Salt,  the  article,  Nicki'the  (sweet  water). 


White,  gka. 

Pale,  gon. 

Black,  ga'be. 

Green,  Tu. 

Blue,  Tu  ca'be. 

Yellow,  gi. 

Red,  Zhi'de. 

Gray  or  Brown,  Xu'de. 


North,  Ucni'atathisho11  (uqni,  cold;  ata,  there;  thishon,  toward)  —  toward  the  cold. 

East,  Miuia'tathisho"  (mi,  sun;  ui,  it  conies;  ata,  there;  thishon,  toward)  —  toward 
the  coming  of  the  sun. 

South,  Mo^htea'tathisho11  (monshte,  heat;  ata,  there;  thishon,  toward)  —  toward 
the  heat. 

West,  Mi'itheatathiBho"  (mi,  sun;  ithe,  gone;  ata,  there;  thishon,  toward)  —  toward 
where  the  sun  has  gone. 

Cp  (as  when  the  pipes  are  pointed  upward),  Mo^xata  (mo^xa,  sky;  ta,  ata,  there). 

Down  (as  when  the  pipes  are  pointed  downward),  Ton/deata  (tonde,  earth;  ata, 


January,  Ho^ga    umubthi    ike:  When  the  snow  drifts  into  the  tents  of  the  Hon/ga. 

February,  Mi'xa    agthi    ike:  The  moon  when  geese  come  home  (come  back). 

March,  Pe'nishka  mieta    ike:  The  little  frog  moon. 

April,  Miu/onthinge    ke:  The  moon  in  which  nothing  happens. 

May,  Mi    waa7    ike:  The  moon  in  which  they  (the  tribe)  plant. 

June,  Tenu'gamigauna    ike:  The  buffalo  bulls  hunt  the  cows. 

July,  Tehuxtan    ike:  When  the  buffalo  bellow. 

August,  Un/ponhutan    ike:  When  the  elk  bellow. 

September,  Ta'xte  mannonxa    ike:  When  the  deer  paw  the  earth. 

October,  Ta'xti  kithix'a    ike:  When  the  deer  rut. 

November,  Ta'xte  hebaxon/    ike:  When  the  deer  shed  the  antlers. 

December,  Waca'be  zhinga  i'da    ike:  When  the  little  black  hears  are  born. 

The  Oto  and  Iowa  tribes  use  the  same  names  for  the  months  except  for  January, 
which  is  called  "the  raccoon  month." 

The  general  name  for  month  was  "  a  moon." 

The  night,  or  sleeping  time,  marked  the  division  of  days,  so  a  journey  might  be 
spoken  of  as  having  taken  so  many  "  sleeps."  In  like  manner  the  year  was  spoken 
of  as  "a  winter."  The  sun  indicated  the  time  of  day:  Sunrise,  mixethonbe  (mi,  sun; 
ethonbe,  to  come  out);  sunset,  mixethe  (mi,  sun;  ithe,  gone).  A  motion  toward  the 
zenith  meant  noon  (mi/thon  monsbi  —  mi,  sun;  than,  round;  mo^shi,  on  high);  mid 
way  between  the  zenith  and  the  west,  afternoon;  and  midway  toward  the  east, 
forenoon.  There  were  no  smaller  divisions  of  time  among  the  Omaha. 

112  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


The  storm  which  usually  precedes  the  coming  of  the  new  moon  was  called 
Mia/nonxthe,  "the  hiding  of  the  moon "  (the  act  of  the  storm). 

Early  in  the  month  of  February  there  is  usually  a  severe  storm,  often  a  blizzard. 
This  storm  was  called  Mi'xa  ikinonxthe  agthi  ike,  "the  geese  come  home  hidden 
by  the  storm."  It  is  said  that  soon  after  this  storm  a  few  geese  are  seen,  which  are 
shortly  followed  by  the  flocks. 

A  ring  around  the  moon  is  a  sign  of  rain. 

When  the  horns  of  the  moon  are  turned  upward,  it  is  a  sign  that  cold  weather  is 

When  the  fireflies  swarm  it  will  rain  during  the  night. 

When  birds  sing  in  the  early  morning  the  day  will  be  "clear. 

A  mist  in  the  morning  portends  a  hot  day. 

After  a  long  rain,  when  the  horses  prick  up  their  ears  and  play,  it  is  known  that 
the  rain  is  over. 

White  spots  on  the  nails  betoken  the  approach  of  spring.  If  they  come  in  sum 
mer  it  is  because  summer  is  here;  if  in  winter,  they  indicate  that  spring  will  surely 
come,  no  matter  how  long  or  cold  the  season. 

To  break  a  moccasin  string  is  a  sign  that  summer  is  coming. 


From  the  evidence  afforded  by  the  native  names  of  animals  and 
trees  it  would  seem  that  the  physical  environment  of  the  Omaha  has 
not  greatly  varied  in  the  course  of  the  last  few  centuries;  during 
that  period  the  tribe  does  not  appear  to  have  experienced  conditions 
that  prevail  in  the  extreme  north  or  far  to  the  southward,  or  that 
are  peculiar  to  the  region  west  of  the  Rocky  Mountains.  This  seem 
ingly  persistent  character  of  the  Omaha  surroundings  made  possible 
the  development  of  the  tribe  along  lines  that  led  to  substantial  rather 
than  to  striking  results. 

During  this  period  both  the  peaceful  and  the  warlike  relations  of 
the  Omaha  were  for  the  most  part  with  tribes  to  which  they  were 
more  or  less  closely  related  linguistically,  tribes  which  presumably 
had  many  ideas  and  customs  in  common.  There  was,  therefore,  little 
in  this  contact  likely  to  deflect  the  Omaha  from  their  natural  course 
of  development.  To  this,  however,  their  relations  with  the  Arikara 
constituted  an  exception.  This  tribe  belongs  to  the  Caddoan,  a 
southwestern  stock,  different  from  the  Omaha  in  mental  character 
istics  and  in  culture.  From  the  Arikara  the  Omaha  adopted  the 
use  of  the  earth  lodge ;  it  may  be  that  contact  with  this  tribe  stimu 
lated  a  general  revival  of  the  cultivation  of  the  maize;  and  the 
knowledge  of  the  Wawa11  ceremony  was  probably  derived  from  the 
same  source.  While  the  Arikara  exercised  on  the  Omaha  a  somewhat 
stimulating  influence,  the  contact  does  not  seem  to  have  had  any 
vital  effect  on  the  development  of  the  latter's  tribal  organization  and 


The  character  of  the  environmental  conditions  noted  above  seems 
reflected  in  the  Sacred  Legend,  which  preserves  in  fragmentary  form 
the  story  of  the  people.  The  value  of  this  Legend  is  psychic  rather 
than  historic,  for  little  is  told  in  it  that  is  definite  as  to  movements  or 
localities;  it  is  singularly  free  from  the  mythic  element;  it  contains 
no  marvels,  but  reveals  the  mental  atmosphere  through  which  the 
people  beheld  their  past  achievements,  and  constitutes  a  narrative 
remarkably  true  to  what  seems  to  be  the  Omaha  character,  religious, 
thoughtful,  and  practical  rather  than  imaginative  and  emotional. 

The  Omaha  depended  on  their  powers  of  observation  and  thought 
as  the  means  by  which  they  could  better  the  conditions  of  their  daily 
life  and,  as  will  be  seen  later,  they  utilized  their  observation  of  nature 
in  forming  their  ethical  code.  The  character  of  the  people  is  indi 
cated  in  their  names  for  living  forms  and  for  natural  phenomena ; 
these  show  how  the  Omaha  looked  on  their  environment  and  differ 
entiated  what  they  saw  and  experienced.  The  influence  of  hunting  is 
detected  in  the  familiarity  displayed  with  the  anatomy  of  the  larger 
animals,  a  knowledge  which,  as  has  been  seen,  the  Omaha  applied  to 
the  human  form.  Some  of  the  terms,  as  those  designating  parts  of 
the  human  face,  the  corners  of  the  mouth,  the  depression  on  the  fore 
head,  indicate  close  observation.  In  color  perception  the  Omaha 
seem  to  be  of  somewhat  limited  capacity,  as  is  true  also  of  the  sensa 
tion  of  taste,  but  there  is  a  noteworthy  appreciation  of  the  gradation 
of  light  in  the  coming  and  the  going  of  the  day.  The  names  of  the 
months  and  of  the  points  of  the  compass  are  not  fanciful  or  sym 
bolic  but  express  the  results  of  practical  observations  or  experiences. 
All  the  names  bear  out  the  sober-minded,  self-contained  character 
indicated  in  the  Sacred  Legend  and  add  to  its  value  in  helping 
toward  an  understanding  of  the  tribe. 

The  map  of  the  Omaha  country  (pi.  21)  presents  the  region  with 
which  the  people  have  been  familiar  from  the  sixteenth  century  to 
the  present,  and  such  historic  data  have  been  given  as  may  throw 
light  on  the  movements  of  the  tribe  during  that  period.  The  steady 
westward  advance  of  the  white  settlements  from  their  beginnings  on 
the  Atlantic  coast,  together  with  the  consequent  contentions  with 
the  tribes  native  to  that  region,  pressed  the  eastern  tribes  back  on 
their  western  neighbors,  creating  disturbances  whose  effects  traveled 
westward  and  were  felt  by  all  the  people  dwelling  on  and  beyond  the 
Lakes  and  the  Mississippi,  forcing  many  tribes  through  influences 
they  did  not  understand  or  recognize  to  move  westward.  The 
Omaha  could  not  escape  the  effect  of  this  general  disturbance, 
although  they  did  not  become  embroiled  in  wars  between  the  Indians 
and  the  white  people  dwelling  to  the  eastward  of  them. 
83993°— 27  ETH— 11 8 

114  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

The  Omaha  did  not  come  into  contact  with  the  white  people  as 
early  as  did  some  of  their  cognates.  They  do  not  seem  to  have  felt 
the  influence  of  the  Spanish  from  the  southwest,  although  late  indi 
rect  effects  were  transmitted  through  the  Comanche  and  the  Pawnee. 
French  influence  did  not  reach  the  Omaha  from  the  south,  but  came 
from  the  north  through  Canadian  traders.  The  French  were  the 
first  white  men  to  become  personally  known  to  the  Omaha,  but  they 
did  not  reach  the  tribe  until  well  into  the  eighteenth  century.  The 
English  followed  the  French  and  exerted  a  more  powerful  and  dis 
turbing  influence  on  the  social  life  of  the  people.  Finally  the  Ameri 
can  came  and  remained. 

A  general  view  of  the  Omaha  environment  during  recent  centuries 
makes  apparent  certain  limitations,  and  it  can  hardly  be  questioned 
that  these  limitations  must  have  exercised  an  influence  not  only  on 
the  direction  but  also  on  the  manner  in  which  the  people  evolved 
their  social  and  religious  life.  Indeed  the  Omaha  seem  to  have  been 
exempt  to  a  remarkable  degree  from  strong  foreign  control  and  to 
have  developed  their  tribal  organization  in  comparative  isolation. 
Consequently  they  were  able  to  preserve  their  type,  a  circumstance 
which  adds  to  the  value  and  interest  of  the  tribe  as  a  study. 



When  a  child  was  born  it  was  not  regarded  as  a  member  of  its  gens 
or  of  the  tribe  but  simply  as  a  living  being  coming  forth  into  the 
universe,  whose  advent  must  be  ceremonially  announced  in  order  to 
assure  it  an  accepted  place  among  the  already  existing  forms.  This 
ceremonial  announcement  took  the  form  of  an  expression  of  the 
Omaha  belief  in  the  oneness  of  the  universe  through  the  bond  of  a 
common  life-power  that  pervaded  all  things  in  nature  animate  and 

Although  in  the  Tecin/de  and  Inshta'cunda  gentes  the  custom  sur 
vived  of  placing  on  the  child,  the  fourth  day  after  birth,  certain  sym 
bols  pertaining  to  the  peculiar  rites  of  those  gentes,  these  acts  did  not 
serve  the  purpose  of  introducing  the  child  into  the  teeming  life  of  the 
universe.  This  ceremony  of  introduction  took  place  on  the  eighth  day 
after  birth.  Unfortunately  the  full  details  of  the  ceremony  have  been 
lost  through  the  death  of  the  priests  who  had  charge  of  it.  The 
hereditary  right  to  perform  the  ceremony  belonged  in  the  Washe'to11 
subgens  of  the  Inshta'cunda  gens.  (See  meaning  of  the  term  Washe'- 
ton,  p.  186.) 

On  the  appointed  day  the  priest  was  sent  for.  When  he  arrived 
he  took  his  place  at  the  door  of  the  tent  in  which  the  child  lay  and 
raising  his  right  hand  to  the  sky,  palm  outward,  he  intoned  the 
following  in  a  loud,  ringing  voice: 

Ho!     Ye  Sun,  Moon,  Stars,  all  ye  that  move  in  the  heavens, 

I  bid  you  hear  me ! 
Into  your  midst  has  come  a  new  life. 

Consent  ye,  I  implore! 
Make  its  path  smooth,  that  it  may  reach  the  brow  of  the  first  hill! 

Ho!     Ye  Winds,  Clouds,  Rain,  Mist,  all  ye  that  move  in  the  air, 

I  bid  you  hear  me ! 
Into  your  midst  has  come  a  newy  life. 

Consent  ye,  I  implore! 
Make  its  path  smooth,  that  it  may  reach  the  brow  of  the  second  hill! 

Ho!    Ye  Hills,  Valleys,  Rivers,  Lakes,  Trees,  Grasses,  all  ye  of  the  earth, 

I  bid  you  hear  me! 


116  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Into  your  midst  has  come  a  new  life. 

Consent  ye,  I  implore! 

Make  its  path  smooth,  that  it  may  reach  the  brow  of  the  third  hill! 
Ho!    Ye  Birds,  great  and  small,  that  fly  in  the  air, 
Ho!    Ye  Animals,  great  and  small,  that  dwell  in  the  forest, 
Ho!     Ye  insects  that  creep  among  the  grasses  and  burrow  in  the  ground — 

I  bid  you  hear  me! 
Into  your  midst  has  come  a  new  life. 

Consent  ye,  I  implore! 
Make  its  path  smooth,  that  it  may  reach  the  brow  of  the  fourth  hill! 

Ho!    All  ye  of  the  heavens,  all  ye  of  the  air,  all  ye  of  the  earth: 

I  bid  you  all  to  hear  me! 
Into  your  midst  has  come  a  new  life. 

Consent  ye,  consent  ye  all,  I  implore! 
Make  its  path  smooth — then  shall  it  travel  beyond  the  four  hills! 

This  ritual  was  a  supplication  to  the  powers  of  the  heavens,  the 
air,  and  the  earth  for  the  safety  of  the  child  from  birth  to  old  age. 
In  it  the  life  of  the  infant  is  pictured  as  about  to  travel  a  rugged 
road  stretching  over  four  hills,  marking  the  stages  of  infancy,  youth, 
manhood,  and  old  age. 

The  ceremony  which  finds  oral  expression  in  this  ritual  voices  in 
no  uncertain  manner  the  Omaha  belief  in  man's  relation  to  the 
visible  powers  of  the  heavens  and  in  the  interdependence  of  all 
forms  of  life.  The  appeal  bears  evidence  of  its  antiquity,  breathing 
of  a  time  antedating  established  rites  and  ceremonies.  It  expresses 
the  emotions  of  the  human  soul,  touched  with  the  love  of  offspring, 
alone  with  the  might  of  nature,  and  companioned  only  by  the  living 
creatures  whose  friendliness  must  be  sought  if  life  is  to  be  secure  on 
its  journey. 

The  cognate  tribes0  had  ceremonies  similar  in  purport  although 
differing  in  details.  Among  the  Omaha  no  further  ceremony  took 
place  in  reference  to  the  child  in  its  relation  to  the  cosmos,  to  its 
gens,  or  to  the  tribe,  until  it  was  able  to  walk.  When  the  period 
arrived  at  which  the  child  could  walk  steadily  by  itself,  the  time 
was  at  hand  when  it  must  be  introduced  into  the  tribe.  This  was 
done  ceremonially. 

a  Among  the  Osage,  on  the  birth  of  a  child  "  a  man  who  had  talked  with  the  gods  "  was  sent  for.  On 
his  arrival  he  recited  to  the  infant  the  story  of  the  Creation  and  of  the  animals  that  move  on  the  earth. 
Then,  after  placing  the  tip  of  his  finger  on  the  mother's  nipple,  he  pressed  that  finger  on  the  lips  of  the 
child,  after  which  he  passed  his  hands  over  the  body  of  the  child.  Then  the  infant  was  allowed  to  take 
nourishment.  Later,  when  the  child  desired  to  drink  water  the  same  or  a  like  man  was  sent  for.  Again 
the  ritual  of  the  Creation  was  recited,  and  the  beginning  of  water  was  told.  The  man  then  dipped  the 
tip  of  his  finger  into  water  and  laid  it  on  the  lips  of  the  child  and  passed  his  hands  over  its  body  from 
head  to  foot.  After  this  ceremony  the  child  could  be  given  water  to  drink.  When  the  child  reached 
the  age  when  it  needed  or  desired  solid  food,  the  same  man  or  one  of  his  class  was  again  sent  for.  Once 
more  the  Creation  story  was  recited  and  the  gift  of  corn  and  other  food  was  recounted.  At  the  close  the 
man  placed  the  tip  of  his  finger  upon  the  food  prepared  for  the  child  and  then  laid  this  finger  on  the  lips 
of  the  child,  after  which  he  passed  his  hands  over  its  body.  This  ceremony  prepared  the  child  to  receive 
solid  food.  Fees  were  given  U\the  man  who  performed  these  rites. 



The  name  of  this  ceremony  was  Thiku'winxe  (ihi,  a  prefix  indi 
cating  action  by  the  hand;  lcu'winxe,  "to  turn").  Although  the  child 
is  not  mentioned,  it  is  understood  as  being  referred  to.  The  trans 
lation  of  the  term,  therefore,  would  be  "turning  the  child." 

All  children,  both  boys  and  girls,  passed  through  this  ceremony, 
which  is  a  survival  of  that  class  of  ceremonies  belonging  to  the 
lowest,  or  oldest,  stratum  of  tribal  rites;  it  is  directly  related  to  the 
cosmic  forces — the  wind,  the  earth,  and  the  fire.  Through  this  cere 
mony  all  the  children  -who  had  reached  the  period  when  they  could 
move  about  unaided,  could  direct  their  own  steps,  were  symbolically 
"sent  into  the  midst  of  the  winds" — that  element  essential  to  life 
and  health;  their  feet  were  set  upon  the  stone — emblem  of  long  life 
upon  the  earth  and  of  the  wisdom  derived  from  age;  while  the 
"flames,"  typical  of  the  life-giving  power,  were  invoked  to  give  their 
aid  toward  insuring  the  capacity  for  a  long,  fruitful,  and  successful 
life  within  the  tribe.,  'Through  this  ceremony  the  child  passed  out  of 
that  stage  in  its  life  wherein  it  was  hardly  distinguished  from  all 
other  living  forms  into  its  place  as  distinctively  a  human  being, 
a  member  of  its  birth  gens,  and  through  this  to  a  recognized  place  in 
the  tribe.  As  it  went  forth  its  baby  name  was  thrown  away,  its  feet 
were  clad  in  new  moccasins  made  after  the  manner  of  the  tribe,  and 
its  ni'kie  name  (see  p.  136)  was  proclaimed  to  all  nature  and  to  the 
assembled  people. 

The  significance  of  the  new  moccasins  put  on  the  child,  will  appear 
more  clearly  by  the  light  of  the  following  custom,  still  observed  in 
families  in  which  all  the  old  traditions  of  the  tribe  are  conserved: 
When  moccasins  are  made  for  a  little  baby,  a  small  hole  is  cut  in 
the  sole  of  one.  This  is  done  in  order  that  "if  a  messenger  from  the 
spirit  world  should  come  and  say  to  the  child,  'I  have  come  for  you,' 
the  child  could  answer,  'I  can  not  go  on  a  journey — my  moccasins 
are  worn  out!"  A  similar  custom  obtains  in  the  Oto  tribe.  A 
little  hole  is  cut  in  the  first  pair  of  moccasins  made  for  a  child.  When 
the  relatives  come  to  see  the  little  one  they  examine  the  moccasins, 
and,  seeing  the  hole,  they  say:  "Why,  he  (or  she)  has  worn  out  his 
moccasins:  he  has  traveled  over  the  earth!"  This  is  an  indirect 
prayer  fliat  the  child  may  live  long.  The  new  (whole)  moccasins  put 
on  the  child  at  the  close  of  the  ceremony  of  introducing  it  into  the 
tribe  constitute  an  assurance  that  it  is  prepared  for  the  journey  of 
life  and  that  the  journey  will  be  a  long  one. 

The  ceremony  of  Turning  the  Child  took  place  in  the  spring 
time,  after  the  first  thunders  had  been  heard.  When  the  grass  was 

118  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  AXX.  27 

well  up  and  the  birds  were  singing,  "  particularly  the  meadow  lark," 
the  tribal  herald  proclaimed  that  the  time  for  these  ceremonies  had 
come.  A  tent  was  set  up  for  the  purpose,  made  xube,  or  sacred, 
and  the  keeper  of  these  rites,  who  belonged  to  the  Washe'to"  subgens 
of  the  Inshta'cunda  gens,  made  himself  ready  and  entered  the  tent. 
Meanwhile  the  parents  whose  children  had  arrived  at  the  proper 
age,  that  is,  could  walk  steadily  unassisted,  took  their  little  ones 
and  proceeded  to  the  Sacred  Tent.  The  only  requisite  for  the  child 
was  a  pair  of  new  moccasins,  but  large  fees  were  given  to  the  priest 
for  his  services. 

Only  parts  of  the  ritual  belonging  to  this  ceremony  have  been 
obtained.  Those  whose  prerogative  it  was  to  conduct  the  rites  are  all 
dead,  and  with  them  knowledge  of  much  of  the  ceremony  passed 
away.  The  preservation  of  the  fragments  here  given  came  about  thus : 
An  old  and  trusted  friend  of  Joseph  La  Flesche,  a  former  principal 
chief  of  the  tribe,  was  greatly  interested  when  a  boy,  in  the  tribal 
rites.  One  of  his  near  kinsmen  was  a  priest  of  this  rite.  When  the 
Sacred  Tent  was  set  up  this  boy  more  than  once  succeeded  in  secreting 
himself  behind  packs  within  and  from  his  hiding  place  was  able 
to  observe  what  took  place.  Having  a  retentive  memory  and  a 
quick  ear  for  song,  he  was  able  to  learn  and  remember  the  six  songs 
here  given.  Subsequent  inquiries  have  added  somewhat  to  the 
knowledge  secured  from  this  informant,  although,  so  far  as  the 
writers  have  been  able  to  ascertain,  no  one  seems  ever  to  have 
obtained  quite  so  close  an  inside  view  of  the  entire  ceremony  as  this 
inquisitive  boy.  Of  course  no  one  who  had  passed  through  the  cere 
mony  could  accurately  remember  it,  as  the  child  was  generally  only 
3  or  4  years  of  age  at  the  time  it  had  a  part  in  the  rite. 

The  tent  was  always  a  large  one,  set  facing  the  east,  and  open  at  the 
entrance,  so  that  the  bystanders,  who  kept  at  a  respectful  distance, 
could  see  something  of  what  was  going  on  within.  As  the  ceremony 
was  one  of  tribal  interest,  many  flocked  to  the  Sacred  Tent  to  watch  the 
proceedings.  In  the  center  was  a  fire.  On  the  east  of  the  fire  was 
placed  a  stone.  There  was  also  a  ball  of  grass,  placed  at  the  west  of 
the  fire-place  near  its  edge.  It  was  the  mother  who  led  the  child  to  the 
tent.  At  the  door  she  paused,  and  addressed  the  priest  within,  saying : 
"Venerable  man!  I  desire  my  child  to  wear  moccasins."  Then  she 
dropped  the  hand  of  the  child,  and  the  little  one,  carrying  his  new  moc 
casins,  entered  the  tent  alone.  He  was  met  by  the  priest,  who  advanced 
to  the  door  to  receive  the  gifts  brought  by  the  mother  as  fees.  Here 
she  again  addressed  him,  saying:  ''I  desire  my  child  to  walk  long  upon 
the  earth;  I  desire  him  to  be  content  with  the  light  of  many  days. 
We  seek  your  protection;  we  hold  to  you  for  strength."  The  priest 
replied,  addressing  the  child:  "  You  shall  reach  the  fourth  hill  sighing; 
you  shall  be  bowed  over;  you  shall  have  wrinkles:  your  stafT  shall 


bend  under  your  weight.  I  speak  to  you  that  you  may  be  strong." 
Laying  his  hand  on  the  shoulder  of  the  child,  he  added:  "What  you 
have  brought  me  shall  not  be  lost  to  you;  you  shall  live  long  and  en 
joy  many  possessions;  your  eyes  shall  be  satisfied  with  many  good 
things."  Then,  moving  with  the  child  toward  the  fireplace  in  the 
center  of  the  lodge,  and  speaking  in  the  capacity  of  the  Thunder, 
whose  priest  he  was,  he  uttered  these  words:  "I  am  a  powerful  being; 
I  breathe  from  my  lips  over  you."  Then  he  began  to  sing  the 
Invocation  addressed  to  the  Winds: 

"jjx~~|  3 

gZZZJI^ZZ^H  Z-|, |=          jsj s,     ^ 

Du  -  ba    ha        ti        no"  -  zhin    ga  She  -  non  -  zhin 

She       non-zhiQ 

Duba  ha  ti  nonzhin  ga  she  nonzhin  ga 

Duba  ha  ti  nonzhin  ga 

She  nonzhiu  ga!     Shenonzhinga 

in  in 

Literal  translation:  Duba,  four;  Ji a  signifies  that  the  number  four 
refers  to  groups;  ti,  from  ati,  come  ye;  nonzhin,  stand;  a,  from  iga, 
word  of  command  given  to  a  number;  she,  from  shefhu,  a  definite 
place  near  by;  ga,  a  command,  and  end  of  the  sentence;  In,  the  rolling 
thunder.  The  "four"  refers  to  the  four  winds,  to  which  the  invoca 
tion  is  addressed  by  the  Thunder  priest. 

Free  translation 

Ye  four,  come  hither  and  stand,  near  shall  ye  stand 

In  four  groups  shall  ye  stand 

Here  shall  ye  stand,  in  this  place  stand 

(The  Thunder  rolls) 

The  music  of  this  invocation  is  in  the  five-toned  scale.  The  voice 
dwells  on  the  words  ti,  "  come,"  and  she,  "near  in  this  place."  The  roll 
of  the  Thunder  is  given  in  the  relative  minor. 

At  the  close  of  this  ritual  song  the  priest  faces  the  child  to  the 
east,  lifting  it  by  the  shoulders;  its  feet  are  allowed  to  rest  upon 
the  stone.  He  then  turns  the  child  completely  around,  from  left  to 
right.  If  by  any  chance  the  child  should  struggle  or  move  so  as  to 



[ETH.  ANN*.  27 

turn  from  right  to  left  the  onlookers  set  up  a  cry  of  alarm.  It  was 
considered  very  disastrous  to  turn  ever  so  little  in  the  wrong  way,  so 
the  priest  was  most  careful  to  prevent  any  accident.  When  the  child 
had  been  turned,  its  feet  rested  on  the  stone  as  it  faced  the  south. 
The  priest  then  lifted  it  by  the  arms,  turned  it,  and  set  its  feet  on  the 
stone  as  it  faced  the  west ;  then  he  again  lifted  the  child,  turned  it, 
and  set  its  feet  on  the  stone  as  it  faced  the  north.  Lastly  the  child 
was  lifted  to  its  feet  and  placed  on  the  stone  as  it  again  faced  the  east. 
During  this  action  the  following  ritual  song  was  sung : 

xe    a   -  ki  -  the     tha 

Ba-  xu       du    -     ba  ha 


ta-de      du. 

ba    ha       te 

Ta-de      ba  -  50"       the a  -  ki-the       tlia 




j         -• 



!-         i              L 


1  !  .  ,  

Ta  -de         du ba     ha  te  In  In 

She  gakuwinxe  akithe  tha 
She  gakuwinxe  akithe  lha 
Baxu  duba  ha  te  tade  duba  ha  te 
Tade  ba<;on  the  akithe  tha 

Tade  duba  ha  te 
in  ^ 

Literal  translation :  She,  from  shethin,  going  yonder,  implies  a  person 
speaking;  ga,  to  strike  by  the  wind;  lcuwinxe,  to  whirl;  tha,  oratorical 
end  of  the  sentence;  baxu,  ridge  or  hill;  duba,  four;  ha,  groups; 
te,  descriptive  suffix  indicating  standing;  bafOn,  in  the  midst;  the, 
goes  (third  person);  akithe,  I  cause  him;  th-a,  end  of  sentence;  tade, 
winds;  duba,  four;  ha,  groups;  te,  standing;  In,  rolling  of  the 


Free  translation 

Turned  by  the  winds  goes  the  one  I  send  yonder; 
Yonder  he  goes  who  is  whirled  by  the  winds; 
Goes,  where  the  four  hills  of  life  and  the  four  winds  are  standing; 
There,  in  the  midst  of  the  winds  do  I  send  him, 
Into  the  midst  of  the  winds,  standing  there. 
(The  Thunder  rolls) 

The  winds  invoked  by  the  priest  stand  in  four  groups,  and  receive 
the  child,  which  is  whirled  by  them,  and  by  them  enabled  "to 


face  in  every  direction."  This  action  symbolizes  that  the  winds 
will  come  and  strengthen  him  as  hereafter  he  shall  traverse  the  earth 
and  meet  the  vicissitudes  he  must  encounter  as  he  passes  over  the 
four  hills  and  completes  the  circuit  of  a  long  life.  It  was  believed 
that  this  ceremony  exercised  a  marked  influence  on  the  child,  and 
enabled  it  to  grow  in  strength  and  in  the  ability  to  practise  self- 

The  priest  now  put  the  new  moccasins  on  the  feet  of  the  child,  as 
the  following  ritual  song  was  sung.  Toward  its  close  the  child  was 
lifted,  set  on  its  feet,  and  made  to  take  four  steps  typical  of  its  entrance 
into  a  long  life. 

(Sungin  octaves) 

She- thu  te  tho°  i-e  win-tha-ke     He-  de  wiMha  ke  non-zhin-ga     IQ         IQ 

Shethu  te  thon  ie  winthake 
Shethu  te  thon  ie  winthake 
Hede  winthake  nonzhin  ga 
Ie  te  winthake 
Shethu  te  thon  ie  winthake 
Hede  winthake  nonzhinga 

in  in 

Literal  translation:  Sliefhu,  a  place  near,  also  a  time;  te  refers  to 
action  or  occurrence,  in  this  instance  to  the  ceremony;  t7ion,  round 
place,  refers  both  to  the  lodge  and  to  the  Tiu'fhuga;  ie,  words,  declara 
tion;  winthake,  truth  (to  you)  (winlce,  truth;  tha,  to  you);  hede,  in 
consequence  of,  therefore,  because  (old  term);  nonzhin,  arise,  stand; 
ga,  the  sign  of  command;  in,  the  rolling  of  thunder. 

Free  translation 

Here  unto  you  has  been  spoken  the  truth ; 
Because  of  this  truth  you  shall  stand. 
Here,  declared  is  the  truth. 

Here  in  this  place  has  been  shown  you  the  truth. 
Therefore,  arise!  go  forth  in  its  strength! 
(The  thunder  rolls) 

The  ni'lfie  name  of  the  child  was  now  announced,  after  whicli  the 
priest  cried  aloud:  "Ye  hills,  ye  grass,  ye  trees,  ye  creeping  things 
both  great  and  small,  I  bid  you  hear!  This  child  has  thrown  away 
its  baby  name.  Ho!"  (a  call  to  take  notice). 

122  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

The  priest  next  instructed  the  child  as  to  the  tabu  it  must  observe, 
and  what  would  be  the  penalty  for  disobedience.  If  the  child  was  a 
girl,  she  now  passed  out  of  the  tent  and  rejoined  her  mother. 

Up  to  this  point  the  ceremony  of  introducing  the  child  into  the 
tribe  was  the  same  for  male  and  female ;  but  in  the  case  of  boys  there 
was  a  supplemental  rite  which  pertained  to  them  as  future  warriors. 


This  ceremony  was  called  We'bashna,  meaning  "to  cut  the  hair." 
According  to  traditions,  this  specialized  ceremony  belonged  to  the 
period  in  the  growth  of  the  political  development  of  the  tribe  when 
efforts  were  being  made  to  hold  the  tribe  more  firmly  together  by 
checking  the  independence  of  the  warriors  and  placing  them  under 
control — efforts  that  finally  resulted  in  the  placing  of  the  rites  of 
war  in  charge  of  the  We'zhinshte  gens. 

In  the  ceremony  of  cutting  the  hair  the  priest  in  charge  gathered 
a  tuft  from  the  crown  of  the  boy's  head,  tied  it,  then  cut  it  off  and 
laid  it  away  in  a  parfleche  case,  which  was  kept  as  a  sacred  reposi 
tory,  singing  as  he  cut  the  lock  a  ritual  song  explanatory  of  the 
action.  The  severing  of  the  lock  was  an  act  that  implied  the  conse 
cration  of  the  life  of  the  boy  to  Thunder,  the  symbol  of  the  power 
that  controlled  the  life  and  death  of  the  warrior — for  every  man 
had  to  be  a  warrior  in  order  to  defend  the  home  and  the  tribe.  The 
ritual  song  which  followed  the  cutting  of  the  lock  indicated  the 
acceptance  of  the  offering  made ;  that  is,  the  life  of  the  warrior  hence 
forth  was  under  the  control  of  the  Thunder  to  prolong  or  to  cut  short 
at  will. 

The  Washe'to"  subgens,  which  had  charge  of  this  rite  of  the  conse 
cration  of  the  boy  to  the  Thunder  as  the  god  of  war,  camped  at 
the  end  of  the  Inshta'cunda  division,  and  formed  the  northern  side 
of  the  entrance  into  the  Jiu'fhuga  when  the  opening  faced  the  east; 
while  the  We'zhinshte  gens,  which  had  charge  of  the  rites  pertaining 
to  war,  including  the  bestowal  of  honors,  formed  the  southern  side 
of  the  entrance.  Thus  the  "door,"  through  which  all  must  pass 
who  would  enter  the  Tiu'tJiuga  (see  p.  138),  was  guarded  on  each  side 
by  gentes  having  charge  of  rites  pertaining  to  Thunder,  as  the  god 
of  war,  the  power  that  could  not  only  hold  in  check  enemies  from 
without,  but  which  met  each  man  child  at  his  entrance  into  the  tribe 
and  controlled  him  even  to  the  hour  of  his  death. 

In  a  community  beginning  to  crystallize  into  organized  social 
relations  the  sphere  of  the  warrior  would  naturally  rise  above  that  of 
the  mere  fighter;  and  when  the  belief  of  the  people  concerning  nature 
is  taken  into  consideration  it  is  not  surprising  that  the  movement 
toward  social  organization  should  tend  to  place  the  warriors — the 



men  of  power- — in  close  relation  to  those  natural  manifestations  of 
power  seen  in  the  fury  of  the  storm  and  heard  in  the  rolling  of  the 
thunder.  Moreover,  in  the  efforts  toward  political  unification  such 
rites  as  those  which  were  connected  with  the  Thunder  would  conduce 
to  the  welding  of  the  people  by  the  inculcation  of  a  common  depend 
ence  upon  a  powerful  god  and  the  sign  of  consecration  to  him  would 
be  put  upon  the  head  of  every  male  member  of  the  tribe. 

The  priest  took  the  boy  to  the  space  west  of  the  fire ;  there,  facing 
the  east,  he  cut  a  lock  of  hair  from  the  crown  of  the  boy's  head,  as 
he  sang  the  following  ritual  song: 

m.— » —         — •»> — •  "~^». —  i 

Ti  -  goa  -  ha      moQ  -  shi 

ta       ha ! 

Sha-  be 

ti  -  the 

non  -  zhi  -    a 


Ti-goa  -  ha    mo"  -  shi    -    a 

ta     ha ! 

-  ^_T  --  ^  -  I—a    —  «  -  f_i  - 

Ti-go"  -  ha  mo"-  shi      a        ta     ha !         Sha-be      ti-  the  no"  -  zhi  -  a 

Ti  -  go"   -  ha     mon   -   shi   -    a          ta       ha ! 

Tigo"ha  mo"shia  ta  ha 

Shabe  tithe  nonzhia  ha 

Tigonha  monshia  ta  ha 

Shabe  tithe  nonzhia  shethu  aha 

Tigonha  monshia  ta  ha 

Shabe  tithe  nonzhia 

Tigonha  monshia  ta  ha 

Shabe  tithe  no"zhia  ha  shethu  aha 

Tigonha  mo"shia  ta  ha 

Shabe  tithe  nonzhia  ha 

124  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Literal  translation:  Tigonha,  grandfather — a  form  of  respect  used 
when  addressing  the  person  of  power;  monshia,  far  above,  on  high; 
ta,  from  shiata,  there,  used  to  express  an  indefinite  place ;  Tia,  end  of 
sentence;  shabe,  dark,  like  a  shadow;  tithe,  passing  before  one; 
nonzMa,  human  hair;  shethu,  there  in  your  direction,  as  toward  the 
one  addressed ;  alia,  in  the  midst  of. 

Free  translation 

Grandfather!  far  above  on  high, 

The  hair  like  a  shadow  passes  before  you. 

Grandfather!  far  above  on  high, 

Dark  like  a  shadow  the  hair  sweeps  before  you  into  the  midst  of  your  realm. 

Grandfather!  there  above,  on  high, 

Dark  like  a  shadow  the  hair  passes  before  you. 

Grandfather!  dwelling  afar  on  high,  « 

Like  a  dark  shadow  the  hair  sweeps  before  you  into  the  midst  of  your  realm. 

Grandfather!  far  above  on  high, 

The  hair  like  a  shadow  passes  before  you. 

From  this  ritual  song  we  learn  that  the  lock  laid  away  in  the 
sacred  case  in  care  of  the  Thunder  priest  symbolically  wTas  sent  to 
the  Thunder  god  dwelling  "far  above  on  high,"  who  was  ceremonially 
addressed  as  "Grandfather" — the  term  of  highest  respect  in  the  lan 
guage.  The  hair  of  a  person  was  popularly  believed  to  have  a  vital 
connection  with  the  life  of  the  body,  so  that  anyone  becoming  pos 
sessed  of  a  lock  of  hair  might  work  his  will  on  the  individual  from 
*  ... 

whom  it  came.     In  ceremonial  expressions  of  grief  the  throwing  of 

locks  of  hair  upon  the  dead  was  indicative  of  the  vital  loss  sustained. 
In  the  light  of  customs  that  obtained  among  the  people  the  hair, 
under  certain  conditions,  might  be  said  to  typify  life.  Because  of 
the  belief  in  the  continuity  of  life  a  part  could  stand  for  the  whole, 
so  in  this  rite  by  the  cutting  off  of  a  lock  of  the  boy's  hair  and  giving 
it  to  the  Thunder  the  life  of  the  child  was  given  into  the  keeping  of 
the  god.  It  is  to  be  noted  that  later,  when  the  hair  was  suffered  to 
grow  on  the  boy's  head,  a  lock  on  the  crown  of  the  head  was  parted 
in  a  circle  from  the  rest  of  the  hair  and  kept  constantly  distinct  and 
neatly  braided.  Upon  this  lock  the  war  honors  of  the  warrior  were 
worn,  and  it  was  this  lock  that  was  cut  from  the  head  of  a  slain 
enemy  and  formed  the  central  object  in  the  triumph  ceremonies,  for 
the  reason  that  it  preeminently  represented  the  life  of  the  man  who 
had  been  slain  in  battle. 


In  the  next  ritual  song  the  Thunder  god  speaks  and  proclaims  his 
acceptance  of  the  consecration  of  the  life  through  the  lock  of  hair 
and  also  declares  his  control  over  the  life  of  the  warrior. 

(Sung  in  octaves) 


i_  jv-ic 3 _ _ ( — • — ~^-   ..T. i^^ • 0   • 0 0 i 

She-thu     pi-thoa  -  di     he 


"•— f 

ke   a     -     the 

She-thu     pi-thou  -  di     he 

Xi-ka-  wiu    slia-he        ke        a  -  the    he 

=i==itz  ^-i=-i 

She  thu         pi-  thoQ         di 

Ni  -  ka  -  \vin      gon      -        ke  a  -  the 

-_^s=3i±=^-     -=]^- — • — "—  — - 
pf_|  -4._a_^_j=^_-g__gii  ^—^-^ 


She-thu     pi-thou  -  di     he 

Xi- ka- \viu    zhi-de       ke        a  -  the     he 

She-  thu       pi  -  thou   -    di 

ke  a-  the 

Shethu  pi  thondi  he 
Xika  win  gonke  athe 
Shethu  pi  thondi 
Nika  win  gonke  athe 
Shethu  pi  thoMi  he 
Nika  win  shahe  ke  athe  he 
Shethu  pi  tho"di 
Xika  wi11  gonke  athe 
Shethu  pi  thondi  he 
Xika  wi"     zhide  ke  athe  he 
Shethu  pi  tho"di 
Xika  win  go"ke  athe 

Literal  translation:  Shethu,  there;  pi, I  have  been;  thondi,  when;  Tie, 
end  of  the  sentence  and  vowel  prolongation;  nika,  man;  wi",  a  or 
one;  gonlce,  a  peculiar  exclamatory  expression  indicating  the  action 
of  coming  suddenly  on  a  fearful  or  startling  object;  athe,  I  cause, 
used  only  in  reference  to  inanimate  things  and  intended  here  to  con 
vey  the  idea  that  man  has  no  power  to  act  independently  of  the 

126  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  FETH.  ANN.  27 

gods;  shabe,  dark,  like  a  shadow;  Tee  indicates  that  the  object  is  long 
and  is  lying  down;  zhide,  red. 

Free  translation 

What  time  I  will,  then  only  then, 
A  man  lies  dead,  a  gruesome  thing. 
What  time  I  will,  then  suddenly 
A  man  lies  dead,  a  gruesome  thing. 
What  time  I  will,  then,  only  then, 
Like  a  shadow  dark  the  man  shall  lie. 
What  time  I  will,  then  suddenly 
A  man  lies  dead,  a  gruesome  thing. 
What  time  I  will,  then,  only  then, 
Reddened  and  stark  a  man  lies  dead. 
What  time  I  will,  then  suddenly 
A  man  lies  dead,  a  gruesome  thing. 

The  word  shabe,  dark  like  a  shadow,  is  used  in  the  preceding  song 
to  describe  the  lock  of  hair  that  was  cut  from  the  child's  head  as  a 
symbol  that  his  life  was  offered  to  the  god;  in  this  song  the  same 
word,  shabe,  is  applied  to  the  man  who,  "like  a  shadow  dark," 
"shall  lie"  when  his  life  has  been  taken  by  the  god.  The  use  of  this 
word  bears  out  the  meaning  of  the  rite  that  accompanied  the  pre 
ceding  song,  that  by  the  giving  of  the  lock  of  hair  the  life  of  the  per 
son  was  given  to  the  god.  This  song  shows  that  the  god  intends 
to  do  as  he  wills  with  that  life.  There  are  other  songs  used  in  the 
tribe  which  iterate  this  belief  that  a  man  dies  only  when  the  gods 

The  music  is  in  the  five-tone  scale,  and  the  phrase  which  carries 
the  assertion  of  the  god  rises  and  dwells  on  the  tonic,  a  movement 
rare  in  Omaha  songs,  the  general  trend  being  from  higher  to  lower 

The  imperfect  account  of  this  ritual  makes  it  impossible  to  state 
whether  or  not  the  six  songs  here  given  were  all  that  belonged  to 
this  ceremony.  It  is  also  uncertain  wliether  or  not  the  invocation 
to  the  winds  was  sung  before  the  turning  of  every  child;  it  may 
have  been  sung  only  once,  at  the  opening  of  the  general  ceremony, 
there  being  indications  that  such  was  the  case.  It  is  probable  that 
the  song  given  below  was  also  sung  but  once,  at  the  close  of  the  general 
ceremony,  but  it  has  been  impossible  to  obtain  accurate  information 
on  this  point.  Only  one  point  is  certain — that  the  folio  whig  was 
the  final  song  of  the  ceremony: 

(Sung  in  octaves) 


Ku-the  gon  di     in-gi-be         he        nax  thin  ba      nax   thin  ba       ha 

Pe-  de    zhi-de     na-ka  -  de 


thia  ba       nax   thi"  ba       ha  ! 

Pe  -  de         zhi  -de         na  -  ka 

thi°  ha        nax  thin  ba     ha  !         Ku-the  gon-di      in  -  gi  be. 

Kuthe  gon  di  ingi  be  he 
Naxthin  ba  naxthi"  ba  ha 
Pede  zhide  nakade 
Naxthi11  ba  naxthin  ba  ha 
Kuthe  gon  di  ingi  be  he 
Naxthin  ba  naxthi"  ba  ha 
Pede  zhide  nakade 
Naxthi"  ba  naxthi"  ba  ha 
Kuthe  gon  di  ingi  be  he 

Literal  translation:  Kuthe,  hasten;  gon,  suddenly;  di,  here,  hither; 
ingi,  to  ask  help,  assistance;  &e,  sign  of  the  plural;  naxthi11,  flame;  6<z, 
sign  of  the  plural;  Jia,  the  end  of  the  sentence;  pede,  fire;  zhide,  red; 
nakade,  hot. 

Free  translation 

Come  hither,  haste  to  help  me, 

Ye  flames,  ye  flames,  O  come! 

O  red-hot  fire,  hasten! 

O  haste,  ye  flames,  to  come. 

Come  speedily  to  help  me, 

Ye  flames,  ye  flames,  O  come! 

O  red-hot  fire,  hasten! 

O  haste,  ye  flames,  to  come! 

Come  hither,  haste,  to  help  me! 

As  this  song  was  sung  the  ball  of  grass  to  which  reference  has 
already  been  made  was  held  aloft  and  then  hurled  to  the  ground, 
where  it  mysteriously  burst  into  flames,  which  were  regarded  as  sym 
bolizing  the  lightning. 

128  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

In  this  closing  song  there  is  a,  return  to  the  cosmic  forces  which 
were  appealed  to  and  represented  in  the  ceremony  of  Turning  the 
Child.  In  early  times  before  this  ceremony  had  been  arranged  so 
as  to  include  the  rite  of  consecrating  the  boy  to  the  Thunder  god, 
the  song  which  appears  on  the  preceding  page  was  sung  probably 
soon  after,  if  not  immediately  at  the  conclusion  of,  the  third  song 
given  in  this  account. 

At  the  conclusion  of  this  tribal  ceremony,  when  the  child  reached 
its  home  the  father  cut  the  hair  of  his  son  after  the  symbolic  manner 
of  his  gens;0  the  hair  was  thus  worn  until  the  second  dentition. 
Then  the  hair  was  allowed  to  grow,  and  the  scalp  lock,  the  sign  of  the 
warrior  to  which  reference  has  already  been  made  wTas  parted  off  and 
kept  carefully  braided,  no  matter  how  frowzy  and  tangled  the  rest 
of  the  hair  might  be. 




The  next  stage  in  the  life  of  the  Omaha  youth  was  marked  by  the 
rite  known  by  the  name  of  Non'zhinzhon.  The  literal  meaning  of  the 
word  is  "to  stand  sleeping;"  it  here  implies  that  during  the  rite  the 
person  stands  as  if  oblivious  of  the  outward  world  and  conscious 
only  of  what  transpires  within  himself,  his  own  mind.  This  rite 
took  place  at  puberty,  when  the  mind  of  the  child  "had  "become 
white."  This  characterization  was  drawn  from  the  passing  of  night 
into  day.  It  should  be  remembered  that  in  native  symbolism  night 
is  the  mother  of  day;  so  the  mind  of  the  new-born  child  is  dark, 
like  the  night  of  its  birth;  gradually  it  begins  to  discern  and  remem 
ber  things  as  objects  seen  in  the  early  dawn;  finally  it  is  able  to 
remember  and  observe  discriminatingly;  then  its  mind  is  said  to  be 
"white,"  as  with  the  clear  light  of  day.  At  the  period  wrhen  the 
youth  is  at  the  verge  of  his  conscious  individual  life,  is  "  old 
enough  to  know  sorrow,"  it  was  considered  time  that  through  the 
rite  Non'zhinzhon  he  should  enter  into  personal  relations  with  the 
mysterious  power  that  permeates  and  controls  all  nature  as  well  as 
his  own  existence. 

In  the  Sacred  Legend,  which  recounts  briefly  the  history  of  the 
people  and  from  which  quotations  have  been  made,  the  origin  of  this 
rite  is  thus  given: 

The  people  felt  themselves  weak  and  poor.  Then  the  old  men  gathered  together 
and  said:  "Let  us  make  our  children  cry  to  Wakon/da  that  he  may  give  us  strength." 
So  all  the  parents  took  their  children  who  were  old  enough  to  pray  in  earnest,  put 
soft  clay  on  their  faces,  and  sent  them  forth  to  lonely  places.  The  old  men  said  to 
the  youths:  "You  shall  go  forth  to  cry  to  Wakon/da.  When  on  the  hills  you  shall 
not  ask  for  any  particular  thing.  The  answer  may  not  come  to  you  as  you  expect; 

a  The  various  styles  of  cutting  the  child's  hair  to  symbolize  the  tabu  of  his  gens  are  shown  with  the 
account  given  of  the  gentes  (pp.  144-188). 


whatever  is  good,  that  may  Wakon/da  give."  Four  days  upon  the  hills  shall  the 
youths  pray,  crying.  When  they  stop,  they  shall  wipe  their  tears  with  the  palms  of 
their  hands  and  lift  their  wet  hands  to  the  sky,  then  lay  them  to  the  earth.  This  was 
the  people's  first  appeal  to  Wako^da. 

The  closing  statement  as  to  "the  first  appeal"  should  not  be  taken 
literally,  for  the  rite  thus  said  to  have  been  introduced  is  too  com 
plex,  and  embodies  beliefs  that  must  have  required  a  long  time  for 
formulation  into  the  dramatic  forms  observed  in  this  rite. 

The  old  men,  when  explaining  the  rite,  said  "It  must  be  observed 
by  all  youths.  After  the  first  time,  the  youth  could  repeat  the  rite 
until  he  was  old  enough  to  marry  and  had  children;  by  that  time 
his  life  was  fixed,  and  he  prayed  no  more  unless  he  was  a  priest,  then 
he  would  continue  to  fast  and  pray."  "In  the  Non'zhinzhon/'  it  was 
further  explained,  "the  appeal  was  to  Wakon'da,  the  great  power. 
There  were  other  powers — the  sun,  the  stars,  the  moon,  the  earth- 
but  these  were  lesser;  the  prayer  was  not  to  them."  The  old  men 
added:  "The  appeal  was  for  help  throughout  life.  As  the  youth 
goes  forth  to  fast  he  thinks  of  a  happy  life,  good  health,  success  in 
hunting;  in  war  he  desires  to  secure  spoils  and  escape  the  enemy; 
if  he  should  be  attacked  that  the  weapons  of  his  adversaries  might 
fail  to  injure  him.  Such  were  the  thoughts  and  hopes  of  the  youth 
when  he  entered  upon  this  fast,  although  he  was  forbidden  to  ask  for 
any  special  favor."  The  rite  Non/zhinzhon  was  observed  in  the 
spring ;  never  in  the  summer  or  winter.  The  meaning  of  putting  clay 
on  the  head  has  been  explained  in  different  ways.  Some  have  said 
it  symbolized  humility;  others  that  it  referred  to  the  soft  clay  or 
mud  brought  up  by  the  diving  animals,  out  of  which  the  earth  was 
created.  In  the  opinion  of  the  writers  the  latter  seems  the  more 
probable  explanation. 

In  preparation  the  youth  was  taught  the  following  prayer,  which 
was  to  be  sung  during  the  ordeal  of  the  fast.  It  was  known  to  every 
youth  in  the  tribe,  no  matter  what  his  gens.a  This  prayer  must  be 
accepted,  therefore,  as  voicing  a  fundamental  belief  of  the  entire 
Omaha  tribe.  The  music  is  in  keeping  with  the  words,  being  un 
mistakably  an  earnest  invocation. 

a  Every  male  was  obliged  to  pass  through  the  rite  of  NoD'zhi»zhon  when  he  reached  the  proper  age; 
whether  he  should  continue  to  practise  the  rite  was  left  to  his  personal  choice.  The  >Jon'zhinzhoo 
was  not  obligatory  on  girls  or  women  but  they  sometimes  went  through  the  fast,  for  the  rite  was  open 
to  them 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 9 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 


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WakoMa  thethu  wahpathin  atonhe 
Wakonda  thethu  wahpathi11  atonho 

Literal  translation :  Walconda,  the  permeating  life  of  nature  and  of 
man,  the  great  mysterious  power ;  thethu,  here;  wahpathi71 ,  poor,  needy; 
atonJie,  he  stands,  and  I  am  he — a  form  of  expression  used  to  indicate 
humility.  Wakonda!  here,  needy,  he  stands,  and  I  am  he. 

This  prayer  was  called  Wakonfda  gikon  (gigikon,  "to  weep  from 
loss,"  as  that  of  kindred,  the  prefix  gi  indicating  possession;  gikon, 
therefore,  is  to  weep  from  the  want  of  something  not  possessed,  from 
conscious  insufficiency  and  the  desire  for  something  that  could  bring 
happiness  or  prosperity) .  This  prayer  and  the  aspect  of  the  suppliant, 
standing  alone  in  the  solitary  place,  with  clay  on  his  head,  tears  fall 
ing  from  his  eyes,  and  his  hands  lifted  in  supplication,  were  based  on 
anthropomorphic  ideas  concerning  Wakon/da.  The  Omaha  con 
ceived  that  the  appeal  from  one  so  young  and  untried,  who  showed 
poverty  and  the  need  of  help,  could  not  fail  to  move  the  power  thus 
appealed  to,  even  as  a  man  so  importuned  would  render  the  aid  that 
was  asked.  The  words  of  the  prayer  set  forth  the  belief  that  Wa- 
kon/da  was  able  to  understand  and  to  respond  to  the  one  who  thus 
voiced  his  consciousness  of  dependence  and  his  craving  for  help  from 
a  power  higher  than  himself. 

o  The  upper  line  gives  the  aria  as  sung;  the  two  lines  below  translate  the  aria;  so  that  when  played 
on  an  instrument  like  the  piano  the  meaning  and  feeling  of  the  song  become  intelligible  to  us.  This  trans 
lation  has  the  approval  of  the  Indians. 


Four  days  and  nights  the  youth  was  to  fast  and  pray  provided  he 
was  physically  able  to  bear  so  long  a  strain.  No  matter  how  hungry 
he  became,  he  was  forbidden  to  use  the  bow  and  arrows  put  into  his 
hands  by  his  father  when  he  left  his  home  for  this  solitary  test  of 
endurance.  When  he  fell  into  a  sleep  or  a  trance,  if  he  saw  or  heard 
anything,  that  thing  was  to  become  a  special  medium  through  which 
the  youth  could  receive  supernatural  aid.  Generally  with  the  sight 
of  the  thing  came  an  accompanying  cadence.  This  cadence  was 
the  song  or  call  by  which  the  man  might  summon  aid  in  his  time  of 
need.  The  form,  animate  or  inanimate,  which  appeared  to  the  man 
was  drawn  toward  him,  it  was  believed,  by  the  feeling  of  pity.  The 
term  used  to  express  this  impelling  of  the  form  to  the  man  was 
i'ihaeihe,  meaning  "to  have  compassion  on."  If  the  youth  at  this 
time  saw  a  buffalo,  it  would  be  said:  Te  i'thaethe,  "  the  buffalo  had 
compassion  on  him;"  if  he  heard  the  thunder:  Ingt7iunf  ithaethe,  "the 
thunder  had  compassion."  The  vision,  with  its  sacred  call  or  song, 
was  the  one  thing  that  the  Omaha  held  as  his  own,  incapable  of  loss 
so  long  as  life  and  memory  lasted.  It  was  his  personal  connection 
with  the  vast  universe,  by  which  he  could  strengthen  his  spirit  and 
his  physical  powers.  He  never  gave  the  details  of  his  vision  to  any 
one,  nor  was  it  even  casually  spoken  of;  it  was  too  sacred  for  ordinary 

When  going  forth  to  fast,  the  youth  went  silently  and  unobserved. 
No  one  accosted  him  or  gave  him  counsel  or  direction.  He  passed 
through  his  experience  alone,  and  alone  he  returned  to  his  father's 
lodge.  No  one  asked  him  of  his  absence,  or  even  mentioned  the  fact 
that  he  had  been  away.  For  four  days  he  must  rest,  eat  little,  and 
speak  little.  After  that  period  he  might  go  to  an  old  and  worthy 
man  who  was  known  to  have  had  a  similar  vision.  After  eating  and 
smoking  with  the  old  man,  when  they  were  quite  alone  it  was  per 
mitted  the  youth  to  mention  that  he  had  had  a  vision  like  that  of  his 
host,  of  beast,  or  bird,  or  whatever  it  might  have  been.  Should  he 
speak  of  his  vision  before  the  expiration  of  the  four  days,  it  would 
be  the  same  as  lost  to  him.  After  the  youth  had  spoken  to  the  old 
man  it  became  his  duty  to  travel  until  he  should  meet  the  animal  or 
bird  seen  in  his  vision,  when  he  had  to  slay  it,  and  preserve  either  the 
whole  or  a  part  of  its  body.  This  trophy  became  the  visible  sign  of 
his  vision  and  the  most  sacred  of  his  possessions.  He  might  wear  it 
on  his  scalp  lock  or  elsewhere  on  his  person  during  sacred  festivals, 
when  going  to  war,  or  on  some  other  important  occasions.  This 
article  has  been  spoken  of  by  some  writers  as  the  man's  "  personal 
totem."  When  the  vision  came  in  the  form  of  a  cloud  or  the  sound 
of  the  thunder,  these  were  symbolized  by  certain  objects  or  were 
typified  in  designs  painted  on  the  man  or  on  his  belongings. 

Some  visions  were  regarded  as  "lucky,"  as  giving  special  and  help 
ful  advantages  to  the  man.  Hawks  were  "lucky" — they  helped  to 
success  and  prowess  in  war.  Bears,  being  slow  and  clumsy,  were 

132  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [BTH.  ANN.  27 

"not  so  good,"  although  possessing  great  recuperative  power.  The 
elk  was  fleet.  Snakes  were  "not  good,"  etc.  To  dream  of  the  moon 
might  bring  a  great  calamity.  It  is  said  that  the  moon  would  appear 
to  a  man  having  in  one  hand  a  burden  strap,  in  the  other  a  bow  and 
arrows,  and  the  man  would  be  bidden  to  make  a  choice.  When  he 
reached  for  the  bow,  the  moon  would  cross  its  hands  and  try  to  force 
the  strap  on  the  man.  If  he  awaked  before  he  took  the  strap,  or 
if  he  succeeded  in  capturing  the  bow,  he  escaped  the  penalty  of  the 
dream.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  he  failed  and  the  strap  came  into 
his  hand,  he  was  doomed  to  forfeit  his  manhood  and  become  like  a 
woman.  He  must  speak  as  a  woman,  pursue  her  avocations,  adopt 
her  dress,  and  sometimes  become  subject  to  gross  actions.  It  is  said 
that  there  have  been  those  who,  having  dreamed  of  the  moon  and 
having  had  the  burden  strap  forced  on  them,  have  tried  to  conceal 
their  ill  luck  for  a  time,  but  that  few  have  succeeded.  Instances  are 
known  in  which  the  unfortunate  dreamer,  even  with  the  help  of  his 
parents,  could  not  ward  off  the  evil  influence  of  the  dream,  and 
resorted  to  suicide  as  the  only  means  of  escape. 

The  following  stories  of  Osage  men  who  through  dreams  became 
as  women  were  given  by  Black  Dog  in  1898: 

Men  who  become  as  women  are  called  Mixu'ga  (mi,  "moon";  xu'ga,  "to  in 
struct" — "instructed  by  the  moon").  The  young  men  who  go  to  fast  sometimes 
remain  out  many  days.  This  is  done  to  secure  dreams  or  visions  which  will  support 
them  in  manly  enterprises,  in  war  or  in  hunting — that  is,  give  them  strength.  But 
sometimes  it  happens  that  a  young  man  has  dreams  or  sees  visions  which  make  him 
imagine  that  he  is  a  woman.  From  that  time  he  takes  upon  himself  the  dress  and 
occupations  of  a  woman.  He  lets  his  hair  grow,  parts  it  in  the  middle,  and  wears 
braids.  From  days  beyond  the  memory  of  man  the  Osage  men  shaved  the  head, 
leaving  a  roach  on  the  top.  Only  the  women  wore  the  hair  long  and  parted  it  in  the 
middle.  Now  many  of  the  Osage  men  wear  the  hair  long  and  parted  in  the  middle, 
in  imitation  of  the  Ponca,  who,  I  think,  took  the  fashion  from  the  Sioux. 

Once  a  young  man  went  to  fast,  and  was  gone  many  days.  He  started  home,  not 
having  had  any  dreams  or  visions,  and  on  his  way  home  he  met  a  matronly  woman 
who  addressed  him  as  "  daughter. "  She  said  to  the  young  man:  "  You  are  my  daugh 
ter,  and  you  shall  be  as  I  am.  I  give  to  you  this  hoe.  With  it  you  shall  cultivate  the 
ground,  raise  corn,  beans,  and  squash,  and  you  shall  be  skillful  in  braiding  buffalo 
hair  and  in  embroidering  moccasins,  leggings,  and  robes. "  In  speaking  to  the  woman 
the  young  man  discovered  that  he  had  been  unconsciously  using  the  feminine  ter 
minals  of  speech.  He  tried  to  recover  himself  and  use  the  speech  of  man,  but  he 
failed.  On  his  return  to  his  people  he  dressed  himself  as  a  woman,  and  took  upon 
himself  the  avocations  of  a  woman. 

A  young  man  went  to  fast,  and  was  gone  many  days.  On  his  way  home  he  came 
to  an  earth  lodge  and  entered.  There  were  four  men  in  the  lodge,  who  greeted  him 
very  cordially  and  assigned  to  him  the  usual  place  of  a  guest.  The  young  man  looked 
about  the  lodge  and  saw  hung  upon  the  posts  bows  and  arrows,  shields  and  spears. 
Food  was  prepared  for  him,  and  he  ate  with  the  strangers.  When  he  had  finished 
his  visit  he  thanked  these  people  and  started  to  go  out.  As  he  was  about  to  pass 
the  doorway  he  was  halted  and  his  attention  was  directed  to  two  objects  which  hung 
one  on  each  side  of  the  door.  One  was  a  spear  and  the  other  a  battle-ax.  The  young 
man  was  told  to  take  his  choice.  He  was  long  in  choosing.  The  battle-ax  is  consid 
ered  the  manliest  of  weapons.  This  the  young  man  remembered,  and  he  finally 


chose  that  weapon,  took  it  down,  and  departed.  On  his  way  to  his  village  he  planned 
in  his  mind  war  excursions,  and  thought  how  he  would  conduct  himself  in  battles. 
When  he  was  nearing  the  village  he  desired  to  look  once  more  at  his  battle-ax.  He 
did  so,  and,  behold,  it  had  turned  into  a  hoe!  When  he  arrived  home  he  became  as 
a  woman. 

There  was  a  young  man  who  had  been  out  to  fast  many  times.  He  had  dreams 
which  he  thought  were  the  kind  that  would  make  of  him  a  man  of  valor.  He  went 
on  the  warpath  and  took  with  him  a  number  of  followers.  They  found  the  enemy, 
defeated  them,  and  returned  with  many  trophies.  On  the  way  home  he  got  up  a 
dance  one  night  in  honor  of  his  victory.  As  he  was  dancing,  brandishing  his  weapons 
and  praising  himself,  an  owl  hooted  near-by  in  the  woods,  and  after  each  hooting  the 
owl  would  say:  "The  leader  is  a  mixu'ga!"  The  people  listened  in  amazement,  and 
at  last  the  leader  cried:  "  I  have  done  that  which  a  mixu'ga  could  never  do! "  How 
ever,  on  reaching  his  home  the  young  leader  dressed  as  a  woman  and  spoke  as  a  woman. 
He  married  and  had  children.  He  was  successful  as  a  warrior,  but  when  about  to 
go  to  war  he  discarded  his  woman's  clothing  and  dressed  himself  as  a  man. 

Among  the  Omaha,  as  well  as  their  cognates,  there  were  societies 
whose  membership  was  made  up  of  men  who  had  had  visions  of  the 
same  object.  It  has  already  been  mentioned  that  the  object  seen  in 
the  vision  was  said  to  have  had  compassion  on  the  man  when  it 
appeared  to  him.  It  was  also  thought  that  because  the  same  form 
could  come  to  certain  men  and  be  seen  by  them  there  was  something 
in  common  in  the  nature  of  these  men — that  a  sort  of  brotherhood 
existed  among  them.  Out  of  this  belief  societies  grew  up  based  on 
the  members  having  had  similar  visions,  and  the  ceremonies  of  these 
societies,  quasi  religious  in  character,  dealt  with  the  special  gifts 
vouchsafed  by  Wakon/da  through  the  particular  form  or  the  animal. 
The  article  which  was  the  symbol  of  a  man's  dream,  as  a  feather 
from  a  bird,  a  tuft  of  hair  from  an  animal,  or  a  black  stone  or  trans 
lucent  pebble  representing  the  thunder  or  the  water,  was  never  an 
object  of  worship.  It  was  a  memento  of  the  vision,  a  sort  of  cre 
dential  that  served  to  connect  its  possessor  with  the  potentiality  of 
the  species  or  class  represented  by  the  form  seen  in  the  vision,  through 
which  the  man's  strength  or  faculties  could  be  reenforced  by  virtue  of 
the  continuity  of  life  throughout  the  universe  because  of  the  ever- 
present  power  of  Wakon/da. 

In  the  sequence  of  rites  just  detailed,  which  began  at  birth  with 
the  announcement  to  all  created  things  that  a  new  life  had  come 
into'their  midst,  and  later,  when  the  child  had  acquired  ability  to 
move  about  of  its  own  volition,  its  feet  were  set  in  the  path  of  life, 
and  it  entered  into  membership  in  the  tribe,  are  represented  pro 
gressive  steps  in  the  life  of  the  individual  from  a  mere  living. form  to 
a  being  with  a  recognized  place.  The  entrance  into  manhood  re 
quired  a  voluntary  effort  by  which,  through  the  rite  of  fasting  and 
prayer,  the  man  came  into  direct  and  personal  relations  with  the 
supernatural  and  realized  within  himself  the  forceful  power  of  the 
union  of  the  seen  with  the  unseen. 



The  tribal  organization  of  the  Omaha  was  based  on  certain  funda 
mental  religious  ideas,  cosmic  in  significance;  these  had  reference  to 
conceptions  as  to  how  the  visible  universe  came  into  being  and  how 
it  is  maintained. 

An  invisible  and  continuous  life  was  believed  to  permeate  all  things, 
seen  and  unseen.  This  life  manifests  itself  in  two  ways:  First,  by 
causing  to  move — all  motion,  all  actions  of  mind  or  body  are  because 
of  this  invisible  life;  second,  by  causing  permanency  of  structure  and 
form,  as  in  the  rock,  the  physical  features  of  the  landscape,  mountains, 
plains,  streams,  rivers,  lakes,  the  animals  and  man.  This  invisible 
life  was  also  conceived  of  as  being  similar  to  the  will  power  of  which 
man  is  conscious  within  himself — a  power  by  which  things  are  brought 
to  pass.  Through  this  mysterious  life  and  power  all  things  are 
related  to  one  another  and  to  man,  the  seen  to  the  unseen,  the 
dead  to  the  living,  a  fragment  of  anything  to  its  entirety.  This 
invisible  life  and  power  was  called  Wakon/da  (see  p.  597).  While  it 
was  a  vague  entity,  yet  there  was  an  anthropomorphic  coloring  to  the 
conception,  as  is  shown  in  the  prayers  offered  and  the  manner  in 
which  appeals  for  compassion  and  help  were  made,  also  in  the  ethical 
quality  attributed  to  certain  natural  phenomena — the  regularity  of 
night  following  day,  of  summer  winter  (these  were  recognized  as 
emphasizing  truthfulness  as  a  dependable  quality  and  set  forth  for 
man's  guidance) — and  in  the  approval  by  Wakon/da  of  certain  ethical 
actions  on  the  part  of  mankind. 

Human  conditions  were  projected  upon  nature,  and  male  and  female 
forces  recognized.  The  Above  was  regarded  as  masculine,  the  Below 
feminine;  so  the  sky  was  father,  the  earth,  mother.  The  heavenly 
bodies  were  conceived  of  as  having  sex;  the  sun  was  masculine,  the 
moon  feminine,  consequently  day  was  male  and  night  female.  The 
union  of  these  two  forces  was  regarded  as  necessary  to  the  perpetuation 
of  all  living  forms,  and  to  man's  life  by  maintaining  his  food  supply. 
This  order  or  method  for  the  continuation  of  life  was  believed  to  have 
been  arranged  by  Wakon/da  and  had  to  be  obeyed  if  the  race  was  to 
continue  to  exist.  In  order  to  keep  this  belief  alive  in  the  minds  of 
the  people,  it  was  symbolized  in  religious  rites  and  in  social  usages  and 



organization.  Consonant  with  this  manner  of  enforcing  these  cosmic 
and  religious  ideas,  the  tribe  was  composed  of  two  grand  divisions, 
one  representing  the  Sky  people,  or  the  Inshta'cunda;  the  other,  the 
Earth  people,  or  the  Hon/gashenu.  Within  each  of  these  divisions 
there  were  five  gentes.  While  each  gens  had  its  designation,  its  rites, 
its  place,  its  tabu  and  its  personal  names,  all  these  distinctive  marks 
were  subordinate  to  the  two  grand  divisions  and  membership  in  the 
gens  became  merged  in  membership  in  one  of  these  divisions,  the 
Inshta'cunda  or  the  Hon/gashenu. 

These  divisions  were  not  phratries,  as  they  were  not  based  on  ties 
of  blood  but  on  mythic  ideas  as  to  how  creation  came  about  and  how 
life  must  be  continued  on  the  earth.  Myths  relate  that  human 
beings  were  born  of  a  union  between  the  Sky  people  and  the  Earth 
people;  and,  in  accordance  with  this  belief,  the  union  of  the  Sky  peo 
ple  and  the  Earth  people  was  conceived  to  be  necessary  to  the  existence 
of  the  tribe.  There  was  a  teaching  preserved  among  the  old  men  that 
the  division  of  the  tribe  into  Inshta'cunda  and  Hon/gashenu  was  for 
marital  purposes— a  teaching  which  bears  out  the  mythic  symbolism 
of  these  two  divisions.  It  is  possible  that  this  symbolic  arrangement 
throws  light  on  the  force  which  made  possible  the  artificial  practice  of 
exogamy.  In  this  connection  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  of  the  mar 
riages  in  existence  among  the  Omaha  twenty-five  years  ago,  a  good 
majority  represented  the  union  between  members  of  gentes  belonging 
to  the  two  rather  than  to  one  of  these  grand  divisions.  And  it  is  also 
important  that,  amid  the  wreckage  of  the  ancient  tribal  organization 
at  the  present  time,  the  practice  of  exogamy  is  still  observed.  In 
short,  all  the  conditions  seem  to  show  that  the  custom  is  based  on 
fundamental  religious  ideas. 

The  duality  in  the  tribal  organization  was  further  represented  by 
two  principal  chiefs,  one  standing  for  the  Inshta'cunda  and  the  other 
for  the  Hon/gashenu.  There  were  also  two  tribal  pipes,  which  were 
always  kept  together  and  were  never  separated  in  any  ceremonial 
use.  Both  had  flat  stems;  one  was  ornamented  with  porcupine-quill 
work,  and  had  fastened  on  it  the  head  of  a  pileated  woodpecker,  with 
the  upper  mandible  turned  back  over  the  crest  of  the  bird.  The 
stem  of  the  other  pipe  was  plain,  but  had  bound  in  a  row  along  its 
length  seven  woodpeckers'  heads,  the  mandibles  turned  back  as  just 
described.  It  is  not  improbable  that  these  pipes  pertained  to  the 
fundamental  ideas  on  which  the  two  grand  divisions  of  the  tribe 
were  based;  but  which  pipe  belonged  to  the  Sky  people  and  was 
masculine,  and  which  to  the  Earth  people  and  was  feminine,  the 
writers  have  been  unable  to  learn. 

The  gens  a  was  called  in  the  Omaha  tongue,  ton'wongihon,  "village." 
The  same  term  was  applied  to  the  village  in  which  all  the  tribe  dwelt. 

"This  term  is  used  to  indicate  that  the  kinship  group  traced  descent  in  the  paternal  rather  than  the 
maternal  line. 

136  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

When  the  Omaha  visited  the  towns  and  cities  of  the  white  people, 
they  applied  to  these  Settlements  the  same  designation.  St.  Louis 
and  Wasliington  were  spoken  of  as  ton'wongihon.  To  distinguish  the 
village  signifying  the  gens,  from  the  village  in  which  the  tribe  dwelt 
the  name  of  the  stream  011  which  the  latter  was  situated  was  men 
tioned.  When  the  gens  was  spoken  of,  to  the  term  ton'wongthon  was 
added  uba'non,  which  means  a  group  of  a  kind  in  a  given  place. 
While  the  idea  of  relationship  is  not  directly  stated,  the  word  uba'non 
added  to  the  term  for  "village"  is  understood  to  indicate  a  village  of 
people  who  are  kindred,  of  one  kind,  between  whom  marriage  is 

The  question  "To  what  gens  do  you  belong?"  put  into  Omaha  and 
literally  translated,  would  be,  "In  which  of  the  various  (many) 
villag' 3  (of  the  tribe)  are  you  there  (have  you  a  place)?"  If  the 
questioner  belonged  to  the  Omaha  or  the  Ponca  tribe,  he  would  know 
the  names  of  the  gentes,  so  the  reply  would  be:  "Tapa',  there  I  am; " 
that  is,  "I  belong  to  the Tapa'  gens."  But  if  the  question  were  asked 
by  a  stranger,  a  member  of  a  different  tribe,  to  whom  the  names 
of  the  Omaha  gentes  were  unknown,  then  the  reply  would  indicate 
the  symbol  of  the  religious  rite  (the  tabu)  of  the  gens  of  the  person 
questioned,  and  he  might  say:  "I  am  a  buffalo  person"  or  an  "elk 
person."  The  reply  would  not  be  understood  to  mean  that  the 
man  thought  of  himself  as  a  buffalo  or  an  elk,  or  as  descended  from 
one,  but  as  belonging  to  a  group  which  had  charge  of  rites  in  which 
that  animal  was  used  as  a  symbol.  The  rites  thus  spoken  of  were 
designated  as  Ni'kie,a  and  in  them  all  the  people  had  a  claim,  although 
those  who  officiated  at  a  rite  were  confined  to  the  particular  gens 
which  had  charge  of  the  rite. 

It  wTas  the  duty  of  a  gens  having  charge  of  a  Ni'kie  rite  to  take 
care  of  the  symbols  and  paraphernalia  of  the  rite,  and  act  as  its  priests, 
so  to  speak;  but  the  claim  to  take  part  in  the  ceremony  was  not 
confined  to  the  gens  having  charge  of  the  rite,  for  the  people  of  the 
tribe  had  a  voice  in  it  and  a  share  in  its  benefits. 

Each  gens  had  its  distinctive  name.  Some  of  the  names,  as  has 
been  already  pointed  out,  occur  in  more  than  one  of  the  tribes  that 
are  close  cognates  of  the  Omaha.  These  duplicated  names  may  have 
been  names  of  gentes  in  the  parent  organization,  and  when  the 
Omaha  and  their  cognates  organized  as  distinct  tribes  the  remnants 
of  the  former  gens  may  have  clung  together  and  kept  their  old  rites 
and  name.  An  Omaha  gens,  however,  was  not  a  simple  but  a  com- 

"Ni'kie  is  compounded  from  ni'k  (from  ni'kashiya,  "people";  ie,  "words  or  speech").  From  ni'ka- 
shiga  is  also  derived  ni'kagahi,  "chief"  (ga'he,  "thrown  upon")— literally,  "those  upon  whom  the 
people  are  thrown"  or  "who  carry  the  people."  Ni'kie  signifies  a  declaration  by  the  people  or  their 
chiefs  of  consent  to  a  certain  proposition. 


posite  group,  made  up  of  subgentes  or  subdivisions  which  were  some 
times  called  ton'wongthonzhinga,  "little  villages,"  or  ton'wongthon  uga'pne, 
uga'pnemeemmg  "  that  which  is  split,"  and  implying  that  the  subdivision 
had  been  split  off,  although  it  still  kept  with  the  main  body.  Each  of 
the  subgentes  had  its  name,  its  rite,  which  was  of  the  Ni'kie  class, 
its  set  of  personal  names,  its  tabu,  and  its  place  when  the  gens  camped 
with  the  tribe  in  ceremonial  order.  A  subdivision  differed  from  a  sub- 
gens  in  not  having  a  distinctive  rite,  although  it  had  a  particular  office 
in  the  rite  belonging  to  the  gens.  A  subdivision  might  have  its  tabu, 
wliich  would  refer  to  its  duties  in  the  rite,  and  its  set  of  personal 
names,  but  it  was  bound  to  the  gens  by  a  common  rite  and  observed 
the  tabu  of  the  gens.  The  number  of  subgentes  or  subdivisions  in  a 
gens  does  not  seem  to  have  been  uniform.  The  common  bond  be 
tween  the  subgentes  of  a  gens  was  that  of  kinship,  traced  solely 
through  the  father.  Marriage  between  the  members  of  the  subgentes 
or  subdivisions  of  a  gens  was  forbidden.  When  a  person  was  asked 
where  he  belonged,  he  did  not  give  the  name  of  the  subgens  into 
which  he  was  born,  but  the  name  of  the  gens  of  wliich  his  birth  group 
was  a  part.  If  more  definite  information  was  desired,  then  he  would 
grve  the  name  of  his  subgens  or  subdivision.  The  gens  was  regarded 
as  paramount  to  the  subgentes  or  to  the  subdivisions,  as  it  contained 
them  all,  even  as  the  tribe  embraced  all  the  gentes  and  stood  as  one 

There  were  ten  gentes  in  the  tribe.  The  meaning  of  the  Omaha 
word  for  tribe,  uki'te,  has  already  been  discussed  (p.  35).  This  word 
is  distinct  in  meaning  from  Tiu'thuga,  the  term  used  to  designate  the 
form  or  order  in  which  the  tribal  organization  ceremonially  camped, 
in  which  each  one  of  the  villages,  or  gens,  had  its  definite  place. 
Hu'tJiuga  is  an  old  term  and  carries  the  idea  of  a  dwelling.  The 
order  of  camping  expressed  by  Jiu'thuga  was  used  when  the  tribe 
was  away  from  its  village  on  the  annual  buffalo  hunt.  This  hunt 
was  a  serious  occasion,  when  all  the  people  united  in  a  common  effort 
to  secure  a  supply  of  meat  and  pelts,  food  and  clothing,  for  them 
selves  and  for  their  children;  therefore  it  was  initiated  and  conducted 
with  religious  ceremonies.  The  people  were  placed  under  the  con 
trol  of  men  who  through  elaborate  and  sacred  rites  were  appointed 
for  the  direction  of  the  hunt,  and  to  these  appointed  men  all  persons, 
including  the  chiefs,  had  to  render  obedience.  It  was  while  on  this 
hunt  that  the  great  tribal  ceremonies  took  place,,  at  which  time  the 
people  camped  according  to  their  gentes  in  the  form  known  as 

This  form  was  circular,  with  an  opening  to  the  east,  which 
represented  the  door  of  a  dwelling.  "Through  it,"  the  old  men 
said,  "the  people  weftt  forth  in  quest  of  the  game,  and  through  it 

138  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

they  returned  with  their  supply  of  food,  as  one  enters  the  door  of 
one's  home.  The  warriors  passed  hence  to  defend  the  tribe  from  its 
foes,  and  here  they  were  welcomed  when  they  came  back."  The 
entrance  was  therefore  the  door  through  which  one  entered  into 
the  dwelling  place  of  the  tribe,  in  which  each  gens  had  its  place  as  had 
each  member  of  the  family  within  the  lodge.  There  are  indications 
that  the  hu'thuga  embodies  the  idea  of  the  union  of  the  forces  rep 
resented  in  the  fundamental  concept  upon  which  the  two  grand  divi 
sions  of  the  tribe  were  based.  The  opening  or  door  of  the  hu'thuga 
was  always  symbolically  to  the  east,  and  the  five  gentes  which 
composed  the  Inshta'cunda  division  (Sky  people)  always,  theoret 
ically,  formed  the  northern  half,  while  the  five  gentes  that  formed 
the  Hon/gashenu  division  (Earth  people)  in  theory  made  the  south 
ern  half.  The  literal  fact  is  that  the  opening  was  actually  toward 
the  east  only  when  the  tribal  ceremonies  took  place;  at  all  other 
times  it  faced  the  direction  toward  which  the  tribe  happened 
to  be  traveling,  but  the  order  of  the  gentes  was  always  as  it  would 
have  been  had  opening  faced  the  east.  This  was  effected  by  turn 
ing  the  tribal  circle  as  on  a  hinge  placed  opposite  the  eastern  opening, 
so  that  no  matter  in  which  direction  the  opening  actually  was,  the 
Inshta'cunda  and  Hon/gashenu  divisions  were  always  as  they  would 
have  been  had  opening  faced  the  east.  This  interesting  fact,  of  the 
carrying  out  of  a  symbolism  in  the  manner  of  pitching  the  tents 
of  the  tribe  on  the  wide  unbroken  prairie,  indicates  how  deeply 
rooted  in  the  minds  of  the  people  was  the  importance  of  the  funda 
mental  ideas  represented  in  the  Tiu'thuga — the  two  grand  divisions 
and  the  orientation  of  the  dwelling.  In  view  of  these  and  kindred 
ideas  connected  with  the  Tiu'thuga,  it  seems  probable  that  in  this 
form  we  are  dealing  with  a  symbol  rather  than  with  an  arrange 
ment  for  convenience  and  safety,  as  has  been  stated  by  some  writers. 
That  the  idea  of  safety  was  involved  in  the  form  of  the  hu'thuga  is 
probably  true,  but  the  dependence  for  safety  was  placed  in  the  help 
to  be  derived  through  the  recognition  of  cosmic  forces  and  religious 
observances  rather  than  in  an  advantageous  arrangement  of  tents 
made  in  order  to  protect  ponies  and  camp  equipage. 

When  an  orator  addressed  the  people  of  the  tribe  he  did  not  say: 
IIo!  Omaha!  but  Ho!  Inshta'punda,  Hon'gashenu  ti  agthon'Jcahon!  Ti 
agthon'kahon  means  "both  sides  of  the  house."  This  was  the  only 
form  of  speech  by  which  the  people  of  the  tribe  could  be  addressed 
collectively.  It  bears  out  the  meaning  of  the  hu'thuga  as  given  by 
the  old  men. 

The  hu'thuga  regarded  as  the  dwelling  of  the  entire  tribe  presented 
the  type  that  was  to  be  reproduced  in  the  dwelling  of  each  member 
of  the  tribe,  wherein  were  to  be  united  the  masculine  and  feminine 
forces  drawn  from  two  distinct  groups  or  regions,  a  union  symbolized 




in  the  liu'thuga  by  the  union  of  the  Earth  people  and  the  Sky  people. 
The  rending  of  the  natural  family  by  exogamy  seems  to  have  been 
demanded  in  order  to  typify  what  was  believed  to  be  a  cosmic  regula 
tion.  In  this  way  it  became  possible  to  interweave  the  split  parts  so 

FIG.  19.     Family  group.    The  parents  represent  both  sides  of  the  hu  thuga. 

as  to  bind  together  by  the  natural  tie  of  kinship  the  different  gentes 
composing  the  tribe.  This  tie  came  through  the  mothers  in  the  tribe. 
Descent  in  the  gens  was  traced  solely  through  the  father.  The 
fathers  held  the  gens  together~and  distinct  from  every  other  gens. 

140  THE    OMAHA    TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Through  the  father  the  child  inherited  his  name,  his  place,  and  his 
share  in  the  rites  of  his  gens;  but  it  was  through  his  mother  that 
his  kinship  relations  were  extended  beyond  his  birth  gens  and  that  he 
thus  became  conscious  of  being  a  part  of  a  great  kinship  community. 
(Fig.  19.) 

The  Ponca  tribe  does  not  present  a  clear  picture  of  those  ideas 
which  seem  to  have  been  fundamental  to  the  tribal  organization  of 
their  kindred,  the  Omaha;  and  yet  these  ideas  appear  to  have  been 
present  in  the  mind  of  the  people  when  they  organized  as  a  distinct 
tribe.  This  imperfect  form  may  have  given  rise  to  the  custom  of 
the  Omaha  of  designating  the  Ponca  as  "orphans." 

The  Ponca  camped  in  a  circle  with  the  opening  to  the  east  when 
the  gentes  were  in  ceremonial  order,  and  gave  to  this  form  the  same 
name  as  that  used  by  the  Omaha,  hu'thuga  (see  p.  42).  Each  gens 
of  the  Ponca  had  its  ni'kie  rites  and  its  ni'kie  names;  the  latter  were 
bestowed  during  ceremonies  similar  to  those  observed  among  the 

In  the  Ponca  tribal  circle  the  gentes  seem  to  be  grouped  according  to 
their  duties:  Those  to  the  south,  or  left,  of  the  eastern  opening,  were 
charged  with  the  care  of  rites  connected  with  the  Thunder  and  with 
warfare.  The  next  group  to  the  left  administered  the  rites  and 
ceremonies  which  pertained  to  the  government  of  the  people  and  to 
the  securing  of  food  and  clothing  by  means  of  the  annual  hunt.  The 
group  to  the  north,  or  right  of  the  entrance,  controlled  the  rites 
relating  to  ice  or  hail  (both  of  which  are  symbolically  connected 
with  the  upper  world)  and  to  the  serpent,  generally  symbolic  of  the 
lightning.  In  this  order,  as  in  a  shattered  mirror,  one  can  discern 
the  outlines  of  the  symbolic  picture  which  the  Omaha  organization 
also  so  distinctly  presents.  From  the  Ponca  tribe  taken  by  itself 
it  would  be  difficult  to  discern  the  presence  of  those  ideas  which  we 
have  seen  definitely  expressed  in  the  Omaha  tribe;  but  turning  from 
the  contemplation  of  the  Omaha  to  that  of  the  Ponca,  one  is  able  to 
recognize  these  ideas  in  the  fragmentary  order  which  obtained  among 
the  latter. 

The  Ponca  as  well  as  the  Omaha  regarded  all  life  and  the  preser 
vation  of  all  forms  as  the  result  of  the  union  of  the  sky  and  the  earth 
forces,  and  believed  the  combining  of  these  two  opposite  and  differen 
tiated  cosmic  powers  symbolically  set  forth  to  man  a  law  he  must 
obey,  a  course  he  must  follow,  if  he  would  secure  the  continuation  of 
Tiis  own  life  and  the  perpetuation  of  his  tribe— a  law  which  made 
exogamy  a  practical  expression  of  this  belief. 

In  the  Osage  tribe,  which  seems  to  be  an  agglomeration,  we  find 
the  same  ideas  fundamental  to  the  tribal  organization,  but  certain 
conditions  have  tended  to  modify  their  expression. 

The  Osage  were  divided  into  two  great  divisions.  One  of  these 
was  composed  of  three  kinship  groups  which  shifted  their  relative 
positions  in  accordance  with  the  rite  or  duties  to  be  performed.  The 


other  division  was  made  up  of  two  kinship  groups  which  never 
changed  their  positions  with  respect  to  each  other  or  to  the  other 
division  of  the  tribal  circle  (see  p.  58).  These  two  unchangeable 
groups  camped  on  the  north,  or  to  the  right  of  the  eastern  entrance. 
They  represented  the  ideas  which  were  symbolized  in  the  Omaha 
Inshta'cunda  half,  the  Sky  people;  while  the  other  three,  which 
camped  to  the  left  of  the  eastern  entrance,  in  both  position  and 
duties  resembled  the  Hon'gashenu  division  of  the  Omaha  tribe,  arid 
were  the  Earth  people,  on  whom  devolved  the  care  of  the  material 
welfare  of  the  tribe.  Here,  again,  we  find  the  tribal  order  standing 
for  the  union  of  sky  and  earth,  the  masculine  and  feminine  forces 
from  whose  union  all  living  things  arise. 

The  Kansa  and  Quapaw  tribes  also  were  divided  into  two  parts 
each,  and  from  the  fragmentary  information  obtainable  they  seem 
to  have  embodied  the  same  ideas  as  those  found  among  their  kin 
dred  tribes;  so  that  it  would  appear  to  be  fairly  well  established 
that  the  ideas  and  beliefs  which  a  study  of  the  Omaha  tribe  shows 
were  fundamental  to  the  organization  of  that  tribe  were  basic  also 
in  their  close  cognates,  the  Ponca,  Osage,  Kansa,  and  Quapaw;  and 
further  research  may  show  that  these  ideas  were  a  common  and 
formative  power  in  other  tribes  of  the  Siouan  linguistic  stock. 



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

2.  I^KE'gABE.  Subgentes:  (a)  Nini'bato";  (b)  Wathi'gizhe.  3.  HOX/GA.  Subgentes:  (a)  Wax- 
the'xeto°;  (6)  Washa'beto".  4.  THA'TADA.  Subdivisions:  (a')  XuTca;  (a)  Waca'be  itazhi;  (6)  Wa- 
zhi°'ga  itazhi;  (c)  Ke'i";  (d)  Te'pa  itazhi.  5.  KoN'fE.  Subgentes:  (a)  Tade'tada;  (6)  Nini'baton. 

6.  MON'THINKAGAXE.     Subdivisions:    (a)    Xu'be;    (6)     Mi'ka?!;    (c)    Mi'xacos     (d)     NiniTmtO". 

7.  TECIN'DE.    Subdivisions:  (a)   Te?i°'de;    (6)  Nini'bato".    8.  TAPA'.    Subdivisions:   (a)  Tapa'xte; 
(6)  Thunder  rites;  (c)  Star  rites;    (d)  Nini'bato<>.    9.  INGTHE'ZHIDE.    No  subdivisions.    10.  INSHTA'- 
5UNDA.    Subgens:  (a)  Lost  gens;  (b)  Nini'bato";  (c)  Washe'to".    11.  Sacred  Tent  of  War.    12.  Tent 
of  Sacred  Pole.    13.  Tent  of  Sacred  White  Buffalo  Hide. 

142  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 




The  We'zhinshte  gens  camped  on  the  left  of  the  entrance  into  the 
hu'ihuga.  The  name  is  descriptive,  being  composed  of  we,  "by 
whom,"  and  zliinshte,  an  abbreviation  of  wazliin'slite,  "to  become 
angry."  The  meaning  of  the  term  We/zhinshte  may  be  denned  as 
those  through  whom  the  tribe  made  known  its  displeasure  or  anger, 
because  of  some  injurious  act  by  another  tribe.  The  Sacred  Tent  of 
War(l  1)  was  set  in  front  of  the  line  of  tents  belonging  to  the  We'zhinshte 
gens  and  was  in  the  keeping  of  this  gens,  together  with  the  parapher 
nalia  of  the  rites  pertaining  to  war  and  to  Thunder.  When  any  ques 
tion  arose  as  to  the  policy  to  be  pursued  in  dealing  with  another  tribe 
the  members  of  which  had  committed  acts  of  hostility,  such  as  killing 
Omaha  or  stealing  their  horses  or  carrying  away  by  force  women  of 
the  tribe,  it  was  the  duty  of  the  keeper  of  the  Tent  of  War  to  call  the 
Seven  Chiefs  and  the  leading  men  of  the  gens  to  a  council.  At  this 
council  the  We'zhinshte  presided.  The  Sacred  Pipe  of  the  Tent  of  War 
was  filled  by  the  keeper  of  the  Tent  and  when,  after  due  deliberation 
on  the  action  to  be  taken,  a  decision  was  reached,  the  Seven  Chiefs 
smoked  this  Pipe.  This  was  a  religious  act  and  through  it  the 
decision  became  sanctified.  Then  the  herald  of  the  We'zhinshte  pro 
claimed  to  the  tribe  the  decision  of  the  chiefs.  If  war  was  deter 
mined  upon,  the  organization  of  volunteer  war  parties  generally 
followed  this  authorization. 

The  keeper  of  the  Tent  of  War  and  the  leaders  of  this  gens  officiated 
at  the  ceremony  of  Wate'gictu,  when  certain  prescribed  honors  were 
publicly  bestowed  on  successful  warriors  for  acts  performed  in 
authorized  offensive  warfare  or  in  battles  fought  in  defense  of  the 
camp  or  permanent  village.  It  was  also  the  duty  of  this  gens  when 
the  tribe  was  on  its  annual  buffalo  hunt,  to  organize  in  response  to  an 
order  from  the  Seven  Chiefs  a  corps  of  scouts  to  spy  the  country  on 
the  discovery  of  signs  of  danger. 

Rites  pertaining  to  Thunder  were  also  in  charge  of  this  gens. 
These  were  observed  when  the  first  thunder  was  heard  in  the  spring. 
This  thunder-peal  was  regarded  as  a  signal  of  the  awakening  of 
certain  life-giving  forces  after  the  sleep  of  the  winter.  In  former  days 
a  ceremony  took  place  at  this  time  with  song  and  ritual  in  which  the 
Waca'be  itazhi  (black  bear)  subgens  of  the  Tha'tada  gens  joined 
with  the  We'zhinshte  gens.  It  has  been  impossible  to  obtain  a  trust 
worthy  account  of  this  ancient  ceremony,  owing  to  the  death  of  the 

a  This  and  similar  references  throughout  this  section  are  to  be  read  in  connection  with  figure  20. 


men  who  knew  the  rites.  During  severe  thunder  storms,  when  life 
and  property  were  in  danger  from  lightning,  sometimes  a  song  said 
to  have  been  connected  with  this  lost  ceremony  was  sung  by  one 
who  had  a  right  to  do  so. 

The  following  act  of  the  keeper  of  the  Tent  of  War  (see  fig.  22)  may 
have  been  a  part  of  this  lost  ceremony:  When  the  first  thunder 
sounded,  he  at  once  took  a  small  pipe  and  ascended  a  hill  near  bv, 
where  he  offered  smoke  to  Wakon/da.  He  then  planted  a  small  wand 
(fig.  21)  on  the  hill  so  as  to  point  toward  the  east.  To  this  wand 
were  bound  with  human  hair  four  small  bunches  of  tobacco  inclosed 
in  bits  of  bladder.  The  combination  of  tobacco,  bladder,  and  human 

FIG.  21.     Wand  used  in  ceremony  when  first  thunder  was  hsard  in  the  spring.    (Native  drawing.) 

hair  on  the  wand  seems  to  indicate  that  this  act  and  lost  ceremony 
probably  related  to  Thunder  as  the  arbiter  of  life  and  death,  as  is 
shown  in  the  ceremony  of  cutting  the  lock  of  hair  from  the  head  of  the 
boy.  (Seep.  122.) 

The  tabu  of  the  We/zhinshte  was  the  male  elk,  and  the  gens  was 
sometimes  spoken  of  as  the  Elk  gens;  this  form  of  speech  with  refer 
ence  to  the  tabu  of  a  gens  has  already  been  explained  (see  p.  136). 
Concerning  the  connection  of  the  male  elk  with  the  rites  of  the  gens 
the  following  story  is  handed  down : 

When  the  pipes  and  the  other  articles  belonging  to  the  rites  pertaining  to  war  were 
made,  the  people  sought  for  some  skin  to  be  used  as  a  covering  in  which  to  keep  and 
protect  these  things  which  were  regarded  as  waxube,  or  sacred;  but  none  could  be 
found  save  that  of  the  male  elk.  The  fact  that  at  that  particular  time  only  the  skin 
of  the  male  elk  was  obtainable  was  regarded  as  an  indication  that  the  male  elk  came 
to  their  aid  by  direction  of  Wakon/da.  Therefore,  in  memory  of  this  act  of  the  male 
elk,  this  animal  became  tabu  to  the  gens. 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

No  member  of  the  We'zhinshte  gens  would  eat  the  flesh  of  the 
male  elk  or  wear  moccasins  made  of  its  skin,  such  acts  being  con 
sidered  sacrilegious  on  account  of  the  service  believed  to  have 
been  rendered  the  people  by  that  animal.  At  death  moccasins  made 
of  the  skin  of  the  male  elk  were  put  on  the  feet  of  the  departed 
We'zhinshte,  that  he  might  be  recognized  by  his  gentile  relatives  in 
the  other  world.  The  boy  name  Nuga'xti,  "the  real  male/'  refers 
directly  to  the  tabu  of  the  gens. 

FIG.  22.    Mo"'hinthinge,  last  keeper  of  the  Tent  of  War,  and  his  daughter. 

Any  violation  of  the  tabu  of  a  gens  was  regarded  by  the  people  as 
a  sacrilegious  act,  the  punishment  of  which  took  the  form  of  the 
appearance  of  sores  or  white  spots  on  the  body  of  the  offender  or  of 
the  hair  turning  white. 

There  were  no  subdivisions  in  this  gens. 

The  following  are  the  names  belonging  to  the  We'zhinshte  gens. 
They  are  classified  as  ni'~kie,  " dream,"  "fanciful,"  and  "borrowed" 
names,  and  nicknames.  The  word  ni'kie  has  been  already  translated 
and  explained  (see  p.  136);  as  stated,  a  ni'kie  name  always  referred 
to  the  rites  and  tabu  of  the  gens.  These  names  were  bestowed  on 
the  child  at  the  time  the  rite  of  initiation  into  the  tribe  was  per 
formed.  (See  p.  121.)  The  name  then  given  generally  clung  more  or 
less  closely  to  a  man,  although  later  in  his  career  he  might  take 
another  name,  either  a  ni'kie  name  or  one  commemorative  of  a 
dream,  a  deed,  or  an  event,  or  he  might  have  a  nickname  bestowed 





on  him.  All  female  names  were  of  the  ni'kie  class  and  were  never 
dropped  or  changed,  nor  did  a  woman  ever  have  more  than  one  name. 
After  the  performance  of  the  initiatory  rite  and 
bestowal  of  theni'kie  name,  thefather  cut  his  child's 
hair  in  the  manner  which  symbolized  the  tabu  of 
his  gens.  This  cutting  of  the  hair  was  repeated 
every  year  until  the  child  was  about  7  years  old, 
when  it  was  abandoned,  never  to  be  resumed. 

In  the  We'zhinshte  gens,  the  symbolic  cut  of  the 
child's  hair  was  as  follows :  All  the  hair  on  the  boy's 

FIG.  23,  cut  of  hair,  we'-    head  was  cut  close  or  shaved  except  a  bunch  or 
tuft  at  the  forehead  and  a  long,  thick  lock  left  at 
the  nape  of  the  neck  (fig.  23).     The  tuft  represented  the  head  of  the 
elk;  the  lock,  its  tail. 


Ni'kie  names 

Ane/gontha An-e' '.  success;  gon/tha,  desire. 

Bincextigthe Binge',  sound  of  the  elk's  voice;  tigthe,  heard  at  a  distance. 

Bthonti/ Bthon,  smell,  scent;  ti,  comes.  Scent  borne  by  wind,  dis 
covering  game.  (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 

Qexconcnede pe'qon,  from  <p'qaqa,  trot;  piede,  long.     Refers  to  elk. 

Qin/dedonpa Qin'de,  tail;  donpa,  blunt,  short.  (In  Monkon/  subdivision, 

Pon/caxti,  Ponca.)  Refers  to  the  elk. 

HeVthinlce Hefqi,  yellow  horn  or  antler;  ihinke,  sitting.  Refers  to  the 

yellowish  color  of  the  velvety  skin  of  the  new  growth  of 
the  antlers  of  the  elk.  (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Hexconton He,  antler;  fo»,  white;  ton,  standing.  Refers  to  the  tower 
ing  antlers  of  an  elk. 

Hexshabe He,  antler;  shabe,  dark. 

Hexshtonga He,  horn,  or  antlers;  shtonga,  soft.  Two  of  this  name. 

Refers  to  the  new  growth  of  the  antlers  of  the  elk. 

In/gthunhongasha In'gthun,  thunder;  hon,  night;  agasha,  to  travel.  Refers  to 

Sacred  Pipe  of  War. 

In/gthuntha In'gthun,  thunder;  tha,  from  the,  to  go.  Refers  to  Sacred  Pipe 

of  War. 

Kixbaxthagthithon Ki'baxtha,  to  face;  gthi,  return;  thon,  suddenly;  to  turn  and 

face  suddenly  (elk).  The  elk  suddenly  brought  to  bay 
by  the  hunter. 

Kuxkuwinxe Turning  round  and  round.  Refers  to  a  bewildered  elk  when 


Kuxwinxaxa Turning  round  in  bewilderment  (elk). 

Mon/geshabe Mon/ge,  breast;  shabe,  dark.  Refers  to  the  dark  coloring  of 

the  breast  of  the  animal. 

Monxhinthinge  (fig.  22). .    Mon'hin,  stone  knife;  thinge,  none. 

Nonmon/montha Non,  action  with  the  feet;  monatha,  walking  with  the  head 

thrown  back.  The  repetition  of  mon  signifies  that  the 
action  is  repeated.  Refers  to  the  peculiar  manner  in 
which  the  elk  holds  its  head  in  walking. 

Nugaxxti  (pi.  24) Nuga' ',  male;  xti,  real,  virile.     (In  Pon/caxti,  Ponca.) 

OnXpon Elk. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 10 

146  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

On/poncka Onpon,  elk;  (;ka,  white.  The  Ponca  have  Qn'ponqabe. 

(Hi'qada  gens.) 

On/ponnonzhin On'pon^  elk;  no^zhin,  standing.  The  Ponca  use  the  Dakota 


On/pontonga On/pon,  elk;  tonga,  big.  Appears  in  Omaha  treaties  of  1815, 

1826,  1830,  1836.  (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

On/ponzhi"ga Young  elk.     (In  Pon/cazti,  Ponca.) 

Shi'beko" Shi'be,  intestines;  kon,  a  string.  Refers  to  the  intestine  of 

the  wolf  used  as  a  string  in  the  Honor  Pack,  Tent  of  War. 

Tahe/zhonka Ta  refers  to  deer;  he,  horn;  zho^ka,  forked. 

Wakon/dagi A  mythical  being;  a  monster. 

Xaga'monthin Xaga',  rough;  monthin,  walking.  Refers  to  the  jagged  out 
line  of  a  herd  of  elk,  their  antlers  rising  like  tree  branches. 
Borrowed  names 

Hexa/gatonga Big  male  elk.     Archaic  with  Omaha;  used  by  Dakota. 

Hi'daha Meaning  unknown. 

Fanciful  names 

Inshta'monce Metal  eye. 

Waxbadondon Meaning  unce/tain. 

Wexbthonaji Not  satisfied  although  he  has  many  things. 

Valor  name 
We^h^shtewashushe.  .   Brave  AVe'zh^shte. 

Female  'names 

Aye'xube Ape',  paint;  xube,  sacred.  Three  of  this  name.  Refers  to 

the  paint  used  at  sacred  ceremonies.  (InWazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Qin/dewin Qinde,  tail;  win,  feminine  term.     Three  of  this  name. 

Maxzhonwin Ma'zhon,  fox;  win,  feminine  term. 

Mi'dashoMlri" The  moon  moving. 

Mixgashonthin The  moon  moving.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Ni'dawi" Ni'da,  mysterious  animal;  feminine  term,  win.  Three  of 

this  name. 

Nonce/ince Meaning  uncertain.  (In  Wazha'zhe,  Thi'xida,  and  Hi'qada, 


On/ponmiga Female  elk. 

Pahixci Pahi',  hair  on  the  head  (elk);  fi,  yellow. 

Tacaxbewin Ta,  deer;  f-abe,  black;  win,  feminine  term.  Five  of  this 

name.  (In  Wa'zhazhe,  Ponca.) 

Wihe/tonga Wihe,  younger  sister;  tonga,  big.  (In  Washa'be  and  Wazha' 
zhe,  Ponca.) 

Zhon/inwathe Zhonin,  carry  wood;  ivathe,  to  cause.  Two  of  this  name.  (In 

Hi'qada  and  Pon'yixti,  Ponca.) 


The  Inke'$abe  camped  next  to  the  We'zhinshte  on  the  left.  InTce'- 
pabe  is  an  archaic  word  of  doubtful  meaning.  It  may  refer  to  the 
black  shoulder  of  the  buffalo  (inke,  an  abbreviation  of  inTce'de, 
"shoulder;"  pabe,  "black").  From  the  myths  and  traditions  it  would 
seem  that  the  leadership  accorded  to  this  gens  during  certain  move 
ments  of  the  people  when  engaged  in  the  actual  pursuit  of  the  buffalo 
on  the  annual  tribal  hunt  began  at  an  early  period  when  the  people 
took  up  the  custom  of  following  the  buffalo.  The  particular  authority 





and  leadership  vested  in  this  gens  were  regarded  not  only  as  sacred 
but  as  absolutely  necessary,  so  much  so  that  it  was  said:  "If  the  last 
Inke'cabe  was  an  infant  in  its  mother's  arms  it  would  be  carried  to 
lead  the  people  in  the  wanon'pe"  (the  surround  of  the  herd).  This 
ancient  and  hereditary  office  came  to  an  end  at  the  last  buffalo  hunt 
in  the  winter  of  1875-76,  with  Inshta'thabi,  "He  who  is  eyes"  (for 
the  people).  At  that  time  he  served  as  director  or  leader  of  the  sur 
round,  and  was  the  last  waihon'  of  the  wanon'fe.  (PI.  25.) 

The  following  legend  is  said  to  have  given  rise  to  a  series  of  names 
in  this  gens: 

The  buffalo  were  underground.  A  young  bull  browsing  about  found  his  way  to  the 
surface  of  the  earth.  [This  is  a  figurative  expression  referring  to  the  birth  of  the 
species  buffalo  from  mother  earth.]  The  herd  followed  him.  As  they  went  they  came 
to  a  river.  The  water  looked  shallow,  but  it  was  deep.  As  the  buffalo  jumped  in, 
the  water  splashed  and  looked  gray  in  the  air.  The  herd  swam  on  and  over  the  stream, 
where  on  the  other  side  they  found  good  pasture  and  remained  on  the  earth. 

The  name  Niga'xude  refers  to  this  experience  of  the  new-born 
buffalo ;  the  word  is  compounded  of  ni,  "  water ; ' '  ga,  "  to  strike ;' '  xude, 
"gray."  Niga'xude  was  the  name  given  to  the  first  born  son.  The 
second  son  could  be  called  either  Heba'zhu,  "knob  horns,"  referring 
to  the  protuberances  on  the  head  of  the  calf,  or  Gthadin'gthithon, 
"  the  hungry  calf  running  crosswise  in  front  of  its  mother  and  stop 
ping  her  progress."  The  third  son  could  be  named  (pikon'xega, 
"brown  ankles,"  the  color  of  the  ankles  of  the  buffalo  calf.  When 
these  boys  became  adults,  the  eldest  could  take  the  name  Pe'thonba, 
"  seven;"  the  second  could  have  Mon'getonga,  "big  chest;"  the  third, 
Nonzhi/hatonga,  "big  hair."  When  these  men  became  old,  they 
could  take  the  following  names:  The  eldest,  He'ubagthonde,  "worn 
horns  of  the  old  buffalo  bull;"  the  next,  Mone'gahi,  "arrow  chief;" 
and  the  youngest,  Monzhon/wakithe,  "land  of  the  buffalo." 

The  Inke'cabe  had  two  subgentes,  Nini'bato11  and  Wathi'gizhe. 

(a)  Nini'batoD  (nirii'ba,  "pipe;"  ton,  "to  possess  or  keep").  The 
following  fragmentary  legend  is  connected  with  this  subgens  and  its 
tabu,  the  red  ear  of  corn: 

The  Inkex5abe  were  the  first  of  the  Omaha  to  exist.  There  were  one  man  and  one 
woman.  They  lived  together  and  children  were  born  to  them.  The  woman  went 
out  one  day  and  found  little  mounds  on  the  ground.  In  a  few  days  she  went  again, 
and  saw  that  out  of  the  mounds  plants  were  growing  not  known  to  her.  From  time  to 
time  she  went  to  look  at  these  plants.  They  grew  tall,  and  by  and  by  ears  grew  on 
them.  These  she  gathered  and  took  to  her  husband  and  children.  They  roasted  the, 
ears  by  the  fire  and  ate  them.  These  were  the  people  to  whom  the  corn  was  sacred; 
so  to  this  day  they  do  not  eat  the  red  ear  of  corn. 

It  was  the  duty  of  this  subgens  to  provide  the  ears  of  red  corn, 
which  were  considered  the  sacred  corn,  and  to  give  them  to  the 
Hon'gaxti  division  of  the  Washa'beto"  subgens  of  the  Hon/ga. 
When  the  time  for  planting  arrived,  the  ceremonial  distribution  of  this 
sacred  corn  took  place.  The  Hoa/gaxti  sang  the  ritual  of  the  maize 

148  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

and  then  gave  the  sacred  kernels  to  this  subgens,  who  acted  as  servers 
and  distributed  four  of  the  kernels  to  each  family  in  the  tribe. 

To  a  family  within  this  subgens  was  given  the  hereditary  charge  of 
the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes.  In  this  connection  it  is  noteworthy  that  the 
custodianship  of  these  Sacred  Pipes  was  bestowed  on  those  to  whom 
belonged  rites  in  connection  with  the  cultivation  of  the  maize,  whose 
tabu  was  the  sacred  corn.  This  indicates  that  the  group  who  con 
trolled  the  rites  of  the  maize  were  regarded  as  the  proper  persons  to 
have  the  care  of  the  symbol  of  tribal  authority  because  of  their  con 
nection  with  ancient  sacred  rites  which  secured  food  for  the  people. 
The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  of  the  children  of  this  subgens  was 
peculiar.  All  hair  was  cut  off  the  head  except  two  small  bunches, 
one  on  each  side  of  the  crown  (fig.  24).  This  style  was  observed  in  all 
the  Nini'bato11  subdivisions  of  the  other  gentes  of  the  tribe.  These 
two  little  tufts  of  hair  may  refer  to  the  little  mounds,  spoken  of  in 
the  legend,  from  which  the  corn  grew. 

There  were  two  subdivisions  of  the  Nini'bato11  subgens,  the  Nonxthe'- 
bitube  and  the  I'ekithe.  To  the  first  was  given  the  hereditary  right 
to  prepare  the  paint  for  the  decoration  of  the  pole 
used  in  the  He'dewachi  ceremony.  The  name  Non- 
xthe'bitube  was  descriptive  of  their  duty  (nonxthe, 
" charred  box  elder  wood;"  bitu'be,  "to  pulverize 
by  rubbing").  This  group  not  only  observed  the 
tabu  of  their  subgens,  the  red  ear  of  corn,  but  had 
an  additional  tabu,  the  charcoal,  which  referred  to 
their  office  of  painting  the  Pole  and  preparing  the 
FiG.24.  cutofhair.Nmi'-  paint  for  the  ceremony.  As  the  painting  on  the 

bato"  subgens.  -,->    ,  ,     ,.       .  ,.    .  .         , 

role  was  symbolic,  it  was  religious  in  character. 

I'ekithe  signifies  " he  who  speaks  or  proclaims."  The  hereditary 
office  of  tribal  herald  belonged  to  this  subdivision.  The  herald  had  to 
have  a  strong,  clear  voice,  as  his  duty  was  to  proclaim  the  decisions 
of  the  chiefs  and  to  give  out  orders  to  the  people  when  the  tribe  was 
on  its  annual  hunt.  If  by  any  chance  the  official  herald  was  inca 
pacitated,  his  substitute  had  to  be  chosen  from  the  same  subdivision. 
The  Fekithe  observed  the  tabu  of  the  subgens  to  which  they  belonged, 
the  red  ear  of  corn. 

(6)  Wathi'gizhe.  The  name  of  this  subgens  was  also  the  name  of  the 
hoop  used  in  a  ceremonial  game  which,  it  is  said,  was  formerly  played 
by  the  chiefs  alone,  and  was  connected  with  the  following  story,  which 
belongs  to  the  class  designated  hi'gon,  a  word  meaning  "the  story 
is  not  literally  true:" 

The  people  were  without  food,  and  no  game  could  be  found  to  keep  the  people  from 
starving.  Outside  the  village  lived  an  orphan  boy  with  his  grandmother,  and  these 
two  consulted  together  as  to  how  they  could  help  the  people  to  procure 'food.  At 
last  they  agreed  upon  a  plan,  and  the  boy  set  to  work  and  made  a  hoop.  After  it  was 
made  he  gave  it  to  his  grandmother,  and  according  to  their  plan  she  took  it  to  the  top 


of  a  hill  near  by  while  the  boy  stationed  himself  halfway  up  the  hill.  When  all  was 
ready,  the  grandmother  started  the  hoop  down  the  hill.  As  it  began  to  roll  she 
called  out:  "There  goes  a  young  bull  with  straight  horns !"  The  hoop  rolled  on  and 
when  it  reached  the  place  where  the  boy  stood  it  suddenly  turned  into  a  buffalo, 
which  the  boy  shot  and  killed.  He  butchered  the  animal  and  gave  the  flesh  to  the 
people  to  eat.  A  second  time  the  grandmother  took  the  hoop  to  the  top  of  the  hill  and 
rolled  it  down  and  called  out  to  her  grandson  what  kind  of  buffalo  was  coming.  He 
was  at  his  station  halfway  down  the  hill,  and  there  the  hoop  turned  into  a  buftalo, 
which  he  shot  and  gave  to  the  people  for  food.  A  third  and  a  fourth  time  the  grand 
mother  and  the  orphan  played  this  game,  and  after  the  fourth  time  great  herds  ot 
buffalo  came  and  the  people  had  plenty  of  food.  As  a  mark  of  their  gratitude  they 
made  the  orphan  a  Chief. 

The  office  of  wathon/,  director  of  the  wanon'pe,  the  surround  of  the 
herd,  was  hereditary  in  a  family  of  this  subgens.  The  custody  of 
the  songs  belonging  to  the  He'dewachi  ceremony  and  the  singers 
in  this  tribal  ceremony  were  taken  from  this  subgens.  The  bearers  of 
the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  used  on  that  occasion  were  of  the  Xini'bato11 

The  tabu  of  the  Wathi'gizhe  was  the  tongue  and  head  of  the  buffalo. 

The  Wathi'gizhe  cut  off  all  the  hair  from  the     

child's  head  except  a  tuft  over  the  forehead,  one 
on  each  side  of  the  crown,  and  a  short  lock  at  the 
riape  of  the  neck,  to  represent  respectively  the 
head,  horns,  and  tail  of  the  buffalo  (fig.  25). 

In  the  Jiu'thuga,  the  Nini'baton  subgens  camped 
next  to  the  We'zhinshte.  The  left  part  of  the  line 
of  the  Nini'baton  was  occupied  by  the  subdivi- 

sion  of   the   Nonxthe'bitube   families.      On    their     FIG.  25.  cut  of  hair,  wa- 

left  camped  the  Wathi'gizhe  subgens,  and  left  of 

these  and  next  the  Hon/ga  the  subdivision  of  I'ekithe  pitched  their 


PERSONAL' NAMES    IN    THE    ^KE'fABE    GENS  (2) 

Nini'baton  subgens  (a) 
Ni'kie  names 

Athu/hagemonthin Athu'hage,  last;  monthin,  walking.     Refers  to  buffalo. 

Chon/niniba Chon,  said  to  be  tonthinnonba  and  to  refer  to  the  pipe- 
bearer  at  the  He'dewachi  ceremony;  niniba,  pipe. 

Cihi'duba £ihi',  feet;  duba,  four. 

Ediaxinonzhin Edi,  there;  ai  an  act;  the  name  given  the  last  ceremonial 

pause  when  approaching  a  herd;  nonzhin}  standing. 

Edi'to" From  that  place;  referring  to  the  place  of  the  pipes. 

Gahi'ge Chief.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ili'qada  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Gahixgeynede Tall  chief. 

Gahi'gexti Real  chief. 

Gahi/gezhinga Young  chief .     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Gaxa'tanouzhin Gaxa'ta,  apart  from  (the  herd);  nonzhin,  stands. 

Ginon/xthe Gi,  again;  nonxthe,  black,  like  charcoal.  Refers  to  the  new 

hair  of  the  buffalo  after  shedding. 

Gion/sethinge Gion'qe,  to  teach;  thinge,  none.     None  to  teach  him. 

150  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Gthadin/gthithon Gthadin/,  cross;  gthi,  returns;  thon,  suddenly.  The  hungry 

calf  runs  in  front  of  its  mother  and  stops  her  progress. 

He/akathinge Meaning  uncertain. 

Heba'zhu He,  horns;  ba'zhu,  little  knobs. 

He'benika He'be,  a  portion;  nika,  a  person. 

He'ubagthoMe The  worn  horns  of  an  old  buffalo. 

Inshta'pede Inshta' ',  eyes;  pede,  fire.     (Also  in  I'ekithe  subdivision.) 

F'uhe /,  from  ie,  speech;  'uhe,  obey.  Refers  to  the  performance 

by  the  people  of  the  commands  of  the  chiefs,  or  the  sub 
mission  to  their  authority. 

Ki'kontonga Curlew.     (Numenius  longirostris.     Hudsonian.) 

Mone/gahi Mo^e,  arrow;  gahi,  from  gahi'ge,  chief.  (In  Waqa'be,  Hi'qada 

subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Mon/getonga Mon/ge,  breast;  tonga,  big. 

Monzhon/gabthon Monzhon' ',  land ;  gabthon,  scent  remains. 

Monzhon/wakithe Land  of  the  buffalo. 

Na'gu Meaning  uncertain. 

Ni'ashiga A  person.  Refers  to  those  who  were  chiefs  in  the  organiza 
tion  of  the  tribal  government. 

Niga'xude Ni,  water;  ga,  to  strike;  xude,  gray.  Refers  to  animals  stirring 

up  the  water. 

Niu'bathide ATi,  water;  u'bathide,  overrun,  swarm.  Refers  to  masses  of 

buffalo  swimming. 

Nonba't'ewathe Nonba/,  two;  t'e,  dead;  wathe,  to  cause. 

Nonixca Swaying  motion,  as  made  by  buffalo  walking. 

Non/kaethonbe Non/ca,  back;  ethonbe,  appears. 

Nonzhi/hatonga Nonzhi'ha,  hair;  tonga,  great. 

Pahon/gamonthi" Pahon/ga,  first;  monthin,  walking.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Pe'thonba Seven.     Refers  to  the  seven  original  chiefs. 

Sha'genonba Sha'ge,  hoofs;  nonba,  two:  cloven  hoofs. 

She/thugthito" She'thu,  there;  gthi,  returns;  ton,  stands. 

Ta'hesha Meaning  lost. 

Tecon/ho"ga Tegon/,  white  buffalo;  honga,  leader;  used  also  in  the  Dakota. 

Te50n/monthin Tegon/,  white  buffalo;  monthin,  walking. 

Tenua/xanonzhin Te,  buffalo;  nu,  from  nuga,  bull;  axa,  from  gaxa'ta,  apart 

from;  no^zhin,  stand. 

Ti'zhebegtho" Door  flap.     In  Omaha  treaty  of  1825. 

'Ton/thinnonba The  two  who  run. 

Uga'e Spread  out.     (The  herd  as  it  runs  spreads  out.) 

Ugthi'to" Refers  to  handling  the  pipes  when  making  them  ready  for  use. 

Uxnizhabi Meaning  uncertain. 

Utha/xadongthe Meaning  uncertain. 

Uthi/.«honmonthin Walking  around. 

Wadaxthinga Refers  to  the  peaceful  office  of  the  chief.  (In  Thi'xida, 


\Yaki7de Wa,  action;  ki'de,  to  shoot.     One  who  shoots. 

\Yazhi n/texi Wazhin/,  will,  disposition;  texi,  difficult.  Refers  to  office  of 

the  chiefs.  Anger  is  made  difficult  because  of  the  Seven 
Chiefs,  who  must  enforce  peace  in  the  tribe. 

Xitha/wahi Xitha' ,  eagle;  wahi,  bone.  Refers  to  pipe.  Not  liked,  as 

children  of  this  name  are  apt  to  die. 

Borrowed  names 

Ish/kadabi Borrowed  from  the  Kansa  gens  in  the  eighteenth  century. 

Pudextha Meaning  unknown.     (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 




Fanciful  names 

Taxie/wathezhinga Taxi,  knocking  sound;  wathe,  to  cause;  zhfrga,  little. 

Uxkica Empty  lodge,  or  country. 

Ukonaxdigthon Ukona'di,  separate,  alone;  gthon,  from  gthin,  sits. 

Female  names 

^Ii/tonin New  moon. 

Pon/cayon Pale  Ponca. 

Tewa'u Te,  buffalo;  wa'u,  woman. 

Ton/ingi New  moon  coming. 

FIG.  21).     Du'bamonthi". 
Nonxthefbitube  subdivision 

Male  names 

Cicixkazhinga Little  turkey. 

Gashka'wongthe Meaning  uncertain. 

Tahexzhinga Little  buffalo  horns. 

Wathi'gizhe  subgens  (b) 
Ni'kie  names 

Bacon/nonge Baqon/,  in  the  midst  of  bushes  or  people;  nonge,  to  run. 

Qikon/xega Qikon,  ankles;  xega,  yellowish  brown.     Refers  to  the  buffalo 

calf.     (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca).     Two  of  this  name. 

Du/bamonthin  (fig.  2(i).   Du'ba,  four;  monthi™,  walking.     (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca) 
Ginon/zhi "wathe Gi,  again;  nonzhin,  to  rise,  to  stand;  wathe,  causes  them.     He 

causes  them  to  rise  or  stand. 
Gthedon/monthin Gthedon/,  hawk;  monthin,  walking. 

152  THE    OMAHA    TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Hin<;i/zhiI1ga 7/in,  hair;  ft,  yellow;  zhinga,  little  (child's  name). 

Hin/xega IIin,  hair;  xega,  yellowish  brown.     Refers  to  the  buffalo. 

IMe'ubthi11 I^de/,  face;  ubthin,  twisted. 

Inshtaxthabi Inshta/,  eye;  tha,  cause;  bi,  he  is.     Appointed  eyes.     Refers 

to  the  appointed  leader  of  the  chase.     This  name  belonged 

to  one  who  was  hereditary  leader  of  the  chase. 
Mounon/kuge Mon,  from  monthinka,  ground;  no",  action  of  the  foot;  kuge; 

hollow  sound,    like  a  drum.     This  name  refers  to   the 

rumbling  sound  made  by  the  herds  of  buffalo  with  their 

hoofs  when  fleeing  from  the  hunters. 
Monshtin/onca Monshtin' ,  from  monshtin/ge,  rabbit;  onqa,  swift.     Refers  to 

the  use  of  rabbit  hair  on  the  pipes. 

Nion/bathin Ni,  water;  onba,  day;  thin,  from  monthin,  walk,  or  travel. 

Nonkerna Non  implies  action  with  the  foot;  kena,  an  old  word  signifying 


No^hki'gthe Tracks  of  buffalo  calf  (child's  name). 

Nonzhin/thia Nonzhin,  to  rise;  thia,  to  fail.     Unable  to  rise. 

Nuga' Male,  bull.     (In  Pon/caxti,  Monkon'  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Pa'xehashuga Thick  skin  of  buffalo  neck. 

Tade'ta Modified  from  tonthinton-  refers  to  the  running  of  the  pipe 

bearers  in  the  He'dewachi  ceremony.     Two  of  this  name. 

Tewa/konnonzhin Sacred  buffalo.     (Dakota  also.) 

The'cecabe The'ge,  tongue;  qabe,  black.     Refers  to  the  tip  of  the  buffalo's 

tongue.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Tixzhebegthon Tent  door  flap.     In  Omaha  treaty,  1826. 

Uthi/shonmonthi11 To  walk  around. 

U'thixide To  look  around.     Probably  refers  to  the  runners.     Two  of 

this  name.     (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 
Wanon/gewathe Wa,  action  with  purpose;  nonge,  to  run;  wathe,  one  who  causes. 

Causes  them  to  run,  or  to  stampede. 

Washu'she Brave.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Wate'xi Wa,  action  with  purpose;  texe,  difficult 

Wi'thugtho" Meaning  uncertain. 

Borrowed  names 

Tewa/konnonzhiu Te,  buffalo;  wakon,  the  Dakota  wakan,  mysterious;  nonzhin, 

standing.     Said  to  be  borrowed  from  the  Dakota;  equiva 
lent  therein  to  "medicine  cow." 

Dream  names 

Hon/monthinzhinga Little  night  walk. 

Fanciful  names 

Giu'ka Meaning  unknown. 

Monthe/gahi Refers  to  arrow. 

Mon/thihi Refers  to  arrow. 

Wa'xupagtho" Wa'xe,  white  man;  pa,  head;  ugthon,  to  put  in. 

Female  names 

Hamate Refers  to  the  child,  Hon/ga,  in  Wa'wa"  ceremony. 

I'nikashabi Refers  to  tribal  pipes — objects  by  which  the  tribe  is  identi 
fied  as  a  people. 

Mi/gthedonwin Moon  hawk,  feminine.  (In  Ni'kapashna,  Washa'be,  and 

Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 





Mi'gthito11!11  (pi.  26)  .  . .   Moon  returning. 

Mi'huca Loud  voice  moon.     Two  of  this  name. 

Mi'mite Meaning  uncertain. 

Mi'mo^hihathi" Moon  moving  on  high. 

Mi'texi Sacred  moon. 

Te'mitexi Te'mi,  buffalo  cow;  texi,  sacred.     Two  of  this  name. 

Ton/ingthihe Sudden  apparition  of  the  new  moon.     (In  Wqzhafzhe;  also  in 

Waqa'be,  Hi'qada  subgens,  Ponca.) 
Wextonna Meaning  uncertain.     (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 

I'ekithe  subdivision 
Ni'kie  names 

^ikon/xega £ikon',  ankles;  xega,  brown.  Three  of  this  name.  (In 

Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Qin/demuxa £in/de,  tail;  muxa,  cluster. 

Gthadiu/gthithon Gthadin' ',  cross;  gthi,  return;  thon,  suddenly.  A  wounded 

buffalo  turns  sideways  on  his  hunter.  Child's  name.  Re 
fers  to  a  hungry  calf  crossing  its  mother's  path  to  nurse. 

Heba'zhu He,  horns;  bazhu,  a  little  lump  or  knob.  Three  of  this  name. 

(Also  in  Arini/baton  subgens.) 

Hinton/zhinga 7/i«,  hair;  ton,  possess;  zhinga,  little. 

Inshtaxpede Inshta,  eyes;  pede,  fire.     (Also  in  Nini''baton  subgens.) 

Ton/wanzhinga Taiwan,  village;  zhinga,  small. 

Wa/bakunga Wa,  action;  ba,  push;  kunga,  jostling.  Buffaloes  crowding 

and  pushing  each  other. 

Wazhin/hongu First  of  birds.  Refers  to  the  eagle  down  put  on  the  head  of 

Hon'ga  in  Wa'wan  ceremony. 

Xitha'pahi Xitha' ',  eagle;  pahi,  neck. 

Dream  names 

Xu'ga Badger. 

Ta'thacapa Wood  tick. 

Female  names 

Ace'xube A<;e,  paint;  xube,  sacred. 

Mi/gashonthin Traveling  or  moving  moon.    (In  Wa^beand  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Mixgina Moon  returning. 

Mi7gthitonin Return  of  the  new  moon. 

Mi'oabatihin The  moon  that  travels  by  day. 

Te/mitexi Te'mi,  buffalo  cow;  texi,  sacred. 

HON/GA  GENS  (3) 

The  Hon/ga  gens  camped  next  to  the  Pke'cabe  on  the  left.  Hon/ga 
means  "leader,"  or  "first,"  and  implies  the  idea  of  ancient,  or  first, 
people;  those  who  led.  The  probability  of  Hon/ga  being  the  ancient 
designation  of  the  tribe  has  been  discussed.  (See  p.  40.)  This 
probability  suggests  a  possible  reason  for  the  position  of  this  gens  and 
the  duties  devolving  upon  it.  The  gens  occupied  the  center  of  the 
southern  half  (Hon/gashenu  division)  of  the  Jiu'fhuga.  The  place  of 
the  Hon/ga  corresponded  to  that  set  apart  for  the  father  of  the  family 
within  the  tent  and  the  Hon/ga  filled  a  directive  position  toward  the 
gentes  within  the  Jiu'thuga,  or  dwelling  of  the  tribe,  somewhat  similar 
to  that  of  the  father  toward  the  members  of  the  family  under  his  care. 

154  THE   OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Upon  the  IIon/ga  devolved  the  leadership  in  the  governing  power  of 
the  tribe  (see  p.  201)  and  in  the  rites  connected  with  the  quest  for  food. 

There  were  two  subgentes,  the  Waxthe'xeto11  and  the  Washa'beto". 
These  had  charge  of  the  two  Sacred  Tents,  their  contents,  and  the 
ceremonies  pertaining  to  the  objects  kept  in  them.  The  tents  were 
pitched  in  front  of  the  place  where  the  two  subgentes  came  together, 
and  were  set  about  30  feet  in  front  of  the  line,  toward  the  center  of 
the  Jiu'thuga,  about  25  feet  apart. 

The  two  tents  represented  "both  sides  of  the  house,"  the  Jiu'ihuga. 
From  the  rites  connected  with  the  White  Buffalo  Hide,  lodged  in  the 
tent  (13)  set  in  front  of  the  Washa'beto11  subgens,  it  is  probable  that 
this  tent  represented  the  Hon/gashenu  division,  to  which  were  commit 
ted  the  physical  welfare  of  the  people,  the  rites  pertaining  to  the  quest 
of  food,  and  the  control  of  warfare.  The  tent  (12)  pitched  in  front  of 
the  Waxthe'xeto"  subgens  contained  the  Sacred  Pole,  which  was  allied 
to  Thunder  and  the  supernatural  Powers,  and  symbolized  the  authority 
of  the  chiefs — an  authority  believed  to  be  derived  from  Wakon'da. 
This  tent  probably  represented  the  Sky  people,  the  Inshta/9unda 
division,  which  had  charge  of  the  rites  pertaining  to  the  people's  rela 
tion  to  the  supernatural. 

Waxihef  xcton  subgens  (a) 

Waxthe'xe  (waxthe'xe,  "mottled,  as  by  shadows,"  "a  mottled 
object" — the  name  of  the  Sacred  Pole  (see  pi.  38);  ton,  "to  possess 
or  have  charge  of")  implied  that  the  object  thus  described  had  the 
power  to  confer  distinction,  as  the  xthe'xe,  "  the  mark  of  honor.' '  The 
tabu  of  this  subgens  was  a  double  one,  the  tezhu'  and  the  crane.  The 
tezhu'  was  a  particular  cut  of  meat  from  the  side  of  the  buffalo  (see 
p.  273) ,  that  was  brought  as  an  offering  to  the  Sacred  Pole  at  the  great 
tribal  ceremony  when  the  Pole  was  anointed.  The  feathers  of  the 
crane  were  used  on  the  divining  arrows  that  had  a  part  in  this  same 

A  group  of  families  belonging  to  the  Waxthe'xeto11  subgens  was  set 
apart  as  servers;  these  were  called  wafhi'ton  (from  thiton',  "to  work"), 
"workers".  Their  duties  were  connected  with  ceremonies  pertaining 
to  the  Sacred  Pole.  They  prepared  and  distributed  the  meat  brought 
as  offerings  by  the  people  at  the  anointing  rites.  The  tabu  of  this 
group  was  the  same  as  that  of  the  subgens  of  which  they  were  a 
part — the  tezhu'  and  the  crane.  This  group  camped  next  to  the 
I'ekithe  of  the  Inke'cabe  gens,  and  at  their  left  camped  the  remainder 
of  the  Waxthe'xeto11  subgens. 

Washa'beton  subgens  (6) 

The  Washa'beto11  (washa'be,  "a  dark  object,"  the  word  "dark" 
referring  not  to  color,  but  to  the  general  appearance  of  an  object  at 
a  distance— the  name  of  a  peculiar  staff  (fig.  27)  belonging  to  the 







leader  of  the  people  when  on  the  annual  tribal  hunt;  ton,  to 
"possess")  had  the  official  duty  of  making  and  decorating  this  staff, 
though  it  did  not  belong  to  this  subgens  to  provide  the  materials 
required  for  the  staff.  The  Washa'beton  had  charge  of  the  Tecon'ha 
(te,  "buffalo;"  fon',  "pale"  or  " white;" 
M,  "skin "or  "hide")— White  Buffalo 
Hide,  and  its  tent.  (PI.  27.)  The  tabu  was 
the  buffalo  tongues  which  were  brought  to 
the  sacred  feast.  A  subdivision  of  this 
subgens,  called  Hon'gaxti  (xti,  "original," 
as  a  parent  stock)  had  charge  of  the 
ceremonies  connected  with  the  maize. 
They  preserved  the  sacred  corn,  chanted 
its  ritual,  and  fixed  the  time  for  planting. 
Their  tabu  was  the  liatu'  (the  word  Jiatu' 
is  from  Jui,  "skin,"  and  tu,  "green," 
referring  to  the  outer  husk  of  the  ear  of 
corn).  In  this  connection  the  decora 
tion  painted  on  the  Sacred  Tent  in  charge 
of  the  Washa'be  subgens,  which  was  the 
full  grown  stalk  of  corn,  becomes  signifi 
cant.  It  is  probable  that  the  Hon/gaxti 
was  the  original  subgens,  but  when  the 
people  came  into  the  buffalo  country, 
the  rites  relating  to  hunting  the  buffalo 
overshadowed  those  pertaining  to  the 
maize;  hence  the  subdivision  that  had 
charge  of  the  hunt  became  the  more 
important  body,  the  group  who  pos 
sessed  the  rites  of  the  corn  the  subor 
dinate.  This  probability  bears  out  a 
tradition  of  the  tribe  that  the  people  in  f |r-  2"-  washa'be. 

the  course  of  their  migrations  west  and  northwest  became  more  strictly 
a  hunting  people  and  that  the  cultivation  of  the  maize  fell  into 
abeyance  or  was  temporarily  abandoned. 

The  Washa'beto"  subgens    camped  to    the  left 
|  of  the  Waxthefxeto11  subgens. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  of  children  belong 
ing  to  the  Ho"'ga  gens  consisted  in  cutting  off  all 
the  hair  close  to  the  head  except  a  ridge  which 
stood  up  from  the  forehead  to  the  nape  of  the 
neck  (fig.  28).  This  is  said  to  represent  the  line 
of  the  buffalo's  back  as  seen  against  the  sky,  but 
it  is  equally  applicable  to  the  appearance  of  grow- 

Fio.28.    Cul  of  hair. 

ing  corn  viewed  in  the  same  way. 

156  THE    OMAHA    TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27. 


Wax(hefxeton  subgens  (a) 
Ni'k'.e  names 

A^geda From  every  direction.  (See  Ritual  of  Sacred  Buffalo  Hide, 

p.  294.)  Two  of  this  name. 

Bishu'deki Refers  to  the  dust  made  by  the  herds  as  they  move. 

Edi/ton Edi' ',  there;  ton,  stands.     Refers  to  Sacred  Pole. 

E/thonthonbe To  appear  repeatedly.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Gain/bazhi Ineffectual  striking. 

Kaxe'giu11 Kaxe,  crow;  giun,  to  fly.  Flying  crow.  Two  of  this  name. 

The  crow  is  used  as  one  of  the  symbols  in  making  the 
washa'be.  (See  Ritual  of  Sacred  Buffalo  Hide,  p.  300.) 

Kaxe/nonba Kaxe,  crows;  nonba,  two.  (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.)  (See 

Ritual  of  Sacred  Buffalo  Hide.) 

Mixa'to" Mi'xa,  swan;  ton,  standing.  Refers  to  the  down  on  the 

Sacred  Pole. 

Monchu/ha Grizzly-bear  skin.     In  Omaha  treaty,  1836. 

M"onchu/no"tide Monchu,  grizzly  bear;  non,  action  with  the  feet;  tide,  rum 
bling  sound. 

Mo"chu/pa Monchu,  grizzly  bear;  pa,  head. 

Mon/pezhi Mon,  arrow ;  pezhi,  bad .  Refers  to  the  divining  arrows  used 

in  the  ceremony  of  the  Sacred  Pole.  (See  Ritual  of 
Sacred  Pole,  p.  242.) 

Mon/umizhe On  Omaha  treaty  of  1826. 

Neka'hanoNge Neka'ha,  edge  of  a  lake;  nonge,  running. 

Nia'dishtagabi Ni,  water;  adi,  there;  shta,  from  inshta,  eye;  gabtha,  to  open. 

(See  Legend  of  Sacred  Pole,  p.  70),  where  the  name 
appears  without  elision. 

Ni'k'umizhe Ni'k'umizhe,  resting  on  a  human  being.  Probably  refers  to 

the  resting  of  the  Sacred  Pole  on  a  scalp. 

Non/gazhi Non/ga,  to  run;  zhi,  abbreviated  form,  not.     Not  able  to  run. 

Non/kaethonbe Non'ka,  back;  etho^be,  to  appear. 

Nudon/honga Leader,  principal.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Sha'beno^hi11 Shabe,  dark,  as  an  object;  nonzhin,  to  stand.  Refers  to  the 

Sacred  Pole.  (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 

Shon/ge Horse.     Old  name  for  wolf. 

Shu'denacL Shu'de,  smoke;  na,  action  by  fire;  tf,  yellow.  Refers  to  the 

smoke  stain  of  the  Sacred  Pole. 

Shu/kamonthin Shu'ka,  groups;  monthin,  to  walk.  Walking  in  groups.  Ref 
erence  uncertain.  (In  Washa'bc,  lli'qada  subdivision, 

Teba'gizhe Te,  buffalo;  bagizhe,  crooked,  uneven.  Refers  to  the  uneven 

line  of  a  herd  of  buffalo  as  seen  against  the  horizon. 

Tehon/monthin Te,  buffalo;  ho™,  night;  monhin,  walking. 

Texhutonbi Te,  buffalo;  huto^bi,  bellowing.  Two  of  this  name.  (See 

ritual,  p.  298.) 

Tehu'xthabe Te,  buffalo;  hu'xthabe,  the  leaf  fat. 

Tenu'ga Buffalo  bull.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Tenu/ganonpewathe Tenu'ga,  buffalo  bull;  nonpewathe,  fear  inspiring.  Fear- 
inspiring  buffalo  bull. 

Tenu'gawazhi  "pezhi. ..  Tenu'ga,  buffalo  bull;  wazhin,  powerful  in  will,  angry;  pezhi, 


Tezhe'btho11 Tezhe? ,  buffalo  dung;  bthon,  smell. 

Thicpon/bi To  feel  of .     Refers  to  corn.     (See  ritual,  p.  266.) 

Thigi'ce The  sound  made  by  corn  husks  when  pulled  apart.     (See 

ritual,  p.  266.) 

Ushkon/bitega Ushkon,  wallow;  bitega,  making  anew  or  afresh. 

Uthu/shinonzhin Uthu'shi,  at  the  front;  nonzhin,  to  stand.     Refers  to  the  Sacred 


Wanon/shekithabi One  who  is  made  soldier. 

Washin/une Refers  to  the  selection  of  fat  for  the  anointing  of  the  Pole. 

Wathi/inge Braided  ears  of  corn. 

We'kushto" W^ku,  to  give   feasts;  shton,  frequent.     Appears  in  Omaha 

treaty  of  ]  830. 

Xtha'gaxe To  blossom.     Refers  to  corn.     (See  ritual,  p.  266). 

Zhoncon/. ._ White  wood. 

Fanciful  names 

Monchu/no°ba Two  grizzly  bears. 

Shaaa/ Name  by  which  Dakota  are  designated. 

«  Female  names 

Inshta/mon5ewin Inshta,  eye;  monqe,  metal,  iron;  wi»,  female  term.     Two  of 

this  name. 

Mi/gashonthin The  traveling  moon.     Four  of  this  name. 

Mi/gthitoni" Return  of  the  new  moon. 

Mi'mite Meaning  uncertain.     Four  of  this  name. 

Mi'mo^hihathi" Moon  moving  on  high. 

Mi'waco" The  white  moon.     Three  of  this  name.    (lnPon'caxti,Hi'qada 

subdivision,  Ponca.) 
No^he'gito11 Meaning  uncertain.     Two  of  this  name.     (In  Thi'xida  and 

in  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 
Ton/inthin New  moon   moving.     Three  of  this  name.     (In    Thi'xida, 

We/tonbethin One  who  gives  hope.     (From  utonbethe,  to  hope  or  to  wish  for.) 

(In  Tapa'  gens  also.) 

Wathi'tnn  (hereditary  servers)  subdivision 
Ni'kie  names 

Gacu'be Appearance  of  buffalo  running  against  wind.     (In  Wazha'zhe, 


Ha'xigi Name  of  the  first  man,  mythical. 

Hon/gaxti Xti,  real.     Real  or  original  Ho^ga. 

I nshta'pa Meaning  uncertain. 

Kage/zhinga Kage1 ',  younger  brother;  zhinga,  little.     Child's  name. 

Ni'kadathi" Ni'ka,  man;  dathin,  crazy. 

Nonshton/azhi Nonshton,  to  stop;  azhi,  not.     He  does  not  stop. 

ShoD/gehonga Horse  leader.     Old  meaning,  Wolf  leader. 

Uthu/shinonzhin Uthushi,   in  front;  nonzhin,  stands.     Refers  to  the  Sacred 


Fanciful  names 

J'kiho^gatha Meaning  uncertain. 


Mixako"da  ...... 



Female  name* 

TETH.  AXX.  27 


Mi,  moon;  akonda,  part  of  Wdkonda. 

Moon  moving  on  high.     Three  of  this  name. 

Two  of  this  name.     (In  Wazha'zhe  and  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

To  come  together  in  an  order,  as  a  society  or  brotherhood. 

FIG.  29.     Monxe'wathe. 

Washa'beton  subgens  (b) 
Ni'kie  names 

Insh'a/gewahitha Insh'a'ge,  old  man,  venerable;  wahitha',  lame.  Refers  to  the 

herald,  who  leans  on  a  staff  as  he  shouts  his  message. 

Inshta'bacude Inshta,  eyes;  baqude,  to  shed.  Refers  to  the  shedding  of 

the  hair  about  the  eyes  of  the  ouffalo.  (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 

Monshtin/ge Rabbit. 

On/geda From  every  direction.     (See  ritual,  p.  294.) 


Pahi'cka Pa,  head;  hi,  hair;  $ka,  white.      Refers  to  the  appearance 

of  the  shoulder  of  the  buffalo  when  the  hair  is  shed. 

Tenu'gacka Tenu'ga,  buffalo  bull;  qka,  white. 

\Ve/nonxitha Meaning  uncertain. 

Borrowed  names 

Tenu'gagthinthinke  ....  Sitting  buffalo  bull.     Said  to  be  Dakota  na*ne. 
Wakonmonthin Mysterious  walking.     Said  to  be  Dakota  name. 

Female  names 

A'onwin Meaning  uncertain.     (In.  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Mi'mite Meaning  uncertain.     Four  of  this  name. 

Mi'tena Meaning  uncertain.      (In  Wazha'zhe,  and  Po^caxti,  Hi'qada 

subdivision,  Ponca.) 
Te9on/dabe White  buffalo.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.)     Refers  to  the  Sacred 

White  Buffalo  Hide. 
Tecon/win Te,  buffalo;  gon,  white;  win,  feminine  term.     Two  of  this 

name.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.)    Refers  to  the  Sacred  White 

Buffalo  Hide. 
Wihexzhinga Wihe'',  younger  sister;  zhinga,  little. 

Honga'xti  subdivision 

Hongaxxti Original  Hon/ga. 

Monxe/wathe(fig.  29)  ..    Victorious. 


The  Tha'tada  presents  points  of  difference  from  all  other  gentes  in 
the  tribe.  It  has  no  common  rite  or  symbol.  The  rites  of  three  of 
its  subgentes  were  connected  with  the  growth  and  care  of  the  maize; 
the  Waca'be  shared  in  rites  observed  at  the  awakening  of  spring;  the 
Wazhin/ga  assisted  in  the  protection  of  crops  from  devastation  by 
birds;  the  Ke'in  rites  were  connected  with  rain.  While  there  was 
this  general  association  in  the  purpose  of  the  respective  rites  of 
these  subgentes,  their  symbols  or  tabus  and  their  ni'leie  names  were 
different.  The  Te'pa  was  the  Nini'bato"  subgens  of  the  Tha'tada; 
this  subgens  seems  to  indicate  the  change  that  had  taken  place  in  the 
principal  food  supply  of  the  tribe,  in  a  manner  somewhat  similar  to 
that  noted  in  the  case  of  the  Washa'beto"  subgens  of  the  Hon/ga,  but 
reversed.  The  tabu  and  the  name  of  the  Te'pa  subgens  refer  to  the 
head  of  the  buffalo,  but  the  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  and  the  ni'kie 
names  refer  to  the  eagle,  which  was  probably  prominent  in  rites 
that  were  superseded  by  the  buffalo  when  the  people  became  estab 
lished  in  the  buffalo  country.  The  choice  of  this  subgens  for  the 
Nini'baton  division  and  the  duty  assigned  it  in  connection  with  the 
ceremonial  use  of  the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  seem  to  indicate  that  this 
subgens  held  an  important  place  in  the  tribe  and  its  ceremonies 
prior  to  the  present  arrangement  of  gentes,  and  that  this  impor 
tance  was  recognized  by  the  "two  old  men  "  of  the  Sacred  Legend. 

160  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  AXN.  27 

The  Tha'tada  gens  camped  on  the  left  of  the  Hon'ga.  The  word 
Tha'tada  is  probably  a  contraction  of  the  phrase  tha'ta  tathishon- 
ihonlca  (tha'ta,  "left  hand;"  tathishon,  "toward;"  ihonka,  "  those 
sitting  ") — that  is,  "those  whose  place  in  the  hu'thugaw&s  to  the  left 
of  the  Hon/ga."  The  name  is  not  an  ancient  one,  probably  having 
been  given  when  the  tribe  was  organized  in  its  present  form. 

There  were  four  subgentes  in  the  Tha'tada:  Wapa'be  itazhi, 
Wazhin/ga  itazhi,  Ke'in,  and  Te'pa  itazhi. 

Waqa'be  itazhi  subgens  (a) 

(Wapa'be,  "black  bear;"  itazhi,  "do  not  touch.")  The  rites  con 
nected  with  the  black  bear,  which  were  formerly  observed  in  this 
subgens,  have  been  lost.  Only  the  memory  remains  that  this  sub- 
gens  used  to  join  with  the  We'zhinshte  gens  in  rites  observed  when 
the  first  thunder  was  heard  in  the  spring. 

Xu'ka  subdivision  (a') 

Xu'ka  means  teacher  or  instructor  in  mystic  rites.  The  name  was 
given  to  a  group  of  families  who  were  designated  to  act  as  hereditary 
prompters  to  the  Hon/ga  gens  during  the  singing  of  the  rituals  per 
taining  to  the  White  Buffalo  Hide  and  to  the  Sacred  Pole,  to  insure 

against    mistakes   when   the   sacred  ritual   songs 

were  given. 

In  the  hu'thuga  the  Xu'ka  subdivision  camped 

next  to  the  Hon'ga  on  the  left,  and  on  the  left 

of    the    Xu'ka    camped    the    remainder    of    the 

Waca'be  subgens. 

The    tabu    of    the   Waca'be   subgens    was    the 
black  bear.    Its  flesh  could  not  be  eaten  nor  its 

FIG.  30.    Cut  of  hair,          skin  touched. 
Waca'be  subgens.  *    j.i_      i_     •          c    .1  i  M  i 

Ihe  symbolic  cut  or   the  hair  or  the  children 

of  this  subgens  consisted  in  the  removal  of  all  except  a  broad  lock 
over  the  forehead,  to  represent  the  head  of  the  bear  (fig.  30). 

Wazhin/ga  itazhi  subgens  (b) 

The  name  of  this  subgens  is  derived  from  wazhin/ga,  "bird;"  itazhi, 
"do  not  touch."  The  rites  that  once  were  practised  by  the  subgens 
pertained  to  the  protection  of  the  crops  from  the  depredation  of 
the  birds.  These  rites  have  long  been  disused  and  are  traditional 
only.  It  was  said  that  one  of  the  acts  was  to  scatter  partially  mas 
ticated  corn  over  the  fields — a  symbolic  appeal  to  Wakon'da  to 
prevent  the  small  birds  from  attacking  the  corn  and  thus  depriving 
the  people  of  food.  The  rites  of  this  subgens  evidently  referred  to 




the  period  when  the  people  depended  more  on  the  cultivation  of  the 
maize  than  they  did  after  they  entered  the  buffalo  country. 

The  tabu  was  all  small  birds.  Even  the  boys  of  this  subgens,  in 
their  games,  while  they  would  shoot  their  arrows  or  strike  with  sticks 
at  the  birds  would  never  touch  one  with  their  hands. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  child's  hair  consisted  in  the  shaving  of 
the  head,  leaving  a  fringe  of  hair  around  the  base  of  the  skull,  a 
short  lock  in  front,  and  a  broad  lock  behind  (fig. 
31).  The  fringe  represented  the  feathered  outline 
of  the  bird's  body,  the  front  lock  its  head,  and 
the  broad  lock  behind,  its  tail. 

The  Wazhin/ga  itazhi  camped  next  on  the  left  of 
the  Waca'be  itazhi. 

Kefin  subgens  (c) 

FIG.  31.  Cut  of  hair, 
Wazhin'gu  Itazhi 

The  name  Ke'in  is  compounded  of  Ice,  "turtle;'" 
in,  "to  carry" — ''the  turtle  carriers  or  bearers." 
The  rites  that  were  once  in  the  keeping  of  this 
subgens  have  long  since  fallen  into  disuse  and  are  known  only  by 
tradition.  It  is  said  that  the  form  of  the  turtle  was  outlined  en 
the  ground  and  the  sod  cut  out  so  as  to  make  an  intaglio  of  the 
animal,  and  that  ceremonies  were  connected  with  this  figure  which 
pertained  to  the  securing  of  rain  and  also  to  the 
dispelling  of  storms.  The  rites  of  the  Turtle-bear- 

rers  may  have  been  associated  with  those  that  be 
longed  to  their  neighboring  subgens,  the  Wazhin/ga 
itazhi,  and  became  obsolete  for  the  same  reason, 
the  superseding  of  agriculture  by  hunting. 

The  tabu  was  the  flesh  of  the  turtle,  which  could 
not  be  eaten. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  consisted  in  shav 
ing  off  all  but  a  short  fringe  around  the  head,  one 
small  tuft  over  the  forehead,  two  on  each  side,  and  a  small  lock  at 
the  nape  of  the  neck  (fig.  32).  The  short  fringe  outlined  the  shell  of 
the  turtle,  the  tuft  over  the  forehead  represented  its  head,  the  two  on 
each  side  its  feet,  and  the  lock  at  the  nape  its  tail. 
The  Ke'i"  camped  on  the  left  of  the  Wazhin/ga  itazhi. 

Te'pa  itazhi  subgens  (d) 

The  derivation  of  the  name  of  this  subgens  is:  te,  "buffalo;"  pa, 
."head;"  itazhi,  "do  not  touch."  The  rites  pertaining  to  the  buffalo 
head,  which  once  belonged  to  this  subgens,  have  been  lost  and 
there  remains  no  trustworthy  tradition  concerning  them.  A  pipe 
was  given  to  this  subgens  to  insure  to  it,  as  representative  of  its  gens, 

FIG.  32.    Cut  of  hair, 
Ke'in  subgens. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11- 


162  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  i_>7 

a  place  in  the  tribal  Council  of  Seven  Chiefs,  when  that  body  was 
instituted.  The  names  in  this  subgens  which  refer  to  the  eagle  refer 
also  to  this  ceremonial  pipe.  The  head  of  the  subgens  had  an  official 
position  as  one  of  the  bearers  of  the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  when  they 
were  ceremonially  smoked. 

The  tabu  was  the  head  of  the  buffalo.     Xo  member  of  this  subgens 
would  touch  a  spoon  made  from  the  horn  of  the  buffalo. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  of  children  of  this 

subgens  did  not  refer  to  the  tabu  of  the  gens,  but 
to  the  eagle,  which  was  connected  with  the  pipe. 
The  hair  was  cut  close  to  the  head  except  a  square 
tuft  over  the  forehead,  a  similar  one  at  the  nape 
of  the  neck,  and  a  broad  lock  over  each  ear  (fig. 
33).  The  head,  tail,  and  two  wings  of  the  eagle 
were  thus  represented. 

FIG.  33.    rut   of   hair,         Tne  pipes  used  in  the  Wa'wa"  ceremonv  could 

Te'pa  itazhi  subguns.          ,  .  ,  j,  e  ,  «      ,  " 

be  painted  on  the  tents  of  members  or  this  gens, 
one  on  each  side  of  the  entrance  and  one  at  the  back  of  the  tent. 
This  subgens  camped  next  on  the  left  of  the  Ke'i". 

I'KRSONAI.    NAMES    IN    THE    THAXTADA    (JENS    (4) 

Waqa'be,  itazhi  subgens  i«i 
JJi'kie  names 

Qidaxmonthi" Meaning  uncertain. 

Gada'ka Meaning  uncertain. 

Giha'zhi Probable  meaning:  Unkempt. 

Gi/thikonbi He  to  whom  a  place  is  yielded. 

I "shta'duba I^shta,  eyes;  duba,  four.     (In  Waga'be,  Ponca.) 

Kaxe'katithe Kuxe',  crow;  ka,  sound  made  by  the  crow;  tithe,  parsing. 

Ku'w^xegthitho" Whirling  around. 

Mon/shkaaxa .}fon'shka,  crawfish;   axa,    to  cry   for.      (In   Ni'kapashna, 


Monlhixuke The  digger  of  the  ground.     (Real  name  of  Xa'rlebano".) 

Non/kaxude Nonka,  back;  xude,  gray. 

Non/pabi One  who  is  feared.     (In  Hi'rada,  Ponca.) 

Pi'cithinge Pi'qi,   gall;    thinge,    without,    none.     Appears    in    Omaha 

treaties  of  1815,  1836. 

Shui'na Meaning  uncertain.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Tepa'uthixaga Meaning  uncertain. 

Te'thiti Buffalo  ribs.     In  Omaha  treaties  of  1826,  1845. 

Tongaxgaxe Pretentious  to  greatness,  self-importance. 

IFxthetego" Meaning  uncertain. 

Waca'apa Meaning  uncertain.     (In  Nn',  Ponca. ) 

Waca'be Black  bear. 

Waca'bezhinga Black  bear;  zhin/ga,  young,  little.     (In  Wa^u'be,  Ponca.) 

Wawe'xa..  To  laugh  at.     He  who  laughs. 





Dream  name/s 

Ni'daho11. . .  .- Ni'da,  mythical  being  or  auirnal  (see  note  on  this  name, 

p.  194);  hon,  night. 

Hu'petha  (pi.  2K) Meaning  uncertain. 

Niu'gashude Xi,   water;  u'gashude,   to  make  turbid.     Refers  to  bears 

pawing  in  the  water. 

Valor  names 

A'gahawashushe 1'gaha,  apart  from,  as  outside  a  crowd;   washushf,  brave. 

Distinguished  for  bravery.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Pa/thi"nonpa/.hi I'n'thin,  Pawnee;  no npa,  fear;  zhi,  not.   Fears  not  Pawnee. 

(In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Xa'debano" Hunch  grass. 

Don'abi Meaning  uncertain.     Two  of  this  name. 

Don/ama Meaning  uncertain. 

Ma/zhonwin Ma'zhon,  mazho^ha.  fox:  ?/;i«,  feminine  term.     Two  of  thia 


Mirbthiwin Meaning  uncertain,     (in  i-'on'caxti,  J/o»X-o«'  subdivision, 


Mi'hupegthi" Meaning  uncertain. 

Mi'noMabi The  only  sun. 

Mi'o^athi" Moon  that  travels  by  day. 

Mixtoningi New  moon  returning. 

Nixdawin Ni'da,  mythical  being;  (/•{'"",  feminine  term. 

Noncexince Meaning  uncertain. 

Ton/ingina Refers  to  the  new  moon.     Three  of  this  name. 

Wate'wi" Victory  woman. 

Wextonna Meaning  uncertain. 

Xu'ka  (hereditary  prompters)  subgens(a/) 
Ni'kie  name" 

A/gahamonthin A'guha,  apart  from,   outside  a  crowd;   monthin.  moving, 

traveling,  walking. 

Qixxude £i,  feet;  xude,  gray. 

Ingthon/xepa Wild  cat  undersized. 

Ka'xepa Ka'xe,  crow;  pa,  head. 

Keon/hazhi Ke,  turtle;  o^ha,  to  flee;  zhi,  not.     (In  Pon'caxti,  Ponca.) 

Kextongainshage Ketonga,  great  turtle;  inshage,  venerable,  also  old  man. 

Mon/gezhide Mon/ge,  breast;  zhidf,   red.     Refers  to   the  breast  of  the 

Monxpixaxaga Mo^xpi,  clouds;  xaya,  roug%. 

164  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  TETH.  ANN.  27 

Ni/ctumonthin •. . .   Ni'qtu,      backwards;      monthin,    walking.     (In    Waqa'be, 


Pahe'tape Seeking  the  hills. 

Sha'gecka Sha'ge,  claws;  qka,  white. 

Watha'wajigthe Watha'wa,  count;  ji,  then;  gthe,  sits.     Refers  to  the  office 

of  prompter,  holding  the  counting  sticks  of  the  songs. 

Dream  names 

Tenu'ga  zhonthin/ke Sleeping  buffalo  bull. 

Female  names 

Mi'gthitonin Return  of  the  new  moon. 

Mi'hupagthi" Meaning  uncertain. 

Mi'toninge.-. Returning  new  moon. 

Tha'tadawi" Tha'tada,  name  of  gens;  win,  feminine  termination. 

Ton/iuthin New  moon  moving. 

Wazhi^ga  itazhi  subgens  (b) 
Ni'kie  names 

A'bthuzhide A'bihu,  wing,  an  old  word;  zhide,  red.  Refers  to  the  red- 
winged  blackbird. 

A/hinxega A/hin,  wings;  xega,  brown.     Two  of  this  name. 

A'hinzhide A'hin,  wings;  zhide,  red — red-winged  blackbird. 

Axi'abaha Meaning  uncertain. 

Qi'mikaci £i,  feet;  mikapi,  wolf,  coyote. 

CVxude fi,  feet;  xude,  gray. 

Gamon/xpi Ga,  to  strike;  mon/xpi,  clouds.  The  wind  strikes  the 

clouds  until  it  rains.  (In  Waga'be,  Ponca.) 

Gion/habi Gi,  from  him;  o^ha,  to  flee;  bi,  who  is.  One  who  is  fled 


Gthedon/nonzhin Gthedon,  hawk;  nonzhin,  standing.  (In  Ni'kapashna,  Pon 
ca.)  In  Omaha  treaty,  1854,  1865. 

Gthedon/xude Gthedon,  hawk;  xude,  gray.     (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Gthedon/zhinga Little  hawk . 

Inshta/cka Inshta' ',  eyes;  fka,  white.     Refers  to  blackbirds. 

Ke'k^ga Ke,  turtle;  tonga,  big.  (In  Xu'ka;  also  in  Wa^a'be, 

Hi'pada  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Ma'azhi^a Ma' a,  cottonwood ;  zhfaga,  little,  young.  (In  Xu'ka;  also 

in  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Mi^e'shage Minke  may  be  mika,  raccoon;  shage,  claw. 

Monshtin/cka Rabbit;  fka,  white.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Nixkuthibthon Smelling  human  being. 

Nonba/monthin No^ba',  two;  monthin,  walking.  (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.)  In 

Omaha  treaty,  1830. 

No^e'duba No^be,  hands;  duba,  four.     Refers  to  the  bear  (?). 

Non/nonde Non,  mature;  nonde,  heart. 

Non/pewathe One  who  is  feared.     (In' Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Nonzhin/monthin Nonzhin,  rain;  mont.hin,  walking.  Refers  to  the  sand 

martins  which  do  not  retreat  before  the  rain. 

Pixdaega Meaning  unknown.     Old  name. 

Shu/zhinga Little  prairie  chicken. 


Tawa'i"ge Meaning  uncertain. 

Tegon/ Te,   buffalo;    po«,   white.      In    Omaha    treaties    of    1830, 

1836,  1865.     (In  Hi'sada,  Ponca.) 
U/honnonba Uhon,    cook,    one    who    prepares    a    ceremonial    repast; 

nonba,  two.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 
U'wethate TJ'we,  field;  thate,  eats.     Refers  to  eating  of  the  corn  by 


Wa'backaha Meaning  uncertain. 

Washkon/monthin Washkon,  strength;  monthin,  walking.     In  Omaha  treaties 

of  1815,  1826,  1836,  1865.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 
Wa'thidaxe Sound  as  of  tearing  with  claws,  as  when  a  bear  claws  a 

hollow  tree  to  get  at  honey.     (In  Wazha'zhc,  Ponca.) 

Waton/i Conspicuous,  plainly  visible. 

Wazhin/ga Bird.     (In  Waqa'be,  Hi'gada  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Zh^do'^athi" He  who  moves  in  the  dew. 

Dream  names 

Ho^'kipa IIon,  night;  akipa,  to  meet. 

Tenu'gagahi Tenuga,  male  buffalo;  gahi,  chief.     (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 

Tenu'gawazhi" Angry  buffalo — male. 

Uha/hi Meaning  uncertain. 

Wazhin/agahige Bird  chief.     (In  Waqa'be  gens,  Ponca.) 

Fanciful  names 

Pe'degahi Fire  chief.     (In  Waga'be,  Ponca.)      In  Omaha   treaty  of 

Umon/hontonwongthon. .  . .   Omaha  village. 


Iti/gonnonpin Medals  worn  on  the  neck. 

Wabthu'ga Hominy. 

Female  names 

Gixpe'axa Meaning  uncertain. 

Mixakonda Moon  power. 

Mi/dashont.hi" Refers  to  the  moon. 

Mi/onbat,hin Moon  travels  by  day.     Four  of  this  namo. 

Mi'tena Refers  to  the  sun. 

Mon/shihathi" Moving  on  high.     Six  of  this  name. 

Ni'dawi" Nida,  a  mysterious  or  fabulous  being;  win,  feminine  ter 

Tlu^tadawi" Thn'tada;  ivin,  feminine  termination. 

Thaxtawecon White  Thaxtada  woman. 

Ton/ingthihe Sudden  return  of  new  moon. 

We/tonna Meaning  uncertain. 

Wihe/tonga Big  younger  sister. 

Ke'in  subgens  (c) 
Ni'kie  names 

Ezhno^zhuwagthe Ezhno™,  alone;  zhugthe,  with;  ira,  them. 

He'ga Buzzard . 

Hegardi Meaning  uncertain. 

166  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

He'katho" He,  horns;  kathon,  rattle,   clatter,   as  the  horns  strike  the 

brush.     (In  Wazhin'ga  subdivision.) 

I"ku'shige Meaning  uncertain. 

Ke'chu" Ke,  turtle;  chun,  plenty.     Two  of  this  name.     (Doubtful  if 

Ke'gaxe Kc,  turtle;  gaxe,  to  make.     Refers  to  the  drawing  of  the 

figure  of  a  turtle  on  the  ground  in  the  ceremony  pertaining 

to  the  turtle. 

Kegthe/cei"shtazhide  . .  Ke,  turtle;  gtheqe,  spotted;  inshta,eye;  zhide,red.     The  sand 
hill  turtle. 

Ke'honga Ke,  turtle ;  honga,  leader,  or  ancient. 

K!e/'illzhinga Little  K^'i". 

Kethi'hi Ke,  turtle;  thihi,  to  scare  animals.     Two  of  this  name. 

Kezhin/ga Ke,  turtle;  zhin'ga,  little.     (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Mi'xabaku Mi'xa,  goose;  buJcu,  bent,  crooked.    (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca). 

Mon/cedon Meaning  uncertain. 

Na/ethonbe Na,  by  heat;  ethonbe,  appear.     Refers  to  the  hot  days  when 

the  turtles  rise  to  the  top  of  the  water. 
Nia'kibano" Ni,  water;  a,  for;  kibanon,  to  run,  as  in  a  race.     Refers  to  the 

flight  of  the  turtle  to  the  water. 

Nia'tagigthe Ni,  water;  a,  for;  to,  towards;  gigthe,  goes  home. 

Nitha'shtage Ni,  water;  tha,  action  with  mouth;  ahtage,  tepid. 

Non/nonde Non,  mature;  nonde,  heart. 

Non/pewathe Non/pe,  afraid;  wa,  on;  the,  to  be.     One  who  is  feared.     (In 

Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Shkonshkou/tithe Shkonshkon,  to  move  with  the  body;  tithe,  suddenly. 

Shurzhinga Prairie  chicken. 

Tenu'gawazhi" Tenu'ga,  buffalo  bull;  wazhin,  means  here,  anger. 

Uga'hatithe Ugaha,  to  float;  tithe,  by. 

U/namonthin U'na,  to  borrow;  monthin,  walking. 

Wanon/cabe The  scratcher.     This  refers  to  the  scratches  inflicted  by  the 

turtle  in  his  struggles  to  escape  when  caught . 
Xae/monthi" Xae,  rustling  sound;  monthin,  moving,  walking.     Refers  to 

sounds  made  by  birds. 

Dream  names 

Wathi'shnatigthe Wnthi'shna,  plain  to  the  sight;  tigthe,  suddenly. 

Valor  names 

Ka'xebaha Ka'xe,    crow;    baha,    to   exhibit.     Refers    to    the    badge   of 

Wa/to11nonzhi" Wo.' ton,  upon;  nonzhin,  to  stand. 


Iti/gonnoup*in Tti'gon,    grandfather;    «,o»/)'i«,    to    wear   around    the   neck. 

Refers  to  wearing  medals. 

Female  names 

Don/ama Meaning  uncertain.     Five  of  this  name. 

Mixakonda Moon  power. 

Mi/gashonthiu The  moon  that  travels.     Four  of  this  name.     (In  Washa'be 

and  Thi/xida,  Ponca.) 
Mi/gthedonwin Mi,  moon;  gthedon,  hawk;  wi«,  feminine.     Two  of  this  name. 

(In  Washa'be  and  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 
M^mo'^hihathi" Moon  moving  on  high.     Two  of  this  name.     (In  Pon'caxti, 

Monkon'  subdivision,  Ponca.) 




Mi'tena Refers  to  the  moon.  Seven  of  this  name.  (In  Wusha'be, 

Hi'qada  subdivision,  and  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Ni'dawi" Ni'da,  imps,  mysterious  lit.tle  beings;  vin,  feminine.  Seven 

of  this  name.  (See  footnote,  p.  194.) 

Non(-e/ir'(,'e Meaning  uncertain.  Eight  of  this  name.  (In  Wuzha'zhe., 

Thi'xida,  and  Washa'be,  Ili'qada  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Toa/i"gthihe Sudden  apparition  of  the  new  moon. 

Wate'wi"..  .    Wate,  victory.     Three  of  this  name.     (In   Thi'.rldit.  Ponca.) 

FIG.  34.     Cha'cathinge. 
Te'pa  itazhi  subgens  (fJ> 
Ni'kir  name* 

Agthin/duba Fourteen. 

Axhincka A'hi*,  wings;  qka,  white.  In  Omaha  treaty  of  1S30.  (In 

Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

A/hinynede A' hi*,  wings;  qnede,  long.     Refers  to  the  eagle. 

A'zhidonto" A'zhidon,  bedewed;  to™,  stands.  Refers  to  the  eagle  upon 

which  the  dew  has  fallen. 

Cha'cathi-'ge  (fig.  34)  . .  C'ha'qa,  unkempt,  ruffled;  thi"ge,  not.  Refers  to  an  un 
usual  appearance  of  the  tidy  eagle. 

Qi'ci Yellow  feet . 

(yi'ha Soles. 

Ci'to^a Big  feet. 

Ezhnon/hoaga Ezhnon,  only;  ht>"ga,  leader. 

168  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


Gaha'gthi" Refers  to  eagle  sitting  on  tree.     Appears  in  Omaha  treaty  of 


Gahi'ge Chief.     (In  Wa^a'be,  IH'pada  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Gaku'winxe Ga,  action   by  striking;  ku'winxe,  to  turn.     Refers  to  the 

soaring  of  the   eagle.     (See  ritual  of  hair  cutting.)     (In 

Wazha'zhe  and  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Gap'on/dithon Eagles  jar  the  branch  when  alighting. 

Hin/xpeagacnede Hinxpc,  downy  feather;  aga,  drooping;  pnede,  long.     Refers 

to  the  downy  feather  taken  from  the  eagle  and  used  as  a 

symbol  in  the  pipe  ceremony. 
I'gaehizhe 7.  with;  gachizhe,  to  fall  with  a  crash  on  dry  leaves  or  limbs. 

Refers  to  the  lighting  of  the  eagle. 

Ingthon/ga Wild  cat.     (Also  in  Xu'ka.} 

Mon/ceguhe Meaning  uncertain. 

Mo"gexci Monge/,  breast;  $i,  yellow. 

Mongthi'xta Blackbird. 

Nini'ba Pipe.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Nini/bai"sh'age Nini'ba,  pipe;  fosh'age,  old,  venerable. 

Non/nonde Non,  mature ;  nonde,  heart. 

Nonzhin/monthi" Nonzhin,  rain;  monthin,  walking. 

Pacon/ Pa,  head;  pon,  white  or  whitish.     Bald-headed  eagle, 

Pacon/nonzhin Papon/,  bald-headed  eagle;  nonzhin,  standing. 

Pexhinxte Tuft  on  the  head  of  the  eagle. 

Pi'daega Meaning  uncertain. 

Shon/toncabe Black  wolf. 

Tia'gito" Ti,  house;  a'gi,  his  own;  ton,  stands.     Refers  to  eagle  stand 
ing  on  his  nest. 

Waca'apa Meaning  uncertain. 

Waje/pa Old  name  for  the  tribal  herald. 

Wa'thishnade  (pi.  29)  ..  One  who  grasps.     Refers  to  the  eagle. 

Xitha/insh'age Xit?ia/,  eagle;  insh'age,  old,  aged. 

Xitha'wahi Xitha',  eagle;  wahi,  bone.     Probably  refers  to  the  eagle-bone 

whistle  used  in  ceremonies  with  the  pipes. 

Xitha'xega Xiiha' ',  eagle;  xega,  the  color  of  dried  grass,  yellowish  brown. 

Xithaxxti Xiiha' ',  eagle;  xti,  real.     Two  of  this  name. 

Xithaxzhinga Xitha',  eagle;  zhinga,  little,  young.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

i11 Gaki'e,  scattered;   monthin,  traveling.     Refers  to  flocks   of 


Female  names 

Gixpexaxa Meaning  uncertain .     Eight  of  this  name. 

Mipix Meaning  uncertain ;  probably  mi,  moon ;  pi.  good. 

Mo^shihathi11 Moving  on  high.     Refers  to  the  eagle.     Nine  of  this  name. 

NiMawi11 Meaning  uncertain.     Three  of  this  name. 

No11fe/inthe Meaning  uncertain.     Three  of  this  name. 

Tha'tadawi" Tha'tada;  win,  feminine  termination. 

Thartawicon Tha'ta,  tha'tada;  wi,  win,  feminine  termination :  fon,  white  or 


Ton/ingthihe Sudden  apparition  of  the  new  moon.     Seven  of  this  name. 

Wextonna Meaning  uncertain.     Eight  of  this  name. 

Wihextonga Wih^,  younger  sister;  tonga,  big. 





The  name  of  this  gens  is  an  ancient  and  untranslatable  word. 
It  belongs  to  one  of  the  tribes  (Kansa)  of  the  cognate  group  of  which 
the  Omaha  is  a  member.  From  this  tribe  the  State  of  Kansas  takes 
its  name. 

In  the  Jiu'ihuga  the  Kon'ce  gens  camped  on  the  left  of  the  Tha'tada. 

There  were  two  subdivisions  in  the  gens:  (a)  Tade'ata  (fade, 
"wind;"  ata,  "in  the  direction  of" — "in  the  direction  of  the  wind"); 
the  name  is  said  to  refer  to  the  clouds.  Rites  connected  with  the 
wind  were  formerly  in  charge  of  this  subgens,  but  they  have  been 
lost.  In  memory  of  the  connection  of  these  people  with  the  wind 
was  the  following  jesting  action:  when  the  mosquitoes  were  thick,  a 
Kon'pe  man  was  beaten  witJi  robes;  this  would  call  up  a  breeze  to 
drive  away  the  pests.  (6)  Xini'baton. 

The  tabu  of  the  entire  gens,  as  well  as  of  its  subgentes,  was  ver 
digris,  which  the  people  were  forbidden  to  touch. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  children's  hair  represents  a  design  which 
it  is  said  used  to  be  cut  upon  the  earth  after  the  sod  had  been 
removed  when  the  ancient  rites  relating  to  the  wind  were  practised. 
All  the  hair  was  cut  off  except  a  tuft  over  the  forehead,  one 
at  the  nape  of  the  neck,  and  one  on  each  side  over 
the  ear.  From  each  of  these  four  tufts,  represent 
ing  the  four  points  of  the  compass,  a  narrow  line 
of  hair  extended  upward,  terminating  in  a  round 
tuft  on  the  top  of  the  head  (fig.  35). 

When  the  Hethu'shka  society  formerly  was  led 
around  the  tribal  circle  by  the  Kon'ce  the  act  may 
have  been  in  recognition  of  the  power  of  the  wind 
to  befriend  the  warriors,  as  certain  customs  prac-     FIG.  35.  cut  of  hair, 
tised  during  warfare  suggest.     (See  p.  39.)     The 
Kon/ce  also  had  the  office  of  starting  the  ball  game  which  was  played 
by  the  two  grand  divisions  of  the  Jiu'thuga.     (See  p.  197.) 

The  Tade'ata  subgens  camped  on  the  left  of  the  Te'pa  itazhi  of  the 
Tha'tada,  and  on  the  left  of  the  Tade'ata  was  the  Nini'baton 

PERSONAL    XAMES    IX    THE    KON/fE    GEXS    (5) 

Tade'ata  subgens  (a) 
Xi'kie  names 

Da/donthinge Da'don,  possessions;  thinge,  not,  nothing.      He  has  nothing. 

Refers  to  the  invisible  nature  of  the  air  or  wind.     (In 

Wazha'zhc,  Ponca.) 

Ko^edathi11 dathin,  crazy — Crazy  Kon/ce. 

Kuge/ , The  sound  made  by  a  drum. 

170  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Ma''axude  ..............  Ma^a,  cottonwood  ;  xude,  gray. 

Mu'xanonzhi"  (pi.  30).  .  .  Refers  to  the  clouds. 
Ni'kagahi  ..............  Chief. 

Nonxtha/demonthin.  .  .  .  The  creeping  sensation  of  a  bug  crawling. 

Tagi'ha  .................   Old  name,  meaning  uncertain  . 

Tade/umonthi"  .........    Tad</,  wind;  u,  in;  monthin,  walking.     (See   ritual   of  hair 

cutting.)     (In  Wazha'zhe  and  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 
Thixthr'gazhi  .........    Thixthiga,  old;  zhi,  not  (abbreviated)  never  old.     Two  of 

this  name. 
Waxcicinde  ............   Flapping  with  a  quivering  motion,  as  when  the  wind  blows 

the  tent  flaps. 

Borrowed  names 
Chon/chonxepa  .........   Dakota. 

Mi'chaxpe  .............   Omaha. 

Dream  namex 

Waba'hizhinga  .........    Waba'hi,  to  graze;  zkinya,  little  —  little  nibbler.  (In  Wnzha'zhe, 

Zhon5i/monde  .........   Zhon,  wood;  qi,  yellow;  monde,  bow. 

Female  name.i 

A.ce'tonga  ...............  Meaning    uncertain.     (In  Pon'caxti.    Mr>nl*on'  subdivision, 

Mi'akonda  .............    Mi,  moon;  akonda,  power. 

Mi/monshihathi"  .......  Moon  moving  on  high. 

Mi'texi  ................   Sacred  moon. 

Mi'to^go  .............   New  moon  returning. 

Mi'xube  ................    Mi,  moon  ;  xubc,  sacred  . 

Mo^shathi  nke  ..........    Mon'sha,  on  high  ;  ihinke,  sitting  (moon). 

Tade'wi  n  ...............    Tade,  wind  ;  win,  feminine  term  . 

Ton/inthin  ..............   New  moon  moving. 

Xu'degi  ................  Xu'de,  gray  ;  gi,  returning.     Refers  to  the  mist  blown  by  the 


Nini'baton  subdivision  (b) 
Ni'kie  names 

Ezhnon/githabi  ........  Ezhnon/>  only;  githabi,  who  is  favored  —  gi,  possessive  sign; 

tha,  favored;  bi,  who  is.     The  favored  son(?) 
Gah^zh^ga  (pi.  '31  )  ____  Gahi'  ',  gahi'ge,  chief;  zhinga,  little.     (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Micharxpezhi  nga  .......   Little  star  —  old  name. 

Mon/shewakude  ........  Meaning  uncertain;  probably,  old  man  who  shoots  an  arrow. 

Monzhon/hathin  ........    Monzhon/,  the  earth;  ha,  over;  thin,  from  monthin.  to  walk  or 

travel.     Travels  over  the  earth.     Refers  to  the  wind.    The 

bearer  of  this  name  was  a  herald. 
Mon/zhonkidc  ..........   Watches    over    the    land.     Refer.-;   to   wind.     (In   Osage.) 

Appears  in  treaties  of  1815  and  1826. 
Paei'duba.  ....  ........   Four  buffaloes.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Wami  "'  .......  ....  .....   Blood  .     (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.  ) 

Zhaxbezhinga  ...........  Zha'be,  beaver;  zhinga,  little. 

Kou(;ewi  u  ...............  Kon$e;  win,  feminine  termination.     Five  of  this  name. 







Namts  unclassified  as  to  sabgentes 

Ni'kie  names 

Heba/dizhon Heba'di,  half;  zhon,  sleep.     Sleeps  halfway. 

Koncegahige Kon^e,  Kansa  chief. 

Kon/cezhinga Little  kon'qe. 

Non/dethinge Nonde,  heart;  thing?,  not  any. 

Pahi'thagthi" Good  hair. 

Pa'nuhu Owl. 

Tade'ta To  the  wind.     Also  in  Inke'yib?  ritual  of  hair  cutting. 

Tadexun<;a Tade' ',  wind ;  unqn,  swift . 

Waba'shetho" Meaning  uncertain. 

Wate'wahi Meaning  uncertain. 

Xage'wathe One  who  causes  weeping. 

Zhega/nonba Zfiega,  legs;  nonba,  two. 

Female  iiamt* 
Tade'waha<re Meaning  uncertain. 



The  significance  of  this  name  (monthinka,  "earth;"  gaxe,  ''  to  make") 
is  somewhat  obscure,  but  the  rites  committed  to  this  gens  seem  to 
have  been  connected  with  the  rock  or  stone  and  with  the  gray  wolf. 
What  these  rites  were  is  not  now  known.  They  have  long  since  fallen 
into  disuse  and  become  lost.  In  myths  that  deal  with  the  creation  of 
the  earth,  with  the  contention  of  man  against  strange  monsters  that  con 
trolled  the  animals,  with  the  interdependence  of  various  forms  of  life, 
and  with  the  persistent  mystery  of  death  we  find  the  idea  of  perma 
nence,  of  length  of  days,  of  wisdom  acquired  by  age,  to  be  symbolized 
by  the  rock  or  stone;  while  man's  restlessness,  his  questionings  of  fate, 
his  destructiveness,  are  frequently  symbolized  by  the  wolf.  These 
two,  the  rock  or  stone  and  the  gray  wolf,  are  in  myths  represented  as 
brothers  and  in  the  ancient  rites  belonging  to  this  gens  they  were 
symbolically  united,  in  some  way  now  unknown,  a  fact  that  makes  it 
not  unlikely  that  the  name  of  the  gens,  "earth  makers,"  preserves  the 
purpose  of  the  rites  once  committed  to  these  people — rites  that  not 
only  dramatized  the  myth  of  Creation,  but  were  believed  to  insure 
the  continuance  of  that  which  had  been  created. 

According  to  tradition  there  were  formerly  in  the  keeping  of  this 
gens  four  sacred  stones,  which  were  painted,  respectively,  white, 
black,  red,  and  green  or  blue.  These  stones  were  ceremonially  placed 
in  a  circular  hole  made  in  the  ground,  and  over  them  was  spread  the 
dowrn  of  the  swan  ( Gygnus americanus) .  As  late  as  the  last  century  one 
of  these  stones  was  in  existence,  in  charge  of  Ton'wongaxe.  It  is 
said  that  at  the  meetings  of  the  Pebble  society  he  would  "place  it  on 
the  ground  and  make  it  walk."  There  is  a  tradition  that  in  the 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

ancient  rites  pertaining  to  the  stones  water  or  rain  was  represented. 
This  tradition  is  borne  out  by  the  use  of  the  down  of  the  swan,  a  water 
bird,  to  cover  ceremonially  the  stones.  The  connection  with  water 
rites  is  probably  also  indicated  by  the  statement  that  the  old  keeper 
of  the  stones  could  take  them  to  the  Pebble  society,  whose  rites  per 
tained  to  the  element  water.  All  four  stones  are  now  lost.  The  last 
one  was  probably  buried  with  Ton'wongaxe.  The  connection  of  the 
stones  with  the  water  adds  to  the  probability  that  the  lost  rites  of 
this  gens  dealt  with  the  Creation. 

There  are  no  subgentes  in  this  gens.  Within  the  last  century  the 
groups  of  families  to  whom  were  formerly  assigned  certain  duties 
connected  with  the  ancient  rites  have  taken  names  referring  to 
their  ancient  hereditary  office,  and  as  a  result  these  groups  have 
been  mistaken  for  subgentes.  The  Xu'be  (sacred)  group  had  direct 
charge  of  the  sacred  stones.  Another  group,  whose  office  pertained 
to  that  part  of  the  rites  which  related  to  the  wolf,  called  themselves 
the  Mi'kaci  (wolf).  Still  another,  to  whom  belonged  the  duties 
relating  to  the  water  and  the  swan,  called  themselves  Mi'xacon 

All  of  the  above-mentioned  groups  had  the  same  tabus  as  the  gens, 
namely:  The  swan,  the  clay  used  for  making  the  colors  with  which  to 
paint  the  stones,  and  the  soot  from  the  kettle  em 
ployed  in  preparing  the  black  paint  used  on  the 

The  cut  of  the  hair  of  the  children  of  these  groups 
was  peculiar.  The  hair  on  the  right  side  of  the 
head  was  shaved  off,  while  that  on  the  left  side  was 
allowed  to  grow  (fig.  36) .  It  has  been  impossible 
to  obtain  a  general  explanation  of  this  symbolic 
style  of  cutting  the  hair.  Some  have  said  it  rep 
resented  the  bare  rock  and  the  falling  rain. 
At  the  organization  of  the  tribe  in  its  present  form  a  group  of 
families  wTas  set  apart  in  the  gens  as  Nini'bato11,  keepers  of  the  pipes, 
and  a  chief  from  this  group  was  given  a  place  in  the  Council  of  Seven 
Chiefs.  In  this  group  occurs  a  name  found  nowhere  else  in  the  tribe: 
Nini'ushi,  filler  of  the  pipes;  this  may  refer  in  some  way  to  the 
rites  which  once  belonged  to  this  gens,  and  which,  as  they  probably 
pertained  to  the  Creation,  may  have  had  a  significance  in  the  Council 
of  Seven  Chiefs,  that  ruled  the  tribe. 

The  cut  of  the  hair  of  the  children  belonging  to  the  Nini'baton 
group  was  the  same  as  that  used  by  the  other  Nini'bato11  subdivisions 
in  the  gentes  of  the  tribe. 

In  camping,  the  Xu'be  (a)  pitched  their  tents  immediately  on  the 
left  of  the  Kon'ce;  then  came  the  Mi'kaci  (b) ;  next,  the  Mi'xapo11  (c) ; 
and  on  their  left  the  Nini'bato11  subdivision  (d). 

FiG.Sfi.  Cut  of  hair, 
thinkagaxe  gens. 










Xu'be  subdivision  (a) 
Ni'kie  names 

A'xabazhi A'xa,  to  cry  for;  ba,  they;  zhi,  not.     One  who  is  not  cried  for. 

Gachi'zhitho" Gachi'zhi,  to  fall  with  a  crash;   tho™,  contraction  of  ithon, 

suddenly.     Refers  to  the  noise  made  by  the  eagle  when 


I'gasho" Wanderers;  refers  to  wolf.     Two  of  this  name. 

Mon/gthithon Standing    up    suddenly.     Refers    to   a    little   animal    that 

suddenly  rises  to  an  upright  position. 
Non/gemonthin Non'ge,  to  run;  monthi™,  walks  or  travels.     Travels  running. 

(In  Waga'be,  Ponca.) 

Nonzhin/monthin Nonzhin',  rain;  monthin,  travels.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Shon/gecka  (pi.  32) Shon'ge,  horse  (old   name  for  wolf);  fka,  white.     Appears 

in  treaties  of  1826,  1830,  1836,  1854.     (See  Shonge'cabe, 

Tapa'  gens.)     (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca  and  Osage.) 

Uga/shonzhinga Uga'shon,  traveler;  zhi^ga,  little.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Waba'hici Waba'hi,  to  graze;  ?i,  yellow.     Yellow  object  grazing;  refers 

to     yellow    wolf.     (In    Pon'caxti,     Monkon'    subdivision, 

Wahu'thabi One  of  whom  permission  is  asked.     Appears  in  treaty  of  1815. 

Dream  names 

£igthe/nonpabi pigthe,  footprints;  nonpabi,  to  fear.     One  whose  footprints, 

even,  are  feared.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Waca/betonga Wafa'be,  black  bear;  tonga,  big.     (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Wa'dupa Old  dream  name.     Two  of  this  name. 

Wahe'he Easy  to  break,  tender  to  the  touch. 

\Vakon/da Power.     Refers  to  sacred  stones.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Wakon'daukie Talks  to  Wako^da. 

Washi'shka Shell.     (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Borrowed  names 

Hexa/ganonzhin Hexa'ga,  elk  (Dakota);    nonzhin,   to  stand.     (In    Washa'be, 

Kon/cehonga  Kon'qe,  name  of  gens  and  tribe,  Kansa;  ho»ga,  leader.     (In 

Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Mixa'cka White  swan. 

Wazhin/gacabe Wazhin'ga,  bird;  qabe,  black.     (In  Wa$a'bc,  Ponca.) 

Fanciful  names 

Ton/wongaxe Ton'won,  village;  gaxe,  maker. 

To^wo^axezhi^a    (pi.  Zhinga,  little.     Little  village  maker. 

We'thishku We,  to  do  something  for  another;  thishku,  from  thishkuda,  to 

dig  with  the  fingers. 

Valor  names 

Monga/azhi Mon,  arrow;  ga'azhi,  not  afraid.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponra.) 

Wace'athi" Waqe',  paint;  athin,  have.     Refers  to  war  parties. 

Waahi1Tainonhin Washi'bi,  to  ask  one  to  work;  nonhin  from  inonhin,  willing. 

Willing  to  serve. 

174  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Female  namts 

Mi'mitega The  new  moon.     Four  of  this  name. 

Mi/monshihathin Moon  moving  on  high. 

Mi'texi Mi,  moon;  texi,  sacred.     Two  of  this  name. 

Mi'tonin New  moon.     Two  of  this  name. 

Nonzhe/giton Meaning  uncertain.     (In   Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.)     Two  of  this 

Pon/ca£on White  Ponka.     (In  Pon/caxti,  Monkon/  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Three  of  this  name. 

Pon/cawin Ponca  feminine.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Ton/ingina New  moon  returning.     Three  of  this  name. 

We'tewi" Meaning  uncertain.     Five  of  this  name. 

Nini'baton  subdivision  (d) 
Unclassified  names 

£e/cethinke The  trotter;  indicating  the  characteristic  gait  of  the  wolf. 

Cin/dezhinga Little  tail. 

Gahi/gewadathinga Refers   to   the  peaceful  office  of    the  chiefs.     This  name 

appears  among  the  Osage,  and  is  sometimes  misleadingly 

translated  as  Saucy  Chief  or  Crazy  Chief. 

Gthedon/no"pabi Hawk  who  is  feared. 

Gthedon/win Gthedon,  hawk,  win,  feminine  termination.    Two  of  this  name. 

Gu'dahi There-he-goes!    An  exclamation  of  hunters  who  scare  up  a 


Huti'gthe Voice  heard  at  a  distance.     Refers  to  wolves. 

I  ^co11 White  rock .     Refers  to  the  sacred  stones . 

Inke'gaxe Refers  to  pipes. 

Inzhi'de Red  rock.     Refers  to  the  sacred  stones. 

Mi/gthedonwin Mi,  moon;  gtht-don,  hawk;  win,  feminine  termination. 

Mixa'cka Mixa,  swan;  pka,  white.     (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.)    Two  of  this 

Mon/gthithon Mongthe,  to  stand;  ithon,  suddenly.     The  last  vowel  in  mo*- 

gthi  is  dropped.     Refers  to  sudden  action  of  gray  wolf. 

Two  of  this  name. 
Ni'kaftuwathe The  gatherer.     Refers  to  the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  and  their 

unification  of  the  people  into  one  social  bodv. 

Nini'ushi Nini',  pipe;  ushi,  to  present.     Refers  to  ceremony  of  pipes. 

Shon/tongacka The  white  gray  wolf. 

Shon/tougamonshiadi  . . .  The  tall  gray  wolf. 

Shon/tongatu The  blue  gray  wolf. 

Shon/tongawathihuya. . .  The  mad  gray  wolf. 

Shon/tonzhinga ShoWo™,  gray  wolf;  zhinga,  little  or  young. 

Thata'xitigthe Crunching  of  bones.     Refers  to  wolf . 

The'dewathatha Refers  to  the  frequent  cautious  looking  backward  of  the 

wolf  as  he  trots  along. 

Ugac'innon , . . .  The  peeper.     Refers  to  the  coyote. 

Uga/shonnonzhin The  wanderer.     The  restless  habit  of  the  coyote. 

Uga/shonton The  wanderer.     The  restlessness  of  the  wolf. 

U'shkadazhi Dauntless,    rushing    into   battle    without    hesitation.      (In 

Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 
Utha'gabi Refers  to  wolf. 


Wa'gawinxe  ............  The  soarer.     Refers  to  the  eagle. 

Wathi/gtho"thiage  ......  No  mind. 

Borrowed  names 

Ki'shtawagu  ...........   Said  to  be  Pawnee.     (In  Wa<;a'be  gens,  Ponca.  ) 

Waxuaxtainge  ...........   Said  to  be  Oto. 

Dream  names 

Hon/hemonthin  .........  Night  walker. 

Monchu/wakonda  .......  Bear  god. 

Valor  names 
Inke'washushe  .........  Brave  soldier. 

Inshti/thi"ke  ..........  Name  of  a  mythical  mischievous  being. 

Female  names 

Ace'xube  ..............   -Afe*,  from  icape,  paint;  xube,  sacred. 

Gixpe'axa  ..............  Meaning  lost.     Old  name.     Two  of  this  name. 

Mi'ashteshto"  ..........  Meaning  uncertain.     Three  of  this  name. 


The  name  of  this  gens  has  reference  to  the  buffalo  (te,  "buffalo;" 
finde,  "tail").  There  are  no  subgentes. 

The  rites  anciently  committed  to  the  people  of  this  gens  have  been 
lost.  Nothing  but  a  tradition  remains,  which  states  that  the  ceremony 
pertained  to  the  crow.  In  certain  myths  that  speak  of  the  Creation 
it  is  said  that  human  beings  were  at  first  without  bodies;  they  dwelt 
in  the  upper  world,  in  the  air,  and  the  crow  was  instrumental  in 
helping  the  people  to  secure  bodies  so  that  they  could  live  on  the 
earth  and  become  as  men  and  women. 

The  tabu  of  the  gens  favors  the  tradition  that  the  rites  under  its 
charge  referred  to  the  birth  of  the  people  in  bodily  form.  They  were 
forbidden  to  touch  the  unborn  young  of  an  animal. 
In  later  days  the  tabu  applied  especially  to  the 
buffalo  young,  and  also  to  the  lowest  rib  adher 
ing  to  the  backbone,  as  the  head  of  the  fetus  was 
said  to  rest  against  this  part  of  the  animal;  con 
sequently  the  meat  from  this  rib  could  not  be 

The  symbolic   cut   of    the  hair  referred   to   the 
young   of   the  buffalo.     All   the  hair  was   cut   off       FIG.  37.  cut  of  hair, 
except  two  small  tufts  on  the  side  of  the  crown, 
indicating  the   coming   horns,    and   a   lock  at  the  nape  of  the  neck 
representing  the  tail  of  the  calf  (fig.  37)  . 

When  the  tribe  was  organized  in  its  present  form,  a  Xini'bato" 
group  of  families  was  chosen  in  this  gens  and  the  leader  of  the  group 
was  given  a  place  in  the  tribal  Council  of  Seven  Chiefs. 

176  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

The  tabu  of  this  subdivision  was  the  same  as  that  of  the  gens  itself. 
The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  was  like  that  of  all  the  children  belonging 
to  Nini'baton  subdivisions. 

The  Tecin/de  (a)  camped  on  the  left  of  the  Mon/thi"kagaxe,  the 
j\ini'baton  subdivision  (b)  being  at  the  extreme  left  of  the  gens. 

PERSONAL    NAMES    IN    THE    TECIN/DE    GENS    (7) 

Teqin'de  subdivision  (a) 
Ni'kie  names 

Heba'zhu He,  horns;  bazhu,  knobby. 

He'xude He,  horns;  xude,  gray. 

Hinci/ziiinga, Hin,  hair,  of  an  animal;  fi,  yellow;  zhinga,  little.  Refers  to 

the  young  buffalo.  (In  Washa'be,  Ponca;  also  in  Inke'<;abe.) 

Fshibazhl The  name  of  an  old  hero  whose  deeds  are  preserved  in  song 

and  story. 

Ka/xenumpin Crow  necklace. 

Kigtha/zho"zho11 Kigtha,  himself;  zhonzhon,  to  shake — shakes  himself.  Refers  to 

a  buffalo.  (In  Pon'caxti,  Monkon/  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Tamon/xaga Ta,  a  corruption  of  te,  buffalo;  mo»,  arrows;  xaga,  bristling. 

Two  o'f  this  name. 

Uma'abi Cut  into  pieces  and  spread  (scattered?). 

Wahon/thi"ge  (pi.  34) .  Wa,  a  prefix  by  which  a  condition  is  generalized  and  expressed 
as  a  noun;  hon,  from  ehon,  mother  (general  term);  ihinge, 
none.  Hence,  wahon'thinge,  orphan.  The  loss  of  the  mother 
makes  an  orphan,  according  to  the  Omaha  idea.  (In  Wa 
sha'be,  Ponca.) 

Mi'akoMa Mi,  moon;akonda,  wakonda.     Four  of  this  name.    (In  Pon'caxti, 

Monkon'  subdivision,  Ponca.) 
M^gthito"!" Mi,  moon;  gthi,  return;  to«i",  new.    The  new  moon  returns.    (In 

Inshta^-unda  gens.) 

Mi'xube Mi,  moon;  xube,  sacred. 

Tecon/win White  buffalo,  feminine  term.     Three  of  this  name. 

Ton/ingi Ton/in,  new  moon,  gi,  coming.     (In  I^shta' runda  gens.) 

Umon/agthin Meaning  uncertain. 

Uthe'amoPthi" Three  of  this  name. 

Uzhon/geagthin Uzhon'ge,  trail;  agthi™,  to  sit  on.     Refers  to  buffalo  sitting  in 

the  buffalo  path. 
Wihe'gthedo" Wihef,  younger  sister;  gthfdon,  hawk.     Two  of  this  name. 

Nini' baton  subdivision  (b) 
Ni'kie  names 

Cin/dethihon Qin'de,  tail;  thihon,  to  lift.  The  father  (now  dead)  bore  same 

name.  (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 

Inshtaxshabe Inshta' ',  eye;  shabe,  black.  Two  of  this  name.  (In  Wa^d'he, 


Mona'xaga Mon,  arrow;  a'xaga,  bristling — bristling  with  arrows. 

Mon/s1ionhonga Refers  to  feathers  on  the  pipe  leaders. 

Non/dewahi Bone  heart. 

Non/gethia Non/ge,  to  run;  thi'a,  not  able.  Probably  refecs-to  the  new 
born  calf.  (In  Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 





Nonon/bi  ............   JVo«ow,  to  hear;  bi,  who  is.     One  who  is  heard.     (In  Wazha'zhe, 

Pe'zhexuta  .........  Wild  sage  (artemisia). 

Shu'degina  ..........  Shu'de,    smoke;    gina,    coming.     Refers    to    the    smoke-like 

appearance  of  the  cloud  of  dust  raised  by  the  herds  of  buffalo 

as  they  approach. 
Ta/monha  ............    Ta,  deer;  mon,  monge,  breast;  ha,  skin. 

Taton/gashkade  .......    Taton/ga,  tatanka,  Dakota  for  buffalo;  shkade,  to  play  —  Dakota, 

ska'ta.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 
Tenuxgazhinga  .......    Tenu'ga,  buffalo  bull;  zhinga,  little.      (In  Wazhafzlic,  Ponca.) 

Texe/unonzhin  .......    Texe,   marsh;  u,   in;  nonzhin,   to  stand.     Standing  in  buffalo 

Thixa'bazhi  ..........    Thixa',  to  chase;  ba,  they;  zhi,  not.    Two  of  this  name.    Refers 

to  the  calf  that  no  one  chases. 
Uzhna'gaxe  .........    Uzhna',  clear  space;  gahe,  to  make.     Refers  to  the  wallow.     (In 

Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 
Waba'xe  .............  The  many  layers.     Refers  to  the  fat  about  the  stomach  of  the 

buffalo.     Two  of  this  name. 
Zhu/gthethinge  ......   Zhugthe,  companion;  thinge,  none. 

Female  names 

Mi'cebe.  ............   Mi,  moon;  <;ebe,  dark  or  shadowy.     May  refer  to  the  shadowy 

part  of  the  moon  seen  when  the  moon  is  new.     Two  of  this 

Mi'gthito"!11  .........   Mi,  moon;  gthi,  return;  tonin,  new,  applied  to  the  new  moon. 

Three  of  this  name. 
Mon/(;epewi"  ........  Ax;  win,  feminine  termination. 

Tecon/win  ___  ........  White  buffalo,  win,  feminine  termination.     (In  Ingthe^zhide.) 

Six  of  this  name.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 
Uthe/amonthi"  ......    Uthe,  a  route  usually  taken;  a,  over;  monthint  walking.     May 

refer  to  the  migrations  of  the  buffalo.     Six  of  this  name. 

Unclassified  names 

Heba'chage  .........  He,  horns;  ba'chage,  crumpled. 

Nonhe/gazhi  .........  Running  hard. 

Non/kapai  ..........  Non/ka,  back;  pai,  sharp. 

Shu'kagthi11  .........  Shv'ka,  a'group;  gthin,  agthin,  to  sit. 

W'au'xtawathe  ........  Admirer  of  women. 

Fanciful  names 
Mon/cepetonga_  ......   Mon'qepe,  ax;  tonga,  big. 

TAFA'  GENS  (8) 

Tapa',  "head  of  the  deer,"  is  the  name  given  to  the  Pleiades. 
The  rites  formerly  in  charge  of  this  gens  are  lost,  but  there  are  tradi 
tions  that  point  to  the  strong  probability  that  they  related  to  the 
stars  and  the  night  skies.  These  rites  seem  to  have  been  connected 
with  myths  dealing  with  the  Creation.  In  them  the  wild-cat  skin  and 
the  fawn  skin  were  used,  their  spotted  appearance  having  a  symbolic 
reference  to  the  heavens  at  night.  The  thunder  and  zigzag  lightning 
83993°—  27  ETH—  11  -  12 

178  THE    OMAHA    THII5K  [BTH.AXN.  27 

were  also  typified,  and  were  connected  with  the  ceremonies  pertaining 
to  the  cutting  of  the  child's. hair,  ceremonies  in  which  this  gens  formerly 
took  part,  and  represented  the  father,  the  sky.  Of  the  ancient  rites 
only  a  few  vestiges  now  remain,  such  as  the  painting  of  spots  on  the 
child  along  the  sides  of  its  spine,  when  a  few  days  after  birth  the  child 
received  its  baby  name.  This  was  done  by  an  old  man  of  the  gens, 
who  dipped  three  fingers  into  the  paint  and  with  them  made  the 
symbolic  spots  on  the  child.  These  spots  had  the  double  significance 
of  the  fawn — the  young  or  newborn  of  the  deer — and  the  constella 
tion  known  by  the  name  of  "the  deer's  head.''  Names  in  the  gens 
refer  to  the  lightning,  and  it  is  said  that  red  lines  were  sometimes 
painted  on  the  child's  arms,  typical  of  it. 

There  were  no  subgentes  in  the  Tapa'  gens,  but  formerly  there  were 
groups  in  charge  of  certain  duties  connected  with  the  ancient  rites. 
These  groups  continued  to  cling  together,  although  their  duties  became 
obsolete  with  the  loss  of  the  rites.  They  still  exist  and  are  known  as 
the  group  under  Mike'nitha  or  (^in/dexonxon.  The  members  of  this 
group  sometimes  speak  of  themselves  as  Tapa'xti  ("the  real  or  original 
Tapa"') ;  the  group  under  Pa'thingahige  seems  to  have  had  charge  of 
that  part  of  the  ancient  ceremonies  which  referred  to  the  thunder; 
to  the  group  under  Zhinga/gahige  seems  to  have  been  committed 
the  symbolic  faw^n  skin.  Pa/thingahige  and  Zhinga'gahige  were  not 
chiefs  but  leading  men.  These  groups  have  sometimes  been  mistaken 
for  subgentes. 

Tabu :  charcoal  and  verdigris  could  not  be  touched  by  this  gens. 
The  verdigris  by  its  color  was  said  to  symbolize  the  sky,  and  the 
^  association  of  charcoal  with  the  verdigris  would  in 

dicate  that  the  dark,  or  night,  sky  was  symbolized 
in  the  tabu. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  consisted  in  shaving 
the  head,  leaving  only  a  tuft  over  the  forehead  and 
a  thin  lock  at  the  nape  of  the  neck.  The  signifi 
cance  of  this  style  is  uncertain  (fig.  38). 

At  the  organization  of  the  tribe  in  its  present 

FIG.  ss.  cut  of  hair,  form  a  group  of  families  became  the  Nini'baton 
subdivision,  and  its  leader  had  a  seat  in  the  tribal 
Council  of  Seven  Chiefs.  The  Nini'bato"  observed  the  tabu  of  the 
gens,  but  the  hair  of  the  children  was  cut  in  the  style  of  all  the 
Nini'bato"  subdivisions  in  the  tribe. 

This  gens  affords  another  instance  of  the  change  that  takes  place 
in  the  general  significance  of  the  name  of  a  gens  when  the  rites 
intrusted  to  it  have  become  obsolete  and  lost.  The  star  cult  rites  of 
the  gens  being  no  longer  practised,  the  deer's  head  ceased  to  be 
regarded  merely  as  symbolic  and  took  on  a  literal  interpretation. 


This  is  evidenced  in  the  personal  names  where  the  stellar  significance 
has  been  largely  lost  sight  of. 

In  the  Tiu'ihuga  the  group  under  (^in'dexonxon  (a),  or  Mike'nitha, 
camped  on  the  left  of  the  Tecin/de  people;  next  was  the  group  under 
Pa'thingahige  (/>) ;  on  their  left  the  group  under  Zhinga'gahige  (<•) ; 
and  at  the  left  end  of  the  Tapa'  was  the  Xini'baton  subdivision  (d). 

PERSONAL    NAMES    IN    THE    TAPA'  <i  ENS  (8) 

Group  under  r/n'r/"ro'i  <  Mike'nitha)  (a) 
Ni'kie  names 

Bachi'zhithe. . _ Bachizhi,  to  rush  in  in  spite  of  obstacles;  the,  to  go — as  the  deer 

rushing  into  the  bushes.  (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

(y'igthu/nonge (^igthu,  trail  in;  nonge,  running. 

(^"'deyka (^'inde,  tail;  c,ka,  white.  (In  Pon/caxti,  Mon/co"'  subdivision, 


^in/deyontigthe (Jin/de,  tail;  qon,  pale;  tigthe,  sudden.  Refers  to  the  sudden 

flash  of  the  white  tail  of  the  deer  as  the  animal  leaps  into 
the  cover.  Four  of  this  name. 

£in/degabizhe  ......    ^'in/de,  tail;  gabizhe.  wagging.     Two  of  this  name. 

Cin/dexonxon(fig.  39)_   (Jin'de,  tail;  xonxo",  glittering. 

Hethi'axe He,  horn;  thiaxe,  rattling.  Refers  to  the  rattling  sound  of  the 

antlers  against  the  bushes  as  the  deer  plunges  into  a  thicket. 

Hexa'gazhinga He,  horn;  xa'ga,  rough;  zhinga,  little. 

Hezha'ta He,  horn;  zhata,  forked.  Two  of  this  name.  (In  Thi'xida, 


I'ingabi I'inga,  rejected;  bi,  who  is. 

Keba'ha Ke,  turtle;  baha,  to  show — turtle  showing  himself.  (In  Thi' 
xida,  Ponca.) 

Mika'xage Mika,  raccoon;  xage,  to  cry — crying  raccoon.  (In  Po'i'caxti, 

Monkon'  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Mike'nitha Old  name;  meaning  uncertain.     Four  of  this  name. 

Monnon/xaxa Mon,  earth;  non,  action  by  the  feet;  xaxa,  to  scrape,  to  tear  up. 

Refers  to  the  rutting  of  the  deer. 

Non/co"da/,hi Non/qonda,  to  dodge;  zhi,  from  on/kazhi,  not.  (In  Wusha'bt, 


Non/kahega Nonka,  back;  hega,  brown.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Pouca.) 

On/hazhi On/ha,  to  flee;  zhi,  from  on/kazhi,  not.  Makes  no  attempt  to 


Pahi'cka Pa,  head;  hi,  hair;  (;ka,  white. 

Shage'duba Shage/,  hoofs;  duba,  four.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Sha'gezhi^a Sha'ge,  hoofs;  zhinga,  little.     Two  of  this  name. 

Shkon/shko"tithe.  . .  .  Shkon,  to  move;  shkoishko",  continually  moving;  tithe,  sud 
denly.  Two  of  this  name. 

Tatou/gamonthin Ta,  deer;  tonga,  big;  mo1* thin,  walking.  (In  Ni'kapashna, 


Ta'xtiduba Ta'xti,  original  deer;  duba,  four. 

Texhego" Te,  buffalo;  he,  horn;  go",  like.  Refers  to  the  stage  of  growth 

when  the  antler  resembles  the  horn  of  the  buffalo.  Two  of 
this  name. 

Thiti'bitho" Bounding  up. 


[ETII.  ANN.  27 

Tide/mo"thi" Tide,  noise,  rumbling;  monthin,  walking,  moving. 

Uwon/citithe Uwon/c,i,  to  jump  up;  lithe,  suddenly. 

Wa'xanonzhi" Wa'xa,  in  advance;  nonzhin,  standing.     (In  Pon'caxti,  Mon 

subdivision,  Ponca.) 
iVaxpe'sha Old  name,,  meaning  lost.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.)     Appears  in 

treaty  of  1830. 
Xitha'nika Xiiha' ',  eagle;  nika,  from  nikashiga,   person.     (In    Wazha'zhe, 

Zhidoto"' Zhide,  red;  ton,  stands. 

FIG.  39.     Qi»'dexo"xo"  (Mike'nitha;. 

Female  names 

Gthedou/shtewi" Meaning  uncertain.    Nine  of  this  name. 

Hin/xudewin Hin,  hair;  xude,  brown;  win,  feminine  termination. 

M^gthedo'^i" Mi,  moon;  gthedon,  hawk;  win,  feminine  termination.     Seven 

of  this  name. 

Mi/monshihathin Mi,  moon;  moving  on  high. 

Mo^^epewi" Mon'qepe,  axe;  win,  feminine  termination.     Three  of  this  name. 


No"5e/in5c Meaning  uncertain.     Four  of  this  name. 

Po'^caco11 Pale  or  white  Ponca.     Nine  of  this  name. 

Poncawi" Ponca  woman. 

Tecon/wi" Te,    buffalo;   50",    white;   win,    feminine.     Belongs     also    to 

Ingthe'zhide  gens. 

Group  under  Pa'thingahigc  (6) 

He/90nthinke He,  horn;  con,  white;  th-fake,  to  sit.  Refers  to  the  deer  when 

sitting  in  the  grass  so  that  only  his  white  horns  are  visible. 

Hezhon/ka He,  horn;  zhonka,  forked. 

Hu/hazhi Meaning  uncertain.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Inchun/gacka Inchun/ga,  weasel;  qka,  white.     (In  Ni'lcapashna,  Ponca.) 

Inshta/bashonshon. . . .   Inshta',  eyes;  bashonshon,  zigzag. 

Kaxe'cabe Kaxe,  crow;  qabe,  black.     (In  Ni'lcapashna,  Ponca.) 

Non/kagthezhe Nonka,  back;  gthezhe,  spotted.  Refers  to  the  fawn.  Two  of 

this  name. 

TVshkahiagtho  n Refers  to  the  oak  struck  by  lightning. 

Wapa'de One  who  cuts  up  the  carcass.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Weco"githe Old  name,  an  organizer.     Name  of  Pa/thingahige. 

Borrowed  names 

A'shkamo''^!11 A'shka,  near;  monthin,  walking.     Dakota  name. 

Pa/thingahige Pathin,  Pawnee;  gahige,  chief.     (In  Wazha'zhc,  Ponca.) 

Female  names'i 

Ezhnon/monhe '. . .  Ezhnon,  lone,  solitary;  monhe,  one  who  is  dwelling  in  another's 

house.     Five  of  this  name. 

Gthedo^shtewi" Refers  to  hawk  difficult  to  handle.     Three  of  this  name. 

Gthedon/wintexi Gthcdon,  hawk;  win,  feminine  term;  texi,  sacred.     Four  of  this 


Mi'huca Meaning  uncertain.     (In  I^shta' qu^da  gens.) 

Pon/cacon Pale  Ponca.     Six  of  this  name. 

We/to"bethi11 Two  of  this  name. 

Group  under  Zhinga' gahige  (c) 
Ni'kie  names 

Qiha' Ci,  feet;  ha,  skin.     Soles.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Te/cehincabe Teqe,  belly;  hin,  hair;  qabe,  black.     (In  Washa'be.  Ponca.) 

Tem^gaiiQ'^ Te,  buffalo;  nuga,  bull;  nonba,  two.     Two  of  this  name.     (In 

Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 
Thaexgithabi Thae,  from  thaethe,  liked  or  beloved;  gi,  passive;  bi,  who  is. 

Refers  to  a  calf  that  is  caressed  by  its  mother.    (In  Pon'caxti, 


Female  names 

HeVegaca lie,  horn:  we,  with;  gaqa,  cut. 

Mi'giunthe Mi,  moon;  giun,  to  fly;  the,  to  go. 

Pon/cacon Pale  or  white  Ponca.     Three  of  this  name. 

Ton/ingthihe Meaning  uncertain. 

Umon/agthin Meaning  uncertain. 




Nini'balo'1  subdivision  (d) 
Ni'kit  names 

A'kida,  to  watch  over;  gnhiye.  chief.    Chief  who  watches.    (In 
Ni'kapashnn ,  T'onca.  ^ 

J-'IG.  4().     llcthi  kuivi"xt'  (son  of  !Shon  JIIM/ a !«.•;. 

Hethi/kuwi"xe(tig.4U).   He,  horn;  thi'kuwnxe,  turning  around.     Refers  lo  the  twisting 

of  the  antlers  before  shedding. 
Hexu'ga He,  horn;  xaga,  rough.     Refers  to  the  rough  antlers  of  the  deer. 

Two  of  this  name.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Ki.HTCiiKii-LA  Ki.KsciiKl  TRIBAL    ORGANIZATION  183 

Shage/dubazhinga. . . .  Shage',  hoofs;  duba,  four;  zhinga,  little.  (It  ia  said  that  zhinga 
has  been  recently  added  to  distinguish  this  name.) 

Shon/ge<;al>e  (see  fig.  8honge,  horse;  <;abe,  black.  (It  is  said  that  this  name  was 
40).  originally  Shagecabe  ("black  hoofs")  and  that  it  has  been 

changed  since  the  introduction  of  horses.)  (In  Waqa'be, 

TatoM/ga Great  Male  Deer;  old  name.     (In  TM'xida,  Ponca.) 

Wazhi'^kidc Wazhin,  will  power,  anger;  kide,  to  shoot.  Refers  1i>  a  chal 
lenging  male  animal. 

Xitha/yka Xitha',  eagle;  qka,  white.     (In  Thi'xidu,  Ponca.) 

Xitha'gahige Xitha',  eagle;  gahige,  chief.  Two  of  this  name.  (In  I'on'mxti, 

Mo^kon'  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Xitha'gaxe Xitha',  eagle;  gaxe,  maker.  Three  of  this  name.  ( I  n  I'on'ca.rti, 

Monkon'  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Barrmrtd  nnniex 

Xitlu/giu" Xitha',  eagle;  giun,  to  fly.     Flying  eagle.     Dakota  name. 

Female  nctmtx 

Gthedon/wi"texi Gthedon,  hawk;  u>in,  feminine  termination;  texi,  sacred.  Five 

of  this  name.  (In  Waqa'be  and  in  Pon'msti,  Mo^ko*'  sub 
division,  Ponca.) 

Mo"'cepewi" Mo'nqepe,  axe;  win,  feminine  term.     Seven  of  this  name. 

Po'Vaco" £'o",  pale.     Pale  or  white  Ponca.     Twelve  of  this  name. 

We'tonbeci" (In  Hon'yn  gens. )     Six  of  this  name. 

Fancy  names 

Wani'tawaxa Lion.     (This   name   was  given   by   a  government   official   in 

Washington  City  when  the  bearer  and  other  Indians  were  on 

a  visit.) 

Unclassified  nam-es 

Gthedon/thihi Gthedon' ,  hawk;  thihi,  to  scare  by  approaching,  the  bird. 

Hexa'gaeka Hexaga,  hexaka,  Dakota  for  elk;  qka,  white. 

Hezhon/kato"ga He,  horns;  zhonka,  forked;  tonga,  big. 

Ixkuhabi /,  is;  kuhe,  fear  of  the  unknown;  bi,  who  is.     One  who  is  feared. 

Ki'dabazhi Ki'da,  to  shoot;  bazhi,  they  not.     They  do  not  shoot  him. 

Mon/eebaha Mon'qe,  metal;  baha,  to  show. 

Mon/gecka Mon/ge,  breast;  qka,  white.     Refers  to  the  deer. 

Nonzhin/tithe No^zhin,  to  rise;  tithe,  suddenly. 

Paxthi"waca Meaning  uncertain. 

Tanon/zhin Ta,  deer;  non'zhin,  to  stand. 

WVbagthazhi Wa'bagtha,  bashful,  timid;  zfii,  not,  from  o^lcazhi. 

Wadu'kishke Meaning  uncertain. 

Wathixhi. To  startle  game. 

Xu/begOntha Xu'be,  holy,  sacred;  ijontha,  want,  desire. 

Drtiini  namex 

Tayhu'gevka Taqhu'ge,  antelope;   qku,  white. 

Ta'xtidathi11 Ta'rti,  deer;  daihin,  crazy. 

INGTHE/ZHrUK    GENS    (9) 

The  name  of  this  gens  refers  to  the  reddish  excrement  of  the.  newly 
born  calf.  The  rites  committed  to  the  keeping  of  the  gens  have  been 
lost.  Traditions  speak  of  these  having  been  connected  with  the 
procreation  of  the  race  to  insure  its  continuance  through  the  medium 
of  the  sky  powers. 

184  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

The  name  Ingthe'zhide  has  given  rise  to  considerable  speculation 
by  white  observers,  and  stories  are  told  to  account  for  it,a  but  these 
stories  and  explanations  are  not  corroborated  by  the  old  and  trusty 
men  of  the  tribe,  nor  do  they  accord  with  what  is  known  of  the 
functions  of  the  gentes  of  the  tribe  and  the  fundamental  ideas  of  the 
tribal  organization. 

Tabu:  The  fetus  of  an  animal  must  not  be  touched.  As  the  buffalo 
was  most  commonly  met  with,  the  tabu  came  to 
be  confined  to  the  unborn  young  of  the  buffalo. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  consisted  in  shaving 
the  head,  all  except  a  small  lock  in  front,  one  behind, 
and  one  on  each  side  of  the  head,  to  represent  the 
head  and  the  tail  of  the  young  animal,  and  the 
knobs  where  the  horns  would  grow  (fig.  41). 

There  were  no  subgentes  and  no  subdivisions  or 
FIG.  41.  cut  of  hair,      groups,  nor  was  there  a  representative  from  this 

Ingthe'zhide  gens.  .  .  . 

gens  in  the  Council  of  Seven  Chiefs. 

The  Ingthe'zhide  camped  on  the  left  of  the  Nini'bato11  subdivision 
of  the  Tapa'. 


Ni'kie  names 

A/hinwetin A'hin,  wings;  wetin,  to  strike. 

Qi  n/decicnu finde,  tail ;  qiqnu,  to  drag. 

£in/wanonzhin Meaning  uncertain. 

Qm'titho" £ni,  cold;  tithon,  to  come. 

Ihon/ugine Iho^,  mother  (spoken  of);  ugine,  seeks  for  his.     Refers  to  buf 
falo  calf  after  the  slaughter  of  its  mother. 

Kaxe'axube Kaxe'a,  crow;  xube,  sacred.     Refers  to  the  symbolic  use  of  the 


Kon/cepa Ko^qe,  name  of  one  of  the  Omaha  gentes;  pa, head.     Oldname. 

Mika'ezh^ga Mika'e,  star;  zhinga,  little. 

Sha'nugahi Meaning  uncertain.     (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Te'mo^hi11 Te,  buffalo;  monthi™,  walking,  traveling.    (InPon'caxti,Monkon/ 

subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Te'pezhi Te,  buffalo;  pezhi,  from  piazhi,  bad. 

Tezhi^ga Te,  buffalo;  zhi^ga,  little.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Ti'shimuxa Tishi,  tent  poles;  muxa,  to  spread  out.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Uhon/gemonthin Uhon/ge,  at  the  end  of  a  single  file;   monthin,  walking.     (In 

Nu'xe,  Ponca.) 

Uhon/genonzhin(pl.35)  Uhonge,  at  the  end  of  a  single  file;  no^zhin,  standing.  (In  Nu'xe, 

Uki/paton Rolling  himself.     Two  of  this  name.     (In  Pon'caxti,  Monk 

subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Waxbackaha Meaning  uncertain.     Two  of  this  name. 

a  As  in  Long,  Expedition  to  the  Rocky  Mountains,  I,  327,  Philadelphia,  1823. 





Waxinonzhin  ........    Wafi,  over  them  ;  no^zhin,  standing.     Probably  refers  to  the  last 

halt  of  the  hunters  as  they  ceremonially  approach  the  herd  of 
buffalo.  Two  of  this  name.  (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Wakon/ha  ...........  Meaning  uncertain.     Two  of  this  name. 

Wanon/pazhi  .......    Wanon/pa,  fear;  zhi,  from  onkazhi,  not.     Having  no  fear.     Two 

of  this  name.  (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Wati'thakuge  ........  Meaning  uncertain. 

Wazhin/gthedon.  .  .  .  Wazhin',  will  power;  gthedon,  hawk.  Sometimes  translated  as 
Angry  Hawk. 

Dream  names 

Mona/zhinga  .........   Mona'  ',  bank;  zhinga,  little.     (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Mon/cedon  ..........    Monqe,  metal;  don,  to  possess.    Two  of  this  name.     (In  Washa'be, 

Mon/shoncka  ........    Mon/shon,  feather;  gka,  white.     (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Non/katu  ............   Non'ka,  back;  tu,  blue.     Refers  to  the  sparrow  hawk.     (In  Ni'- 

kapashna,  Ponca.) 
Waan/,  to  sing.     (In  Wazhafzhe,  Ponca.) 

Female  names 

Gi'do^be  ...........  Meaning  uncertain. 

Mi/gthedonwin  ......    Mi,  moon;  gthedo71,  hawk;  win,  feminine.     Six  of  this  name. 

Mi'gthito11!11  ........    Mi,  moon;  gthi,  to  return;  tonin,  new.     Return  of  the  new  moon, 

or  the  moon  returns  new. 
Mi'hewi"  ............   Mi,  moon;  hewin,  the  new  moon  lies  horizontal,  like  a  canoe. 

Mixhezhinga  ........   Little  moon.     Two  of  this  name. 

Mon/shihathin  ......  Moving  on  high.     Refers  to  the  eagle. 

Non/gthece  ..........   Non,  action  by  the  foot;  gtheqe,  impressions  on  the  ground  in 

lines.     Refers  to  the  tracks  of  buffalo  calves.     Two  of  this 

Tecon/win  ...........    Tc,  buffalo;  ?ow/,  pale  or  white;  win,  feminine.     Refers  to  the 

Sacred  White  Buffalo  Hide. 
Ugi'nemoHhi0  ......    Ugi'ne,  seeks  for  his;  monthin,  walking.     Wanders  seeking  for 

his  mother.     The  feminine  counterpart  of  Iho^ugine. 


The  name  of  this  gens  is  an  ancient  term  that  may  be  translated 
as  follows:  inshta'  ,  "eyes;"  funda,  "flashing."  The  word  refers  to 
the  lightning,  and  the  rites  committed  to  this  gens  were  connected 
with  the  thunder  and  lightning  as  manifestations  of  the  sky  forces 
which  represented  the  power  of  Wakon/da  in  controlling  man's 
life  and  death.  The  name  of  this  gens  was  applied  to  one-half  of  the 
Jiu'ihuga  —  the  half  that  represented  the  Sky  people  who,  in  union 
with  the  Earth  people,  gave  birth  to  the  human  race.  (See  p.  135.) 

At  present  there  are  in  this  gens  but  one  subgens  and  the  Nini'bato11 
subdivision.  Formerly  there  was  another  subgens,  but  the  cere 
monies  of  which  it  had  charge  have  long  since  been  lost  and  the 
subgens  disintegrated.  An  example  of  how  such  disintegration  can 
come  about  may  be  seen  to-day  in  the  Nini'bato11  subdivision.  During 
the  last  century  the  Nini'bato11  became  reduced  to  one  family  ;  of  this 

186  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

family  there  is  at  the  present  time  but  one  survivor,  who  has  an  only 
son;  if  this  son  should  be  childless,  on  his  death  the  subdivision  would 
be  extinct.  In  the  past  when  a  subgens  lost  its  distinctive  rites  and 
became  depleted  through  death  the  survivors  seem  to  have  joined  the 
nearest  related  group  within  the  gens.  That  such  a  change  has  taken 
place  in  the  Inshta'cunda  gens  is  evidenced  by  the  names.  Formerly 
there  seems  to  have  been  a  clear  line  of  demarcation  between  the 
subgentes  as  well  as  the  gentes  of  the  tribe,  and  each  had  its  set  of 
names  that  referred  directly  to  the  rites  belonging  to  the  gens  or 
subgens.  Laxity  in  the  use  of  subgentes'  names,  owing  probably  to 
disintegration,  had  already  set  in  by  1883,  when  the  names  as  here 
given  were  collected,  although  each  gens  still  clung  with  tenacity  to 
its  distinctive  ni'kie  names. 

Of  the  two  subgentes  formerly  existing  in  the  Inshta/cunda  gens 
one  referred  to  the  earth  and  the  other  to  the  sky.  At  first  glance 
these  two  rites  appear  unrelated,  but  in  fact  they  were  allied  and 
formed  an  epitome  of  the  basal  idea  expressed  in  the  tribal  organiza 
tion.  The  rites  which  pertained  to  the  earth  subgens  as  well  as  its 
name  have  been  lost,  and  the  people  who  composed  this  subgens  have 
mingled  with  the  surviving  subgens.  From  the  meaning  of  the  name 
of  the  latter  and  the  significance  of  its  rites  it  is  possible  to  identify 
not  only  those  names  which  originally  belonged  to  it  but  also  those 
names  which  were  formerly  associated  with  the  rites  of  the  lost  earth 
subgens.  In  this  connection  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  the  present 
tabu  of  the  entire  gens  (worms,  insects,  etc.)  relates  to  the  lost  rites  of 
the  lost  subgens  rather  than  to  the  rites  of  the  surviving  subgens,  a 
fact  that  throws  light  on  the  relation  which  existed  between  the  rites 
of  the  two  subgentes.  The  subgens  which  survives  and  the  rites  which 
it  controls  pertain  to  the  sky,  to  the  power  which  descends  to  fructify 
the  earth.  This  power  is  typified  by  the  rain  which  falls  from  the 
storm  clouds,  with  their  thunder  and  lightning,  and  causes  the  earth 
to  bring  forth.  The  response  of  the  earth  is  typified  by  the  abound 
ing  life  as  seen  in  the  worms,  insects,  and  small  burrowing  creatures 
living  in  the  earth.  These  were  the  sign,  or  symbol,  of  the  result  of 
the  fructifying  power  from  above.  Tradition  says  that  one  of  the 
symbols  used  in  the  rites  of  the  lost  subgens  was  a  mole,  painted  red 
(the  life  color) . 

The  surviving  subgens  is  called  Washe'to11.  The  prefix  wa  denotes 
action  with  a  purpose ;  she  is  from  shie,  a  generic  term  for  children  (as, 
shie'  athinkithe,  "to  beget  children,"  and  shie'  githe,  "to  adopt  chil 
dren")  ;  ton  means  "to  possess"  or  "become  possessed  of."  The  word 
washe'ton  therefore  means  "the  act  of  possessing  children."  Through 
the  rites  pertaining  to  this  subgens  the  child's  life  was  consecrated  to 
the  life-giving  power  symbolized  by  the  thunder  and  lightning,  and 


passed  out  of  the  simple  relation  it  bore  to  its  parents  and  was  reborn, 
so  to  speak,  as  a  member  of  the  tribe.  A  detailed  account  of  this  cere 
mony  in  connection  with  the  consecration  of  the  child  and  its  entrance 
into  the  tribe  has  been  given  (p.  117). 

On  the  fourth  day  after  the  birth  of  a  child  a  baby  name  was  given 
to  it,  and  if  it  was  a  boy,  a  belt  ornamented  with  the  claws  of  the 
wild-cat  was  put  about  its  body.  The  significance  and  use  of  the  skin 
of  the  wild-cat  and  the  skin  of  the  fawn  in  reference  to  the  stars  and 
the  newly  born  were  mentioned  in  connection  with  the  lost  stellar 
rites  of  the  Tapa'  gens  which  referred  to  the  sky,  the  masculine 
(father)  element.  If  the  child  was  a  girl,  a  girdle  of  mussel  shells 
strung  on  a  string  was  put  around  her.  Here,  again,  is  to  be  noted 
the  connection  of  the  shell  with  water  and  of  water  as  the  medium 
for  transmitting  power  from  the  Above  to  the  mother  earth.  The 
placing  of  these  symbolic  emblems  on  the  infant  constituted  a  prayer 
for  the  preservation  of  the  tribe  and  for  the  continuation  of  life 
through  children. 

There  is  a  curious  tradition  concerning  the  formation  of  the  Nini/- 
baton  subdivision  in  this  gens.  At  the  time  of  the  organization  of 
the  tribe  in  its  present  form,  when  this  group  of  families  w^as  selected 
and  the  pipe  was  offered  them,  they  refused,  their  chief  saying:  "I 
am  not  worthy  to  keep  this  pipe  that  represents  all  that  is  good.  I 
am  a  wanderer,  a  bloody  man.  I  might  stain  this  sacred  article  with 
blood.  Take  it  back."  Three  times  was  the  pipe  offered  and  rejected; 
the  fourth  time  the  pipe  was  left  with  them  and  the  old  men  who 
brought  it  turned  away;  but  the  families  returned  the  pipe,  accom 
panied  with  many  gifts,  because  they  feared  to  accept  the  responsi 
bility  put  upon  them  by  the  reception  of  the  pipe.  But  again  they 
were  remonstrated  with,  and  finally  the  pipe  and  the  duties  connected 
with  it  were  fully  accepted.  These  duties  consisted  in  not  only  fur 
nishing  a  member  of  the  Council  of  Seven  Chiefs,  which  governed  the 
tribe,  but  in  the  preservation  and  recital  of  a  ritual  to  be  used  when 
the  two  Sacred  Pipes  belonging  to  the  tribe  were  filled  for  ceremonial 
purposes,  as  at  the  inauguration  of  chiefs  or  some  other  equally  impor 
tant  tribal  event.  The  recitation  of  this  ritual  was  essential  when 
the  tobacco  was  placed  in  the  pipes  to  make  them  ready  for  smoking. 
This  ritual  is  now  irrevocably  lost.  Its  last  keeper  \vas  Mon/hinci. 
He  died  about  1850  without  imparting  the  knowledge  of  the  ritual 
to  anyone.0 

a  It  is  said  that  he  withheld  it  from  his  son  because  of  the  latter's  nervous,  energetic  temperament. 
He  thought  that,  with  added  years,  the  young  man  would  be  able  to  become  the  quiet,  sedate  person 
to  whom  so  important  an  office  might  be  safely  trusted;  but  death  overtook  the  old  man  before  he  was 
satisfied  that  he  ought  to  put  his  sacred  charge  into  the  keeping  of  his  son.  Since  his  death  the  Sacred 
Tribal  Pipes  have  never  been  ceremonially  filled.  The  son  developed  into  a  fine,  trustworthy  man, 
with  a  remarkably  well-poised  mind  but  with  a  great  fund  of  humor. 

188  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

It  has  been  impossible  to  learn  the  exact  nature  of  this  ritual,  but 
from  the  little  information  that  could  be  gleaned  it  would  seem  to 
have  been  a  history  of  the  development  of  the  Sacred  Pipes  and 
their  ceremonies.  The  old  chiefs  who  had  heard  it  regarded  it  as 
too  sacred  to  talk  about. 

The  Nini'baton  subdivision  bids  fair  soon  to  follow  the  lost  ritual, 
as  only  one  person  survives. 

When  the  growing  corn  was  infested  by  grasshoppers  or  other 
destructive  insects  the  owner  of  ^the  troubled  field  applied  to  the 
Inshta'cunda  gens  for  help.  A  feast  was  made,  to  which  those  were 
invited  who  had  the  hereditary  right  to  make  the  ceremonial  appeal 
for  the  preservation  of  the  crop.  A  young  man  was  dispatched  to 
the  threatened  field  of  corn  with  instructions  to  catch  one  of  the 
grasshoppers  or  beetles.  On  his  return  he  handed  the  captured 
insect  to  the  leader,  who  removed  one  of  its  wings  and  broke  off  a  bit 
from  the  tip,  which  he  dropped  into  the  vessel  containing  the  food 
about  to  be  eaten. 

The  whole  ceremony  was  a  dramatic  form  of  prayer.  The  feast 
symbolized  the  appeal  for  a  plentiful  supply  of  food;  breaking  the 
wing  and  putting  a  piece  of  its  tip  into  the  pot 
of  food  set  forth  the  wish  that  the  destructive 
creatures  might  lose  their  power  to  be  active  and 
thus  to  destroy  the  corn.  This  latter  act  exem 
plified  the  belief  in  the  living  connection  of  a 
part  with  its  whole;  consequently,  the  bit  of  wing 
was  thought  to  have  a  vital  relation  to  all  the 
insects  that  were  feeding  on  the  maize,  and  its 

FIG.  42.  cut  of  hair,  severance  and  destruction  to  have  a  like  effect  on 
all  its  kind. 

This  ceremony,  which  is  probably  the  survival  of  a  rite  pertaining 
to  the  lost  subgens,  has  been  inaccurately  reported  and  misunder 
stood.  Only  a  bit  of  the  wing  was  cast  into  the  food  for  the  cere 
monial  feast.  No  other  creature,  nor  any  other  part  of  the  insect, 
was  used. 

In  the  hu'thuga,  the  place  of  the  lost  gens  (a)  was  left  of  the 
Ingthe'zhide;  next  came  the  Nini'baton  subdivision  (6);  then  the 
Washe'to11  (c) ;  this  last-named  subgens  formed  the  eastern  end  of 
the  line  of  the  Inshta'cunda  division  of  the  tribe. 

Tabu:  The  entire  gens  was  forbidden  to  touch  all  manner  of 
creeping  insects,  bugs,  worms,a  and  similar  creatures. 

The  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair  consisted  in  removing  all  hair  from  the 
crown,  leaving  a  number  of  little  locks  around  the  base  of  the  skull 
(fig.  42),  said  to  represent  the  many  legs  of  insects. 

«  Lightning  is  said  to  feed  on  the  gum  weed,  monkon    tonga  ("big  mocasin"),  and  to  leave  a  worm  at 
the  root. 





Nini'baton  subdivision  (b) 
Ni'kie  names 

Gahi/pethonba Gahi,  from  gahige,  chief;  pe'thonba,  seven.     Refers  to  the 

seven  original  chiefs  when  the  Omaha  reorganized. 

Kawa'ha . 

FIG.  43.     Teu'ko->ha. 

Hon/ga,  leader;  shenu,  young  man  (full  brother  of  Kawa'ha; 

now    lives    with    the    Pawnee    tribe).     (In  Wazha'zhe, 


Meaning  uncertain. 
Monhin,  stone  knife;  qi,  yellow. 
Deserted,  as  a  dwelling. 

190  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.AXX.  l»7 

Monchu/waxe Mo^chu',  grizzly  bear;   waxe,  maker. 

Teu/ko"ha  (fig.  43) Te,  buffalo;  u'konha,  alone;  refers  to  the  male  buffalo  in  the 

winter  season,  when  its  habit  was  to  remain  alone. 

Harrowed  names 

Ushka/(lewakon Dakota  name. 

Derisive  names 

Wazhe/thiI1ge Wazhe',  gratitude;  thinge.,  none.     (In  Wazha'zhe.  Ponca.) 

Female  names 

Mi'gthito11!" Return  of  the  new  moon. 

Mi/monshihathi" Moon  moving  above. 

Mi/mo"thi" Mi,  moon;  monthin,  walking,  traveling;  refers  to  the  mov 
ing  of  the  moon  across  the  heavens.  Two  of  this  name. 

Mi'texiyi Mi,  moon;  texi,  sacred;  qi,  yellow.     Three  of  this  name. 

Mon/shadithi" One  moving  on  high. 

Ton/ingi To^in,  new;  gi,  coming.  Refers  to  moon.  Two  of  this 


\Ve'tonna Meaning  uncertain.  Two  of  this  name.  (In  Thi'-.rida, 


Washe/ton  (owners  of  the  children)  subgens  (c) 
Al'fci'e  names 

A'thiude Left  alone,  abandoned. 

Athu'hage The  last,   in  a  file  of  men  or  animals.     (In    Wnzhu'zhe, 

Chuugthi/shkamonthin Chun,  meaning  uncertain,  perhaps  wood;  wagthi'shka,  bug; 

monthin,  walking.     Two  of  this  name. 

Edi'to" Edi,  there;  ton,  stands. 

Ga'gigthethi" Ga,  at  a  distance;  gigthe,  passing  toward  home;  thin,  min 
ing.  Refers  to  thunder.  Two  of  this  name. 

Gahixinshage Gahi,  chief;  inshage,  old. 

Ha/shimonthi" Walking  last  in  a  file.     Two  of  this  name.     (In  Thi'.rida, 


Heba/Ja He,  horn;  ba'a,  worn  down. 

Ileba'cabazhi He,  horn;  baqabe,  splinter;  zhi,  onkazhi,  not.     Refers  to  a 

horn  not  yet  jagged  from  age. 
Hecon/nida He,  horn;   $on,  wrhite  or  pale;  nida,  a  mythical  animal. 

(See  note  on  nida,  p.  194.) 
He'shathage He,   horn;   shathage,  branching.     Refers   to  the  elk.     (In 

Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 
Hon/doumonthi" Hon,  night;  don,  when  or  at;  monthin,  walking.     Refers  to 

Huxtont.on Hu'ton,  noise;  ton,  stands.     Roars  as  he  stands  (referring 

to  thunder).     Two  of  this  name. 
I/baho"bi I/bahon,  to  know;  bi,  he  is.     He  is  known.     Refers  to  a 

chief's  son.     (In  Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Fgado'^e Same  as  preceding. 

I'gado'Mha Probably  refers  to  clouds  driven  by  the  wind. 

Inke/to"ga Ink^,    shoulder;  to^ga,    big.     Two    of    this    name.     (In 

Pon/caxti,  Monkon/  subdivision,  Ponca.) 
In8ha/gemonthin Insha'ge,  old  man;  monthin,  walking.     Refers  to  thunder. 

(In  Nu'xe  gens,  Ponca.) 


Pshta'xi. .  Inshta',  eye;  xi,  yellowish.  Refers  to  lightning,  "the  yel 

low  eye  of  the  thunder." 

Ka'etha Ketha,  clear  sky,  after  a  storm. 

Ki'monhon...  .  Against  or  facing  the  wind.  Two  of  this  name.  (In 

Wazhafzhe,  Ponca.) 

Ku'zhiwate...  .   Ku'zhi,  afar;  wate,  a  valorous  deed.     Victory  widespread. 

Ma'cikide...  Ma'gi,  cedar;  Icide,  to  shoot.  Refers  to  the  myth  of  the 

thunder  striking  the  cedar  tree.  (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Mona/gata Mon,  arrow;  a'gata,  to  aim. 

Mon/hiuduba Mon'hin,  stone  knife;  duba,  four.  One  of  the  names  of  the 

keeper  of  the  ritual  used  in  cutting  the  hair  and  conse 
crating  the  child  to  the  thunder.  The  bearer  of  this 
name  died  in  1884. 

Mo"shi/ahamonthin Monshi'aha,  above;  monthin,  moving.    (In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Monxpix Clouds.     Two  of  this  name. 

Monxpi'monthin Mo^xpi' ',  clouds;  monthin,  walking.  This  name  appears 

in  the  treaties  of  1826  and  1836,  signed  by  Omaha  chiefs. 

Paga'sho" Pa,  head;  ga'shon,  to  nod.  Refers  to  bugs  nodding  the 

head  as  they  walk. 

Sheda'monrhin Sheda,  meaning  uncertain;  monthin,  walking.  Appears  in 

treaty  of  1826. 

Shugi'shugi Meaning  uncertain. 

Te'bi'a Frog. 

Thigthi/cemonthin Thigthiqe,  zigzag  lightning;  monthin,  walking.  (In 

Washa'be,  Ponca.) 

Thio"'bagigthe Thion'ba,  general  term  for  lightning;  gigthe,  going  by,  on  the 

way  home.  (In  Washa'be,  IJi'qada  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Thion/bagina Thion/ba,  lightning;  gina,  coming.     Two  of  this  name. 

Thion/baligthe Thion/ba,  lightning;  tigthe,  sudden.  (In  Washa'be,  Bi'qada 

subdivision,  Ponca.) 

Ti'gaxa Ti,  tent  or  village;  gaxa,  to  approach  by  stealth.  Refers  to 

the  thunder  under  the  guise  of  a  warrior  approaching  the 
village  by  stealth. 

Ti/uthionba Ti,  tent;  u,  in;  thionba,  lightning.  Lightning  flashes  into 

the  lodge.  (In  Wa<;a'be,  Ili'qada  subdivision,  Ponca.) 

U'bani" U,  in;  ba,  to  push;  nin,  digging.  Digging  in  the  earth. 

Said  to  refer  to  a  small  reptile  that  disappears  in  the 
earth  when  the  thunder  comes.  Two  of  this  name;  one 
in  Inshta'qundaxti  subdivision. 

Ugu'gaxe Uc,u',  path;  gaxe,  to  make.  Refers  to  one  who  leads. 

(The  name  of  a  subdivision  of  Wazha' zheqka  gens,  Osage. 
Occurs  in  Wazha'zhe  gens,  Ponca.)  Appears  in  Omaha 
treaty  of  1815.  Two  of  this  name. 

Uha/mo"thi" Uha',  In  a  hollow;  monthin,  walking.  Refers  to  the  thun 
der  storms  following  the  valleys  and  river  courses. 

Ushu/demonthin U,  in;  shu'de,  mist;  monthin,  walking. 

Wagi/asha Meaning  lost.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Waha'xi Waha,  skin;  xi,  yellowish.  (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.)  Two 

of  this  name. 

Wa/hutonto" Wa,  prefix  denoting  action  with  a  purpose;  huton,  noise; 

ton,  stands.  (See  Hu'tonton.) 

Wano"'kuge  (tig.  44) Wa,  purpose  in  action;  -non,  action  with  the  feet;  kuge, 

sound  of  a  drum.  Refers  to  the  resounding  footsteps  of 
the  thunder.  Appears  in  the  Omaha  treaties  of  1854 
and  1865. 



[ETH.  ANN.  i_>7 

Washa'ge  . .  .  Claw.  Refers  to  the  wild-cat  claw,  an  hereditary  posses 

sion,  and  used  in  ceremonies  conducted  by  this  pens. 

Washe/to^zhinga. . ,    Washed  ton,  the  name  of  this  subdivision ;  zhinga,  little. 

Waahe/zhinga...  .    Washe',  an  abbreviation  of  washe'ton,-  zhinga,  little 

Waahkon/hi..  .  WasKko*,  strength.  Refere  to  the  power  of  thunder.  (In 

Wazhafzhe.  Ponca. ) 

FIG.  44.     Wano"'kuge. 

Wazhi^cka..  .  Wazhi*',  will,  mind;  qka,  white.  Wisdom.  (In  Thi'xida, 


Wazhi^o»ba Wazhin',  will  power,  energy;  o^ba,  day.  Sometimes  trans 
lated  as  "angry  or  turbulent  day,"  a  day  of  storms  of 
thunder  and  lightning. 


We'c'a Snake.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

We/5'ahonga We'q'a,  snake;  honga,  leader.     (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Wexc'azhinga We'q'a,  snake;   zhinga,  little.     Two   of   this   name.     (In 

Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 
Wi'ukipae Meaning  uncertain 

Ku'e'the Rushing  forward  suddenly.  This  name  was  bestowed 

on  the  man  because  he  rushed  suddenly  on  a  large 
party  of  Sioux,  armed  only  with  a  hatchet. 

Waba'ape Wa,  waan',  a  valorous  deed ;  a  successful  war  party  is  also 

called  icaan' ';  baage,  to  put  to  flight,  to  scare.  This  name 
was  won  by  a  man  who,  although  partially  paralyzed, 
killed  his  adversary  in  single  combat  during  a  fight  with 
the  Dakota.  (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Wain/washi Wain,  to  carry;  washi,  to  ask  another  to  do  something  for 


Wanon/shezhinga Wanon'she,  soldier;  zhinga,  little.  (In  Wazha'zhe,  Ponca.) 

Two  of  this  name — one  in  Nini'baton  subdivision. 

Dream  names 

On/ponwahi Qn'pon,  elk ;  wahi,  bone. 

Shon/geonca Shonge,  horse;  unqa,  from  unqagi,  swift. 

Waxshinnixa The  layers  of  fat  about  the  stomach  of  an  animal — the 


Names  taken  from  incidents  or  historic  experiences 

Clthe/dezhinga Qithe'de,  heel;  zhinga,  little.     (In  Waqa'be,  Ponca.) 

Nibtha'cka Ni,  water;  bthaqka,  flat.     The  name  by  which  the  Omaha 

call  the  Platte  river.     Nebraska  is  a  corruption  of  Nibtha- 

Tahe'gaxe Ta,  deer;  he,  horn;  gaxe,  branch. 

Ton'wonpezhe Ton'iron,  village;  pezhe,  bad.    Said  to  be  a  nickname  given 

to  a  man  who  h£fd  poisoned  several  persons.     It  is  said 

also  that  the  name  refers  to  the  Thunder  village,  whence 

the  Thunder  issues  to  kill  men. 
U/honzhinga U'hon,  cook;  zhinga,  little.     Two  of  this  name — one  in 

Nini'baton  subdivision.     Appears  in  Omaha  treaty  of 

1826.     (In  Washa'be,  Ponca.) 
Une/cezhinga Une'qe,  fireplace;  zhinga,  little. 

Names  borrowed  from  cognate  tribes,  modified  or  unmodified 

Nonxexwanida Dakota  name. 

Thion/backa Thion/ba,  lightning;  qka,  white.     This  is  said  to  be  taken 

from  the   Dakota  name    Wakiya^ska,  meaning   White 
'  Thunder. 

Waxthaxthuton Oto  name. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 13 

194  THE   OMAHA  TRIBE  [BTH.  ANN.  27 

Female  names 

Qigi'kawate Qiqi'ka,  turkey;  wate,  victory. 

Hu/tonwin Hu'ton,  noise;  win,  feminine  termination.  Refers  to 


Inshta/conwin Inshta',  eye;  ?o™,  white  or  pale;  win,  feminine  termination. 

Two  of  this  name. 

Mi'asheto" Mi,  moon;  asheton,  the  end.     The  waning  moon . 

Mi/gthitoni n Mi,  moon;  gthi,  to  return;  toni*1,  new.  The  return  of  the 

new  moon.  Four  of  this  name — one  in  Nini'baton  sub 
division.  (In  Washa'bc  and  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Mi'huca Mi,  moon;  huqa,  loud  voice. 

Mi'mo^hihathi11 Mi,  moon;  monshiha,  above;  thin,  moving.  Five  of  this 

name — one  in  Nini'baton  subdivision. 

Mi'onbathin Mi,  moon;  onba,  day;  thin,  moving.  Three  of  this  name. 

(In  Thi'xida,  Ponca.) 

Mon/shadithin One  moving  on  high.  Refers  to  thunder.  Six  of  this 

name — one  in  Nini'baton  subdivision.  (In  Washa'be  and 
Ni'kapashna,  Ponca.) 

Nixdawin Ni'da,  a  mythical  being;  uin,  feminine.  Six  of  this 

name. « 

Ni'kano^hiha Ni'ka,  person;  nonzhiha,  human  hair.     Three  of  this  name- 

Nou/xticewiu Meaning  uncertain. 

On/bathagthin On'ba,  day;  thagthfa,  fine.     Two  of  this  name. 

Tou/ingina Ton/in,  new;  gi,  coming;  na,  who  does.  Refers  to  the 

moon  symbolically.  Three  of  this  name.  (In  Ni'ka 
pashna,  Ponca.) 

Ton/ingthihe Ton'in,  new;  gthihe,  to  return  suddenly.  The  sudden  ap 
parition  of  the  new  moon.  Three  of  this  name. 

Ton/inthin To^in,  new;  thin,  moving.  Refers  to  the  new  moon 

moving  in  the  heavens.  Three  of  this  name. 

After  the  preceding  detailed  account  of  the  Omaha  gentes  it  may 
be  of  service  to  the  reader  to  recapitulate  briefly  the  salient  features 
of  the  tribal  organization. 

Five  gentes  composed  the  southern  half  of  the  Tiu'fhuga  or  tribal 
circle.  These  had  charge  of  the  physical  welfare  of  the  people.  The 
We'zhinshte  gens  had  charge  of  the  Sacred  Tent  of  War  and  its 
duties,  and  also  of  rites  connected  with  the  first  thunder  of  the  spring. 
These  rites,  which  were  fragmentary,  probably  once  formed  part  of 
ancient  ceremonies  connected  with  surviving  articles  no  longer  cere 
monially  used — the  Sacred  Shell  and  the  Cedar  Pole.  The  elk  was 
tabu  to  the  We'zhinshte  gens,  and  it  is  to  be  noted  that  elk  rites 
were  associated  with  war  in  the  Osage  tribe.  (See  Ceremony  of 
Adoption,  p.  61.)  The  other  four  gentes  were  charged  with  duties 
and  rites  connected  with  the  food  supply  and  were  under  the  direc 
tion  of  the  Hon/ga  gens.  This  gens  was  leader,  as  its  name  implies, 
and  had  the  care  of  the  two  Sacred  Tents;  one  contained  the  White 

oThe  Nida  was  a  mythical  creature,  in  one  conception  a  sort  of  elf  that  crept  in  and  out  of  the  earth. 
The  word  was  applied  also  to  the  bones'of  large  extinct  animals,  as  the  mastodon.  When  the  elephant 
was  first  seen  it  was  called  Nida,  and  that  name  is  still  applied  to  it  by  the  Omaha,  Ponca,  and  Osage. 


Buffalo  Hide.  Its  keeper  conducted  the  rites  attending  the  planting 
of  maize  and  the  hunting  of  the  buffalo.  The  other  tent  held  the 
Sacred  Pole.  Its  keepers  were  the  custodians  of  the  rites  concerned 
with  the  maintaining  of  the  authority  of  the  chiefs  in  the  govern 
ment  of  the  tribe.  Protection  from  without,  the  preservation  of 
peace  within  the  tribe,  the  obtaining  of  food  and  clothing,  devolved 
upon  the  rites  in  charge  of  the  gentes  composing  the  Hon'gashenu 
half  of  the  hu'thuga. 

The  five  gentes  on  the  north  half  of  the  tribal  circle  were  custodians 
of  rites  that  related  to  the  creation,  the  stars,  the  manifestation  of 
the  cosmic  forces  that  pertain  to  life.  Nearly  all  of  these  rites  have 
become  obsolete,  except  those  of  the  last-named  class,  in  charge  of 
the  Inshta'cunda  gens.  These  constituted  the  ritual  by  which  the 
child  was  introduced  to  the  Cosmos  (see  p.  115),  the  ceremony  through 
which  the  child  was  inducted  into  its  place  and  duty  in  the  tribe 
(see  p.  117),  and  the  ritual  required  when  the  two  Sacred  Tribal 
Pipes  were  filled  for  use  on  solemn  tribal  occasions. 

In  view  of  what  has  been  discerned  of  the  practical  character  of 
the  Omaha,  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  only  those  rites  directly 
concerned  with  the  maintenance  of  the  tribal  organization  and  gov 
ernment  were  kept  active  and  vital,  while  other  rites,  kindred  but 
not  so  closely  connected  with  the  tribal  organization,  were  suffered 
to  fall  into  neglect. 


From  the  foregoing  account  of  the  gentes  of  the  tribe,  it  is  apparent 
that  the  Omaha  gens  was  not  a  political  organization.  It  differed 
from  the  Latin  gens  in  that  the  people  composing  it  did  not  claim  to 
be  descended  from  a  common  ancestor  from  whom  the  group  took 
its  name  and  crest.  There  was,  however,  one  point  of  resemblance, 
and  because  of  this  one  point  of  resemblance  the  name  gens  is  applied 
to  the  Omaha  group ;  namely,  the  practice  of  a  common  rite  the 
title  to  share  in  which  descended  solely  through  the  father.  Beyond 
this  one  point  all  resemblance  ends.  The  rights  and  duties  of  the 
Omaha  father  in  no  way  corresponded  to  those  devolving  on  the 
head  of  a  Roman  family.  Nor  was  the  Omaha  group  a  claii,  for  the 
bond  between  the  people  was  not  because  of  a  common  ancestor* 
whose  name  and  crest  were  the  clan  designation  and  from  whom  were 
descended  the  hereditary  rulers  of  the  clan.  The  Omaha  gens  was  a 
group  of  exogamous  kindred  who  practised  a  particular  rite,  the 
child's  birthright  to  which  descended  solely  through  the  father;  and 
the  symbol  characteristic  of  that  rite  became  the  symbol,  crest,  or 
"totem,"  of  the  gens.  There  was  no  political  or  governing  chief  of 
an  Omaha  gens  or  subgens,  but  there  were  persons  to  whom  belonged 

196  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

the  hereditary  right  to  be  keepers,  or  'priests,"  in  the  ceremonies 
that  were  in  charge  of  the  gens.  The  Omaha  gens,  the  two  grand 
divisions  composing  the  tribe,  and  the  tribe  as  a  whole,  were  each  and 
all  expressive  and  representative  of  certain  fundamental  religious  ideas 
and  beliefs  that  were  dramatized  in  rites. 

Later,  when  the  tribe  was  reorganized  into  its  present  form,  the 
political  government  of  the  people  was  vested  in  certain  chiefs,  but 
these  did  not  derive  their  position  from  their  gentes  as  representatives 
of  political  organizations. 


Looking  at  the  hu'thuga,  we  observe  that  the  rites  and  duties 
belonging  to  the  gentes  composing  the  Hon/gashenu  division  bear  out 
their  designation  as  "the  Earth  people."  All  the  rites  and  all  the 
duties  intrusted  to  these  gentes  have  a  direct  relation  to  the  physical 
welfare  of  the  people.  The  ceremonies  connected  with  the  warrior 
as  the  protector  of  the  life  and  property  of  the  tribe  were  in  charge 
of  the  We/zhinshte  gens,  whose  place  wTas  at  the  eastern  end  of  this 
division  and  at  the  southern  side  of  the  opening,  or  "door,"  of  the 
Jiu'thuga,  viewed  as  when  oriented.  The  rites  pertaining  to  the 
people's  food  supply — the  hunting  of  the  buffalo,  the  planting  of  the 
maize,  the  protection  of  the  growing  crops  from  the  depredations  of 
birds,  and  the  fostering  help  of  wind  and  rain — were  in  charge  of  the 
other  four  gentes  of  this  division,  each  gens  having  its  special  share  in 
these  ceremonies.  Besides  these  rites  which  bore  directly  upon  the 
food  supply,  there  were  other  duties  w^hich  were  concerned  with  the 
governing  power  and  the  maintenance  of  peace  within  the  tribe. 
When  the  governing  power  was  vested  in  a  Council  of  Seven  Chiefs, 
the  right  to  convene  this  council  became  the  duty  of  the  Hon/ga 
gens,  and  the  custody  of  the  two  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  was  given  to  the 
Inke'cabe  gens.  The  presence  and  use  of  these  pipes  were  essential 
to  any  authoritative  proceeding  but  the  preparation  of  the  pipes 
for  use  could  not  be  undertaken  by  any  member  of  the  Hon'gashenu 
division.  This  preparation  belonged  solely  to  the  Inshta'cunda  gens. 
Therefore  the  pipes  when  in  use  became  tribal,  and  represented  both 
of  the  divisions  of  the  tribe. 

The  Inshta'cunda  division,  spoken  of  as  "the  Sky  people,"  had 
charge  of  those  rites  by  which  supernatural  aid  was  sought  and 
secured.  The  rites  committed  to  the  gentes  composing  this  division 
were  all  connected  with  the  creation  and  the  maintenance  on  the 
earth  of  all  living  forms.  To  the  Inshta'9Unda  gens  belonged  the 
rites  which  enforced  the  belief  that  the  life  and  the  death  of  each 
person  was  in  the  keeping  of  a  supernatural  power — a  power  that 
could  punish  an  offender  and  that  alone  could  give  authority  to  the 





words  and  acts  of  the  council  of  chiefs.  Although  the  rites  and  duties 
of  the  Inshta'cunda  division  pertained  distinctively  to  the  super 
natural,  to  the  creative  and  directive  forces  as  related  to  man's  social 
and  individual  life,  yet  they  were  necessary  and  essential  to  the  rites 
and  duties  of  the  Hon/gashenu  division,  in  whose  charge  was  the 
physical  well-being  of  the  people.  The  former  gave  a  supernatural 
sanction  and  authority  to  the  latter,  and  made  them  effective  not 
only  over  the  animals  and  the  fruits  of  the  earth,  but  exercised  an 
equally  potent  control  over  the  governing  power  and  the  life  of  every 
member  of  the  tribe.  Thus  the  belief  that  by  union  of  the  Sky  people 
and  the  Earth  people  the  human  race  and  all  other  living  forms 
were  created  and  perpetuated  was  not  only  sym 
bolized  in  the  organization  of  the  tribe,  but  this 
belief  was  kept  vital  and  continually  present  to  the 
minds  of  the  people  by  the  rites,  the  grouping  and 
interrelation  of  the  gentes,  and  the  share  given 
the  two  great  divisions  in  tribal  affairs  and 
ceremonies.  No  tribal  ceremony,  negotiation,  or 
consultation  could  take  place  without  both  divi 
sions  being  represented;  no  council  could  act 
unless  there  were  present  one  chief  from  the 
Inshta'cunda  division  and  two  from  the  Hon/- 
gashenu.  In  this  connection,  the  saying  of  an 
old  Omaha  man  may  throw  light  on  how  this 
representation  from  the  two  divisions  was  re 
garded  by  the  people.  He  said:  "The  Pshta'- 
cunda  represented  the  great  power,  so  that  one 
chief  from  that  side  was  enough,  while  two  were 
necessary  from  the  Hon'gashenu."  This  native 
estimate  of  the  reason  for  the  unequal  represen 
tation  of  chiefs  is  the  reverse  of  what  a  member 
of  the  white  race  would  naturally  conclude— that 
the  more  important  division  should  be  represented 
by  the  two  chiefs. 

In  former  times  a  ball  game  used  to  be  ceremonially  played  between 
the  young  men  of  the  two  divisions.  At  such  times  it  was  the  duty 
of  a  member  of  the  Tade'ata,  or  Wind,  subgens  of  the  Kon'ce  gens,  to 
start  the  ball.  A  circle  with  two  lines  crossing  each  other  at  right 
angles  was  drawn  on  the  cleared  ground,  and  the  ball  placed  in  the 
center  (fig.  45) .  The  ball  was  first  rolled  toward  the  north  along  the 
line  drawn  to  the  edge  of  the  circle,  and  then  back  on  the  same  line  to 
the  center.  It  was  then  rolled  on  the  line  toward  the  east  to  the 
edge  of  the  circle  and  back  to  the  center.  Next  it  was  rolled  to  the 
south  and  returned  on  the  same  line  to  the  center.  Finally  it  was 
rolled  to  the  west  on  its  line,  and  back  to  the  center,  and  then  it  was 


FIG.  45.    Diagram  of  ball 

198  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  AXX.  27 

tossed  into  the  air  and  the  game  proper  began.  The  game  is  said  to 
have  had  a  cosmic  significance  and  the  initial  movements  of  the  ball 
referred  to  the  winds,  the  bringers  of  life.  It  was  played  by  the  two 
divisions  of  the  hu'thuga  as  representatives  of  the  earth  and  the  sky. 
The  demarcation  between  the  two  divisions  of  the  hu'thuga  was 
well  known  to  the  boys  of  the  tribe,  and  no  boy  dared  to  go  alone 
across  this  line.  When  for  any  purpose  a  boy  wTas  sent  on  an  errand 
from  the  Hon'gashenu  side  to  the  Inshta'cunda  side,  he  was  obliged 
to  go  attended  by  his  friends  from  the  gentes  belonging  to  his  own 
side,  for  a  fight  was  always  the  result  of  an  attempt  to  cross  the  line. 
It  is  an  interesting  fact  that  while  the  old  men  of  the  tribe  generally 
punished  boys  for  fighting  together,  these  juvenile  combats  over  the 
line  were  not  objected  to  by  the  parents  and  elders.  This  custom 
seems  to  have  come  into  practice  to  serve  a  purpose  similar  to  that 
of  the  symbolic  cutting  of  the  hair.  The  cutting  of  the  hair  was 
done,  it  was  said,  in  order  to  impress  on  the  mind  of  a  child,  as  in  an 
object  lesson,  the  gentes  to  which  his  playmates  belonged.  That  it 
served  its  purpose  has  been  observed  by  the  writers.  Frequently 
when  a  man  has  been  asked  to  what  gens  a  certain  person  belonged, 
he  would  pause  and  then  say:  "I  remember,  his  hair  used  to  be  cut 
thus  and  so  when  we  were  boys,  so  he  must  be  -  — ,"  mentioning 
the  gens  that  used  this  symbolic  cut  of  the  hair.  The  line  that 
marked  the  two  divisions  of  the  hu'thuga,  although  invisible,  was  well 
known  to  the  boys  as  the  fighting  line,  where  they  could  have  a  scrim 
mage  without  being  interfered  with,  and  each  boy  knew  his  own 
half  of  the  hu'thuga  and  the  boundary,  where  he  was  at  liberty  to 
attack  and  where  he  must  stand  on  the  defensive.  This  custom  of 
one  division  standing  by  its  members  in  a  fight  as  against  outsiders 
throws  a  side  light  on  the  word  for  tribe  already  referred  to. 


From  an  examination  by  the  light  of  tribal  traditions  of  the  rites, 
duties,  and  interrelations  of  the  gentes,  one  discerns  in  the  tribal 
organization  of  the  Omaha  and  cognates,  as  it  stood  in  the  early  part 
of  the  nineteenth  century,  the  evidences  of  past  vicissitudes,  all  of 
which  show  that  a  tendency  had  existed  toward  disintegration 
because  of  a  lack  of  close  political  organization,  and  that  various  ex 
pedients  for  holding  the  people  together  had  been  tried.  This  weak 
ness  seems  to  have  been  specially  felt  when  the  people  were  in  the 
buffalo  country;  while  there  groups  would  wander  away,  following 
the  game,  and  become  lost.  Occasionally  they  were  discovered  and 
would  rejoin  the  main  body,  as  has  been  shown  in  the  case  of  the 
Hon/ga  utanatsi  of  the  Osage  tribe.  The  environment  of  the  people 
did  not  foster  sedentary  habits,  such  as  would  have  tended  toward  a 
close  political  union;  therefore  the  nature  of  the  country  in  which 
these  cognates  dwelt  added  to  rather  than  lessened  the  danger  of  dis 
integration.  This  danger  was  further  increased  by  the  number  of 
religious  rites  among  the  people,  each  one  of  which  was  more  or  less 
complete  in  itself  and  was  in  the  keeping  of  a  group  of  exogamous 
kindred.  The  fact  that  the  group  was  exogamous  indicates  that 
some  form  of  organization  had  long  existed  among  the  people,  but  the 
frequent  separations  that  took  place  emphasized  the  importance  of 
maintaining  the  unity  of  the  tribe,  and  the  problem  of  devising  means 
to  secure  this  essential  result  was  a  matter  of  serious  concern  to  the 
thinking  and  constructive  minds  among  the  people.  The  Sacred 
Legend,  already  quoted,  says:  "And  the  people  thought,  How  can 
we  better  ourselves?" 

As  has  been  stated,  the  ideas  fundamental  to  the  tribal  organiza 
tion  of  the  Omaha  and  their  cognates  related  to  the  creation  and 
perpetuation  of  living  creatures.  The  expression  of  these  ideas  in 
the  dramatic  form  of  rites  seems  to  have  been  early  achieved  and 
those  which  symbolically  present  the  connection  of  cosmic  forces 
with  the  birth  and  well-being  of  mankind  seem  to  have  persisted  in 
whole  or  in  part  throughout  the  various  experiences  of  the  five  cog 
nate  tribes,  and  to  have  kept  an  important  place  in  tribal  life.  These 
rites  constitute  what  may  be  regarded  as  the  lower  stratum  of  reli 
gious  ceremonies — for  example,  in  the  recognition  of  the  vital  relation 
of  the  Wind,  as  shown  in  the  ceremony  of  Turning  the  Child,  per- 


200  THE    OMAHA    TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

formed  when  it  entered  on  its  tribal  life  (see  p.  117);  in  the  names 
bestowed  on  females,  which  generally  refer  to  natural  phenomena  or 
objects  rather  than  to  religious  observances;  in  the  ceremonies  con 
nected  with  Thunder  as  the  god  of  war  and  arbiter  of  the  life  and 
death  of  man.  There  are  indications  that  other  rites  relating  to 
cosmic  forces  have  been  lost  in  the  passage  of  years.  Among  the 
Omaha  certain  articles  still  survive  rites  long  since  disused,  as  the 
Cedar  Pole  and  the  Sacred  Shell,  both  of  which  were  preserved  until 
recently  in  the  Sacred  Tent  of  War  in  charge  of  the  We'zhinshte  gens. 
It  is  probable  that  the  rites  connected  with  the  Sacred  Shell  were  the 
older  and  that  they  once  held  an  important  place  and  exercised  a 
widespread  influence  in  the  tribe,  as  indicated  by  the  reverence  and 
fear  with  which  this  object  was  regarded  by  the  people  of  every 
Omaha  gens.  Other  Omaha  rites,  as  has  been  shown,  have  ceased 
to  be  observed — those  connected  with  the  thunder  (p.  142),  the  stars 
(p.  177),  and  the  winds  (p.  169).  The  disappearance  of  former  rites 
may  indicate  physiographic  changes  experienced  by  the  people,  which 
affected  their  food  supply,  avocations,  and  other  phases  of  life, 
thereby  causing  certain  rites  to  be  superseded  by  others  more  in 
harmony  with  a  changed  environment.  Thus  life  in  the  buffalo 
country  naturally  resulted  in  rites  which  pertained  to  hunting  the 
buffalo  finally  taking  precedence  over  those  which  pertained  to  the 
cultivation  of  the  maize  (see  pp.  147,  155). 

There  are  indications  that  under  these  and  other  disturbing  and 
disintegrating  influences  certain  ceremonies  Were  instituted  to  coun 
teract  these  tendencies  by  fostering  tribal  consciousness  in  order  to 
help  to  bind  the  people  together.  The  Hede'wachi  ceremony  is  of 
this  character  and  seems  to  date  far  back  in  the  history  of  the  Omaha 
tribe.  It  is  impossible  to  trace  as  in  a  sequence  the  growth  of  the 
idea  of  the  desirability  of  political  unity,  for  there  were  many  influ 
ences,  religious  and  secular,  at  work  to  bring  about  modifications  of 
customs  and  actual  changes  in  government.  The  efforts  to  regulate 
warfare  and  to  place  it  under  greater  control  and  at  the  same  time 
to  enhance  the  honor  with  which  the  warrior  was  to  be  regarded  seem 
to  have  been  among  the  first  steps  taken  toward  developing  a  defi 
nite  governing  power  within  the  tribe.  The  act  of  placing  the  rites 
pertaining  to  war  in  charge  of  one  gens  was  probably  the  result  of 
combined  influences.  When  this  modification  of  earlier  forms  was 
accomplished  a  new  name  seems  to  have  been  given  to  the  gens 
holding  this  office,  and  thus  the  present  term  We'zhinshte  (see  p.  f42) 
came  into  use.  The  former  name  of  this  kinship  group  is  not  known, 
but  judging  from  analogy  it  probably  had  reference  to  one  or  the 
other  of  the  lost  ceremonies  connected  with  the  sacred  articles  left 
in  its  care.  While  the  segregation  of  the  war  power  may  have  tended 


to  stay  some  of  the  disintegrating  tendencies  it  did  not  have  the 
positive  unifying  force  that  was  desired.  If  other  devices  were  tried 
to  bring  about  this  result  nothing  is  known  of  them. 

The  Sacred  Legend  and  other  accounts  tell  the  story  of  the  way  in 
which  a  central  governing  body  was  finally  formed  and  all  agree  that  it 
was  devised  for  the  purpose  of  "holding  the  people  together."  One 
version  speaks  of  seven  old  men  who,  while  visitors  to  the  tribe,  inaugu 
rated  the  governing  council.  The  Sacred  Legend  declares  that  the 
council  was  the  outcome  of  "thought"  and  "consultation  among  the 
wise  old  men,"  their  purpose  taking  form  in  the  plan  to  establish  a 
Nini'bato11  a  subdivision  in  some  of  the  gentes,  each  subdivision  to 
furnish  one  member  to  the  council,  which  was  to  be  the  governing 
authority,  exercising  control  over  the  people,  maintaining  peace  in 
the  tribe,  but  having  no  relation  to  offensive  warfare.  According 
to  the  Legend  account  of  the  formation  of  the  Nini'bato11,  "two  old 
men,"  one  from  the  Hon'ga  gens  and  the  otherfrom  the  Inke'cabe  gens, 
were  commissioned  to  carry  out  the  plan  of  the  "wise  old  men."  The 
term  ' '  old ' '  is  one  of  respect  and  indicates  that  these  men  had  gained 
wisdom  from  experience,  and  that  their  plan  was  the  result  of  knowl 
edge  and  thought  concerning  actual  conditions  in  the  past  and  in  the 
present,  rather  than  one  based  on  speculative  notions.  The  "two 
old  men"  were  entrusted  with  the  two  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes;  as  they 
passed  around  the  Jiu'thuga  they  would  stop  at  a  certain  gens,  desig 
nating  a  family  which  was  to  become  a  Nini'bato11  and  making  this 
choice  official  by  the  presentation  of  a  pipe.  For  some  unknown 
reason  in  this  circuit  of  the  tribe  the  "old  men"  passed  by  the  Ingthe'- 
zhide  gens  and  did  not  give  them  a  pipe.  Nor  was  a  pipe  given  to  the 
We'zhinshte  gens  or  to  the  Hon/ga  gens.  It  was  explained  concerning 
these  latter  omissions  that  the  We'zhinshte  had  already  been  given 
the  control  of  the  war  rites  of  the  tribe,  while  the  duties  of  the  council 
formed  from  the  Nini'bato11  subdivisions  were  to  be  solely  in  the 
interests  of  peace,  and  to  the  Hon'ga  gens  was  to  belong  the  duty  of 
calling  together  this  governing  council. 

The  two  Sacred  Pipes  carried  by  the  "two  old  men"  were  their 
credentials.  The  authority  of  these  two  pipes  must  have  been  of 
long  standing  and  undisputed  by  the  people  in  order  to  have  made 
it  possible  for  their  bearers  to  inaugurate  such  an  innovation  as  setting 
apart  a  certain  family  within  a  gens  and  giving  to  it  a  new  class  of 
duties — duties  that  were  to  be  civil  and  not  connected  with  the 
established  rights  of  the  gentes.  These  new  duties  did  not  conflict, 

a  The  word  nini'baton  means  "to  possess  a  pipe."  The  origin  of  the  significant  use  of  the  pipe  lies 
m  a  remote  past.  Among  the  Omaha  and  cognate  tribes  the  pipe  was  regarded  as  a  medium  by 
which  the  breath  of  man  ascended  to  Wakon'da  through  the  fragrant  smoke  and  conveyed  the  prayer  or 
aspiration  of  the  person  smoking;  the  act  also  partook  of  the  nature  of  an  oath,  an  affirmation  to  attest 
sincerity  and  responsibility.  The  pipe  was  a  credential  known  and  respected  by  all. 

202  THE    OMAHA    TBIBE  TETH.  ANN.  27 

however,  with  any  of  such  rites,  nor  did  they  deprive  the  Nini'bato11 
families  from  participating  in  them.  A  new  class  of  obligations  to 
Wakon/da  and  to  all  persons  composing  the  tribe  were  laid  upon  the 
Nini'bato11  and  the  new  council. 


The  earliest  tradition  among  the  Omaha  as  to  the  establishment  of 
chiefs  is  contained  in  the  story  already  recounted  concerning  the 
formation  of  the  Nini'bato11  and  governing  council,  which  was  to  be 
composed  of  hereditary  chiefs.  How  long  the  hereditary  character 
was  maintained  and  what  had  previously  constituted  leadership  in 
the  tribe  are  not  known,  nor  is  there  any  knowledge  as  to  how  the 
change  from  hereditary  to  competitive  membership  in  the  council 
came  about.  It  may  be  that  the  change  was  the  result  of  increasing 
recognition  of  the  importance  of  strengthening  the  power  of  the 
governing  council  by  making  it  both  the  source  and  the  goal  of 
tribal  honors,  thus  enhancing  its  authority  and  at  the  same  time 
emphasizing  the  desirability  of  tribal  unity.  All  that  the  writers 
have  been  able  to  ascertain  concerning  the  change  in  the  composi 
tion  of  the  council  from  hereditary  to  competitive  membership  has 
been  that  it  took  place  several  generations  ago,  how  many  could  not 
be  learned. 


The  period  of  the  establishment  of  these  orders  is  lost  in  the  past, 
but  internal  evidence  seems  to  point  to  their  formation  after  the  coun 
cil  with  its  Nini'bato11  membership  had  been  fully  established  and 
accepted  by  the  people. 

There  were  two  orders  of  chiefs,  the  Ni'kagahi  xu'de  and  the 
Ni'kagahi  sha'be.  The  name  of  the  first  (ni'Tcagahi,  "chief;"  xu'de, 
"brown")  has  reference  to  a  uniform  color,  as  of  the  brown  earth, 
where  all  are  practically  alike,  of  one  hue  or  rank.  The  Ni'kaga 
hi  xu'de  order  was  unlimited  as  to  membership,  but  admittance  into 
it  depended  upon  the  consent  of  the  Ni'kagahi  sha'be  (ni'lcagahi, 
"chief,"  sha'be,  "dark").  The  word  sha'be  does  not  refer  to  color, 
but  to  the  appearance  of  an  object  raised  above  the  uniform  level 
and  seen  against  the  horizon  as  a  dark  object.  Men  who  had  risen 
from  the  Ni'kagahi  xu'de  into  the  limited  order  of  the  Ni'kagahi 
sha'be  were  regarded  as  elevated  before  the  people.  ' 


Entrance  into  this  order  was  possible  only  when  a  vacancy 
occurred,  and  then  only  to  a  member  of  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi  xu'de 
after  the  performance  of  certain  acts  known  &awafhi*'e(he  (fromwa, 
"thing  having  power;"  thin,  from  ihin'ge,  "nothing;"  the,  "to  make" 
or  "to  cause,"  the  word  meaning  something  done  or  given  for  which 


there  is  no  material  return  but  through  which  honor  is  received). 
Wathin'eihQ  stands  for  acts  and  gifts  which  do  not  directly  add  to  the 
comfort  and  wealth  of  the  actor  or  donor,  but  which  have  relation 
to  the  welfare  of  the  tribe  by  promoting  internal  order  and  peace, 
by  providing  for  the  chiefs  and  keepers  (see  p.  212),  by  assuring 
friendly  relations  with  other  tribes;  they  partook  therefore  of  a 
public  rather  than  a  private  character,  and  while  they  opened  a 
man's  way  to  tribal  honors  and  position,  they  did  so  by  serving 
the  welfare  of  all  the  people.  Entrance  into  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi 
xu'de  was  through  the  performance  of  certain  waihin'ethe;  in  this 
instance  the  gifts  of  the  aspirant  were  made  solelv  to  the  Seven 

The  election  of  members  to  the  order  of  Xi'kagahi  xu'de  took 
place  at  a  meeting  of  the  Xi'kagahi  sha'be  called  by  the  leaders 
of  the  Hon/ga  gens  for  this  purpose.  After  the  tribal  pipes  had  been 
smoked  the  name  of  a  candidate  was  mentioned,  and  his  record  and 
the  number  and  value  of  his  gifts  were  canvassed.  The  prescribed 
articles  used  in  making  these  gifts  were  eagles,  eagle  war  bonnets, 
quivers  (including  bows  and  arrows),  catlinite  pipes  with  orna 
mented  stems,  tobacco  pouches,  otter  skins,  buffalo  robes,  orna 
mented  shirts,  and  leggings.  In  olden  tunes,  burden-bearing  dogs, 
tents,  and  pottery  were  given;  in  recent  times  these  have  been 
replaced  by  horses,  guns,  blankets,  blue  and  red  cloth,  silver  medals, 
and  copper  kettles.  It  is  noteworthy  that  all  the  raw  materials  used 
in  construction,  as  well  as  the  unmanufactured  articles  of  the  early 
native  type,  were  such  as  required  of  the  candidate  prowess  as  a 
hunter,  care  in  accumulating,  and  skilled  industry.  A  man  often 
had  to  travel  far  to  acquire  some  of  these  articles,  and  be  exposed 
to  danger  from  enemies  in  securing  and  bringing  them  home,  so 
that  they  represented,  besides  industry  as  a  hunter,  bravery  and 
skill  as  a  warrior.  Moreover,  as  upon  the  men  devolved  the  ardu 
ous  task  of  procuring  all  the  meat  for  food  and  the  pelts  used  to  make 
clothing,  bedding,  and  tents,  and  as  there  was  no  common  medium 
of  exchange  for  labor  in  the  tribe,  such  as  money  affords,  each  house 
hold  had  to  provide  from  the  very  foundation,  so  to  speak,  every 
article  it  used  or  consumed.  It  will  therefore  be  seen  that  persistent 
work  on  the  part  of  a  man  aspiring  to  enter  the  order  of  chief  was 
necessary,  as  he  must  not  only  provide  food  and  clothing  for  the 
daily  use  of  his  family,  but  accumulate  a  surplus  so  as  to  obtain 
leisure  for  the  construction  of  the  articles  to  be  counted  as  wathin'eihe. 
The  men  made  the  bows  and  arrows,  the  war  bonnets,  and  the  pipes; 
the  ornamentation  was  the  woman's  task.  Her  deft  fingers  prepared 
the  porcupine  quills  after  her  husband  or  brother  had  caught  the 
wary  little  animals.  For  the  slow  task  of  dyeing  the  quills  and 
embroidering  with  them  she  needed  a  house  well  stocked  with  food 

204  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

and  defended  from  lurking  war  parties,  in  order  to  have  time  and 
security  for  her  work.  A  lazy  fellow  or  an  impulsive,  improvident 
man  could  not  acquire  the  property  represented  by  these  gifts.  There 
was  no  prescribed  number  of  gifts  demanded  for  entrance  into  the 
Xu'de  order  but  they  had  to  be  sufficient  to  warrant  the  chiefs  in 
admitting  him,  for  the  man  once  in  the  order  could,  by  persistent 
industry  and  care,  rise  so  as  to  become  a  candidate  for  the  order  of 
Sha'be  when  a  vacancy  occurred. 

When  a  favorable  decision  as  to  the  candidate  was  reached  the 
chiefs  arose  and  followed  the  Sacred  Pipes,  borne  reverently,  with  the 
stems  elevated,  by  the  two  leading  chiefs.  Thus  led,  the  company 
walked  slowly  about  the  camp  to  the  lodge  of  the  man  who  had  been 
elected  a  Xu'de  and  paused  before  the  door.  At  this  point  the  man 
had  the  option  to  refuse  or  to  accept  the  honor.  If  he  should  say:  "I 
do  not  wish  to  become  a  chief,"  and  wave  away  the  tribal  pipes  offered 
him  to  smoke,  thus  refusing  permission  to  the  chiefs  to  enter  his  lodge, 
they  would  pass  on,  leaving  him  as  though  he  had  not  been  elected. 
When  the  man  accepted  the  position  he  smoked  the  pipes  as  they 
were  offered,  whereupon  the  chiefs  entered  his  lodge,  bearing  the 
pipes  before  them,  and  slowly  passed  around  his  fireplace.  This  act 
signified  to  all  the  tribe  that  the  man  was  thenceforth  a  chief,  a 
member  of  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi  xu'de.  He  was  now  eligible  to 
other  honors — all  of  which,  however,  depended  upon  further  efforts 
on  his  part.  (For  portrait  of  Omaha  chiefs,  see  pis.  36,  37.) 

Eligibility  to  enter  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi  sha'be  depended  upon 
the  performance  of  certain  graded  waihin' eihe.  Vacancies  occurred 
only  by  death  or  by  the  resignation  of  very  old  men.  A  vacancy 
was  filled  by  the  one  in  the  Xu'de  order  who  could  "  count "  the  most 
wathin'ethe  given  to  the  chiefs  or  who  had  performed  the  graded 
acts  of  the  wathin'eihe.  The  order  and  value  of  these  graded  acts 
were  not  generally  known  to  the  people,  nor  even  to  all  the  chiefs 
of  the  Xu'de.  Those  who  became  possessed  of  this  knowledge  were 
apt  to  keep  it  for  the  benefit  of  their  aspiring  kinsmen.  The  lack 
of  this  knowledge,  it  is  said,  occasionally  cost  a  man  the  loss  of  an 
advantage  which  he  would  otherwise  have  had. 

There  were  seven  grades  of  wathin'eihe  the  performance  of  which 
made  a  man  eligible  to  a  place  in  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi  sha'be. 
They  ranked  as  follows: 

First.  Washa'be  ga'xe  (wasJia^be,  "an  official  staff;"  ga'xe,  ato 
make").  This  grade  consisted  in  procuring  the  materials  necessary 
to  make  the  washa'be,  an  ornamented  staff  carried  by  the  leader  of 
the  annual  buffalo  hunt.  (See  p.  155.)  These  materials  were  a 
dressed  buffalo  skin,  a  crow,  two  eagles,  a  shell  disk,  sinew,  a  pipe 
with  an  ornamented  stem,  and,  in  olden  times,  a  cooking  vessel  of 
pottery,  replaced  in  modern  times  by  a  copper  kettle.  The  money 





value  of  these  articles,  rated  by  ordinary  trading  terms,  was  not 
less  than  $100  to  $130.  The  performance  of  the  first  grade  four 
times  would  constitute  the  highest  act  possible  for  a  man.  Xo  Omaha 
has  ever  accomplished  this  act  so  many  times. 

Second.  Bon/wakithe  ("I  caused  the  herald  to  call").  The 
aspirant  requested  the  tribal  herald  to  summon  the  Ni'kagahi  sha'be 
together  with  the  keeper  of  the  ritual  used  in  filling  the  Sacred  Pipes, 
from  the  Inshta'cunda  gens,  to  a  feast.  Besides  providing  for  the 
feast,  gifts  of  leggings,  robes,  bows  and  arrows,  and  tobacco  were 
required  as  gifts  for  the  guests.  If  it  chanced  that  the  aspirant  for 
honors  was  not  on  friendly  terms  with  the  keeper  of  the  ritual,  or  if 
from  any  other  motive  the  keeper  desired  to  check  the  man's  ambi 
tion,  it  lay  in  his  power  to  thwart  it  by  allowing  the  pipes  to  remain 
unfilled,  in  which  case  the  gifts  and  feast  went  for  nothing. 

Third.  U'gashkegthon  ("to  tether  a  horse").  A  man  would  make 
a  feast  for  the  Xi'kagahi  sha'be  and  tie  at  the  door  of  his  tent  a 
horse  with  a  new  robe  thrown  over  it.  The  horse  and  the  robe  were 
gifts  to  his  guests.  A  man  once  gained  renown  by  " counting"  seven 
acts  of  this  grade,  performing  four  in  one  day. 

Fourth.  Gaci'ge  nonshton  wakithe  (gapi'ge,  "marching  abreast;" 
nonshton,  "to  halt;"  wakithe,  "to  make  or  cause"),  "causing  the 
people  to  halt."  This  act  \vas  possible  only  during  the  annual  hunt. 
As  the  people  were  moving,  the  Sacred  Pole  and  the  governing 
chiefs  in  advance,  a  man  \vould  bring  a  horse  or  a  new  robe  and 
present  it  to  the  Pole.  The  gift  was  appropriated  by  the  Waxthe'- 
xeton  subgens  of  the  Hon/ga,  who  had  charge  of  the  Pole.  During 
this  act  the  entire  tribe  halted,  while  the  herald  proclaimed  the  name 
of  the  giver.  This  act  should  be  repeated  four  times  in  one  day. 

Fifth.  Te  thishke'  wakithe  (te,  "buffalo;"  ihisTike' ,  "to  untie;" 
wakithe,  "to  make  or  cause"),  "causing  the  Sacred  White  Buffalo 
Hide  to  be  opened  and  shown."  During  this  ceremony  of  exhibiting 
the  White  Buffalo  Hide  a  shell  disk  or  some  other  article  of  value 
was  presented  to  the  Hide,  the  gifts  becoming  the  property  of  the 
Waxthe'beto11  subgens  of  the  Hon/ga,  who  had  charge  of  this  sacred 
object.  This  act  had  to  be  repeated  four  times  in  one  day. 

Sixth.  Wa't'edonbe  (wa,  "things  having  power  and  purpose;"  t'e, 
"dead;"  donbe,  "to  see").  This  act  consisted  in  taking  gifts  to  the 
family  of  a  chief  when  a  death  occurred.  The  costliest  donation 
remembered  to  have  been  made  under  this  class  was  on  the  occasion 
of  the  death  of  the  son  of  old  Big  Elk,  who  died  of  smallpox  in  the 
early  part  of  the  nineteenth  century,  when  a  fine  horse  on  which  was 
spread  a  bearskin  was  offered  in  honor  of  the  dead. 

Seventh.  When  a  person  had  been  killed  accidentally  or  in  anger 
the  chiefs  took  the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  to  the  kindred  of  the  man, 
accompanied  by  gifts,  in  order  to  prevent  any  revengeful  act.  All 

206  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

those  who  contributed  toward  these  gifts  could  "count"  them  as 
belonging  to  the  seventh  grade.  If  the  aggrieved  party  smoked 
the  pipe  and  accepted  the  gifts,  bloodshed  was  averted  and  peace 
maintained  in  the  tribe. 

All  of  the  gifts  constituting  these  seven  grades  were  made  to  the 
chiefs  of  the  governing  council  in  recognition  of  their  authority. 
They  were  for  a  definite  purpose—to  enable  the  giver  to  secure 
entrance  into  the  order  of  Xi'kagahi  sha'be  whenever  a  vacancy 
should  occur  in  that  body. 

It  will  be  noticed  that  the  act  constituting  the  first  grade  differed 
from  the  other  six  in  that  it  was  not  a  direct  gift  made  to  the  chiefs, 
but  was  connected  with  the  ceremonial  staff  of  the  leader  of  the 
annual  buffalo  hunt.  It  was,  however,  a  recognition  of  authority,  an 
authority  which  held  the  people  in  order  and  made  it  possible  for 
each  family  to  secure  its  supply  of  food  and  clothing.  It  was  there 
fore,  in  its  intrinsic  character,  in  harmony  with  the  purpose  of  the 
other  six  graded  wafhin'eihe. 

Waba'ho11,  designated  an  act  not  belonging  to  the  regular  waihin'- 
ethe,  but  esteemed  as  a  generous  deed  that  redounded  to  the  credit 
of  the  doer.  The  term  means  "to  raise  or  push  up,"  and  refers  to 
placing  a  deer,  buffalo,  or  elk  on  its  breast  and  putting  bits  of  tobacco 
along  its  back,  all  of  which  signified  that  the  hunter  had  dedicated 
the  animal  as  a  gift  to  the  chiefs.  A  chief  could  not  receive  such  a 
gift,  however,  unless  he  had  performed  the  act  of  waba'hon  four 
times.  If  he  had  not  performed  the  acts  and  desired  to  receive  the 
gift  he  could  call  on  his  near  of  kin  to  help  him  to  "count."  If  he 
was  thus  able  to  receive  the  gift,  it  became  his  duty  to  divide  the 
game  with  those  who  had  helped  him  by  lending  their  "count."  If 
he  was  able  to  "count"  four  waba'~hon  himself,  he  could  then  keep 
the  entire  animal  for  his  own  use. 

In  admitting  a  man  to  either  order  of  chiefs  his  personal  character 
was  always  taken  into  consideration.  If  he  was  of  a  disputatious  or 
quarrelsome  nature  no  amount  of  gifts  would  secure  his  election  to 
the  order  of  Xi'kagahi  xu'de  or  make  possible  a  place  for  him  in  the 
Ni'kagahi  sha'be.  The  maxim  wras :  "A  chief  must  be  a  man  wiio  can 
govern  himself." 


The  origin  of  this  governing  council  as  given  in  the  Sacred  Legend 
and  elsewhere  has  been  recounted  and  the  change  from  the  early 
form  of  hereditary  membership  mentioned.  The  institution  of  a 
small  body  representing  the  entire  tribe,  to  have  full  control  of  the 
people,  to  settle  all  contentions,  and  to  subordinate  all  factions  to  a 
central  authority,  was  an  important  governmental  movement.  The 
credential  of  this  authority  both  for  the  act  of  its  creation  and  for  the 
exercise  of  its  functions  was  the  presence  and  ceremonial  use  of  the 


two  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes.  The  two  stood  for  the  fundamental  idea 
in  the  dual  organization  of  the  Jiu'thuga  (see  p.  137).  This  was 
recognized  also  in  the  ceremonial  custody  and  preparation  of  the 
Pipes.  The  keeping  of  them  belonged  to  the  Pke'cabe  gens  of  the 
southern  (earth)  side  of  the  Tiu'tJiuga;  the  office  of  ceremonially  iilling 
the  Pipes,  making  them  ready  for  use,  was  vested  in  the  Inshta'cunda 
gens  of  the  northern  (upper)  realm  of  the  Jiu'tJiuga,  representative  of 
the  abode  of  the  supernatural  forces  to  which  man  must  appeal  for  help. 
Through  the  ceremonies  and  use  of  the  two  Sacred  Pipes  the  halves 
of  the  hu'thuga  were  welded,  as  it  were,  the  Pipes  thus  becoming 
representative  of  the  tribe  as  a  whole.  The  prominence  given  to  the 
Pipes,  as  the  credential  of  the  "old  men,"  as  their  authority  in  the 
creation  of  chiefs  and  the  governing  council,  seems  to  indicate  that 
the  institution  of  the  Nini'bato"  and  the  establishment  of  the  ,ouncil, 
although  a  progressive  movement,  was  a  growth,  a  development  of 
earlier  forms,  rather  than  an  invention  or  arbitrary  arrangement  of 
the  "old  men."  The  retaining  of  the  two  Pipes  as  the  supreme  or 
confirmatory  authority  within  the  council  rather  than  giving  that 
power  to  a  head  chief  was  consonant  with  the  fundamental  idea 
embodied  in  the  tribal  organization.  The  number  of  the  council 
(seven)  probably  had  its  origin  in  the  significance  of  the  number 
which  represented  the  whole  ef  man's  environment — the  four  quarters 
where  \vere  the  four  paths  down  which  the  Above  came  to  the  Below, 
wThere  stood  man.  The  ancient  ideas  and  beliefs  of  the  people  con 
cerning  man's  relation  to  the  cosmos  were  thus  interwoven  with  their 
latest  social  achievement,  the  establishment  of  a  representative 
governing  body. 

Whether  the  ornamentation  of  the  two  Tribal  Pipes  was  authorized 
at  this  time  is  not  known;  but  it  is  probable  that  in  this  as  in  every 
other  arrangement  there  was  the  adaptation  or  modification  of  some 
old  and  accepted  form,  of  expression  to  meet  the  needs  of  newer 
conditions.  It  is  said  that  the  seven  woodpecker  heads  on  one  of 
the  Tribal  Pipes  stood  for  the  seven  chiefs  that  composed  the  govern 
ing  council,  while  the  use  of  but  one  woodpecker  head  on  the  other 
pipe  represented  the  unity  of  authority  of  the  chiefs.  This  explana 
tion  explains  only 'in  part.  The  reason  for  the  choice  of  the  wood 
pecker  as  a  symbol  lies  far  back  in  the  history  of  the  people,  and  it 
may  be  that  it  did  not  originate  in  this  linguistic  group.  In  myths 
found  throughout  a  wide  region  this  bird  was  connected  with  the  sun. 
It  was  used  on  the  calumet  pipes,  which  had  a  wide  range,  covering 
almost  the  whole  of  the  Mississippi  drainage.  It  is  not  improbable 
that  the  woodpecker  symbol  was  accepted  at  the  time  the  calumet 
ceremony  became  known  to  the  Omaha  and  adopted  as  a  symbol 
of  peaceful  authority,  but  a  definite  statement  on  the  subject  at 
present  is  impossible. 

208  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

The  seven  members  of  the  council  belonged  to  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi 
sha'be,  in  fact  they  may  be  said  to  have  represented  that  order  in 
which  each  man  held  his  place  until  death  or  voluntary  resignation. 
Five  other  persons  were  entitled  to  attend  the  meetings  of  the  council, 
being  of  an  ex  oflicio  class:  The  keeper  of  the  Sacred  Pole;  the  keeper 
of  the  Sacred  Buffalo  Hide;  the  keeper  of  the  two  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes; 
the  keeper  of  the  ritual  used  when  filling  them ;  and  the  keeper  of  the 
Sacred  Tent  of  War.  None  of  these  five  keepers  had  a  voice  in  the 
decisions  of  the  council,  the  responsibility  of  deciding  devolving  solely 
on  the  Seven  Chiefs  who  composed  the  council  proper. 

At  council  meetings  the  men  sat  in  a  semicircle.  The  two  chiefs 
who  could  count  the  greatest  number  of  waihin' eih,e  were  called 
Ni'kagahi  u'zhu  (u'zhu  "principal");  these  chiefs  sat  side  by  side 
back  of  the  fireplace,  facing  the  east  and  the  entrance  of  the  lodge. 
They  represented  the  two  halves  of  the  hu'thuga,  the  one  who  sat  on 
the  right  (toward  the  south)  representing  the  Hon/gashenu,  the  one 
who  sat  on  the  left  (toward  the  north),  the  Inshta'cunda.  The  other 
members  sat  in  the  order  of  their  "counts"  on  each  side  of  the 
principal  chiefs,  the  highest  next  to  those  chiefs  and  so  on  to  the  end 
of  the  line.  The  position  assigned  each  member  on  entrance  into  the 
council  remained  unchanged  until  a  death  or  resignation  took  place. 
In  the  case  of  a  vacancy  in  the  u'zhu,  the  place  was  taken  by  whoever 
could  count  the  most  wathin'eihe;  he  might  be  an  old  member  of  the 
council  or  a  new  man  from  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi  xu'de.  Any 
vacancy  occurring  was  likely  to  cause  a  change  in  the  places  of  the 
members,  according  to  the  "count"  of  the  new  member,  but  the 
place  and  position  of  u'zhu  were  affected  only  by  death  or  resignation. 
Anu'zhu  held  his  rank  against  all  claimants. 

The  manner  of  deliberating  and  coming  to  a  decision  in  the  Council 
of  Seven  is  said  to  have  been  as  follows :  A  question  or  plan  of  operation 
was  presented  by  a  member;  it  was  then  referred  to  the  chief  sitting 
next,  who  took  it  under  consideration  and  then  passed  it  on  to  the 
next  person  and  so  on  around  the  circle  until  it  reached  the  man  who 
first  presented  it.  The  matter  would  pass  again  and  again  around 
the  circle  until  all  came  to  agreement.  All  day  was  frequently  spent 
in  deliberation.  No  one  person  would  dare  to  i^ake  the  responsibility 
of  the  act.  All  must  accept  it  and  then  carry  it  through  as  one  man. 
This  unity  of  decision  was  regarded  as  having  a  supernatural  power 
and  authority.  Old  men  explained  to  the  writers  that  the  members 
of  the  council  had  been  made  chiefs  by  the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes,  which 
were  from  Wakon/da;  therefore,  ?<when  the  chiefs  had  deliberated  on 
a  matter  and  had  smoked,  the  decision  was  as  the  word  of  Wakon'da." 

The  ceremonial  manner  of  smoking  the  Sacred  Pipes  was  as  follows : 

After  the  members  of  the  council  wrere  in  their  places  the  keeper  of 
the  Sacred  Pipes  laid  them  before  the  two  principal  chiefs,  who  called 


on  the  keeper  of  the  ritual  to  prepare  the  Pipes  for  use.  As  he 
filled  them  with  native  tobacco  he  intoned  in  a  low  voice  the  ritual 
which  belonged  to  that  act.  He  had  to  be  careful  not  to  let  either  of 
the  Pipes  fall.  Should  this  happen,  that  meeting  of  the  council  would 
be  at  an  end,  and  the  life  of  the  keeper  would  be  in  danger  from  the 
supernatural  powers.  After  the  Pipes  were  filled  they  were  again 
laid  before  the  two  principal  chiefs.  When  the  time  came  to  smoke 
the  Pipes  in  order  to  give  authority  to  a  decision,  the  Inke'cabe 
keeper  arose,  took  up  one  of  the  Pipes,  and  held  it  for  the  principal 
chief  sitting  toward  the  north,  to  smoke.  The  assistant  from,  the 
Te'pa  subgens  of  the  Tha'tada  gens  (see  p.  159)  followed,  taking  up 
the  other  Pipe  and  holding  it  for  the  principal  chief  sitting  toward 
the  south,  to  smoke.  The  Pipes  were  then  passed  around  the  council, 
the  Pke'cabe  keeper  leading  and  carefully  holding  the  Pipe  for  each 
member  to  smoke,  the  assistant  following  and  serving  the  other  Pipe 
in  the  same  manner.  The  principal  chief  sitting  toward  the  south 
was  the  last  to  smoke  from  the  Pipe  borne  by  the  Inke'cabe  keeper, 
who  then  laid  the  Pipe  in  the  place  from  which  he  had  taken  it. 
When  the  Te'pa  assistant  reached  the  chief  to  whom  he  had  first 
offered  the  Pipe  he  laid  it  down  beside  the  other.  The  keeper  of 
the  ritual  from  the  Inshta'cunda  gens  then  arose  and  cleaned  the 
Pipes,  after  which  he  laid  them  back  before  the  two  chiefs,  who  then 
called  the  keeper  from  the  Inke'cabe  gens  to  take  them,  in  charge." 

"The  seven  must  have  but  one  heart  and  speak  as  with  one  mouth," 
said  the  old  men  who  explained  these  things  to  the  writers,  adding: 
"It  is  because  these  decisions  come  from,  Wakon/da  that  a  chief  is 
slow  to  speak.  No  word  can  be  without  meaning  and  every  one 
must  be  uttered  in  soberness.  That  is  why  when  a  chief  speaks  the 
others  listen,  for  the  words  of  a  chief  must  be  few."  When  a  con 
clusion  was  reached  by  the  council  the  herald  was  summoned,  and 
he  went  about  the  camp  circle  and  proclaimed  the  decision.  No  one 
dared  to  dispute,  for  it  was  said:  "This  is  the  voice  of  the  chiefs." 

Among  the  duties  of  the  Council  of  Seven  besides  that  of  main 
taining  peace  and  order  within  the  tribe  were  making  peace  with  other 
tribes,  securing  allies,  determining  the  time  of  the  annual  buffalo 
hunt,  and  confirming  the  man  who  was  to  act  as  leader,  on  whom 
rested  the  responsibility  of  that  important  movement.  While  on  the 
hunt  the  Seven  Chiefs  were  in  a  sense  subordinate  to  the  leader, 
their  duties  being  advisory  rather  than  governing  in  character;  they 
were  always  regarded,  however,  as  directly  responsible  to  Wakon'da 
for  the  welfare  of  the  tribe.  The  council  appointed  officers  called 

<»  All  the  other  sacred  articles  used  in  tribal  ceremonies  have  been  turned  over  to  the  writers  for  safe 
keeping,  but  no  arguments  could  induce  the  leading  men  to  part  with  the  two  Sacred  Pipes.  The  answer 
was  always,  "They  must  remain."  And  they  are  still  with  the  people. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 14 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

wanon'she  ("soldiers")  to  carry  out  their  commands.  These  officers 
were  chosen  from  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi  xu'de  and  were  always  men 
who  had  won  honors,  and  whose  character  commanded  the  respect 
of  the  tribe.  (Fig.  46.)  Frequently  they  were  appointed  for  some 
special  service,  as  when  an  unauthorized  war  party  committed  dep 
redations  on  a  neighboring  tribe;  if  the  chiefs  ordered  the  stolen 

FIG.  46.    Kaxe'iupba,  who  frequently  served  as  a  "  soldier." 

property  returned,  the  booty  would  then  be  sent  back  under  "sol 
diers''  selected  for  the  task.  " Soldiers"  were  appointed  by  the 
council  to  preserve  order  during  the  annual  hunt,  the  office  expiring 
with  the  hunt.  Men  who  had  once  filled  the  office  of  "soldier" 
were  apt  to  be  called  on  to  assist  the  council  in  the  preservation  of 
order  within  the  tribe. 


Should  a  sudden  attack  be  made  on  the  tribe  the  Seven  Chiefs 
would  then  join  in  the  defense  and  if  need  be  lead  the  people  against 
the  enemy.  The  council  cooperated  with  the  keeper  of  the  Tent  of 
War  in  sending  out  scouts  during  the  annual  tribal  hunt  (see  p.  279). 
The  punishment  of  men  who  slipped  away  on  unauthorized  warfare 
devolved  on  these  chiefs  (see  p.  404).  On  one  notable  occasion  the 
Council  of  Seven  temporarily  resigned,  and  placed  the  entire  tribe 
under  the  control  of  one  man,  Wa'backa,  who  led  the  people 
against  the  Pawnee.  This  exception  to  all  tribal  rule  has  been  pre 
served  in  both  story  and  song  (see  p.  406).  When  a  man  desired  to 
perform  the  Wa'wan  ceremony  (see  p.  376)  and  carry  the  pipes  to 
another  tribe  or  to  a  man  within  the  tribe,  permission  from  the  chiefs 
had  first  to  be  obtained.  The  consent  of  the  Seven  Chiefs  was  also 
necessary  to  the  admission  of  a  candidate  to  the  Hon/hewachi. 

There  were  no  other  governing  chiefs  in  the  tribe  besides  those  of 
the  council.  No  gens  had  a  chief  possessing  authority  over  it,  nor  was 
there  any  council  of  a  gens,  nor  could  a  gens  act  by  itself.  There  was 
one  possible  exception;  sometimes  a  gens  went  on  a  hunt  under  the 
leadership  of  its  chiefs,  for  there  were  chiefs  in  every  gens,  men  who 
belonged  to  the  order  of  Ni'kagahi  xu'de  or  who  had  entered  the 
ranks  of  the  Ni'kagahi  sha'be;  but  none  of  these  men  could  individ 
ually  exercise  governing  power  within  a  gens  or  in  the  tribe.  The  gens, 
as  has  been  shown,  was  not  a  political  organization,  but  a  group  of 
kindred,  united  through  a  common  rite.  The  leading  men  of  a  gens 
were  those  who  had  charge  of  its  rites;  those  who  could  count  many 
waihin' eihe,  and  those  who  had  been  designated  to  act  as  "soldiers." 
Such  men  were  invited  on  various  occasions  to  sit  with  the  Council  of 
Seven,  as  in  the  communal  tent  when  the  ceremony  of  anointing  the 
Sacred  Pole  took  place.  There  was  no  tribal  assembly  or  tribal 
council.  All  power  for  both  decision  and  action  was  lodged  in  the 
Council  of  Seven. 

The  old  Omaha  men,  who  are  the  authority  for  the  interpreta 
tions  of  tribal  rites  and  customs  contained  in  this  memoir,  have 
earnestly  sought  to  impress  upon  the  writers  that  peace  and  order 
within  the  tribe  were  of  prime  importance;  without  these  it  was 
declared  neither  the  people  nor  the  tribe  as  an  organization  could 
exist.  War  was  secondary;  its  true  function  was  protective — to 
guard  the  people  from  outside  enemies.  Aggressive  warfare  was  to 
be  discouraged;  any  gains  made  by  it  were  more  than  offset  by  the 
troubles  entailed.  It  was  recognized  that  it  was  difficult  to  restrain 
young  men;  therefore  restrictions  were  thrown  about  predatory 
warfare  (see  p.  404),  that  all  who  went  on  the  warpath  should  first 
secure  permission,  while  the  special  honors  accorded  to  those 
whose  brave  acts  were  performed  in  defense  of  the  tribe  tended  to 
make  war  secondary  to  peace. 

212  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANX.  27 

"Plentiful  food  and  peace/'  it  was  said,  "are  necessary  to  the 
prosperity  of  the  tribe." 

In  later  years,  under  the  influence  of  traders  and  of  United  States 
Government  officials,  the  old  order  of  chieftainship  lost  much  of  its 
power.  Men  who  were  pliant  were  enriched  by  traders  and  became 
unduly  important,  and  the  same  was  frequently  true  of  the  men  who 
were  made  "chiefs"  by  United  States  Government  officials.  Some  of 
these  have  been  men  who  had  no  rightful  claim  according  to  tribal 
usage  to  that  office.  Chiefs  made  by  the  Governmsnt  were  called 
"paper  chiefs."  These  men  sometimes  exercised  considerable  influ 
ence,  as  they  were  supposed  by  the  people  to  be  supported  by  the 
Government,  but  their  influence  was  that  born  of  expediency  rather 
than  that  growing  out  of  the  ancient  belief  that  the  chief  was  one  who 
was  favored  by  Wakon/da  and  who  represented  before  the  people 
certain  aspects  of  that  mysterious  power. 


Entrance  into  the  order  of  chieftainship  was  secured  through  cer 
tain  prescribed  acts  and  gifts  called  waihin'eih-e  (seep.  202).  All  of 
the  gifts,  except  those  belonging  to  the  first  and  second  grades  (see 
p.  204),  were  made  to  the  Seven  Chiefs.  The  two  exceptions  were 
contributions  to  ceremonies  connected  with  the  maintenance  of  order 
and  the  consequent  welfare  of  the  tribe.  While  all  the  wafhin' efhe 
were  in  a  sense  voluntary,  they  were  obligatory  on  the  man  who 
desired  to  rise  to  a  position  of  prominence  in  the  tribe.  It  was 
explained  that  "the  gifts  made  to  the  chiefs  were  not  only  in  recogni 
tion  of  their  high  office  and  authority  as  the  governing  power  of  the 
tribe  but  to  supply  them  with  the  means  to  meet  the  demands  made 
upon  them  because  of  their  official  position."  It  was  further 
explained  that — 

Chiefs  were  expected  to  entertain  all  visitors  from  other  tribes,  also  the  leading  men 
within  the  tribe  and  to  make  adequate  gifts  to  their  visitors.  Both  Chiefs  and  Keepers 
were  often  deterred  from  hunting  by  their  official  duties  and  thus  were  prevented  from 
securing  a  large  supply  of  food  or  of  the  raw  material  needed  for  the  manufacture  of 
articles  suitable  to  present  as  gifts  to  visitors.  The  gifts  made  by  aspirants  to  tribal 
office  therefore  partook  of  the  nature  of  payment  to  the  Chiefs  and  Keepers  for  the 
services  they  rendered  to  the  people. 

Not  only  did  the  watTiin'ethe  accomplish  the  purpose  as  explained 
above,  but  the  custom  stimulated  industry  and  enterprise  among  the 
men  and  women,  and  thus  indirectly  served  the  cause  of  peace  within 
the  tribe. 

Beside  their  use  as  stated  above,  gifts  were  demanded  as  entrance 
fees  to  the  various  societies.  Those  requisite  for  admission  to  the 
Hon'hewachi  were  particularly  costly  (see  p.  493).  Moreover,  the 
meetings  of  the  societies  made  demands  on  the  accumulated  wealth, 


so  to  speak,  of  the  family.  Food  was  required  for  the  "feasts"  of  the 
members,  and  gifts  were  expected  as  a  part  of  some  of  the  ceremonies. 
All  these  had  to  be  drawn  from  the  surplus  store,  a  -store  that  had  to 
be  created  by  the  skill  of  the  man  as  a  hunter  and  by  the  industry  of 
the  woman.  No  one  gave  feasts  or  made  gifts  which  left  the  family 
in  want  of  food  or  of  clothing. 

At  the  anointing  of  the  Sacred  Pole  a  supply  of  meats  of  the  cut 
called  tezhu'  (see  p.  273)  was  expected  from  every  family  in  the  tribe 
except  from  those  of  the  Hon/ga  subgens,  that  had  charge  of  the  Pole 
and  its  ceremonies.  While  there  was  no  penalty  attached  to  the  non 
fulfillment  of  this  tribal  duty,  as  it  was  considered,  yet  from  a  series  of 
coincidences  a  belief  had  grown  up  that  a  refusal  would  be.  punished 

These  customs  in  reference  to  gifts  made  as  wathin'efhe  show  that 
the  people  had  progressed  to  the  recognition  that  something  more 
was  required  of  a  man  than  merely  to  supply  his  own  physical  needs; 
that  he  had  social  and  public  duties  to  perform  and  must  give  of  his 
labor  to  support  the  chiefs  and  keepers,  officers  who  served  and 
promoted  the  general  welfare  of  the  people. 


The  authority  of  the  chiefs  and  social  order  were  safeguarded  by 
the  following  punishment: 

Within  the  Tent  Sacred  to  War  was  kept  a  staff  of  ironwood,  one 
end  of  which  was  rough,  as  if  broken.  On  this  splinted  end  poison 
was  put  when  the  staff  was  to  be  used  officially  for  punishment.  In 
the  pack  kept  in  this  tent  was  found  a  bladder,  within  which  were»four 
rattlesnake  heads,  and  with  them  in  a  separate  bundle  the  poison 
fangs  (fig.  47;  Peabody  Museum  nos.  48262-3).  These  were  probably 
used  to  compound  the  poison  put  on  the  staff.  As  men's  bodies  were 
usually  naked,  it  was  not  difficult  when  near  a  person  in  a  crowd 
to  prod  him  with  the  staff,  making  a  wound  and  introducing  the 
deadly  poison,  which  is  said  always  to  have- resulted  in  death.  This 
form  of  punishment  was  applied  to  a  man  who  made  light  of  the 
authority  of  the  chiefs  or  of  the  wairiwaxube,  the  packs  which  could 
authorize  a  war  party,  such  a  person  being  a  disturber  of  the  peace  and 
order  of  the  tribe.  The  punishment  was  decided  on  by  the  Coun 
cil  of  Seven  Chiefs,  which  designated  a  trustworthy  man  to  apply  the 
staff  to  the  offender.  Sometimes  the  man  was  given  a  chance  for 
his  life  by  having  his  horses  struck  and  poisoned.  If,  however,  he 
did  not  take  this  warning,  he  paid  the  forfeit  of  his  life,  for  he  would 
be  struck  by  the  poisoned  staff  end  and  killed. 

Thieving  (wamon'thon)  was  uncommon.  Restitution  was  the  only 
punishment.  Assaults  were  not  frequent.  When  they  occurred 
they  were  settled  privately  between  the  parties  and  their  relatives. 



[KTH.  AXX.  27 

In  all  offenses  the  relatives  stood  as  one.  Each  could  be  held  respon 
sible  for  the  acts  of  another — a  custom  that  sometimes  worked  injus 
tice,  but  on  the  whole  was  conducive  to  social  order. 

Running  off  with  a  man's  wife  or  committing  adultery  was  severely 
punished.  In  this  class  of  offenses  the  husband  or  his  near  relatives 
administered  punishment.  The  woman  might  be  whipped,  but  the 
heavy  punishment  fell  on  the  guilty  man.  Generally  his  property 
was  taken  from  him,  and  if  the  man  offered  resistance  he  was  either 

FIG.  47.    Rattlesnake  heads  and  fangs. 

slashed  with  a  knife  or  beaten  with  a  bludgeon.  The  revenge  taken  by 
a  husband  on  a  man  making  advances  to  his  wife  was  called  miwa'da. 
A  wife  jealous  of  another  woman  who  was  attentive  to  her  hus 
band  was  apt  to  attack  her  with  a  knife.  An  assault  of  this  kind, 
called  non'wonpi,  was  seldom  interfered  with.  If  a  man's  wife  died 
and  left  children,  custom  required  that  he  marry  his  wife's  sister. 
Should  he  fail  to  do  so,  the  woman's  relatives  sometimes  took  up  the 
matter  and  threatened  the  man  with  punishment. 


The  term  wanon'kathe  was  used  in  reference  to  murder,  or  to  any 
act  which  caused  personal  injury  to  another,  even  if  it  was  unpre 
meditated.  In  the  latter  case  the  act  would  be  condoned  by  gifts 
made  to  the  injured  party  or  his  relatives.  Deliberate  murder  was 
punished  by  banishment.  When  the  knowledge  of  such  a  deed  was 
brought  to  the  notice  of  the  chiefs,  banishment  was  ordered,  the 
offender  was  told  of  the  decision  and  he  obeyed.  Banishment  was 
four  years,  unless  the  man  was  sooner  forgiven  by  the  relatives  of 
the  murdered  man.  During  this  period  the  man  had  to  camp  outside 
the  village  and  could  hold  no  communication  with  anyone  except  his 
nearest  kindred,  who  were  permitted  to  see  him.  He  was  obliged  to 
wear  night  and  day  a  close-fitting  garment  of  skin,  covering  his  body 
and  legs,  and  was  not  allowed  to  remove  this  covering  during  his 
punishment.  His  wife  could  carry  him  food  but  he  was  obliged  to 
live  apart  from  his  family  and  to  be  entirely  alone  during  the  period 
of  his  exile. 

It  was  believed  that  the  spirit  of  a  murdered  man  was  inclined  to 
come  back  to  his  village  to  punish  the  people.  To  prevent  a  mur 
dered  man  from  haunting  his  village  he  was  turned  face  downward, 
and  to  impede  his  steps  the  soles  of  his  feet  were  slit  lengthwise. 
The  return  of  a  spirit  to  haunt  people  was  called  wathi'hide,  "dis 
turbance."  Such  a  haunting  spirit  was  supposed  to  bring  famine. 
To  avert  this  disaster,  when  a  murdered  man  was  buried,  besides  the 
precautions  already  mentioned,  a  piece  of  fat  was  put  in  his  right 
hand,  so  that  if  he  should  come  to  the  village  he  would  bring  plenty 
rather  than  famine,  fat  being  the  symbol  of  plenty.  Even  the  rela 
tives  of  the  murdered  man  would  treat  the  body  of  their  kinsman  in 
the  manner  described. 

The  sentence  being  passed  on  a  murderer,  the  chiefs  at  once  took 
the  Tribal  Pipes  to  the  family  of  the  murdered  man  and  by  gifts 
besought  them  to  forego  any  further  punishment  upon  the  family  of 
the  murderer.  If  they  accepted  the  gifts  and  smoked  the  pipe,  there 
was  no  further  disturbance  connected  with  the  crime.  (See  seventh 
grade,  p.  205.) 

The  offense  of  wathi'hi,  that  of  scaring  off  game  while  the  tribe  was 
on  the  buffalo  hunt,  could  take  place  only  by  a  man  slipping  away 
and  hunting  for  himself.  By  this  act,  while  he  might  secure  food  for 
his  own  use,  he  imperiled  the  food  supply  of  the  entire  tribe  by  fright 
ening  away  the  herd.  Such  a  deed  was  punished  by  flogging.  Sol 
diers  were  appointed  by  the  chiefs  to  go  to  the  offender's  tent  and 
administer  this  punishment.  Should  the  man  dare  to  resist  their 
authority  he  was  doubly  flogged  because  of  his  second  offense.  Such 
a  flogging  sometimes  caused  death.  Besides  this  flogging,  the  man's 
tent  was  destroyed,  his  horses  and  other  property  were  confiscated, 
and  his  tent  poles  burned ;  in  short,  he  was  reduced  to  beggary. 

216  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [BTH.  ANN.  27 

The  punishment  of  a  disturber  of  the  peace  of  the  tribe,  by  the 
exercise  of  wazhin'agthe,  the  placing  of  will  power  on  the  offender  by 
the  chiefs,  was  a  peculiar  form  of  chastisement  by  which  the  person 
was  put  out  of  friendly  relations  with  men  and  animals.  (See  p.  497.) 
For  a  similar  placing  of  the  mind  on  an  offender,  see  Ponca  custom, 
page  48. 

White  Eagle  (Ponca)  narrated  the  following  as  showing  the  Ponca 
treatment  of  a  murderer,  even  if  the  killing  was  an  accident: 

A  Ponca  killed  a  man.  It  was  not  intentional,  but  nevertheless  he  was,  by  the 
consent  of  the  people,  punished  by  the  father  of  the  man  who  was  killed.  The  father 
cut  all  the  edges  of  the  man's  robe,  so  that  nothing  about  him  could  flutter  should 
the  wind  blow.  The  spirit  of  a  murdered  person  will  haunt  the  people,  and  when  the 
tribe  is  011  the  hunt,  will  cause  the  wind  to  blow  in  such  a  direction  as  to  betray  the 
hunters  to  the  game  and  cause  the  herd  to  scatter,  making  it  impossible  for  the  people 
to  get  food.  [The  Omaha  have  the  same  belief  about  ghosts  scattering  the  herds  by 
raising  the  wind.]  After  the  man's  robe  was  cut  it  was  sewed  together  in  front,  but 
space  was  left  for  his  arm  to  have  freedom.  He  was  then  bade  to  say,  as  he  drew 
the  arrow  from  the  wound  and  rubbed  it  over  the  dead  man,  "I  did  not.  kill  a  man, 
but  an  animal."  Then  his  hair  was  cut  short  for  fear  it  might  blow  and  cause  the 
winds  to  become  restless.  The  covering  about  the  heart  of  a  buffalo  was  taken  and  put 
over  the  man's  head,  and  he  was  banished  from  the  tribe  for  four  years.  The  man 
obeyed  strictly  all  the  directions  given  him,  and,  further  than  that,  he  wept  every  day 
for  the  man  he  had  slain.  This  action  so  moved  the  relatives  of  the  dead,  it  is  said, 
that  in  one  year  they  pardoned  him,  gave  him  his  liberty,  and  he  returned  to  the  tribe 
and  his  family. 




In  the  process  of  governmental  development  it  became  expedient  to 
have  something  which  should  symbolize  the  unity  of  the  tribe  and  of 
its  governing  power — something  which  should  appeal  to  the  people,  an 
object  they  could  all  behold  and  around  which  they  could  gather  to 
manifest  their  loyalty  to  the  idea  it  represented.  The  two  Tribal 
Pipes,  which  hitherto  had  been  the  only  representative  of  the  govern 
ing  authority,  were  not  only  complex  in  their  symbolism,  but  they 
were  not  easily  visible  to  the  entire  tribe  and  did  not  meet  the  need 
for  a  central  object  at  great  tribal  gatherings.  The  ceremony  of  the 
He'dewachi  had  familiarized  the  people  with  the  symbol  of  the  tree 
as  a  type  of  unity.  A  similar  idea  would  seem  to  have  been  expressed 
in  the  ancient  Cedar  Pole,  which  is  said  to  have  stood  as  a  cosmic 
symbol  representative  of  supernatural  authority;  its  name  was 
taken  and  the  ceremonies  formerly  connected  with  it  seem  to  have 
been  preserved  in  part,  at  least,  in  those  of  the  Sacred  Pole. 

Tradition  states  that  the  Sacred  Pole  was  cut  before  the  "Ponca 
gens  broke  away  [from  the  Omaha]  and  became  the  Ponca  tribe. " 
Other  evidence  indicates  that  the  tribes  had  already  become  more 
or  less  distinct  when  the  Sacred  Pole  was  cut. 

There  are  two  versions  of  the  story  of  the  finding  of  the  Sacred 
Pole.  Both  have  points  in  common.  One  runs  as  follows: 

A  great  council  was  being  held  to  devise  some  means  by  which  the  bandy  of  the  tribe 
might  be  kept  together  and  the  tribe  itself  saved  from  extinction.  This  council  lasted 
many  days.  Meanwhile  the  son  of  one  of  the  ruling  men  was  off  on  a  hunt.  On  his 
way  home  he  came  to  a  great  forest  and  in  the  night  lost  his  way.  He  walked  and 
walked  until  he  was  exhausted  with  pushing  his  way  through  the  underbrush.  He 
stopped  to  rest  and  to  find  the  "motionless  star"  for  his  guide  when  he  was  suddenly 
attracted  by  a  light.  Believing  that  it  came  from  a  tent  the  young  hunter  went 
toward  it,  but  on  coming  to  the  place  whence  the  welcome  light  came  he  was  amazed 
to  find  that  it  was  a  tree  that  sent  forth  the  light.  He  went  up  to  it  and  found  that 
the  whole  tree,  its  trunk,  branches,  and  leaves,  were  alight,  yet  remained  unconsumed. 
He  touched  the  tree  but  no  heat  came  from  it.  This  mystified  him  and  he  stood 
watching  the  strange  tree,  for  how  long  he  did  not  know.  At  last  day  approached, 
the  brightness  of  the  tree  began  to  fade,  until  with  the  rising  of  the  sun  the  tree  with 
its  foliage  resumed  its  natural  appearance.  The  man  remained  there  in  order  to 
watch  the  tree  another  night.  As  twilight  came  on  it  began  to  be  luminous  and 


218  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

continued  so  until  the  sun  again  arose.  When  the  young  man  returned  home  he  told 
his  father  of  the  wonder.  Together  they  went  to  see  the  tree;  they  saw  it  all  alight 
as  it  was  before  but  the  father  observed  something  that  had  escaped  the  notice  of  the 
young  man;  this  was  that  four  animal  paths  led  to  it.  These  paths  were  well  beaten 
and  as  the  two  men  examined  the  paths  and  the  tree  it  was  clear  to  them  that  the 
animals  came  to  the  tree  and  had  rubbed  against  it  and  polished  its  bark  by  so  doing. 
This  was  full  of  significance  to  the  elder  man  and  on  his  return  he  told  the  leading 
men  of  the  mysterious  tree.  It  was  agreed  by  all  that  the  tree  was  a  gift  from  Wakon/da 
and  that  it  would  be  the  thing  that  would  help  to  keep  the  people  together.  With 
great  ceremony  they  cut  the  tree  down  and  hewed  it  to  portable  size. 

Both  Omaha  and  Ponca  legends  concerning  the  Pole  say  that  the 
people  were  living  in  a  village  near  a  lake,  and  that  the  tree  grew 
near  a  lake  at  some  distance  from  where  the  people  were  dwelling. 
The  finding  of  the  Pole  is  said  to  have  occurred  while  a  council  was 
in  progress  between  the  Cheyenne,  Arikara,  Omaha,  Ponca,  and  Iowa, 
to  reach  an  agreement  on  terms  of  peace  and  rules  of  war  and  hunt 
ing,  and  to  adopt  a  peace  ceremony.0  (See  p.  74.) 

The  account  in  the  Omaha  Sacred  Legend  is  as  follows: 

During  this  time  a  young  man  who  had  been  wandering  came  back  to  his  village. 
When  he  reached  his  home  he  said .  ' '  Father,  I  have  seen  a  wonderful  tree ! "  And  he 
described  it.  The  old  man  listened  but  he  kept  silent,  for  all  was  not  yet  settled 
between  the  tribes. 

After  a  little  while  the  young  man  went  again  to  visit  the  tree.  On  his  return 
home  he  repeated  his  former  tale  to  his  father  about  the  wonderful  tree.  The  old 
man  kept  silent,  for  the  chiefs  were  still  conferring.  At  last,  when  everything  was 
agreed  upon  between  the  tribes,  the  old  man  sent  for  the  chiefs  and  said:  "My  son 
has  seen  a  wonderful  tree.  The  Thunder  birds  come  and  go  upon  this  tree,  making 
a  trail  of  fire  that  leaves  four  paths  on  the  burnt  grass  that  stretch  toward  the  Four 
Winds.  When  the  Thunder  birds  alight  upon  the  tree  it  bursts  into  flame  and  the 
fire  mounts  to  the  top.  The  tree  stands  burning,  but  no  one  can  see  the  fire  except 
at  night." 

When  the  chiefs  heard  this  tale  they  sent  runners  to  see  what  this  tree  might  be. 
The  runners  came  back  and  told  the  same  story — how  in  the  night  they  saw  the  tree 
standing  and  burning  as  it  stood.  Then  all  the  people  held  a  council  as  to  what  this 
might  mean,  and  the  chiefs  said:  "We  shall  run  for  it;  put  on  your  ornaments  and 
prepare  as  for  battle."  So  the  men  stripped,  painted  themselves,  put  on  their  orna 
ments,  and  set  out  for  the  tree,  which  stood  near  a  lake.  They  ran  as  in  a  race  to 
attack  the  tree  as  if  it  were  a  warrior  enemy.  All  the  men  ran.  A  Ponca  was  the 
first  to  reach  the  tree,  and  he  struck  it  as  he  would  an  enemy.  [Note  the  resemblance 
to  the  charge  upon  the  He'dewachi  tree;  also  in  the  manner  of  felling  and  bringing 
the  tree  into  camp.  (See  p.  253.)] 

Then  they  cut  the  tree  down  and  four  men,  walking  in  line,  carried  it  on  their 
shoulders  to  the  village.  The  chiefs  sang  four  nights  the  songs  that  had  been  com 
posed  for  the  tree  while  they  held  a  council  and  deliberated  concerning  the  tree.  A 
tent  was  made  for  the  tree  and  set  up  within  the  circle  of  lodges.  The  chiefs  worked 
upon  the  tree;  they  trimmed  it  and  called  it  a  human  being.  They  made  a  basket" 
work  receptacle  of  twigs  and  feathers  and  tied  it  about  the  middle.  Then  they  said: 
"It  has  no  hair! "  So  they  sent  out  to  get  a  large  scalp  lock  and  they  put  it  on  the 
top  of  the  Pole  for  hair.  Afterward  the  chiefs  bade  the  herald  tell  the  people  that 
when  all  was  completed  they  should  see  the  Pole. 

Then  they  painted  the  Pole  and  set  it  up  before  the  tent,  leaning  it  on  a  crotched 
stick,  which  they  called  imongthe  (a  staff).  They  summoned  the  people,  and  all  the 

a  See  the  Hako,  in  the  Twenty-second  Annual  Report  of  the  Bureau  of  American  Ethnology,  part  2. 





people  came — men,  women,  and  children.  When  they  were  gathered  the  chiefs  stood 
up  and  said:  "You  now  see  before  you  a  mystery.  Whenever  we  meet  with  troubles 
we  shall  bring  all  our  troubles  to  him  [the  Pole].  We  shall  make  offerings  and  requests. 
All  our  prayers  must  be  accompanied  by  gifts.  This  [the  Pole]  belongs  to  all  the  peo 
ple,  but  it  shall  be  in  the  keeping  of  one  family  (in  the  Hon/ga  gens),  and  the  leader 
ship  shall  be  with  them.  If  anyone  desires  to  lead  (to  become  a  chief)  and  to  take 
responsibility  in  governing  the  people,  he  shall  make  presents  to  the  Keepers  [of  the 
Pole]  and  they  shall  give  him  authority."  When  all  was  finished  the  people  said: 
"Let  us  appoint  a  time  when  we  shall  again  paint  him  [the  Pole]  and  act  before  him 
the  battles  we  have  fought."  The  time  was  fixed;  it  was  to  take  place  in  "the  moon 
when  the  buffaloes  bellow"  (July).  This  was  the  beginning  of  the  ceremony  of 
Waxthe'xe  xigithe  (see  p.  230),  and  it  was  agreed  that  this  ceremony  should  be  kept  up. 


Waxthe'xe,  the  name  given  to  the  Pole,  was  the  name  of  the  ancient 
Cedar  Pole  preserved  in  the  Tent  of  War.  The  word  is  difficult  to 
translate.  The  prefix  wa  indicates  that  the  object  spoken  of  had 
power,  the  power  of  motion,  of  life;  xfhexe  means  "mottled  as  by 
shadows;"  the  word  has  also  the  idea  of  bringing  into  prominence 
to  be  seen  by  all  the  people  as  something  distinctive.  Xihexe' 
was  the  name  of  the  "mark  of  honor"  put  on  a  girl  by  her  father 
or  near  of  kin  who  had  won,  through  certain  acts,  entrance  into  the 
Hon'hewachi,  and  so  secured  the  right  to  have  this  mark  tattooed  on 
the  girl.  (See  fig.  105.)  The  name  of  the  Pole,  Waxthe'xe,  signifies 
that  the  power  to  give  the  right  to  possess  this  "mark  of  honor"  was 
vested  in  the  Pole.  The  mark  placed  on  the  girl  was  not  a  mark  of  her 
own  achievements,  but  of  her  father's,  as  no  girl  or  woman  could  by 
herself  win  it.  The  designs  tattooed  on  the  girl  were  all  cosmic  sym 
bols.  While  the  "mark  of  honor,"  as  its  name  shows,  was  directly 
connected  with  the  Cedar  Pole,  which  was  related  to  Thunder  and 
war,  the  tattooed  "mark  of  honor"  among  the  Omaha  was  not  con 
nected  with  war,  but  with  achievements  that  related  to  hunting  and 
to  the  maintenance  of  peace  within  the  tribe. 

It  was  the  custom  among  the  Osage  to  tattoo  the  "mark  of 
honor"  on  the  warrior  and  on  the  hereditary  keeper  of  the  Honor 
Packs  of  War.  The  description  of  the  Osage  practice,  which  appears 
below,  may  relate  to  a  time  antedating  the  separation  of  the  cognate 
tribes  when  the  Cedar  Pole  may  have  been  common  property.  The 
photograph  from  which  the  accompanying  illustration  (pi.  37a)  was 
made,  was  taken  in  1897.  The  design  tattooed  on  the  neck  and  chest 
(fig.  48)  comes  to  a  point  about  2  inches  above  the  waist  line  andi 
extends  over  the  shoulders  to  the  back.  The  central  part  of  the  design, ' 
extending  from  under  the  chin  downward  to  the  lowest  point,  repre 
sents  the  stone  knife.  Two  bands  on  each  side  of  this  central  figure 
extend  up  to  the  hair  an  inch  or  two  behind  the  ear,  terminat 
ing  in  a  knob  solidly  tattooed.  This  figure  is  called  i'lashabe  (mean 
ing  unknown) ;  the  name  and  significance  of  these  bands  were  not 



FKTH.  ANN.  27 

given.  A  pipe  is  tattooed  on  each  side  of  the  central  figure,  the 
bowl  pointing  upward.  At  the  root  of  the  neck,  on  each  side  of  the 
stone  knife,  a  triangle  is  traced ;  a  line  from  the  hypotenuse  extends 
to  the  top  of  the  shoulder.  These  represent  tents.  The  design 
means  that  "the  Sacred  Pipe  has  descended."  "All  its  keepers 
must  be  marked  in  this  way."  If  a  keeper  had  cut  off  heads  in 
battle,  skulls  would  be  represented  between  the  pointed  ends  of  the 
bands  which  fall  over  the  shoulders.  It  was  explained  that  the 

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

pictured  skulls  would  draw  to  the  tattooed  man  the  strength  of  the 
men  he  had  killed,  so  that  his  life  would  be  prolonged  by  virtue 
of  their  unexpended  days. 

The  man  here  shown  was  about  17  years  old  when  he  was  tattooed. 
He  said  that  the  tattooing  was  done  "  to  make  him  faithful  in  keeping 
the  rites;"  that  he  had  tried  to  have  visions  by  the  Pipes,  which  he 
had  always  respected  and  "had  never  laid  on  the  ground;"  and  that 
he  had  sought  these  visions  and  had  been  thus  careful  of  the  Pipes 
in  order  that  his  children  might  have  Jong  life. 


A  warrior  who  had  won  honors  in  battles  was  entitled  to  the  privi 
lege  of  tattooing  his  body  or  that  of  his  wife  or  daughter  as  a  mark 
of  distinction.  The  lowest  mark  of  such  honors  was  three  narrow 
lines  beginning  at  the  top  of  each  shoulder  and  meeting  at  an  angle 
at  the  lower  part  of  the  chest.  The  next  higher  mark  had  in  addition 
to  the  lines  on  the  chest  three  narrow  lines  running  down  the  outer  sur 
face  of  the  arms  to  the  wrists.  The  highest  mark  had  in  addition  to 
the  lines  on  the  chest  and  arms  three  narrow  lines  that  continued 
from  the  shoulders,  where  the  lines  of  the  first  mark  began,  meeting 
at  an  angle  in  the  middle  of  the  back.  The  tattooing  was  done  by 
a  man  who  was  learned  in  the  rituals  connected  with  the  ceremony. 
The  needles  used  were  tipped  with  the  rattles  of  the  rattlesnake. 


The  tent  set  apart  for  the  Sacred  Pole  was  pitched  in  front  of  the 
Waxthe'xetona  subgens  of  the  Hon'ga  gens,  who,  as  their  name  im 
plies,  were  given  charge  of  the  Pole.  The  tent  was  decorated  with 
round  red  spots,  which  probably  referred  to  the  sun.  Some  have 
said  they  represented  the  buffalo  wallow,  but  this  seems  improbable, 
judging  from  other  evidence  and  the  character  of  the  Pole.  The 
three  Sacred  Tents  of  the  Omaha  tribe  were  all  objects  of  fear  to  the 
people  because  of  the  character  of  their  contents.  No  one  unbidden 
went  near  them  or  touched  them;  nor  could  anyone  borrow  fire  from 
any  of  the  Sacred  Tents;  nor  could  holes  be  made  about  the  fireplace. 
Should  any  person,  animal,  or  object,  as  a  tent  pole,  accidentally 
come  in  contact  with  any  of  these  Sacred  Tents,  the  offending  person, 
animal,  or  thing  had  to  be  taken  to  the  keeper  of  the  tent  that  had 
been  touched  and  be  cleansed  ceremonially  in  order  to  prevent  the 
evil  believed  to  follow  such  sacrilege.  A  piece  of  meat  that  chanced 
to  drop  into  the  fire  while  being  roasted  in  one  of  the  Sacred  Tents 
could  not  be  taken  out  but  was  left  to  be  entirely  consumed. 

The  contents  of  two  of  the  Sacred  Tents  of  the  Omaha  tribe  have 
been  placed  for  safe  keeping  in  the  Peabody  Museum  of  Harvard 
University — those  of  the  Sacred  Tent  of  War  in  1884  and  the  Sacred 
Pole  with  its  belongings,  in  1888.  (See  p.  411.)  All  these  relics  are 
unique  and  of  ethnologic  value.  The  disposition  to  be  made  of  these 
sacred  objects,  which  for  generations  had  been  essential  in  the  tribal 
ceremonies  and  expressive  of  the  authority  of  the  chiefs,  was  a 
serious  problem  for  the  leading  men  of  the  tribe.  To  destroy  these 
sacred  relics  was  not  to  be  thought  of,  and  it  was  finally  decided  that 
they  should  be  buried  with  their  keepers. 

For  many  years  the  writers  had  been  engaged  in  a  serious  study 
of  the  tribe  and  it  seemed  a  grave  misfortune  that  these  venerable 

a  Waxthe'xe,  the  name  of  the  Sacred  Pole;  ton,  "to  possess"  or  "  to  keep  and  care  for." 

222  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

objects  should  be  buried  and  the  full  story  of  the  tribe  be  forever 
lost,  for  that  story  was  as  yet  but  imperfectly  known,  and  until  these 
sacred  articles,  so  carefully  hidden  from  inspection,  could  be  exam 
ined  it  was  impossible  to  gain  a  point  of  view  whence  to  study,  as 
from  the  center,  the  ceremonies  connected  with  these  articles  and 
their  relation  to  the  autonomy  of  the  tribe.  The  importance  of 

FIG.  49.    Joseph  La  Flesche. 

securing  the  objects  became  more  and  more  apparent,  and  influences 
were  brought  to  bear  on  the  chiefs  and  their  keepers  to  prevent  the 
carrying  out  of  the  plan  for  burial.  After  years  of  labor,  for  which 
great  credit  must  be  given  to  the  late  Pshta'maza  (Joseph  La 
Flesche,  fig.  49),  former  principal  chief  of  the  tribe,  the  sacred  articles 
were  finally  secured. 



When  the  Pole  was  finally  in  safe  keeping  it  seemed  very  important 
to  secure  its  legend,  which  was  known  only  to  a  chief  of  the  Hon/ga. 
The  fear  inspired  by  the  Pole  was  such  that  it  seemed  as  though  it 

FIG.  50.    Monchu'no"be  (Shu'dena^i). 

would  be  impossible  to  gain  this  information,  but  the  desired  result 
was  finally  brought  about,  and  one  summer  day  in  September,  1888, 
old  Shu'denaci  (Smoked  Yellow;  refers  to  the  Sacred  Tent  of  the 
Hon/ga  gens),  figure  50,  came  to  the  house  of  Joseph  La  Flesche  to 
tell  the  legend  of  his  people  treasured  with  the  Sacred  Pole.  Extracts 
from  this  Sacred  Legend  have  already  been  given. 

224  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

It  was  a  memorable  day.  The  harvest  was  ended,  and  tall  sheafs 
of  wheat  cast  their  shadows  over  the  stubble  fields  that  were  once 
covered  with  buffalo  grass.  The  past  was  irrevocably  gone.  The 
old  man  had  consented  to  speak  but  not  without  misgivings  until 
his  former  principal  chief  said  that  he  would  "cheerfully  accept  for 
himself  any  penalty  that  might  follow  the  revealing  of  these  sacred 
traditions,"  an  act  formerly  held  to  be  a  profanation  and  punish 
able  by  the  supernatural.  While  the  old  chief  talked  he  continually 
tapped  the  floor  with  a  little  stick  he  held  in  his  hand,  marking  with 
it  the  rhythm  peculiar  to  the  drumming  of  a  man  who  is  invoking 
the  unseen  powers  during  the  performance  of  certain  rites.  His 
eyes  were  cast  down,  his  speech  was  deliberate,  and  his  voice  low,  as 
if  speaking  to  himself  alone.  The  scene  in  that  little  room  where 
sat  the  four  actors  in  this  human  drama  was  solemn,  as  at  the  obse 
quies  of  a  past  once  so  full  of  human  activity  and  hope.  The  fear 
inspired  by  the  Pole  was  strengthened  in  its  passing  away,  for  by  a 
singular  coincidence  the  touch  of  fatal  disease  fell  upon  Joseph 
La  Flesche  almost  at  the  close  of  this  interview,  which  lasted  three 
days,  and  in  a  fortnight  he  lay  dead  in  the  very  room  in  which  had 
been  revealed  the  Sacred  Legend  connected  with  the  Pole. 

The  Sacred  Pole  (pi.  38  and  fig.  51)  is  of  cotton  wood,  2^  m.  in  length, 
and  bears  marks  of  great  age.  It  has  been  subjected  to  manipulation; 
the  bark  has  been  removed,  and  the  pole  shaved  and  shaped  at  both 
ends,  the  top,  or  "head,"  rounded  into  a  cone-shaped  knob,  and  the 
lower  end  trimmed  to  a  dull  point.  Its  circumference  near  the  head 
is  15  cm.  2  mm.  The  circumference  increases  in  the  middle  to  19  cm. 
and  diminishes  toward  the  foot  to  14  cm.  6  mm.  To  the  lower  end  is 
fastened  by  strips  of  tanned  hide  a  piece  of  harder  wood,  probably 
ash,  55  cm.  2£  mm.  in  length,  rounded  at  the  top,  with  a  groove  cut 
to  prevent  the  straps  from  slipping,  and  with  the  lower  end  sharpened 
so  as  to  be  easily  driven  into  the  ground.  There  is  a  crack  in  the 
Pole  extending  several  centimeters  above  this  foot  piece,  which  has 
probably  given  rise  to  a  modern  idea  that  the  piece  was  added  to 
strengthen  or  mend  the  Pole  when  it  had  become  worn  with  long 
usage.  But  the  Pole  itself  shows  no  indication  of  ever  having  been 
in  the  ground;  there  is  no  decay  apparent,  as  is  shown  on  the  foot 
piece,  the  flattened  top  of  which  proves  that  it  was  driven  into  the 
ground.  Moreover,  the  name  of  this  piece  of  wood  is  zhi'be,  "leg; "  as 
the  Pole  itself  represents  a  man  and  as  the  name  zhi'be  is  not  applied 
to  a  piece  of  wood  spliced  on  to  lengthen  a  pole,  it  is  probable  that 
this  foot  or  leg  was  originally  attached  to  the  Pole. 

Upon  this  zhi'be  the  Pole  rested;  it  was  never  placed  upright  but 
inclined  forward  at  an  angle  of  about  45°,  being  held  in  position  by 
a  stick  tied  to  it  1  m.  46  cm.  from  the  "head."  The  native  name  of 
this  support  is  i'mongihe,  meaning  a  staff  such  as  old  men  lean  upon. 





Upon  the  top,  or  "head,"  of  the  Pole  was  tied  a  large  scalp,  ni'ka 
nonzhiha.  About  one  end,  14  cm.  5  mm.  from  the  "head"  is  a  piece 
of  hide  bound  to  the  Pole  by  bands  of  tanned  skin.  This  wrapping 
covers  a  basketwork  of  twigs,  now  shriveled  with  age,  which  is 
lightly  filled  with  feathers  and  the  down  of  the  crane.  The  length 
of  this  bundle  of  hide  is  44  cm.  5  mm.,  and  its  circumference  about 
50  cm.  In  1875  the  last  ceremony  was  performed  and  the  wrapping 
put  on  as  it  remains  to-day. 

FIG.  51.    A  section  of  the  Sacred  Pole  showing  incrustation  from  ancient  anointings.     (The  Pole 
is  here  represented  in  its  usual  position,  supported  by  the  i'mongthe,  or  stafl.) 

The  name  of  this  receptacle,  a'xondepa,  is  the  word  used  to  desig 
nate  the  leather  shield  worn  on  the  wrist  of  an  Indian  to  protect  it 
from  the  bowstring.  This  name  affords  unmistakable  evidence  that  the 
Pole  was  intended  to  symbolize  a  man,  as  no  other  creature  could  wear 
the  bowstring  shield.  It  indicates  also  that  the  man  thus  symbolized 
was  one  wrho  was  both  a  provider  for  and  a  protector  of  his  people. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 -15 

226  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


The  pack  (fig.  52;  Peabody  Museum  no.  47834)  accompanying 
the  Pole  contained  a  number  of  articles  which  were  used  in  the  cere 
monies  of  the  Sacred  Pole.  It  is  an  oblong  piece  of  buffalo  hide 
which,  when  wrapped  around  its  contents,  makes  a  round  bundle 
about  SO  cm.  long  and  60  cm.  in  circumference,  bound  together  by 
bands  of  rawhide.  The  pack  was  called  waihi'xabe,  meaning  literally 
"things  flayed,"  referring  to  the  scalps  stored  within  the  pack. 
Nine  scalps  were  found  in  it  when  opened  at  the  Museum.  Some 
show  signs  of  considerable  wear;  they  are  all  very  large  and  on  one 
are  the  remains  of  a  feather,  worn  away  all  but  the  quill. 

The  pipe  belonging  to  the  Pole  and  used  in  its  rites  was  kept  in  this 
pack  (fig.  53;  Peabody  Museum  no.  47838).  The  stem  is  round 
and  89  cm.  in  length.  It  is  probably  of  ash  and  shows  marks  of  long 
usage.  The  bowl  is  of  red  catlinite,  12  cm.  5  mm.  at  its  greatest 

FIG  52.    Pack  belonging  to  Sacred  Pole. 

length,  and  7  cm.  2  mm.  in  height.  The  bowl  proper  rises  4  cm.  5 
mm.  from  the  base.  Upon  the  sides  and  bottom  of  the  stone  certain 
figures  are  incised,  which  are  difficult  to  identify;  they  may 
represent  a  conventionalized  bird  grasping  the  pipe.  The  lines  of 
the  figures  are  filled  with  a  semilustrous  black  substance  composed 
of  vegetable  matter,  which  brings  the  design  into  full  relief;  this 
substance  is  also  painted  on  the  front  and  back  of  the  bowl,  leav 
ing  a  band  of  red  showing  at  the  sides.  The  effect  is  that  of  a  black 
and  red  inlaid  pipe.  When  this  pipe  was  smoked  the  stone  end  rested 
on  the  ground;  it  was  not  lifted  but  dragged  by  the  stem  as  it 
passed  from  man  to  man  while  they  sat  in  the  Sacred  Tent  or  inclosure. 
To  prevent  the  bowl  falling  off,  a  mishap  which  would  be  disas 
trous,  a  hole  was  drilled  through  a  little  flange  at  the  end  of  the 
stone  pipe  where  it  is  fitted  to  the  wooden  stem,  and  through  this 
hole  one  end  of  a  sinew  cord  was  passed  and  fastened,  the  other  end 




being  securely  tied  about  the  pipestem  13  cm.  above  its  entrance  into 
the  bowl. 

The  stick  used  to  clean  this  pipe,  niniu'tJiubaflci  (fig.  54),  was  kept 
in  a  case  or  sheath  of  reed  wound  round  with  a  fine  rope  of  human  hair. 

FIG.  53.     Pipe  belonging  to  Sacred  Pole. 

FIG.  54.    Pipe-cleaner. 

fastened  with  sinew;  a  feather,  said  to  be  from  the  crane,  was  bound 
to  the  lower  end  of  this  sheath.     Only  part  of  the  quill  remains. 

Sweet  grass  (pe'zhefonfta)  and  cedar   (ma'pi),  broken  up  and  tied 
in  bundles,  were  in  the  pack.     Bits  of  the  grass  and  cedar  were 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

spread  on  the  top  of  the  tobacco  when  the  pipe  was  filled,  so  that 
wrhen  it  was  lighted  these  were  first  consumed,  making  an  offering  of 
savory  smoke.  Sweet  grass  and  cedar  were  used  also  in  consecrating 
the  seven  arrows  for  ceremonial  use. 

Seven  arrows,  mon'peihonba  (fig.  55;  Peabody  Museum  no.  47835) 
were  in  the  pack.     The  shafts  are  much  broken;  they  were   origi- 

Fio.  55.     Divining  arrows 

nally  45  cm.  6  mm.  long,  feathered  from  'the  crane,  with  stone  heads. 
Part  of  the  quills  of  the  feathers  remain  but  the  arrowheads  are  lost. 
A  curious  brush  (fig.  56;  Peabody  Museum  no.  47837)  made  of  a 
piece  of  hide,  having  one  edge  cut  into  a  coarse  fringe  and  the  hide 
rolled  together  and  bound  with  bands,  was  the  rude  utensil  with 

FIG.  56.    Brush  used  in  painting  Sacred  Pole. 

which  the  paint,  mixed  with  buffalo  fat,  was  put  on  the  Pole.  A 
bundle  of  sinew  cord,  and  of  red  paint  (wafe'zhide),  used  in  painting 
the  Pole,  complete  the  contents  of  ths.pack. 




The  ancient  Cedar  Pole  (fig.  57;  Peabody  Museum  no. 
37561)  preserved  in  the  Tent  of  War  was  the  prototype 
of  the  Sacred  Pole.  The  two  had  features  in  common: 
both  simulated  something  more  than  a  pole,  and  did  not 
typify  a  tree,  as  did  the  pole  in  the  He'dewachi  ceremony, 
but  represented  a  being;  both  had  the  zhi'ke,  or  leg;  on 
the  body  of  one  was  bound  a  stick  like  a  club,  on  the 
other  a  device  called  a  bow  shield.  Both  poles  were 
associated  with  Thunder,  and  any  profanation  of  either 
was  supernaturally  punished  by  death.  The  cedar  tree 
was  a  favorite  place  for  the  Thunder  birds  to  alight 
and  according  to  the  Legend  attention  was  called  to 
the  tree  from  which  the  Sacred  Pole  was  shaped  by 
the  Thunder  birds  coming  to  it  from  the  four  direc 
tions  and  the  mysterious  burning  which  followed,  all 
of  which  caused  the  Sacred  Pole  to  stand  in  the 
minds  of  the  people  as  endowed  with  supernatural 
power  by  the  ancient  Thunder  gods.  "As  a  result," 
the  Legend  says,  "the  people  began  to  pray  to  the  Pole 
for  courage  and  for  trophies  in  war  and  their  prayers  were 

Associated  with  the  Pole  was  the  White  Buffalo  Hide. 
Its  tent  stood  beside  that  of  the  Pole.  The  ritual  and 
ceremonies  relating  to  the  Hide  (given  on  p.  286)  show 
that  it  was  directly  connected  with  hunting  the  buffalo. 
The  Pole,  on  the  other  hand,  was  a  political  symbol  rep 
resentative  of  the  authority  of  the  chiefs,  and  mysteriously 
associated  with  Thunder,  as  cited  above ;  it  was  related  to 
defensive  warfare  as  a  means  of  protecting  the  tribe  and 
was  also  connected  with  the  hunt,  the  means  by  which 
food,  clothing,  and  shelter  were  secured  by  the  people. 

The  Pole  had  its  keeper,  who  was  one  of  the  subgens 
having  its  rites  in  charge.  When  the  tribe  moved  out  on 
the  annual  hunt  the  Pole  was  carried  on  the  back  of  the 
keeper  by  means  of  a  strap  passed  over  his  shoulders,  the 
ends  of  which  were  fastened  near  the  head  and  foot  of  the 
Pole.  As  he  walked  carrying  the  Pole  the  keeper  had  to 
wear  his  robe  ceremonially,  the  hair  outside.  The  food, 
tent,  and  personal  belongings  of  the  keeper  could  be  trans 
ported  on  a  horse;  the  Pole  had  always  to  be  carried  on 
the  back  of  the  man.  The  presence  of  the  Pole  was 
regarded  at  all  times  as  of  vital  importance.  "It  held 
the  tribe  together;  without  it  the  people  might  scat 
ter,"  was  the  common  expression  as  to  the  purpose  and 
needed  presence  of  the  Pole. 

FIG.  57.  An 
cient  Cedar 

230  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  AX.V  27 

The  following  incident  occurred  during  the  early  part  of  the  last 

The  keeper  of  the  Pole  had  become  a  very  old  man,  but  he  still  clung  to  his  duties- 
Misfortune  had  come  to  him,  and  he  had  no  horse  when  the  time  came  for  the  tribe 
to  move  out  on  the  annual  hunt.  The  old  man  and  his  aged  wife  had  no  one  to  help 
them  to  carry  their  tent  and  provisions,  which,  added  to  the  Sacred  Pole,  made  a  heavy 
load  for  the  old  people.  The  old  man  struggled  on  for  some  days,  his  strength  gradu 
ally  failing.  At  last  the  time  came  when  he  had  to  choose  between  carrying  food  or 
carrying  the  Pole.  'The  tribe  had  started  on;  he  hesitated,  then  self-preservation 
decided  in  favor  of  the  food,  so  leaving  the  Pole  as  it  stood  the  old  man  slowly  walked 
away.  As  he  neared  the  tribal  camp  a  young  man  saw  him  and  asked  what  had  hap 
pened  that  he  was  without  the  Pole.  The  old  man  told  his  story.  The  young  man 
was  poor  and  had  only  the  horse  he  was  riding,  but  he  at  once  turned  back  to  the 
deserted  camp  to  rescue  the  Pole.  The  ride  was  a  dangerous  one,  for  there  were 
enemies  near.  He  risked  his  life  to  save  the  Pole  by  turning  back.  He  found  it 
where  it  had  been  left  by  the  old  man;  then  mounting  his  horse  with  it  he  made 
haste  to  rejoin  the  tribe.  When  he  came  near  to  where  the  people  were  camped  he 
dismounted,  took  the  Pole  on  his  back,  and  leading  his  horse  made  his  way  to  the  old 
keeper,  delivered  to  him  the  Pole,  and  at  the  same  time  presented  his  horse  to  the 
old  man.  This  was  the  only  time  the  Pole  was  ever  carried  on  horseback.  The  act 
of  the  young  man  was  at  once  known,  and  he  was  publicly  thanked  by  the  Ho^ga 
subgens  that  had  charge  of  the  Pole  and  its  ceremonies.  A  few  days  later  the  Seven 
Chiefs  were  called  to  a  council,  and  they  sent  for  the  young  man,  bidding  him  to  come 
to  them  and  to  wear  his  robe  in  the  ceremonial  manner.  He  hesitated  at  what  seemed 
to  him  must  be  a  mistake  in  the  summons,  but  he  was  told  he  must  obey.  When  he 
entered  the  tent  where  the  chiefs  were  sitting  he  was  motioned  to  a  vacant  place 
beside  one  of  the  principal  chiefs.  The  yoiing  man  was  thus  made  an  honorary  chief 
because  of  his  generous  act  toward  the  Pole;  he  could  sit  with  the  chiefs,  but  he  had 
no  voice  in  their  deliberations. 


The  name  of  this  ceremony  was  Waxthe'xe  xigithe  (Waxihe'xe, 
"the  Sacred  Pole;"  xigithe,  "to  tinge  with  red").  The  ceremony  of 
Anointing  the  Pole  was  commemorative  of  the  original  presentation 
of  the  Pole  to  the  people,  and  the  season  set  for  this  ceremony  made 
it  also  a  ceremony  of  thanksgiving  for  the  gifts  received  through 
the  hunt.  The  ceremony  took  place  after  the  fourth  tribal  chase 
and  the  four  ceremonies  connected  with  the  buffalo  tongues  and 
hearts  had  taken  place.  Then  the  Waxthe'xeto"  subgens  of  the 
Hon/ga  gens,  which  had  charge  of  the  Pole,  called  the  Seven  Chiefs, 
the  governing  council,  to  the  Sacred  Tent  to  transact  the  preliminary 
business.  They  sat  there  with  the  tent  closed  tight,  clad  in  their 
buffalo  robes,  worn  ceremonially,  the  hair  outside  and  the  head 
falling  on  the  left  arm;  in  a  crouching  attitude,  without  a  knife  or 
spoon,  in  imitation  of  the  buffalo's  feeding,  they  ate  the  food  provided 
and  took  care  not  to  drop  any  of  it.  Should  a  morsel  fall  on  the 
ground,  however,  it  was  carefully  pushed  toward  the  fire;  such  a 
morsel  wTas  said  to  be  desired  by  the  Pole,  and  as  the  Legend  says, 
"No  one  must  take  anything  claimed  by  the  Pole." 

When  the  council  had  agreed  on  the  day  for  the  ceremony  they 
smoked  the  pipe  belonging  to  the  Pole,  and  the  herald  announced  the 


decision  to  the  tribe.  Runners  were  sent  out  to  search  for  a  herd  of 
buffalo,  and  if  one  was  found  within  four  days  it  was  accounted  a 
sacred  herd,  and  the  chase  that  took  place  provided  fresh  meat  for 
the  coming  ceremony.  If  within  four  days  the  runners  failed  to 
discover  a  herd,  dried  meat  was  used. 

In  this  preliminary  council  the  number  of  men  to  be  called  on  to 
secure  poles  for  the  communal  tent  was  determined;  then  each  chief 
took  a  reed  from  a  bundle  kept  in  the  Sacred  Tent,  which  constituted 
the  tally  of  the  men  of  the  tribe,  and  mentioned  the  name  of  a  man  of 
valorous  exploits.  When  the  names  of  the  number  of  men  agreed 
on  had  been  mentioned,  the  leader  of  the  subgens  gave  the  repre 
sentative  reeds  to  the  tribal  herald  to  distribute  to  these  designated 
men.  On  receiving  the  reed  each  man  proceeded  to  the  Sacred  Tent, 
and  by  the  act  of  returning  his  reed  to  the  leader  of  the  subgens 
accepted  the  distinction  that  had  been  conferred  on  him.  It  was 
now  the  duty  of  these  men  to  visit  the  lodges  of  the  tribe  and  select 
from  each  tent  a  pole  to  be  used  in  the  construction  of  a  lodge  for 
the  coming  ceremonies.  This  they  did  by  entering  the  tent  and 
striking  a  chosen  pole,  while  they  recounted  the  valiant  deeds  of  their 
past  life.  These  men  were  followed  by  other  men  from  the  Waxthe'- 
xeton  subgens,  who,  with  their  wives,  withdrew  the  selected  poles  and 
carried  them  to  the  vicinity  of  the  Sacred  Tent,  where  they  were  set 
up  and  covered  so  as  to  form  a  semicircular  lodge  (fig.  58). a  This 
lodge  was  erected  on  the  site  of  the  Sacred  Tents,  which  were  incor 
porated  in  it.  The  lodge  opened  toward  the  center  of  the  tribal  circle; 
as  the  poles  used  in  its  construction  were  taken  from  the  tents  of  the 
tribe  the  lodge  represented  all  the  people  and  was  called  waxu'be, 
"holy"  or  " sacred,"  because  it  was  erected  for  a  religious  ceremony. 

Up  to  this  time  the  tribe  may  have  been  moving  and  camping  every 
day,  but  now  a  halt  was  called  until  the  close  of  the  ceremony.  From 
this  time  to  the  close  of  the  rites  all  the  horses  had  to  be  kept  outside 
the  hu'thuga,  and  the  people  were  not  allowed  to  loiter  about  or  pass  to 
and  fro  across  the  entrance.  To  enforce  this  regulation  two  men  were 
stationed  as  guards  at  the  opening  of  the  tribal  circle. 

All  being  in  readiness,  the  leader  of  the  subgens  of  the  IIon/ga 
having  charge  of  the  Pole  summoned  the  Seven  Chiefs  and  the  head 
men  of  the  gentes,  who,  wearing  buffalo  robes  in  the  ceremonial 
manner,  sedately  walked  to  the  communal  tent  and  took  their  seats. 

The  Xu'ka,  a  group  belonging  to  the  Tha'tada  gens,  which  in  the 
hu'thuga  camped  next  to  the  Hon/ga  on  the  left,  and  whose  duty  it  was 
to  act  as  prompters  in  the  ceremonies  performed  by  the  Hon/ga,  took 
their  places  toward  the  end  of  the  great  communal  tent  on  the  left. 
The  Xu'ka  followed  closely  the  singing  of  the  ritual  songs.  To  aid 
them  in  their  duty  as  prompters  they  used  counters — little  sticks 

«  The  four  figures  in  front  were  made  of  grass  ;  later  in  the  ceremony  these  represented  enemies. 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

about  6  inches  long.  As  soon  as  a  song  was  sung,  its  counter  was 
laid  at  one  side.  If  the  Hon/ga  had  any  doubt  as  to  the  proper  song 
in  the  sequence  of  the  ritual,  they  consulted  the  Xu'ka. 

If  by  any  chance  a  mistake  occurred  during  the  ceremonies  con 
nected  with  the  Sacred  Pole,  and  one  of  the  songs  was  sung  out  of 
sequence,  then  the  following  ceremony  became  obligatory:  All  the 
Waxthe'xeto"  subgens  of  the  Hon'ga,  they  who  had  charge  of  the 
Sacred  Pole  and  its  rites,  arose,  lifted  their  arms,  held  their  hands 
with  the  palms  upward,  and,  standing  thus  in  the  attitude  of  suppli 
cation,  wrept.  After  a  few  moments  one  of  the  official  servers  came 
forward,  passed  in  front  of  the  line  of  standing  singers,  and  wiped  the 

FIG.  58.    Communal  ceremonial  structure— grass  figures  in  foreground  (native  drawing). 

tears  from  each  man's  face.  Then  the  singers  resumed  their  places, 
and  the  ceremony  began  again  from  the  beginning  as  though  for  the 
first  time.  This  ceremony  of  contrition  took  place  only  when  by 
accident  the  sequence  of  the  songs  of  the  Sacred  Pole  was  broken. 

The  Xu'ka  also  acted  as  prompters  when  the  Washa'beto"  sub- 
gens  of  the  Hon/ga  sang  the  ritual  of  the  Sacred  White  Buffalo  Hide. 
If  a  song  of  that  ritual  was  sung  out  of  its  order  the  entire  ritual  had  to 
be  begun  again,  for  there  must  be  no  break  in  the  parts  of  the  ritual- 
its  course  "must  be  straight." 

On  the  ceremonial  occasion  here  described  the  herald  wore  a  band 
of  matted  buffalo  wool  about  his  head,  with  a  downy  eagle  feather 
standing  in  it. 


The  Sacred  Pole  was  carried  by  the  wife  of  the  keeper  of  the  Pole  lo 
the  edge  of  the  communal  lodge,  where  the  keeper  arranged  it  so  as  to 
lean  on  its  "staff"  (a  crotched  stick)  toward  the  center  of  the  hu'thuqa. 

The  pipe  belonging  to  the  Sacred  Pole  was  first  smoked ;  then  the 
bundle  of  reeds  was  brought,  which  served  as  a  count  of  the  men  of 
the  tribe  who  were  able  to  serve  as  warriors.  Each  chief  as  he  drew 
a  reed  mentioned  the  name  of  a  man.  He  must  be  one  who  lived  in 
his  own  lodge  as  the  head  of  a  family  (what  we  would  term  a  house 
holder),  not  a  man  dependent  on  relatives.  As  the  chief  spoke 
the  name,  the  herald  advanced  to  the  Pole  and  shouted  the  name 
so  as  to  be  heard  by  the  whole  tribe.  Should  the  name  given  be 
that  of  a  chief,  the  herald  substituted  that  of  his  son.  The  man 
called  was  expected  to  send  by  the  hand  of  one  of  his  children  his 
finest  and  fattest  piece  of  buffalo  meat,  of  a  peculiar  cut  known  as 
the  tezhu'.  (See  p.  273.)  If  the  meat  was  heavy,  one  of  the  parents 
helped  to  carry  it  to  the  communal  tent.  The  little  ones  were  full  ' 
of  dread,  fearing  particularly  the  fat  which  was  to  be  used  on  the 
Pole.  So  they  often  stopped  to  wipe  their  greasy  fingers  on  the  grass 
so  as  to  escape  any  blame  or  possible  guilt  of  sacrilege.  Anyone 
refusing  to  make  this  offering  to  the  Pole  would  be  struck  by  light 
ning,  wounded  in  battle,  or  lose  a  limb  by  a  splinter  running  into  his 
foot.  There  are  well-known  instances  of  such  results  having  followed 


All  the  ritual  songs  relating  to  the  ceremonies  of  the  Sacred  Pole 
were  the  property  of  the  Waxthe'xeto"  subgens  of  the  Hon/ga  gens, 
and  were  sung  by  them  during  the  performance  of  the  rites. 

This  song  accompanied  the  placing  of  the  Pole  and  the  cutting  of 
the  symbolic  design  on  the  ground  in  front  of  it: 


The- a-  ma      wa     gthi  -  ton  -  bi 

— *— *— *— *i—  — ^Jr-  -*-zs^r-*- 

\Va-gthi-ton-bi\Va-gthi-ton-bi  thoho Te  -   xi  e-he...     gthi  -  to"       bu 

-j — • — * — 0 — * — * — * iF^r— t^-tf-  '-* 

»  ^u.  • 

— I      "T 

Wa-  gthi-ton  -  bi    Wa-gthi-to»  -   bi       te    -   xi  e-he      gthi  -  to0  ba 


Thea'ma  wagthitonbi  tho  ho!  gthitonba 

Wagthitonbi,  wagthitonbi,  tho  ho 

Te'xi  ehe  gthitonba 

Wagthitonbi,  wagthitonbi  te'xi  ehe  gthitonba 

234  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH   A\X.  27 

lateral  translation:  Theama,  here  are  they  (the  people);  wagthi- 
tonbi — the  prefix  wa  indicates  that  the  object  has  power,  gthitonbi, 
touching  what  is  theirs  ("touching"  here  means  the  touching  that  is 
necessary  for  a  preparation  of  the  objects);  ihoTio!  is  an  exclamation 
here  used  in  the  sense  of  a  call  to  Wakon'da,  to  arrest  attention,  to 
announce  that  something  is  in  progress  relating  to  serious  matters; 
te'xi,  that  which  is  of  the  most  precious  or  sacred  nature;  eke,  I  sav. 

Free  translation 

The  people  cry  aloud — tho  ho!  before  thee. 

Here  they  prepare  for  sacred  rites — tho  ho! 

Their  Sacred,  Sacred  Pole. 

With  reverent  hands,  I  say,  they  touch  the  Sacred  Pole  before  thee. 

After  the  Pole  was  in  place,  the  one  who  officiated  and  repre 
sented  the  keepers  of  the  Pole,  the  Waxthe'xeto"  subgens  of  the 
Hon'ga,  advanced  toward  the  Pole  to  untie  the  skin  which  concealed 
the  wickerwork  object  bound  to  the  middle  of  the  Pole.  As  this  was 
being  done,  the  Hon/ga  keepers  sang  the  next  stanza: 

Wagthishkabi,  wagthishkabi  tho  ho!  gthishkaba 

Wagthishkabi,  wagthishkabi  tho  ho 

Te'xi  ehe  gthishkaba 

Wagthishkabi,  wagthishkabi,  te'xi  ehe  gthishkaba 

Literal  translation:  Wagthishkabi — the  prefix  wa  indicates  that  the 
object  has  power;  gthishkabi,  undoing,  so  as  to  expose  to  view  that 
which  is  covered  or  encased.  The  rest  of  the  words  have  been 
translated  in  the  first  stanza. 

Free  translation 

We  now  unloose  and  bring  to  view,  tho  ho!  before  thee, 

We  bring  to  view  for  sacred  rites,  tho  ho! 

This  sacred,  sacred  thing, 

These  sacred  rites,  this  sacred  thing  comes  to  view  before  thee. 


FIG.  59.    Uzhin'eti. 

In  front  of  the  Pole  the  symbolic  figure,  called  uzhin'eti,  figure  59 
(see  p.  241),  was  then  cut  on  the  ground,  the  sod  removed,  and  the 
earth  loosened,  after  which  the  following  song  was  sung: 




E  -  he         the    he          gthi      -       toQ  -  hi         tlia         ha  ha         gthi  - 

E  -    he  the       he          the        wa 

the       wa 

gthi  -  ton  -  hi  tha    ha 

gthi  -  ton    -   hi 

Ehe  the  he  gthito"bi  thaha  ha 

Ehe  the  he  the  wagthitonbi  tha  ha  ha 

Ehe  the  he  the  wagthitonbi  tha  ha  ha 


Literal  translation:  Ehe,  I  say;  the,  this;  Tie,  vowel  prolongation  of 
preceding  word;  gthitonbi,  preparing  what  is  theirs;  tha,  a  punctua 
tion  word  indicating  the  end  of  the  sentence,  used  in  oratory  and 
dignified  speech;  ha,  vowel  prolongation  of  preceding  word. 

Free  translation 

I  here  declare  our  work  to  be  completed, 

Done  our  task! 
I  here  declare  that  all  our  work  is  now  completed, 

Done  our  task! 
I  here  declare  that  all  our  work  is  now  completed, 

Fully  completed! 

On  the  following  day  the  culminating  rites  of  the  ceremony  took 
place.  In  these  the  wife  of  the  officiating  priest  had  a  share.  He 
was  clothed  in  his  gala  shirt  and  leggings,  and  red  bands  were  painted 
across  his  cheeks  from  the  mouth  to  the  ear.  The  woman  wore  over 
her  gala  costume  a  buffalo  robe  girded  about  her  waist,  the  skin  side 
out,  which  was  painted  red.  Across  her  cheeks  and  her  glossy  black 
hair  red  bands  were  painted  and  to  the  heel  of  each  moccasin  was 
attached  a  strip  of  buffalo  hair  like  a  tail. 

Early  in  the  morning  the  following  song  was  sung  as  the  wicker- 
work  object  containing  the  down  of  the  crane,  which  bore  the  name 



[ETII.  ANN.  27 

a'xondepa  (wrist  shield)  was  fully  opened,  to  be  ready  for  the  cere 
monies  of  the  day: 


H 1 1 h 

A   -  xou-de  -  pa     ha        ha     wiu   the  thon         A  -  xon-de  -   pa   ha 

ha      \vin    the    thon  A  -  xon  -  de   -  pa     ha        ha     win  the    tho" 

A-xo"-de-pa  ha     hawi"thethon          A-xo"-de-pa  ha    hawinthethoa 

Axondepa  ha  ha!  win  the  tho" 
AxoMepa  ha  ha!  win  the  tho" 
Axondepa  ha  ha!  win  the  tho" 
Axondepa  ha  ha!  win  the  tho" 
Axo"depa  ha  ha!  wi"  the  tho" 

Literal  translation :  Axondepa,  the  wrist  shield  worn  on  the  left  wrist 
of  a  man  to  prevent  it  being  cut  by  the  bowstring  when  the  latter 
rebounds  from  being  drawn;  ha  ha,  exclamation,  behold';  win,  one; 
the,  here  this;  thon,  round,  referring  to  the  shape  of  the  wrist  shield. 

The  reiteration  of  the  words  makes  it  difficult  to  present  a  trans 
lation  of  the  song  literally,  for  to  the  Indian  mind  the  repeated 
words  brought  up  the  varied  aspects  of  the  Pole.  It  represented  the 
unity  of  the  tribe;  the  unity  of  the  Council  of  Seven  Chiefs,  which 
made  them  "as  one  heart,  as  one  voice;"  the  authority  of  the  Thun 
der.  It  wras  a  being — a  man ;  it  was  a  bow,  the  weapon  of  a  man 
which  was  used  for  the  defense  of  life  and  to  secure  the  game  that 
gave  food,  shelter,  and  clothing.  As  this  song  (which  referred  to  the 
shield — the  article  that  protected  the  wrist  of  the  man  wThen  he 
pulled  the  bow  string)  was  sung,  the  wickerwork  containing  the  down 
was  fully  opened,  preparatory  to  the  ceremonies  in  which  it  had  a 
part.  The  full  meaning  of  the  lines  of  the  song  does  not  appear  from 
the  literal  words,  but  must  be  found  in  the  symbolism  of  the  cere 
monial  acts  connected  with  this  "  round  object." 

The  fourth  song  was  sung  as  the  officiating  priest  arranged  on  the 
ground  in  front  of  the  Pole,  side  by  side,  four  of  the  best  tezhu' 
pieces  of  buffalo  meat.  These  represented  four  buffaloes,  also  the  four 
hunts  and  the  four  ceremonial  offerings  of  hearts  and  tongues  which 
had  preceded  this  ceremony.  The  other  pieces  were  laid  along  the 
front  of  the  communal  tent.  Sometimes  there  were  four  parallel 




rows  of  this  meat.  From  these  offerings  the  officiating  priest  was 
later  to  cut  ceremonially  the  fat  that  was  to  be  mixed  with  the  paint 
and  used  to  anoint  the  Pole.  As  this  action  was  a  preparatory  one, 
it  was  accompanied  by  the  same  song  as  when  the  Sacred  Pole  was 
put  in  place  and  prepared  for  the  ceremony.  The  song  was  repeated 
eight  times. 


When  the  meat  wTas  finally  arranged,  the  completion  of  the  task 
was  announced  by  again  singing  the  second  ritual  song. 


The  next  song  embodied  the  command  of  the  Hon'ga  in  charge  of 
these  ceremonies  to  the  officiating  priest,  bidding  him  to  advance 
toward  the  meat  with  his  knife  and  hold  the  latter  aloft  preparatory 
to  the  movements  which  accompanied  the  ceremonial  cutting  of  the 


(Sung  in  octaves) 

Thi-shti     ba-  ha-  ha  no"  zhiu  - 

Thi-shti     ba-  ha-  ha  non-zhiu     ga-ha 

Thi-shti       ba  -   ha  -   ha      non  zliin 


Thi-  shti         ba  -  ha  -  ha 

non-zhiQ     ga-ha         a-    ha 

Thi-shti      ba  -   ha  -  ha      non-  zhin  -  ga 

Thi-shti      ba  -  ha  -  ha    non-zhin-  ga-  ha  Thi-shti     ba  -  ha  -  ha  non-zhin   -  ga 



Thi-shti  ba-ha-ha  non-zhin  ga-ha     a-  ha        Thi-shti    ba-ha-ha  non-zhin-ga 
Thishti  bahaha  nonzhinga 

These  words  were  repeated  nine  times. 

Literal  translation:  TJiishti,  thou,  too — addressed  to  the  officiating 
priest ;  bdhaha,  to  show,  meaning  that  the  priest  shall  grasp  the  knife 
with  which  he  is  to  cut  the  fat  and  hold  it  up  to  view;  nonzhin,  to 
stand;  ga,  word  of  command.  "Do  thou  show  thy  knife,  standing 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

ba-ha     ki-the     a  -  ba-  ha  -  ki-the     he  -  he        A-ba-ha     ki-the   ki-the 

-*— »'— ^-^3_ 5""^3 

he   he   the   A  -  ba  -  ba  ki  -  the   a  -  ba  -  ha   ki  -  the   he   he 

Abaha  kithe,  abaha  kitlie  hehe 

These  words  were  repeated  four  times. 

Literal  translation:  Abaha,  to  hold  toward  or  over;  kithe,  I  make 
him  (the  Hon/ga,  who  have  charge  of  the  rites  speak,  authorizing 
the  action  of  the  priest,  who  is  their  representative) ;  Jiehe,  vocables 
used  as  vowel  prolongations.  At  the  conclusion  of  the  fourth  repe 
tition  of  the  words  the  priest  lowered  the  knife  preparatory  to  the 
act  authorized  in  the  second  stanza,  and  then  sang: 

Ma'xo"  akithe,  Maxxon  akithe,  hehe 

These  words  also  were  repeated  four  times. 

Literal  translation:  Ma'xon,  to  cut;  akithe,  I  make  or  authorize 

During  the  singing  of  the  second  stanza  the  priest  cut  the  fat  from 
the  four  tezhu'  lying  in  front  of  the  Pole,  and  dropped  it  into  a 
wooden  bowl  held  by  his  wife  for  its  reception.  The  fat  cut  from 
the  meat  offerings  was  pounded  to  a  sort  of  paste  and  mixed 
with  red  paint.  While  this  was  being  done  the  pipe  belonging  to 
the  Pole  was  ceremonially  smoked  by  the  chiefs  and  leading  men 
gathered  in  the  communal  tent.  The  act  of  smoking  was  a  prayer 
of  consecration  and  the  asking  of  a  blessing  on  the  anointing  of  the 
Pole  about  to  take  place.  When  the  ceremony  of  smoking  was 
completed  and  the  fat  and  paint  were  made  ready,  the  eighth  ritual 
song  was  sung. 



ba  -   he 



ba  -   he 



H  ±   ^=1 

s  —  i  


—  H  


ft       *7       v 

p  1  






^n  —  ^—   —  *— 


SfHr-i  i 

—  i  — 

-~±  —  1= 



1  2- 

—  h  3= 

—  i— 




he  the   A  -  ba  -  he   he   the   A  -  ba  -  he   he   the 

Abahe  he  the  abahe  he  the 

Te  ehe  the 
Abahe  he  the  abahe  he  the 

Literal  translation:  Abahe,  to  hold  toward;  Tie,  vowel  prolongation; 
the,  this;  te,  buffalo;  ehe,  I  say;  the,  this. 

During  the  singing  of  this  song  the  priest  took  the  brush  (see  p.  228) 
with  which  he  was  to  anoint  the  Pole  and  made  a  ceremonial  ap 
proach  toward  the  Pole,  holding  the  brush  near  it,  while  the  woman 
at  the  same  time  presented  the  bowl.  Fat  was  the  emblem  of 
abundance;  red,  the  color  of  life.  The  mixture  therefore  symbol 
ized  abundant  life.  The  line  Te  ehe  the  was  explained  to  mean  that 
the  buffalo  was  here  declared  to  be  a  life-giving  gift  from  Wa- 
kon/da,  and  that  the  buffalo  yielded  itself  to  man  for  his  abundant 
food  and  also  to  provide  him  with  shelter  and  clothing.  The  cere 
mony  of  anointing  was  one  of  recognition  of  the  gift  by  Wakon'da 
of  the  buffalo  and  of  thanksgiving  for  it. 

The  second  stanza  of  this  song  was  now  sung.     The  words  are : 

Ite  he  ehe  the  ite  he  ehe  the 

Te  ehe  the 
Ite  he  ehe  the  ite  he  ehe! 

Literal  translation :  Ite,  to  touch ;  he,  vowel  prolongation ;  ehe, I  say ; 
the,  this;  te,  buffalo;  ehe,  I  say;  the,  this. 

The  brush,  on  which  was  some  of  the  sacred  paint,  was  then  brought 
close  to  the  Pole  and  permitted  to  touch  it.  As  all  of  the  move 
ments  related  to  the  care  of  Wakon'da  for  man,  they  were  religious 
in  character  and  consequently  were  very  deliberate.  The  brush 
ceremonially  touched  the  Pole  and  four  lines  were  made  down  its 
length.  The  anointing  followed  as  the  next  song  was  sung. 

240  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETII.  ANN.  27 


(Sung  in  octaves)     Harmonized  by  John  C.  Fillmore  for  interpretation  on  the  piano 
Solemnly  Moderate  J  =  60 

— 2-— »- 

A  -    tha  -  ha     ki  -  the        a  -  tha  -  ha      ki  -  the        he  he 

A    - 


Cow  Ped. 



tha  -    ha       ki  -  the          a  -    tha  -    ha        ki  -    the        he  he 

h-« 7 S 

tha  -  ha       ki  -    the        ki  -  the 

he  he 

A    - 


h ^*- 



~~[  | 

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Athaha  kithe,  athaha  kithe  he  he 

These  words  were  repeated  four  times. 

Translation:  Athaha,  to  adhere;  "kithe }  I  make  or  cause;  he  fie,  vowel 
prolongation.  "I  cause  [the  paint]  to  adhere." 

More  than  one  application  of  the  paint  was  made.  As  the  Pole 
began  to  assume  a  ruddy  hue  the  second  stanza  was  sung. 

Zhide  akithe,  zhide  akithe  he  he 

These  words  were  repeated  four  times. 

Translation:  Zhide,  red;  akithe,  I  make  or  cause  it;  he  he,  vowel 
prolongation.  "I  make  it  to  be  red." 

By  the  end  of  the  fourth  repetition  of  the  second  stanza  the  anoint 
ing  was  completed.  Then  the  third  stanza  was  sung. 

Konpi  akithe,  Kon  akithe  he  he 

Translation :  Konpi,  an  abbreviation  of  uthukonpi,  comely  or  hand 
some  to  look  upon;  akithe,  I  cause  or  make  it;  he  he,  vowel  prolonga 
tion.  "I  make  it  beautiful."  The  word  lconpi,  it  was  explained, 
here  refers  to  man,  the  most  comely  of  all  creatures  endowed  with 
life,  to  whom  Wakon'da  has  given  the  promise  of  abundance.  The 
people,  who  had  gathered  from  their  tents  and  were  watching  the 
ceremony  and  listening  to  these  sacred  songs,  as  this  stanza  was  sung 
nudged  one  another  and  laughed,  enjoying  the  complimentary  refer 
ence  to  themselves  and  the  promise  given. 

When  the  anointing  was  completed  that  part  of  the  ceremony 
began  in  which  the  woman  officiated. 

In  this  portion  of  the  ceremonial  the  Pole  lost  something  of  its 
political  significance  and  became  the  representative  of  man  as  the 
protector  and  provider  of  the  family.  The  figure  cut  in  the  ground 
in  front  of  the  Pole  then  had  a  share  in  the  rites.  This  figure  (see 
p.  234)  was  called  uzhin'eti  (uzhin,  the  wistfulness  of  a  child,  as  when  it 
stands  before  its  parent  waiting  to  share  in  some  good  thing;  ti,  house). 
The  design  was  said  to  signify  the  wistful  attitude  of  the  people,  look 
ing  for  the  good  that  Wakon/da  was  to  send  to  them  in  the  house, 
the  dwelling  of  the  family,  and  in  a  larger  sense,  the  hu'thuga, 
the  dwelling  of  the  tribe;  it  also  brought  to  mind  the  fathers  who 
established  these  ceremonies  that  opened  the  way  for  the  recep 
tion  of  good  gifts  from  Wakon/da.  An  old  man  said,  "As  I  stand 
before  the  uzhin'eti  I  seem  to  be  listening  for  the  words  of  the  ven 
erable  ones  who  gave  us  these  rites."  It  was  a  prayer  symbol.  In 
the  center  of  this  symbolic  figure,  where  the  fireplace  would  be  in  the 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 16 

242  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

lodge,  a  buffalo  chip  was  placed;  when  it  was  kindled, sweet  grass  used 
in  peaceful  ceremonies  and  sprays  of  cedar  sacred  to  thunder  were 
laid  on  it  and  through  the  aromatic  smoke  arising  therefrom  the 
seven  arrows  were  passed.  These  represented  the  Seven  Chiefs,  who 
held  the  tribe  together  in  peaceful  unity,  and  also  the  means  by 
which  man  secured  for  his  family  Wakon'da's  gift  of  the  buffalo, 
whence  came  food  and  clothing.  The  woman  stood  for  the  mother 
of  the  race  and  her  share  in  the  rites  was  a  prayer  for  its  continuance 
and  prosperity. 

As  the  woman,  in  her  representative  capacity,  held  the  arrows  over 
the  consecrating  smoke  which  arose  from  the  burning  of  fragrant 
offerings  sacred  to  war  and  to  peace,  the  following  song  was  sung: 


Music  the  same  as  for  the  eighth  song  (p.  239)  and  the  words  the 
same  as  those  of  the  first  stanza  of  the  song. 

After  consecrating  the  arrows  by  passing  them  through  the  smoke, 
the  woman  advanced  toward  the  Pole  and  stood  holding  an  arrow 
aloft  while  the  following  song  was  sung: 


The  same  as  the  sixth  song  (p.  237).  The  words  of  the  song  were 
repeated  nine  times.  A  number  multiplied  by  itself,  as  3  times  3  or 
4  times  4,  as  not  infrequently  occurs  in  ceremonials,  indicates  com 
pleted  action. 


The  music  of  the  twelfth  song,  which  accompanied  the  shooting 
by  the  woman  of  the  arrows  through  the  basketwork,  is  the  same  as 
that  of  the  ninth  ritual  song  (p.  240),  sung  when  the  Pole  was 
painted;  the  words  are  as  follows: 

Baxon  akithe,  baxon  akithe,  he  he 

Literal  translation:  Baxon,  to  thrust;  akithe,  I  cause  it. 

These  words  were  repeated  four  times  to  fill  out  the  measure  of  the 
song  that  was  sung  seven  times,  once  to  each  of  the  arrows. 

In  this  act  the  Pole  became  the  bow,  and  the  basketwork  the  wrist 
shield  on  the  arm  of  the  man  who  grasped  the  bow.  The  woman 
shot  the  arrow  along  the  bow,  simulating  the  shooting  of  the  buffalo, 
to  secure  the  gift  of  abundance.  When  the  arrow  was  not  checked 
by  the  wickerwork  or  down,  but  passed  clear  through  the  bundle  with 
sufficient  force  to  stand  in  the  ground  on  the  other  side,  a  shout  of  joy 
arose  from  the  people,  for  this  was  an  augury  of  victory  over  enemies 
and  of  success  in  hunting.  After  this  divination  ceremony  with  the 
arrows  the  wickerwork  on  the  Pole  was  folded  together  and  tied  in 
its  skin  covering  until  the  next  year,  when  the  ceremony  would  be 



It  will  be  noted  that  the  ceremony  of  the  Sacred  Pole  is  divided 
into  two  parts  and  that  the  significance  of  the  Pole  is  twofold.  In 
the  first  part  the  Pole  stands  for  the  authority  that  governed  the 
tribe,  an  authority  granted  and  guarded  by  the  supernatural  powers; 
in  the  second  part  the  Pole  stands  for  the  men  of  the  tribe,  the 
defenders  and  the  providers  of  the  home.  The  same  songs  are  used 
for  both  parts,  but  in  the  first  part  the  ceremonial  acts  are  per 
formed  by  a  man;  in  the  second  part  the  ceremonial  acts  are  per 
formed  by  a  woman.  In  this  two-part  ceremony  and  its  performance 
are  reflected  the  fundamental  ideas  on  which  the  tribal  organization 
is  based,  the  union  of  the  masculine  and  the  feminine. 

All  the  buffalo  meat  laid  before  the  Pole  was  now  gathered  up  and 
laid  away  and  four  images  made  of  grass  and  hair  were  set  up  before 
the  Pole.  These  represented  enemies  of  the  tribe.  The  tribal  herald 
then  went  forth  and  shouted:  "Pity  me  [an  expression  of  courtesy], 
my  young  men,  and  let  me  [he  speaks  for  the  keepers  of  the  Pole] 
complete  my  ceremonies!"  In  response  to  this  summons  all  those 
men  who  had  won  honors  in  defensive  warfare  put  on  the  regalia  that 
represented  those  honors  and  made  ready  to  act  their  part  in  the 
drama  about  to  be  performed ;  for  only  men  whose  honors  had  been 
gained  in  defensive  warfare  could  have  a  share  in  this  drama.  Mean 
while  all  the  young  men  of  the  tribe  mounted  their  horses  and  rode 
off  outside  the  camp.  Suddenly  some  one  of  them  turned,  and  cry 
ing,  "  They  have  come !  they  have  come ! "  the  whole  company  charged 
on  the  camp.  (This  was  once  done  in  so  realistic  a  manner  as  to 
deceive  the  people  into  the  belief  of  an  actual  onslaught  of  an  enemy, 
to  the  temporary  confusion  of  the  whole  tribe.)  After  this  charge 
the  young  men  dismounted,  turned  loose  their  horses,  and  mingled 
with  the  spectators,  who  gathered  at  both  ends  of  the  communal 
tent  as  a  vantage  point  whence  to  view  the  spectacle.  The  warriors 
acted  out  their  warlike  experiences  in  defending  the  tribe  and 
charged  on  the  grass  images,  while  the  chiefs  and  leaders  remained 
in  the  "holy"  tent,  in  front  of  which  stood  the  Pole.  In  later  days 
guns  were  shot  off,  adding  to  the  noise  and  commotion.  Those  who 
had  been  wounded  in  defensive  battles  rolled  about  as  if  struck; 
those  who  had  speared  or  scalped  enemies  thrust  their  spears  into 
an  image  or  scalped  it.  Four  of  these  charges  were  made  on  the 
images,  which  were  finally  captured  and  treated  as  if  conquered, 
and  this  ended  the  scene  called  "shooting  the  Pole,"  an  act  intended 
to  do  public  honor  to  the  defenders  of  the  home  and  the  tribe. 

On  the  day  following,  preparations  for  the  He'dewachi  ceremony 
(see  p.  251)  began,  at  the  close  of  which  the  ceremonial  camp  broke 
up  and  each  family  followed  its  own  inclination,  either  to  return  to 

244  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

the  village  or  to  continue  to  hunt.  All  rules  and  regulations  as  to 
hunting  the  buffalo  were  now  at  an  end  for  the  season. 

The  visitor  to  the  Peabody  Museum,  Harvard  University,  will  notice 
upon  the  upper  portion  of  the  Pole  an  encrustation  resembling 
pieces  of  thick  bark;  this  is  the  dried  paint  that  remains  from  the 
numerous  anointings  of  the  Pole.  (Fig.  51.)  The  old  chief  told  the 
writers  in  1888  that  long  ago,  beyond  the  memory  of  the  eldest,  it 
was  the  custom  to  anoint  the  Pole  twice  a  year — after  the  summer 
hunt  and  after  the  winter  hunt ;  but  within  his  own  memory  and  that 
of  his  father  the  anointing  had  taken  place  only  in  the  summer. 

The  rapid  destruction  of  the  herds  of  buffalo  in  the  decade  follow 
ing  1870  caused  the  Indian  not  only  sore  physical  discomfort  but  also 
great  mental  distress.  His  religious  ceremonies  needed  the  buffalo 
for  their  observance,  and  its  disappearance,  which  in  its  suddenness 
seemed  to  him  supernatural,  had  done  much  to  demoralize  him  mor 
ally  as  well  as  socially. 

After  several  unsuccessful  buffalo  hunts  poverty  took  the  place  of 
former  plenty  and  in  distress  of  mind  and  of  body,  seeing  no  other 
way  of  relief,  the  people  urged  on  the  Hon/ga  the  performance  of 
the  ceremony  of  Anointing  the  Pole,  although  misfortune  in  hunting 
through  the  diminution  of  the  buffalo  made  it  impossible  to  perform 
this  act  in  its  integrity.  A  plan  was  suggested  by  which  the  cere 
mony  could  be  accomplished  and,  as  they  fondly  hoped,  the  blessing 
of  plenty  be  restored  to  the  people.  The  tribe  had  certain  moneys 
due  from  the  United  States  in  payment  for  ceded  lands,  and  through 
their  Agent  they  asked  that  such  a  sum  as  was  needful  to  purchase 
30  head  of  cattle  should  be  paid  them.  Little  understanding  the 
trouble  of  mind  among  the  Indians  under  his  charge  or  the  motive  of 
their  request,  the  Agent  wrote  to  the  Interior  Department,  at  Wash 
ington,  that  "The  Omahas  have  a  tradition  that  when  they  do  not 
go  on  the  buffalo  hunt  they  should  at  least  once  a  year  take  the  lives 
of  some  cattle  and  make  a  feast."  This  interpretation  of  the  Indian's 
desire  to  spend  his  money  for  the  purchase  of  the  means  by  which 
he  hoped  to  perform  rites  that  might  bring  back  the  buffalo  and 
save  him  from  an  unknown  and  dreaded  future  is  a  significant  gauge 
of  the  extent  to  which  the  Indian's  real  life  had  been  comprehended 
by  those  appointed  to  lead  him  along  new  lines  of  living  and  thinking. 
The  cattle  were  bought  at  a  cost  of  about  a  thousand  dollars.  The 
ceremony  took  place ;  but,  alas!  conditions  did  not  change.  A  second 
and  third  time  the  tribe  spent  its  money,  but  to  no  avail.  New 
influences  and  interests  grew  stronger  every  year.  The  old  customs 
could  not  be  made  to  bend  to  the  new  ways  forced  on  the  people. 
Opposition  to  further  outlay  for  cattle  to  hold  the  old  ceremony 
arose  from  the  Government  and  also  from  some  of  the  tribe;  so  years 


passed  while  the  Pole  stood  untouched  in  its  tent,  dreaded  as  a 
thing  that  was  powerful  for  harm  but  seemingly  powerless  to  bring 
back  the  old-time  prosperity  to  the  people. 

The  following  is  the  boy  memory  of  these  ancient  ceremonies  of 
the  Sacred  Pole,  now  forever  gone,  by  one  of  the  present  writers,  the 
only  living  witness  who  is  able  to  picture  in  English  those  far-away 
scenes : 

One  bright  summer  afternoon  the  Omahas  were  traveling  along  the  valley  of  one  of 
the  streams  of  western  Kansas  on  their  annual  buffalo  hunt.  The  mass  of  moving 
people  and  horses  extended  for  nearly  half  a  mile  in  width  and  some  2  miles  in  length. 
There  was  an  old  man  walking  in  a  space  in  the  midst  of  this  moving  host.  The  day 
was  sultry  and  everybody  around  me  was  in  the  lightest  clothing  possible;  but  the 
solitary  old  man  wore  a  heavy  buffalo  robe  wrapped  about  his  body.  Around  his 
shoulders  was  a  leather  strap  the  width  of  my  hand,  to  the  ends  of  which  was  attached 
a  dark  object  that  looked  like  a  long  black  pole.  From  one  end  hung  a  thing  resem 
bling  a  scalp  with  long  hair.  One  of  my  playmates  was  with  me,  and  we  talked  in  low 
tones  about  the  old  man  and  the  curious  burden  on  his  back.  He  looked  weary,  and 
the  perspiration  dropped  in  profusion  from  his  face,  as  with  measured  steps  he  kept 
apace  with  the  cavalcade. 

The  horses  that  I  was  driving  stopped  to  nibble  the  grass,  when,  partly  from  impa 
tience  and  partly  out  of  mischief,  I  jerked  the  lariat  I  was  dragging  with  all  the  force 
I  could  muster  in  the  direction  of  the  horses,  and  the  end  of  it  came  with  a  resounding 
whack  against  the  sleek  side  of  the  gray.  Startled  at  the  sound,  all  of  the  five  horses 
broke  into  a  swift  gallop  through  the  open  space,  and  the  gray  and  the  black,  one  after 
the  other,  ran  against  the  old  man,  nearly  knocking  him  over.  My  friend  turned  pale; 
suddenly  he  became  anxious  to  leave  me,  but  I  finally  persuaded  him  to  remain  with 
me  until  camp  was  pitched.  He  stayed  to  help  me  to  water  the  horses  and  drive  them 
to  pasture  and  I  invited  him  to  dinner,  which  he  seemed  to  expect. 

While  we  were  eating,  the  boy  asked  me  if  he  should  tell  my  father  of  the  incident. 
I  consented,  for  I  thought  that  would  relieve  him  from  any  fears  of  the  consequences. 
As  he  was  telling  of  what  happened  I  watched  the  expression  of  my  father's  face  with 
some  trepidation,  and  felt  greatly  relieved  when  he  smiled.  We  finished  our  dinner, 
but  as  we  started  to  go  out  my  father  stopped  us  and  said:  "Now,  boys,  you  must  go 
to  the  Sacred  Tent.  Take  both  horses  with  you,  the  gray  and  the  black,  and  this 
piece  of  scarlet  cloth;  when  you  reach  the  entrance  you  must  say,  'Venerable  man! 
we  have,  without  any  intention  of  disrespect,  touched  you  and  we  have  come  to  ask 
to  be  cleansed  from  the  wrong  that  we  have  done.'  " 

We  did  as  we  were  instructed  and  appeared  before  the  Sacred  Tent  in  which  was 
kept  the  "Venerable  Man,"  as  the  Sacred  Pole  was  called,  and  repeated  our  prayer. 
The  old  man  who  had  been  so  rudely  jostled  by  our  horses  came  out  in  response  to  our 
entreaty.  He  took  from  me  the  scarlet  cloth,  said  a  few  words  of  thanks,  and  reentered 
the  tent;  soon  he  returned  carrying  in  his  hand  a  wooden  bowl  filled  with  warm  water. 
He  lifted  his  right  hand  to  the  sky  and  wept,  then  sprinkled  us  and  the  horses  with  the 
water,  using  a  spray  of  artemisia.  This  act  washed  away  the  anger  of  the  "Venerable 
Man,"  which  we  had  brought  down  upon  ourselves. 

A  few  weeks  later  we  were  moving  from  the  high  hills  down  to  the  valley  of  the 
Platte  river,  returning  from  the  hunt,  our  horses  heavily  laden  with  buffalo  skins  and 
dried  meat.  A  beautiful  spot  was  selected  for  our  camp,  and  the  crier  gave  in  a  loud 
voice  the  order  of  the  chiefs  that  the  camp  be  pitched  in  ceremonial  form.  This  was 

246  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

In  the  evening  my  playmate  came  and  we  ate  fried  bread  and  drank  black  coffee 
together.  When  we  had  finished  the  little  boy  snapped  his  black  eyes  at  me  and  said : 
"Friend,  let  us  go  and  play  in  the  Holy  (communal)  Tent;  the  boys  will  be  there  and 
we  will  have  fun."  We  went,  and  there  was  the  Holy  Tent,  60  or  70  feet  in  length. 
The  two  Sacred  Tents  of  the  Hon/ga  gens  had  been  united  and  a  dozen  or  more  other 
skin  tents  were  added  to  them  on  either  side,  making  a  tent  that  could  easily  hold 
two  or  three  hundred  people.  No  grown  people  were  there,  so  we  youngsters  had  no 
end  of  fun  playing  hide  and  seek  in  the  folds  of  the  great  tent,  while  the  serious  sages 
were  taking  the  census  of  the  people  elsewhere,  using  small  sticks  to  count  with,  pre 
paratory  to  calling  upon  each  family  to  contribute  to  the  coming  ceremony. 

The  next  night  we  youngsters  had  again  our  fun  in  the  Holy  Tent.  On  the  third 
night,  when  we  went  to  play  as  usual,  we  found  at  the  Tent  two  officers  with  whips,  who 
told  us  that  boys  would  not  be  permitted  to  play  in  the  Tent  that  night.  Still  we  lin 
gered  around  and  saw  that  even  older  persons  were  not  allowed  to  come  near,  but 
were  told  to  make  a  wide  detour  in  passing,  so  as  not  to  disturb  the  fresh  grass  in  front 
of  the  Tent.  Dogs  were  fired  at  with  shotguns  if  they  approached  too  near.  The  cere 
mony  was  to  begin  the  next  day,  so  the  chiefs  and  priests,  through  the  crier,  requested 
the  people  to  conduct  themselves  in  such  manner  as  the  dignity  of  the  occasion  re 

Early  in  the  morning  I  was  wakened  by  my  mother  and  told  to  sit  up  and  listen.  I 
did  so  and  soon  heard  the  voice  of  an  old  man  calling  the  names  of  boys.  Most  of 
them  I  recognized  as  my  playmates.  Suddenly  I  heard  my  own  name  distinctly 
called.  I  arose  to  make  answer  but  was  held  back  by  my  mother,  who  put  in  my 
arms  a  large  piece  of  meat,  with  no  wrapping  whatever,  regardless  of  my  clean  calico 
shirt,  while  she  bade  me  go  to  where  I  was  called.  When  I  emerged  from  the  tent 
with  my  burden  the  crier  stopped  calling  my  name,  and  called  the  boy  in  the  next 
tent.  As  I  neared  the  Holy  Tent  to  which  I  had  been  summoned,  an  old  man,  wearing 
a  band  of  buffalo  skin  around  his  head  and  a  buffalo  robe  about  his  body,  came  for 
ward  to  meet  me.  He  put  both  his  hands  on  my  head  and  passed  them  down  my 
sides;  then  he  took  from  me  the  meat  and  laid  it  down  on  the  grass  in  front  of  a  dark 
pole  standing  aslant  in  the  middle  of  the  Holy  Tent,  a  scalp  dangling  on  the  end  of  it. 
I  recognized  this  pole  as  the  one  that  was  carried  by  the  old  man  whom  my  horses  ran 
against  only  a  few  weeks  before.  The  calling  of  the  names  still  went  on;  a  man 
sat  immediately  back  of  the  pole  with  two  piles  of  small  sticks  before  him;  he  would 
pick  up  a  stick  from  one  pile  and  give  a  name  to  the  crier,  who,  leaning  on  a  staff, 
called  it  out  at  the  top  of  his  voice;  when  this  was  done  the  stick  was  placed  on  the 
other  pile. 

When  every  family  in  the  tribe  excepting  those  of  the  Hon/ga  gens  had  thus  been 
called  upon  to  make  an  offering,  the  priests  began  to  sing  the  songs  pertaining  to  this 
peculiar  ceremony.  I  was  now  very  much  interested  and  watched  every  movement 
of  the  men  who  officiated.  Four  of  the  fattest  pieces  of  meat  were  selected  and  placed 
just  at  the  foot  of  the  Sacred  Pole.  A  song  was  sung  and  a  man  stood  ready  with  a 
knife  near  the  meat;  when  the  last  note  died  out  the  man  made  a  feint  at  cutting  and 
then  resumed  his  position.  Three  times  the  song  was  repeated  with  its  accompanying 
act,  when  on  the  fourth  time  the  man  in  great  haste  carved  out  all  of  the  fat  from  the 
four  pieces  of  choice  meat  and  put  it  in  a  wooden  bowl.  After  the  fat  had  been  mixed 
with  burnt  red  clay  and  kneaded  into  a  paste,  another  song  was  sung,  and  the  same 
priest  stood  ready  with  bowl  and  brush  in  hand  beside  the  Pole.  At  the  close  of  the 
song  he  made  a  feint  at  the  Pole  with  the  brush  and  resumed  his  former  position. 
Four  times  this  song  was  sung,  each  time  followed  by  a  feint.  Then  a  new  stanza 
was  sung,  at  the  end  of  which  the  priest  touched  the  Pole  lightly  with  his  brush 
the  entire  length.  This  song  and  act  were  repeated  four  times.  Then  a  different 
song  was  sung,  the  words  of  which  I  can  remember  even  to  this  day:  "  I  make  him 


beautiful!  I  make  him  beautiful!"  Then  the  priest  with  great  haste  dipped  his 
brush  into  the  bowl  and  daubed  the  Pole  with  the  paste  while  the  singing  was  going 
on.  Four  times  the  song  was  sung,  the  anointing  was  finished,  and  the  Pole  stood 
shining  in  fresh  paint.  Then  many  of  the  people  cried:  "  Oh!  how  beautiful  he  is!" 
and  then  laughed,  but  the  priests  never  for  an  instant  changed  the  expression  of 
their  faces.  I  did  not  know  whether  to  join  in  the  merriment  or  to  imitate  the  priests 
and  maintain  a  serious  countenance:  but  while  I  stood  thus  puzzled  the  ceremony 
went  on. 

A  woman  dressed  in  a  peculiar  fashion  took  the  place  of  the  priest  who  had  painted 
the  Pole.  She  wore  on  her  head  a  band  of  buffalo  skin  and  the  down  of  the  eagle, 
around  her  body  a  buffalo  robe  with  the  fur  outside  and  to  her  ankles  were  tied 
strips  of  buffalo  skin  with  the  hair  on.  In  her  left  hand  she  held  six  arrows  and 
stood  ready  with  one  poised  in  her  right.  A  song  was  sung  and  at  the  close  she  made 
a  feint  with  the  arrow  at  the  bundle  of  feathers  in  the  middle  of  the  Pole.  Four 
times  this  was  done;  then  other  songs  were  sung  and  at  the  close  of  each  song,  with 
a  quick  movement  the  woman  thrust  an  arrow  through  the  bundle  containing  down 
tied  to  the  middle  of  the  Pole  with  such  force  that  it  passed  entirely  through  and 
as  it  dropped  stuck  in  the  ground,  and  the  people  shouted  as  with  great  joy.  I 
joined  in  the  shouting,  although  at  the  time  I  did  not  know  why  the  people  cheered. 
There  were  seven  arrows  in  all;  on  this  occasion  every  one  of  the  arrows  went  suc 
cessfully  through  the  downy  bundle.  It  is  said  that  if  an  arrow  failed  to  go  through 
and  bounded  back,  the  gens  which  it  represented  would  meet  with  misfortune; 
some  member  would  be  slain  by  the  enemy. 

After  the  singing  of  the  songs  and  the  anointing  of  the  Pole,  the  meat  was  distrib 
uted  among  the  families  of  the  Ho^gagens,  the  keepers  of  the  Sacred  Pole.  The 
moment  that  this  was  done  a  man  was  seen  coming  over  the  hill  running  at  full  speed, 
waving  his  blanket  in  the  air  in  an  excited  manner,  and  shouting  the  cry  of  alarm: 
"The  enemy  are  upon  us!"  The  horses  were  familiar  with  this  cry  and  the  moment 
they  heard  it  they  stampeded  into  the  camp  circle,  making  a  noise  like  thunder. 
Men  rushed  to  their  tents  for  their  bows  and  arrows  and  guns  and  were  soon  mounted 
on  their  best  horses.  Warriors  sang  the  death  song,  and  women  sang  songs  to  give 
the  men  courage.  The  excitement  in  camp  was  at  its  height,  but  the  singing  of 
the  priests  in  the  Holy  Tent  went  on.  Instead  of  going  out  to  meet  the  enemy, 
the  warriors  gathered  at  one  side  of  the  camp  circle  opposite  the  Holy  Tent  and 
at  the  firing  of  a  gun  came  charging  toward  it.  It  was  a  grand  sight— four  or  five 
hundred  warriors  rushing  on  us  at  full  speed.  There  was  no  enemy;  the  man  who 
gave  the  alarm  was  only  acting  his  part  of  a  great  drama  to  be  performed  before  the 
Sacred  Pole.  The  warriors  fired  their  guns  and  shot  their  arrows  at  a  number  of 
figures  made  of  bundles  of  tall  grass  and  arranged  before  the  Holy  Tent.  Shouts 
of  defiance  went  from  the  tent  and  were  returned  by  the  charging  warriors.  This 
play  of  battles  lasted  nearly  the  whole  day. 

Years  passed,  and  with  them  passed  many  of  the  brave  men  who  told  the  tale 
of  their  battles  before  the  Sacred  Pole.  So  also  passed  the  buffalo,  the  game  upon 
which  the  life  of  this  and  other  tribes  depended.  During  these  years  I  was  placed 
in  school,  where  I  learned  to  speak  the  English  language  and  to  read  and  write. 

Through  a  curious  chain  of  circumstances,  which  I  need  not  here  relate,  I  found 
myself  employed  in  the  Indian  Bureau  at  Washington.  The  Omaha  had  given 
up  the  chase  and  were  putting  all  their  energies  into  agriculture.  They  had  aban 
doned  their  villages  and  were  scattered  over  their  reservation  upon  separate  farms, 
knowing  that  their  former  mode  of  living  was  a  thing  of  the  past  and  that  hence 
forth  their  livelihood  must  come  from  the  tilling  of  the  soil.  To  secure  themselves 
in  the  individual  ownership  of  the  farms  they  had  opened,  the  people  petitioned 
the  Government  to  survey  their  reservation  and  to  allot  the  land  to  them  in  sev- 

248  THE   OMAHA  TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

eralty.  Their  petition  was  granted  by  an  act  of  Congress  and  the  work  of  appor 
tioning  the  lands  was  assigned  to  a  lady  who  is  now  known  among  the  scientists  of 
this  and  other  countries.  I  was  detailed  to  assist  her  in  this  work,  and  together 
we  went  to  the  reservation  to  complete  the  task. 

While  driving  over  the  reservation  one  day  we  came  to  a  small  frame  house  with 
a  porch  in  front.  Around  this  dwelling  were  patches  of  corn  and  other  vegetables 
and  near  by  was  an  orchard  of  apple  trees  with  ripening  fruit.  In  strange  contrast 
with  all  this  there  stood  in  the  back  yard  an  Indian  tent,  carefully  pitched,  and 
the  ground  around  it  scrupulously  clean.  My  companion  asked,  "What  is  that?" 
"It  is  the  Holy  Tent  of  the  Omahas,"  I  replied.  "What  is  inside  of  it?"  "The 
Sacred  Pole,"  I  answered.  "I  want  to  see  it."  "You  can  not  enter  the  Tent  unless 
you  get  permission  from  the  Keeper."  The  Keeper  was  not  at  home,  but  his  wife 
kindly  conducted  us  to  the  entrance  of  the  Tent,  and  we  entered.  There  in  the 
place  of  honor  stood  my  friend,  the  "Venerable  Man,"  leaning  aslant  as  I  saw  him 
years  before  when  I  carried  to  him  the  large  offering  of  choice  meat.  He  had  served 
a  great  purpose;  although  lacking  the  power  of  speech,  or  any  of  the  faculties  with 
which  man  is  gifted,  he  had  kept  closely  cemented  the  Seven  Chiefs  and  the  gentes 
of  the  tribe  for  hundreds  of  years.  He  was  the  object  of  reverence  of  young  and 
old.  When  the  United  States  Government  became  indebted  to  the  tribe  for  lands 
sold,  he,  too,  was  accounted  as  one  of  the  creditors  and  was  paid  the  same  as  a  man 
of  flesh  and  blood.  He  now  stood  before  us,  abandoned  by  all  save  his  last  Keeper, 
who  was  now  bowed  with  age.  The  Keeper  seemed  even  to  be  a  part  of  him,  bearing 
the  name  "Smoked  Yellow,"  a  name  referring  both  to  the  age  and  to  the  accumu 
lation  of  smoke  upon  the  Pole.  Silently  we  stood  gazing  upon  him,  we  three,  the 
white  woman  in  the  middle.  Almost  in  a  whisper,  and  with  a  sigh,  the  Keeper's 
wife  said,  "I  am  the  only  one  now  who  takes  care  of  him.  When  it  rains  I  come 
to  close  the  flaps  of  the  Tent,  at  all  hours  of  the  night.  Many  were  the  offerings  once 
brought  to  him,  but  now  he  is  left  all  alone.  The  end  has  come!"  [For  portrait 
of  the  wife  of  the  keeper  of  the  Pole,  see  pi.  26.] 

A  few  years  later  I  went  to  the  house  of  Smoked  Yellow  and  was  hospitably  enter 
tained  by  him  and  his  kind  wife.  After  dinner,  as  we  sat  smoking  in  the  shade  of  the 
trees,  we  spoke  of  the  past  life  of  the  tribe  and  from  time  to  time  in  our  conversation 
I  pleasantly  reminded  him  of  important  events  within  my  own  knowledge,  and  of 
others  of  which  I  had  heard,  where  his  knowledge  guided  the  actions  of  the  people. 
This  seemed  to  please  him  very  much  and  he  spoke  more  freely  of  the  peculiar  cus 
toms  of  the  Omaha.  He  was  an  important  man  in  his  younger  days  and  quite  an 
orator.  I  have  heard  him  deliver  an  address  on  the  spur  of  the  moment  that  would 
have  done  credit  to  almost  any  speaker  in  either  branch  of  our  Congress.  He  was  one 
of  the  signers  of  the  treaty  entered  into  between  the  Omaha  and  the  United  States. 

As  my  visit  was  drawing  to  a  close,  without  any  remarks  leading  thereto,  I  suddenly 
swooped  down  upon  the  old  chief  with  the  audacious  question:  "Why  don't  you  send 
the  '  Venerable  Man '  to  some  eastern  city  where  he  could  dwell  in  a  great  brick  house 
instead  of  a  ragged  tent?  "  A  smile  crept  over  the  face  of  the  chieftain  as  he  softly 
whistled  a  tune  and  tapped  the  ground  with  his  pipe  stick  before  he  replied,  while  I 
sat  breathlessly  awaiting  the  answer,  for  I  greatly  desired  the  preservation  of  this 
ancient  and  unique  relic.  The  pipe  had  cooled  and  he  proceeded  to  clean  it.  He 
blew  through  it  now  and  then  as  he  gave  me  this  answer:  "My  son,  I  have  thought 
about  this  myself  but  no  one  whom  I  could  trust  has  hitherto  approached  me  upon 
this  subject.  I  shall  think  about  it,  and  will  give  you  a  definite  answer  when  I  see 
you  again." 

The  next  time  I  was  at  his  house  he  conducted  me  to  the  Sacred  Tent  and  delivered 
to  me  the  Pole  and  its  belongings.  [See  fig.  50  for  portrait  of  the  last  keeper  of  the 
Sacred  Pole.]  This  was  the  first  time  that  it  was  purposely  touched  by  anyone  outside 


of  ita  hereditary  Keepers.  It  had  always  been  regarded  with  superstitious  awe  and 
anyone  touching  even  its  Tent  must  at  once  be  cleansed  by  the  priest.  Even  little 
children  shared  in  this  feeling  and  left  unclaimed  a  ball  or  other  plaything  that 
chanced  to  touch  the  Tent  made  sacred  by  its  presence. 

Thus  it  was  that  the  Sacred  Pole  of  the  Omaha  found  its  way  into  the  Peabody 
Museum  in  1888  but  leaving  its  ritual  songs  behind.  During  these  years  I  have 
searched  for  men  in  the  Hon/ga  gens  who  would  be  likely  to  know  these  songs  but 
without  success.  The  old  priest,  Tenu'ga,  whose  office  it  was  to  sing  them,  died 
before  I  came  in  touch  with  him. 

By  the  use  of  the  graphophone  I  was  enabled  in  1897  to  secure  the  ritual  songs  of  the 
Sacred  White  Buffalo  from  Wakon/monthin,  the  last  keeper;  and  when  the  record  was 
finished  I  said  to  him:  "Grandfather,  years  ago  I  saw  you  officiating  at  the  ceremonies 
of  the  Sacred  Pole  and  from  this  I  judge  that  you  are  familiar  with  its  songs.  May  I 
ask  if  you  would  be  willing  to  sing  them  for  me?  "  The  old  priest  shook  his  head  and 
replied:  "Eldest  son,  I  am  forced  to  deny  your  request.  These  songs  belong  to  the 
opposite  side  of  the  house  and  are  not  mine  to  give.  You  are  right  as  to  my  knowledge 
of  them  and  you  did  see  me  officiating  at  the  ceremony  you  referred  to;  but  I  was 
acting  as  a  substitute.  The  man  whose  place  I  took  was  newly  inducted  into  his 
office  and  was  not  familiar  with  its  various  forms;  he  feared  the  results  of  any  mistakes 
he  might  make,  on  account  of  his  children,  for  it  meant  the  loss  of  one  of  them  by 
death  should  an  error  occur.  You  must  consult  the  keepers  of  the  Pole." 

Knowing  that  it  would  be  useless  even  with  bribes  to  attempt  to  persuade  the  priest 
to  become  a  plagiarist,  I  refrained  from  pushing  the  matter  further,  trusting  that  cir 
cumstances  in  the  future  might  take  such  a  turn  as  to  relieve  him  from  his  obligations 
to  recognize  any  individual's  ownership  in  the  ritual  songs. 

In  the  latter  part  of  June,  1898,  I  happened  to  be  on  the  Omaha  reservation,  and  while 
there  I  drove  over  to  Wakon/moI1thi11's  house.  (Figs.  60,  61.)  He  was  at  home  and 
after  the  exchange  of  greetings  I  addressed  him  as  follows: 

"Grandfather,  last  summer,  after  you  had  taught  me  the  songs  connected  with  the 
ceremony  of  the  Sacred  Buffalo,  I  asked  you  to  teach  me  the  songs  of  the  Sacred 
Pole.  You  replied  that  you  knew  the  songs,  but  could  not  sing  them  for  me,  because 
they  belonged  to  the  other  side  of  the  house  and  were  not  yours  to  give.  1  respected 
your  purpose  to  keep  inviolate  your  obligations  to  maintain  the  respective  rights 
and  offices  of  the  two  houses  that  were  so  closely  allied  in  the  preservation  of  order 
among  our  people,  so  I  did  not  press  my  quest  for  the  knowledge  of  the  songs  at  that 
time,  believing  that  you  would  soon  see  that  the  object  for  which  that  Sacred  Tree 
and  its  accompanying  rites  were  instituted  had  vanished,  never  to  return.  Our 
people  no  longer  flock  to  these  sacred  houses  as  in  times  past,  bringing  their  children 
laden  with  offerings  that  they  might  receive  a  blessing  from  hallowed  hands;  new 
conditions  have  arisen,  and  from  force  of  circumstances' they  have  had  to  accede 
to  them  and  to  abandon  the  old.  I  have  been  here  and  there  among  the  members 
of  the  opposite  side  of  the  house,  to  which  you  referred,  to  find  some  one  who  knew 
the  songs  of  the  Sacred  Pole,  so  that  I  might  preserve  them  before  they  were  utterly 
lost;  but  to  my  inquiries  the  invariable  answer  was:  'I  do  not  know  them.  \Vakon/- 
mo^thi11  Is  the  only  man  who  has  a  full  knowledge  of  them.'  Therefore  I  have  made 
bold  to  come  to  you  again . ' ' 

After  holding  the  pipe  he  had  been  filling  during  my  speech,  up  to  the  sky,  and 
muttering  a  few  words  of  prayer,  the  old  man  lit  the  pipe  and  smoked  in  silence  for 
a  time,  then  passed  the  pipe  to  me  and  made  his  reply,  speaking  in  low  tones: 

"My  eldest  son,  all  the  words  that  you  have  just  spoken  are  true.  Customs  that 
governed  and  suited  the  life  of  our  people  have  undergone  a  radical  change  and 
the  new  generation  has  entered  a  new  life  utterly  unlike  the  old.  The  men  with 
whom  I  have  associated  in  the  keeping  and  teaching  of  the  two  sacred  houses/have 



[ETH.  AXX.  27 

turned  into  spirits  and  have  departed,  leaving  me  to  dwell  in  solitude  the  rest  of 
my  life.  All  that  gave  me  comfort  in  this  lonely  travel  was  the  possession  and  care 
of  the  Sacred  Buffalo,  one  of  the  consecrated  objects  that  once  kept  our  people  firmly 

FIG.  (il.     Wakon'7no"thin's  house. 

united;  but,  as  though  to  add  to  my  sadness,  rude  hands  have  taken  from  me,  by 
stealth,  this  one  solace,  and  I  now  sit  empty  handed,  awaiting  the  call  of  those  who 
have  gone  before  me.  For  a  while  I  wept  for  this  loss,  morning  and  evening,  as 
though  for  the  death  of  a  relative  dear  to  me,  but  as  time  passed  by  tears  ceased  to 
flow  and  I  can  now  speak  of  it  with  some  composure." 


At  this  point  I  passed  the  pipe  back  to  the  priest  and  he  smoked,  keeping  his 
eyes  fixed  upon  the  ground  as  if  in  deep  meditation.  When  he  had  finished  smoking, 
he  resumed  his  address,  cleaning  the  pipe  as  he  spoke: 

"I  have  been  thinking  of  the  change  that  has  come  over  our  people  and  their 
departure  from  the  time-honored  customs,  and  have  abandoned  all  hope  of  their 
ever  returning  to  the  two  sacred  houses.  No  one  can  now  with  reason  take  offense 
at  my  giving  you  the  songs  of  the  Sacred  Pole,  and  I  am  prepared  to  give  them  to 
you.  As  I  sit  speaking  with  you,  my  eldest  son,  it  seems  as  though  the  spirits  of 
the  old  men  have  returned  and  are  hovering  about  me.  I  feel  their  courage  and 
strength  in  me,  and  the  memory  of  the  songs  revives.  Make  ready,  and  I  shall  once 
more  sing  the  songs  of  my  fathers." 

It  took  but  a  few  moments  to  adjust  the  graphophone  to  record  the  songs  for  which 
I  had  waited  so  long.  As  I  listened  to  the  old  priest  his  voice  seemed  as  full  and 
resonant  as  when  I  heard  him  years  ago,  in  the  days  when  the  singing  of  these  very 
songs  in  the  Holy  Tent  meant  so  much  to  each  gens  and  to  every  man,  woman,  and 
child  in  the  tribe.  Now,  the  old  man  sang  with  his  eyes  closed  and  watching  him 
there  was  like  watching  the  last  embers  of  the  religious  rites  of  a  vanishing  people. 


In  speaking  of  the  development  of  political  unity,  attention  has 
been  called  to  the  dangers  arising  from  groups  parting  company 
when  the  people  were  hunting  and  the  enfeebled  separated  bands 
becoming  a  prey  to  active  enemies.  These  dangers  were  sometimes 
fomented  by  the  rivalry  of  ambitious  leaders.  To  quote  from  the  old 
Sacred  Legend:  "The  wise  old  men  thought  how  they  might  devise 
some  plans  by  which  all  might  live  and  move  together  and  there  be  no 
danger  of  quarrels."  It  seems  probable  that  the  He'dewachi  cere 
mony  may  have  grown  out  of  such  experiences  and  was  one  of  the 
plans  of  the  "wise  old  men'1  by  which  they  sought  to  avert  these 
dangers  and  to  hold  the  tribe  together.  There  are  indications  that 
the  He'dewachi  ceremony  is  older  than  the  Sacred  Pole;  it  is  said  to 
have  been  instituted  at  a  time  when  the  people  depended  on  the 
maize  for  their  food  supply  and  were  not  dominated  by  ideas  defi 
nitely  connected  with  hunting  the  buffalo.  It  may  be  significant  to 
this  contention  that  this  ceremony  was  the  only  rite  in  which  the 
two  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  appeared  as  leader;  these  pipes  were  ante 
cedent  in  authority  to  the  Sacred  Pole,  and,  on  the  occasion  of  the 
He'dewachi,  they  led  the  people  in  their  rhythmic  advance  by  gentes 
toward  the  central  symbolic  tree  or  pole. 

The  He'dewachi  took  place  in  the  summer,  "when  the  plum  and 
cherry  trees  were  full  of  fruit"  and  "all  creatures  were  awake  and 
out."  Abundant  life  and  food  to  sustain  that  life  were  typified  in 
the  season.  The  choice  of  the  tree  from  which  the  pole,  the  central 
object  of  the  ceremony,  was  cut,  was  significant  and  allied  to  the 
same  thought.  It  was  either  the  cot  ton  wood  or  the  willow,  both 
of  which  are  remarkably  tenacious  of  life.  It  is  said  that  this  cere 
mony  "grew  up  with  the  corn."  It  was  under  the  charge  of  the 

252  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

subgens  of  the  Inke'cabe  gens  that  had  as  tabu  the  red  ear  of  corn. 
This  fact  and  the  symbolism  of  the  ceremony  indicate  that  the 
He'dewachi  was  connected  with  the  cultivation  of  corn  and  that  the 
influence  of  the  care  of  the  fields  tended  to  develop  an  appreciation 
of  peace  and  tribal  unity.  The  duties  of  this  Inke'cabe  subgens  in 
reference  to  the  distribution  of  the  sacred  corn  to  the  tribe  have  already 
been  mentioned  (p.  147).  In  later  days  the  He'dewachi  took  place 
at  the  conclusion  of  the  ceremony  of  Anointing  the  Sacred  Pole  but 
was  distinct  from  it  in  every  respect  except  that  permission  for  its 
performance  had  to  be  obtained  from  the  Hon'ga  gens  as  a  matter 
of  courtesy. 

The  He'dewachi  was   related   to   the   cosmic   forces,  as   revealed 

in  the  succession  of  night  and  day  and  the  life  and  growth  of  living 
things.  When  the  time  came  for  the  ceremony,  some  man,  ambitious 
to  have  the  honor  and  to  " count"  it,  went  to  the  hereditary  keepers 
of  this  rite  in  the  Nini'baton  subgens  of  the  Inke'pabe,  and  said: 
"Let  the  people  waken  themselves  by  dancing."  This  form  of  speech 
used  when  making  the  request  for  the  performance  of  the  ceremony 
referred  to  the  passing  of  night  into  day.  On  receiving  this  formal 
request,  which  was  accompanied  by  a  gift,  the  keepers  returned 
their  thanks.  That  night  those  who  had  hereditary  charge  of  the 
He'dewachi  held  a  council  and  chose  a  man  of  their  gens  who  had 
won  many  war  honors  to  go  and  select  a  tree  to  be  cut  for  the  cere 
mony.  Early  the  next  morning  he  went  forth,  picked  out  a  tall, 
straight  cottonwood  tree  and  then  came  back,  returning  as  would  a 
victorious  warrior.  If  he  represented  one  who  had  secured  booty, 
he  dragged  a  rope,  and  carried  a  long  stick  with  which  he  ran  from 
side  to  side  as  though  he  were  driving  horses;  or  he  carried  a 
pole  having  a  bunch  of  grass  tied  at  the  top,  to  picture  a  return  with 
the  scalp  of  an  enemy.  On  entering  the  Jiu'thuga  he  went  at  once 
to  the  lodge  in  which  the  hereditary  keepers  sat  awaiting  him.  At 
the  door  he  thrust  his  stick  into  the  ground,  and  said,  "I  have 
found  the  enemy."  The  keepers  then  arose,  put  on  their  robes  in 
the  ceremonial  manner — the  hair  outside — and  prepared  to  make 
their  ceremonial  thanks  to  the  people  and  to  indicate  to  the  tribe 
that  the  ceremony  would  take  place  in  two  days.  They  were 
accompanied  by  a  woman,  who  had  to  be  of  the  Inke'pabe  gens  and 
who  bore  on  her  the  tattooed  "mark  of  honor."  She  also  wore  her 
robe  with  the  hair  side  out,  carried  an  ax  and  a  burden  strap,  and 
followed  the  men  as  they  passed  around  the  Jiu'thuga  and  publicly 
proclaimed  their  thanks  for  the  request  to  have  the  ceremony  take 

Meanwhile  the  warrior  who  had  selected  the  tree  gathered  the  men 
of  the  gens  together  to  await  the  return  of  the  hereditary  keepers. 


At  this  time  those  women  of  the  gens  who  had  recently  lost  children 
or  other  dear  ones  wailed,  being  reminded  of  their  loss  by  the  contrast 
afforded  by  this  ceremony,  which  was  typical  of  abounding  life. 
Other  women  brought  forth  gifts,  which  were  to  benefit  their  hus 
bands  or  brothers  by  adding  to  their  "count."  All  gifts  made 
during  this  ceremony  could  be  "counted"  by  a  man  who  was  seeking 
eligibility  to  membership  in  the  Hon/hewachi.  The  words  of  one 
of  the  songs  sung  at  the  dance  refer  to  these  gifts,  which  were  not 
only  exchanged  between  members  of  the  tribe  but  were  bestowed  on 
the  keepers  of  the  ceremony — a  custom  resulting  in  a  common  feeling 
of  pleasure.  Moreover,  these  acts,  being  remembered  and  "counted" 
as  steps  toward  a  man's  attaining  tribal  honors,  tended  to  foster  in 
the  minds  of  the  people  the  value  of  tribal  unity.  The  symbolism 
of  the  ceremony  was  illustrative  of  this  idea.  Four  young  men  were 
chosen  to  cut  willow  wands,  strip  them  of  all  leaves  except  a  bunch 
at  the  end,  and  paint  the  stem  red.  These  wands  were  distributed 
to  the  leading  men  of  each  gens  in  the  tribe.  After  the  wrands  had 
been  received,  the  men  and  boys  of  each  gens  went  out  to  cut  sim 
ilar  wands,  for  at  the  coming  ceremony  every  man,  woman,  and 
child  must  carry  one  of  these  painted  wands,  which  symbolized  the 
people  of  the  tribe. 

After  making  the  round  of  the  Jiu'thuga  the  keepers  and  the 
"honor"  woman  entered  their  tent,  in  which  was  smoked  the  pipe 
belonging  to  the  ceremony.  It  was  passed  around  four  times. 
At  the  close  of  the  smoking  they  arose  as  before  and,  led  by  the 
warrior  who  had  selected  the  tree,  w^ent  to  the  place  where  the  tree 
stood.  Meanwhile  young  men  had  been  dispatched  to  simulate 
scouts,  guarding  against  the  danger  of  a  surprise.  When  the  tree 
was  in  sight  the  warriors  charged  on  it  and  struck  it  as  an  enemy. 
Then  the  men  counted  their  war  honors,  standing  before  the  tree, 
while  the  keepers  sat  in  a  circle  around  it  and  smoked,  passing  the 
pipe  four  times.  Then  the  woman  bearing  the  "mark  of  honor," 
taking  her  ax,  made  four  feints,  one  on  each  side  of  the  tree  toward 
one  of  the  four  directions,  after  which  she  gave  four  strokes,  one 
on  each  of  the  four  sides  of  the  tree.  Then  the  young  men  cut  it 
down.  As  it  was  about  to  fall  it  was  caught  and  held  so  that  it 
would  incline  and  fall  toward  the  east. 

In  this  ceremony  in  which  war  was  so  simulated  the  recognition 
of  the  authority  of  Thunder  was  manifest,  for  no  man  could  become 
a  warrior  or  count  his  honors  except  through  his  consecration  to 
Thunder  and  the  approval  of  his  acts  by  that  god  of  war.  More 
over,  it  was  believed  that  no  man  fell  in  battle  through  human 
agency  alone;  he  fell  because  Thunder  had  designated  him  to  fall, 
as  is  shown  in  the  ritual  songs  of  cutting  the  hair  and  in  the  songs 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

of  the  warrior  societies.     So  the  tree  that  had  been  struck  as  a  war 
rior  foe  fell  because  Thunder  had  so  decreed. 

The  leader  now  approached  the  fallen  tree  and  said:  "I  have 
come  for  you  that  you  may  see  the  people,  who  are  beautiful  to 
behold!"  The  young  men  cut  the  branches  from  the  trees,  leaving 
a  tuft  of  twigs  and  leaves  at  the  top,  stripped  off  the  bark,  then 
tied  the  tuft  at  the  top  together  with  a  black  covering.  Latterly 
a  black  silk  handkerchief  was  used,  but  formerly  a  piece  of  soft 

dressed  skin,  dyed  black,  was  employed. 
All  the  branches,  bark,  and  chips  were 
made  into  a  pile  and  deposited  at  the 
stump  of  the  tree. 

In  early  days  it  was  the  duty  of  the 
woman  to  carry  the  pole;  but  in  recent 
times  she  walked,  with  her  burden  strap, 
beside  the  young  men,  who  bore  it  on 
their  left  shoulders,  care  being  taken 
to  choose  men  of  equal  height  so  that 
the  pole  would  be  carried  in  a  level 
position.  Four  halts  were  made  on  the 
way  to  the  Jiu'ihuga.  On  reaching  the 
camp,  the  pole  was  taken  to  the  tent 
of  the  leader  and  the  butt  end  was 
thrust  in  the  door  until  it  reached  the 

Two  men  from  the  Nonxthe'bitube 
subdivision  now  performed  their  heredi 
tary  duty  of  mixing  the  red  and  black 
paint  with  which  they  were  to  decorate 
the  pole.  This  group  had,  besides  the 
red  corn,  a  tabu  of  charcoal,  as  this  sub 
stance  was  used  in  making  the  black 
paint.  The  painting  was  done  in  bands 
of  red  and  black;  one  man  painted  the 
black  bands,  the  other  the  red.  (Fig. 
62.)  These  bands  signified  night  and  day;  they  also  referred  to 
thunder  and  death  and  to  the  earth  and  sky,  the  vivifying  and  con 
serving  powers. 

Young  men  dug  the  hole  for  the  pole,  which  had  to  be  in  the  center 
of  a  level  place.  Sometimes  the  hole  was  made  in  the  center  of  the 
hu'tkuga;  at  other  times  it  was  outside  the  camp.  The  dirt  taken 
from  the  excavation  was  heaped  at  the  east,  and  between  this  heap 
and  the  hole  the  symbolic  figure  (uzhin'eti;  see  fig.  59)  was  incised  on 
the  earth. 

FIG.   62.    He'dewachi  pole  (native 


The  keepers  sat  in  a  circle  around  the  hole  and  again  smoked 
the  pipe,  passing  it  four  times.  Down  of  swan,  a  water  bird  (the 
significance  of  water  as  connecting  the  Above  and  the  Below  has 
been  given),  and  tobacco,  the  offering  to  Wakon/da,  were  sprinkled 
in  the  hole,  which  was  thus  made  ready  to  receive  the  symbolically 
decorated  pole.  -The  leader  said,  "It  is  finished;  raise  him,  that 
your  grandfather  may  see  him!"  And  the  pole  was  set  in  the  hole 
and  made  steady  by  tamping  the  earth  about  it. 

These  preparatory  ceremonies  occupied  three  days.     The  dance  ^ 
and  public  festival  took  place  on  the  fourth  day. 

The  pole  simulated  a  man;  the  black  covering  on  the  top,  his 
head.  The  decorations  referred  to  the  cosmic  forces  which  gave  and 
maintained  life.  As  a  tree  it  symbolized  the  tribe;  the  wands  of  the 
people  were  its  branches,  parts  of  the  whole.  Thus  was  the  idea  of 
unity  symbolically  set  forth. 

It  was  explained  that  seven  kinds  of  wood  were  sacred  to  this 
ceremony — the  hard  and  the  soft  willow,  the  birch,  the  box  elder, 
the  iron  wood,  the  ash,  and  the  cotton  wood.  Of  these  the  cotton- 
wood  furnished  the  pole;  the  elder,  the  charcoal  for  the  black  paint; 
the  ash,  the  stem  of  the  pipe;  the  seeds  of  the  iron  wood  were  used 
for  the  rattles;  and  the  willow  for  the  wands  distributed  to  the 
people.  The  birch  seems  to  have  dropped  out,  though  its  former  use 
survives  in  a  personal  name  belonging  to  the  subgens  having  the 
rite  in  charge.  The  significance  of  this  lies  in  the  fact  that  male 
personal  names  alwrays  referred  to  rites  and  their  paraphernalia. 
The  omission  of  the  birch  may  refer  to  a  change  in  environment. 
It  will  be  recalled  that  the  Sacred  Legend  states  that  the  Omaha 
once  used  birch-bark  canoes. 

On  the  day  of  the  ceremony  the  people  were  astir  early.  The 
women  put  on  their  gala  costume;  the  men  were  barefoot  and  naked 
except  for  the  breechcloth.  They  wore  the  decoration  of  their  war 
honors,  and  depicted  their  war  experiences  by  the  manner  of  painting 
their  faces  and  bodies.  The  place  of  a  wound  was  painted  red ;  if  a  man 
had  been  struck  a  hand  was  painted  on  his  body  or  face  (fig.  63). 
Some  painted  black  bands  on  their  arms  and  legs,  indicating  that 
they  had  been  in  danger  of  death;  others  bore  white  spots  scattered 
over  their  bodies,  to  show  that  they  had  been  where  the  birds  of 
prey  dropped  their  excrement  on  the  bodies  of  the  slain  enemies. 
The  man  who  had  cut  the  neck  of  an  enemy  drew  an  inflated  bladder 
by  a  string,  to  set  forth  his  act.  Those  warriors  who  had  taken 
scalps  tied  to  the  wands  they  carried  in  the  dance  bits  of  buffalo 
hide  with  the  hair  on. 

Meanwhile,  the  keepers  of  the  ceremony  selected  from  their  gens 
the  young  men  who  were  to  sing.  These  men  received  pay  for  their 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

services.  Four  rattles,  struck  on  pillows,  and  two  drums  were  used 
to  accompany  the  singers,  who  took  their  places  at  the  foot  of  the  pole. 
The  men  who  were  going  to  give  away  horses  were  the  only  riders. 
They  dashed  about  among  the  people,  who  became  more  and  more 

FIG.  03.    Painting  on  warrior's  face. 

impatient  waiting  for  the  signal — four  strokes  on  the  drums — to 
announce  the  beginning  of  -the  ceremony.  After  the  four  drum 
beats  had  been  given,  the  following  "call"  wras  sung:a 

"The  upper  music  staff  gives  simply  the  aria;  the  two  lower  staves  translate  the  same  aria  for  the 
piano  by  harmonization,  giving  the  tremolo  of  the  drum,  the  echoing  cadences,  the  dying  away  of  the 
voices  of  the  singers,  and  their  rising  again  with  the  call  to  "  Rejoice." 





(Aria  as  sung)     Harmonized  by  John  C.  Fillmore  for  interpretation  on  the  piano 

S        N      2  v      v 

.  "  — —  S      S 

-*— 8-^=T *    I    ^ 3^ 

Zhawa  iba  iba  ha  ehe 
Zhawa  iba  iba  ha  ehe 

Translation:  Zhawa,  from  uzhawa,  to  rejoice;  iba,  to  come;  ha, 
musical  prolongation  of  the  vowel;  ehe,  I  bid  or  command.  "I  bid 
ye  come,  and  rejoice!" 

The  people  of  each  gens  gathered,  standing  before  their  tents, 
the  men  and  boys  in  front,  each  holding  his  wand;  behind  them  the 
women  and  girls,  with  their  wands.  Two  men  from  the  Nini'baton 
subdivision"  then  stepped  forth  and  took  their  place  in  front  of  the 
rest  of  the  Inke'cabe  gens,  and  held  aloft  the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes 
as  the  singers  at  the  foot  of  the  pole  sang  the  following: 
M.M.  J=76 

a  There  is  a  personal  name  in  the  Nini'bato»  which  refers  to  the  bearers  of  the  two  Pipes  in  this  c 
mony—Ton'thinnonba,  "  the  two  who  run." 
83993°— 27  ETH— 11 17 



[BTH.  ANN.  27 

There  are  no  words  to  this  song — only  vocables.  The  song  is  a 
prayer  expressed  not  by  words  but  in  musical  phrases.  The  tribe 
presented  a  spectacle  that  must  have  been  impressive — the  great 
circle  of  people,  with  their  branches,  standing  like  a  living  grove  on 
the  prairie,  as  the  singers  voiced  their  prayer  to  Wakon'da. 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  song  the  warriors  who  had  charged  the 
tree  sounded  the  war  cry,  and  all  the  people  standing  in  their  places, 
gave  an  answering  shout  and  waved  their  branches  in  the  air.  Then 
the  two  bearers  of  the  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes  moved  forward  rapidly  a 
few  steps  toward  the  pole  and  the  people  by  gentes  moved  forward 
in  the  same  way  while  the  song  given  below  was  sung.  At  its  con 
clusion  a  halt  was  made.  Four  times  there  was  a  forward  movement 
as  the  song  was  sung  and  a  halt  made  at  its  close. 

Ya  du-  da   e  -  a   ha    e-  he  he! 

Ya  duda  ea  ha  ehe  tha  ehe  he 
Shethin  duda  a  ea  ha  ehe  tha 
Ehe  he  ehe  he  tha  ea  ha  ehe  tha 
Ehe  he  ehe  he  tha  ea  ha  ehe  tha 

Literal  translation:  Ya,  come;  duda,  hither;  ea,  come;  ha,  vowel 
prolongation;  ehe,  I  bid;  sheihin,  ye  walking  yonder;  duda,  hither; 
a,  vowel  prolongation;  ea,  come;  e,  vocable;  ehe,  I  bid;  he,  vocable; 
tha,  end  of  sentence. 

Free  translation 

Come  hither,  I  bid  you ! 

Ye  who  walk  yonder,  come  hither! 

I  bid  you,  I  bid  you  to  come! 

I  bid  you,  I  bid  you,  come  hither! 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  fourth  repetition  the  people  had  moved 
up  toward  the  pole,  the  men  being  the  nearer  and  the  women  behind. 
There  they  all  halted  for  the  fourth  and  last  time. 

As  the  singers  struck  up  the  next  song  (the  fourth)  the  two  pipe 
bearers  turned  to  the  left,  having  their  right  side  to  the  pole,  and  all 
the  men  of  the  different  gentes  turned  also ;  the  Pke'^abe  followed 
the  pipe  bearers,  next  came  the  We'zhinshte,  then  the  Inshta'cuDda, 




and  so  on,  around  to  the  Ho"'ga,  who  were  last,  and  all  began  to 
dance  around  the  pole.  The  women  also  turned,  but  to  the  right, 
their  left  side  being  next  to  the  circle  of  men  and  the  pole,  and  danced 
in  the  opposite  direction  from  the  men.  The  tribe  thus  divided 
into  two  concentric  circles,  revolved  in  opposite  directions  about  the 
pole  while  the  choir  at  its  foot  sang  the  following  song: 

M.  M.  J-108 



piq  — 

--f—  — 

—  r 

—  i  — 



Wie     he  he    wa-  nou  -    she       a         he      wa-non    -    she      a         he      wa  no"  - 


— *— ' 


she   wie     he  he   wa-non  -  she     a        he  wa-  non  -  she     a        he   wa-non  -  she 

Wie  he  he  wanonshe  a  he 
Wanonshe  a  he  wanonshe 
Wie  he  he  wanonshe  a  he 
Wanonshe  a  he  wanonshe 

Literal  translation:  Wie,  I;  lie  lie,  vocables;  wanonshe,  take  from 
them.  The  meaning  of  this  song  can  not  be  gathered  from  a  literal 
translation  of  the  few  words  used.  It  has  been  explained  to  mean 
that  the  pole  here  speaks  as  embodying  the  meaning  and  spirit  of  the 
ceremony  and  refers  to  the  gifts  made,  which  are  an  important  part 
of  the  ceremony.  They  not  only  contribute  to  happiness  and  good 
feeling  in  the  tribe  but  the}  redound  to  the  credit  of  the  giver.  It 
was  during  this  song  that  the  people  danced  in  the  two  concentric 
circles  around  the  pole,  everyone  carrying  his  branch,  with  its  leaves. 
When  at  any  time  a  person  made  a  gift  the  dancers  halted  while  the 
gift  was  proclaimed.  At  each  halt,  if  any  of  the  gentes  became  mixed 
up,  the  person  out  of  place  returned  to  his  proper  gens  before  the 
dance  was  resumed.  The  song  was  repeated  four  times,  or  four 
times  four. 

Finally,  the  last  song  was  given.  During  the  singing  of  this  rapid 
song  the  people  continued  to  dance  in  the  two  circles.  The  young 
people  made  merry  as  they  danced  and  the  warrior  acted  out  dra 
matic  scenes  in  his  career.  It  was  a  hilarious  time  for  all. 



260  THE    OMAHA   TRTBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

There  are  no  words  to  this  song,  only  vocables.  The  song  was 
repeated  an  indefinite  number  of  times.  At  the  conclusion  of  this 
song  everyone  threw  his  branch  at  the  foot  of  the  tree,  as  though 
it  were  returned  to  the  parent  stem  from  which  it  had  been  broken. 
The  small  boy,  however,  sometimes  amused  himself  by  aiming  his 
wand  at  the  singers  rather  than  at  the  tree.  These  pranks  were  all 
taken  in  good  part.  The  branches  carried  by  the  people  were  tied 
to  the  pole  and  left  for  the  sun  and  wind  to  dispose  of. 

The  manner  in  which  the  tree  was  cut  and  also  the  approach  to 
the  pole  by  the  people  in  their  tribal  order,  with  war  cry  and  charge, 
were  in  recognition  of  the  victories  gained  by  the  favor  of  the  war 
god,  Thunder.  The  ceremony  was  a  dramatic  teaching  of  the  vital 
force  in  union  not  only  for  defense  but  for  the  maintenance  of  internal 
peace  and  order.  The  He'dewachi a  was  a  festival  of  joy  consonant 
with  the  words  of  the  opening  song,  "Come  and  rejoice.''  The 
whole  scene  vibrated  with  color  and  cheer  around  the  Thunder- 
selected  tree  as  a  symbol  of  life  and  tribal  unity. 

a  Years  ago  the  Osage  had  a  somewhat  similar  ceremony  long  since  abandoned. 



The  various  environments  in  which  the  Omaha  people  lingered  as 
they  moved  westward  left  their  impress  on  the  ceremonials  of  the 
tribe.  Some  of  these,  as  has  been  shown,  were  lost  and  the  relation 
of  others  to  the  welfare  of  the  people  suffered  change.  Among  the 
latter  were  the  ceremonies  connected  with  the  maize. 

The  facts  that  the  tabu  of  the  subgens  of  the  Inke'cabe,  which  had 
charge  of  the  two  Sacred  Tribal  Pipes,  was  the  red  ear  of  corn  and 
that  it  was  the  duty  of  this  subgens  to  provide  the  sacred  corn  for 
distribution  at  the  time  of  planting,  indicate  that  the  rites  of  the 
maize  and  those  of  the  Pipes  were  once  closely  connected.  In  the 
political  development  of  the  tribe  the  Pipes,  through  their  signifi 
cance,  kept  an  important  place;  while,  owing  to  the  environment  of 
the  people,  the  maize,  as  the  sustainer  of  life,  became  subordinated 
to  the  buffalo,  which  yielded  not  only  food  but  also  raiment.  Never 
theless,  it  is  noteworthy  that  the  maize  did  not  wholly  lose  prestige 
but  continued  to  be  treated  ceremonially. 

The  ancient  Sacred  Legend  already  cited,  besides  speaking  of  the 
discovery  of  maize,  adds  later  on,  evidently  referring  to  the  ceremony 
and  ritual  observed  when  distributing  the  grain  for  planting: 

The  maize  being  one  of  the  greatest  of  means  to  give  us  life,  in  honor  of  it  we  sing. 
We  sing  even  of  the  growth  of  its  roots,  of  its  clinging  to  the  earth,  of  its  shooting  forth 
from  the  ground,  of  its  springing  from  joint  to  joint,  of  its  sending  forth  the  ear,  of  its 
putting  a  covering  on  its  head,  of  its  ornamenting  its  head  with  a  feather,  of  its  invi 
tation  to  men  to  come  and  feel  of  it,  to  open  and  see  its  fruit,  of  its  invitation  to  man 
to  taste  of  the  fruit. 

When  maize  was  discovered  the  grain  was  distributed  among  the  people  that  they 
might  plant  and  eat  of  the  fruit  of  their  labor,  and  from  that  time  on  it  has  been  the 
custom  to  sing  the  song  of  the  maize  and  to  repeat  the  distribution  of  the  corn  every 
year  at  the  time  of  planting. 

The  songs  [stanzas]  are  many.  They  begin  with  the  gathering  of  the  kernels. 
The  people  talk  of  where  they  shall  plant.  Then  the  men  select  the  land  and  wher 
ever  each  man  selects  he  thrusts  a  pole  in  the  ground  to  show  that  now  the  corn  shall 
be  planted. 

The  stanzas  last  referred  to  have  been  lost,  as  well  as  the  ceremony 
of  selecting  the  planting  plot  and  the  thrusting  of  the  pole  into  the 
ground.  It  is  also  impossible  to  give  an  accurate  account  of  the 
ceremonies  attending  the  distribution  of  the  sacred  corn  for  plant- 


262  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

ing.  The  rites  have  long  been  disused,  their  abandonment  being 
largely  due  to  the  influence  of  the  Government.  It  is  said  that 
formerly  when  spring  came  the  Hon'ga  subgens,  whose  duty  it  was 
to  keep  the  sacred  ears  of  red  corn,  met  with  the  subgens  of  the 
I"ke'cabe,  whose  right  it  was  to  provide  them,  and  after  the  prescribed 
rites  had  been  performed  and  the  ritual  sung,  the  Inke'cabe  men  acted 
as  servers  to  the  IIon/ga  and  distributed  Jour  kernels  to  each  family. 
The  women  received  the  sacred  corn  and  mixed  it  with  their  seed 
corn,  which  they  preserved  from  year  to  year.  It  was  believed  that 
the  sacred  corn  was  able  to  vivify  the  seed  and  cause  it  to  fructify 
and  yield  a  good  harvest.  Only  the  red  corn  was  used  for  this  sacred 
purpose.  Its  color  was  indicative  of  its  office. 

Even  after  the  discontinuance  of  these  rites  of  distributing  the 


maize  its  ritual  was  still  sung  just  before  the  ritual  of  the  White 
Buffalo  Hide  was  given  in  connection  with  the  hunting  ceremonies. 
(See  p.  286.) 


Yo     ko     ho       the   he     he  wi    -     a"    -   do 

f 0 0— ! 0 — — • — 0 & «> -J 

KoQ         du  -  ba       ha   -   noa-zhiu      hi,     wi  -    au    •    do"    -    ba          ga 

1  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

2  Wi  andonba  ga 

3  Kon  duba  ha  nonzhia  hi 

4  Wi  a"donba  ga 

5  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

6  Wi  andonba  ga 

7  Abe  he  wiu/axchi  ha  nonzhin  hi 

8  Wi  andonba  ga 


9  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

10  Wi  andonba  ga 

11  Abe  he  non/ba  ha  iionzhin  hi 

12  Wi  a"donba  ga 


13  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

14  Wi  andonba  ga 

15  Abe  he  tha/bthin  ha  no"zhia  hi 

16  Wi  andonba  ga 



17  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

18  Wi  andonba  ga 

19  Abe  he  duba  ha  nonzhin  hi 

20  Wi  ando"ba  ga 


21  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

22  Wi  andonba  ga 

23  Abe  he  ca'to"  ha  no"zhin  hi 

24  Wi  andonba  ga 


25  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

26  Wi  andonba  ga 

27  Abe  he  sha'pe  ha  nouzhia  hi 

28  Wi  andonba  ga 

29  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

30  Wi  andonbaga 

31  Abe  he  pe'thonba  ha  nonzhia  hi 

32  Wiandonbaga 


33  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

34  Wi  andouba  ga 

35  'Kite  he  winaxchi  ha  nonzhiu  hi 

36  Wi  andonba  ga 

37  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

38  Wi  andonba  ga 

39  'Kite  he  non/ba  ha  nonzhin  hi 

40  \Viandonbaga 


41  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

42  Wi  a  ndo  nba  ga 

43  'Kite  he  tha'bthi"  ha  nonzhin  hi 

44  Wi  andonba  ga 


45  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

46  Wia"donbaga 

47  'Kite  he  duba  ha  nonzhin  hi 

48  Wiandonbaga 


49  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

50  Wi  andonba  ga 

51  'Kite  he  <Xton  ha  nonzhin  hi 

52  Wi  andonba  ga 

264  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


53  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

54  Wi  ando"ba  ga 

55  'Kite  he  shape  ha  nonzhin  hi 

56  Wi  ando"ba  ga 


57  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he. 

58  Wi  a"donba  ga 

59  'Kite  he  pe'thonba  ha  nonzhin  hi 

60  Wi  andonba  ga 


61  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

62  Wi  andonba  ga 

63  Hathe  he  ton  ha  nonzhi"  hi 

64  Wi  andonba  ga 


65  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

66  Wi  andonba  ga 

67  Pahi  hi  kugthi  ha  nonzhin  hi 

68  Wi  andonba  ga 


69  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

70  Wi  andonba  ga 

71  Pahi  hi  zi  ha  nonzhi"  hi 

72  Wi  andonba  ga 


73  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

74  Wi  andonba  ga 

75  Pahi  hi  shabe  ha  nonzhin  hi 

76  Wi  andonba  ga 


77  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

78  Wi  andonba  ga 

79  Xtha  kugthi  ha  nonzhin  hi 

80  Wi  andonba  ga 


81  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

82  Wi  andonba  ga 

83  Xtha  oka  ha  nonzhin  hi 

84  W  iandonba  ga 


85  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

86  Wiandonbaga 

87  Xtha  ziha  nonzhin  hi 

88  Wi  andonba  ga 



89  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

90  '  Wi  andonba  ga 

91  Zhu  'tonha  nonzhin  hi 

92  Wi  andonba  ga 


93  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

94  Wi  anthi9pon  a 

95  Zhu  'tonha  nonzhin  hi 

96  Wi  anthizha 

97  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

98  Wi  anba£iion  a 

99  Zhu  'tonha  nonzhin  hi 

100  Wi  anbagnon  a 


101  Yo  ko  ho  the  he  he 

102  Wi  anthigtha 

103  Zhu  'tonha  nonzhin  hi 

104  Wi  anthata 

Literal  translation 

First  stanza.  1.  yo  Ico  ho  the  he  he  is  probably  a  corruption  of 
thikuthe,  meaning  "to  hasten."  The  process  of  change  in  singing 
the  word  was  from  thikuthe  to  thekothe,  and  then  on  to  yokothe,  the 
first  syllable  being  dropped  to  give  the  free  vowel  sound  of  the  o  in 
beginning  the  song.  In  view  of  this  probable  change  the  line  would 
read:  'yokohothe  lie  he,  yolcoho  representing  the  vowel  sound  of  the 
second  syllable  of  the  word  thekuthe,  and  the  syllables  he  he  the 
vowel  prolongation  of  the  last  syllable,  the.  The  line  would  thus 
mean  "Hasten!" 

2.  wi,  I.  In  this  song  it  is  the  Maize  that  speaks.  andonba, 
behold  me  (an,  me;  donba,  see  or  behold) ;  ga,  the  sign  of  a  command. 
3.  Jcon,  root;  duba,  four;  ha  nonzhin,  I  stand  (the  "h"  is  added  to 
the  a  in  singing) ;  hi,  vowel  prolongation. 

Second  stanza.  7.  abe,  leaves — a  general  term;  he,  vowel  con 
tinued;  winaxchi,  one. 

Third  stanza.     11.  nonba,  two. 

Fourth  stanza.     15.  tha'bthi71,  three. 

Fifth  stanza.     19.  du'ba,  four. 

Sixth  stanza.     23.  fa'ton,  five. 

Seventh  stanza.     27.  sha'pe,  six. 

Eighth  stanza.     31.  pe'thonba,  seven. 

Ninth  stanza.  35.  'Icite,  u'kite,  the  joint  of  the  stalk,  the  node — 
a  general  term  for  joint,  in  an  animal  or  vegetable  growth;  he,  vowel 

266  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [KTH.  ANN.  27 

Sixteenth  stanza.  63.  hathe,  clothing — a  general  term  (the  word 
here  refers  to  the  husk  around  the  ear  of  the  maize) ;  'ton,  aton,  I  have, 
or  possess. 

Seventeenth  stanza.  67.  'pahi,  hair  ('pa,  head;  hi,  hair);  hi,  vowel 
continued;  Tcugthi,  light,  shining. 

Eighteenth  stanza.     71.  zi,  yellow. 

Nineteenth  stanza.     75.  sha'ba,  sha'be,  dark  colored. 

Twentieth  stanza.     79.  xtha,  the  tassel  of  the  maize. 

Twenty-first  stanza.     83.  fka,  white. 

Twenty-third  stanza.     91.  zhu,  flesh,  as  of  fruit;  ton,  to  possess. 

Twenty-fourth  stanza.  94.  anthippon,  feels  me  (a71,  me;  thippon,to 
feel  of) ;  a,  ha,  the  end  of  the  sentence.  96.  anthizha,  to  pull  or  push 
apart,  to  pluck,  as  the  ear  from  the  stalk. 

Twenty-fifth  stanza.  98.  anbacnon,  roasts  (an,  me;  bapnon,  to 
thrust  on  a  stick  and  roast  before  the  fire). 

Twenty-sixth  stanza.  102.  anthigtha,  anthi  gtha,  to  push  off  with  a 
stick,  to  shell.  104.  anthata  (thata,  to  eat;  an,  me). 

Free  translation 


O  hasten! 

With  four  roots  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  one  leaf  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  two  leaves  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 


O  hasten! 


With  three  leaves  I  stand. 
Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  four  leaves  I  stand . 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  five  leaves  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 


O  hasten! 

With  six  leaves  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

0  hasten! 


With  seven  leaves  I  stand. 
Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  one  joint  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  two  joints  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  three  joints  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  four  joints  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 


O  hasten ! 

With  five  joints  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  six  joints  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  seven  joints  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  clothing  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

268  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

O  hasten! 

With  light,  glossy  hair  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten ! 


With  yellow  hair  I  stand. 
Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  dark  hair  I  stand . 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  light,  glossy  tassel  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  pale  tassel  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  yellow  tassel  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

With  fruit  possessed  I  stand. 

Behold  me! 

O  hasten! 

Grasp  ye, 
My  fruit  as  I  stand. 

Pluck  me! 

O  hasten! 

Roast  by  a  fire 
My  fruit  as  I  stand. 

Even  roast  me! 

O  hasten! 

Rip  from  its  cob 
My  fruit  as  I  stand, 

And  eat  me! 


In  this  ritual  the  maize  is  anthropomorphized  and  is  conscious  of 
its  mission.  The  poetic  feeling  of  the  ritual  lies  in  the  call  of  the 
maize  to  man  to  behold  its  up-springing  life,  its  increasing  growth, 
and  its  fruitage.  Its  final  abnegation  is  almost  hidden  under  the 
rather  matter-of-fact  directions  of  the  last  stanzas.  Still,  it  is  there. 


Garden  patches  were  located  on  the  borders  of  streams.  Occu 
pancy  constituted  ownership  and  as  long  as  a  tract  was  cultivated 
by  a  family  no  one  molested  the  crops  or  intruded  on  the  ground; 
but  if  a  garden  patch  was  abandoned  for  a  season  then  the  ground 
was  considered  free  for  anyone  to  utilize.  Men  and  women  worked 
together  on  the  garden  plots,  which  ranged  from  half  an  acre  to  two 
or  three  acres  in  extent.  Occasionally  a  good  worker  had  even  a 
larger  tract  under  cultivation.  These  gardens  were  mounded  in  a 
peculiar  manner:  The  earth  was  heaped  into  oblong  mounds,  their 
tops  flat,  about  18  by  24  inches,  and  so  arranged  as  to  slant  toward 
the  south.  The  height  on  the  north  side  was  about  18  inches;  on  the 
south  the  plot  was  level  with  the  surface  of  the  ground.  These  mounds 
were  2  or  3  feet  apart  on  all  sides.  In  one  mound  seven  kernels  of 
corn  were  scattered;  in  the  next  mound  squash  seeds  were  placed,  and 
so  on  alternately.  If  the  family  had  under  cultivation  a  large  garden 
tract  the  beans  were  put  into  mounds  by  themselves  and  willow  poles 
were  provided  for  the  vines  to  climb  upon;  but  if  ground  space  was 
limited  the  beans  were  planted  with  the  corn,  the  stalk  serving  the 
same  purpose  as  poles.  Squash  and  corn  were  not  planted  together, 
nor  were  corn,  beans,  and  squash  grown  in  the  same  mound.  After 
the  planting  the  ground  was  kept  free  of  weeds  and  when  the  corn  was 
well  sprouted  it  was  hoed  with  an  implement  made  from  the  shoulder 
blade  of  the  elk.  The  second  hoeing  took  place  when  the  corn  was  a 
foot  or  more  high.  Up  to  this  time  the  mounds  were  carefully  weeded 
by  hand  and  the  earth  was  kept  free  and  loose.  After  the  second 
hoeing  the  corn  was  left  to  grow  and  ripen  without  further  cultivation. 
The  mounds  containing  the  squash  and  those  in  which  the  melons 
were  planted  were  weeded  and  cared  for  until  the  second  hoeing  of  the 
corn,  when  they,  too,  were  left,  as  about  this  time  the  tribe  started 
out  on  the  annual  buffalo  hunt. 


The  following  names  refer  to  the  maize  or  corn  and  the  preparations 
made  of  it : 

Waton'zi:  corn  growing  in  the  field;  also  shelled  corn. 
Waton/zihi:  corn  stalk  or  stalks. 
Waha'ba:  an  ear  of  corn. 
Wahafbahi:  a  corn  cob  or  coba. 

270  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Wa'xanha:  corn  husk. 

Hatu:  the  green  husk. 

Wathi'inge:  braided  corn.     The  husks  were  braided,  leaving  the  ear  hanging. 

Wami'de:  seed  corn.  This  word  is  applied  to  any  seed  used  for  reproduction. 
Other  seed,  such  as  apple  seeds,  are  called  pi. 

Washon'ge:  pounded  corn.  A  stick,  no^xpe,  was  thrust  into  the  cob  and  the  corn 
roasted  before  a  fire;  then  it  was  shelled  and  the  chaff  blown  off;  finally  it  was  pounded 
in  a  mortar  (uhe)  with  a  pestle  (wehe). 

Wa'fke:  pounded  corn  mixed  with  honey  and  buffalo  marrow. 

Wani'de:  mush  or  gruel  —  pounded  corn  mixed  with  water. 

Um'bagthe:  corn  boiled  with  beans,  set  over  night  to  cool  and  harden,  then  served 
cut  in  slices.  Considered  a  delicacy. 

Wana'xe:  parched  corn  —  used  by  travelers,  and  carried  in  skin  bags. 

Wabi'shnude:  corn  boiled  with  ashes  and  hulled  —  a  sort  of  coarse  hominy. 

Wabthu'ga:  wabi'shnude  boiled  with  meat. 

Watonziqkithe:  sweet  corn  roasted  in  the  milk,  cut  off  the  cob,  and  dried. 


There  were  various  ways  of  going  hunting,  each  of  which  had  its 
distinctive  name: 

monthin,  "walking  alone,"  was  used  to  indicate  that  a  single  family  had 
gone  hunting  or  trapping. 

A'bae,  an  old,  untranslatable  term,  meaning  that  a  single  man,  or  a  man  accompanied 
by  a  few  male  companions,  leaving  their  families  in  camp,  had  started  out  on  foot  in 
search  of  game.  This  word  was  applied  to  this  form  of  hunting  even  after  horses  had 
come  into  use. 

U'zhon,  "  to  sleep  with  them,"  referring  to  the  game.  This  term  was  applied  only 
to  the  hunting  of  deer  by  a  small  party  of  men,  or  to  a  single  person  going  out  and 
bivouacking  among  the  game. 

Shkon/the,  ''to  make  to  move."  The  word  refers  to  starting  up  the  game.  It  was 
applied  to  a  party  of  men  going  to  a  given  locality  to  hunt  deer.  Young  brothers 
and  sons  of  the  hunters  formed  this  kind  of  hunting  party.  The  hunters  scattered 
out  and  advanced  abreast,  while  the  lads  rushed  into  the  woods,  started  up  the  game, 
and,  if  they  could,  secured  a  shot  on  their  own  account. 

Tathie'une  (ta,  a  part  of  taxti,  '  '  deer;  '  '  thie,  a  peculiar  cut  of  the  deer  meat;  une,  '  '  to 
seek").  A  man  who  was  not  a  good  hunter  frequently  joined  a  shko^the  party  and 
strove  to  be  the  first  to  reach  the  slain  deer  and  so  secure  the  right  to  be  the  first 
butcher.  For  his  services  he  was  entitled  to  the  cut  called  tathie. 

The  eshnon'  monthin,  the  a'bae,  and  the  sJikon'the  hunting  parties  went 
out  only  in  the  fall  and  winter;  these  were  the  only  parties  that  were 
not  organized  and  under  the  direction  of  a  leader.  The  buffalo  and 
the  elk  moved  in  herds  and  were  hunted  differently  from  the  deer, 
antelope,  and  bear.  The  latter  were  sought  for  by  individuals  or  by 
small  parties,  as  already  described. 

During  the  summer  months  the  annual  tribal  buffalo  hunt  took 
place.  At  this  time  the  main  supply  of  meat  was  secured.  This 
hunt  was  attended  with  much  ceremony  and  was  participated  in  by 
the  entire  tribe;  it  was  called  te'une  (from  te,  "  buffalo,"  and  une, 
"to  seek").  The  summer  buffalo  hunt  was  more  generally  spoken 
of  as  waefgaxthon  (wae,  "cultivating  the  soil;"  gaxihon',  "moving 


after" — "going on  the  hunt  after  the  cultivation  of  the  corn  is  done") 
or  nuge'teune  (nuge,  " summer;"  te,  "buffalo;"  une,  "to  seek"). 
Ma'iheteune  was  the  name  of  the  winter  buffalo  hunt  (ma'the, 
"winter;"  te'une,  "buffalo  hunt").  The  buffalo  was  hunted  in 
winter  for  pelts.  When  the  herd  was  found,  the  act  of  chasing  it 
was  called  wanon'fe,  the  literal  meaning  of  the  word  being  "to  inter 
cept."  In  surrounding  a  herd  the  animals  were  intercepted  by  the 
hunters  at  every  turn ;  this  was  the  usual  mode  of  attacking  a  herd  of 
any  kind.  If  among  a  party  going  out  to  hunt  the  buffalo  in  winter 
there  was  a  man  from  the  Inke'cabe  gens,  the  right  to  be  the  leader 
of  the  company  was  his  by  virtue  of  his  gens,  and  his  authority  was 
obeyed  by  all  the  hunters  of  the  party.  The  leadership  accorded  to 
this  gens  applied  only  to  chasing  the  buffalo.  The  life  of  the  people 
depended  on  this  animal,  as  it  afforded  the  principal  supply  of  meat 
and  pelts;  therefore  the  buffalo  hunt  was  inaugurated  and  con 
ducted  with  religious  rites,  which  not  only  recognized  a  dependence 
on  Wakon/da,  but  enforced  the  observance  by  the  people  of  certain 
formalities  which  secured  to  each  member  of  the  tribe  an  opportunity 
to  obtain  a  share  in  the  game. 

As  neither  the  elk  nor  the  deer  stood  in  a  similar  vital  relation  to 
the  people,  hunting  these  animals  was  attended  with  less  ceremony. 
A  party  going  to  find  elk  was  spoken  of  as  on'pon  anonfe  (umpon, 
"elk;"  anonfe  has  the  same  meaning  as  wanon'fe).  In  such  a  party 
an  Pke'yabe  enjoyed  no  special  privileges  but  was  on  the  same 
footing  as  all  the  other  hunters.  There  was  a  leader,  however,  gen 
erally  the  man  who  initiated  the  hunting  party.  Winter  was  the 
season  for  elk  hunting.  Deer  also  were  hunted  in  the  winter,  as 
during  that  season  the  animals  were  fat  and  in  good  condition. 
When  a  man  went  alone  for  still  hunting  he  used  a  whistle  that 
simulated  the  cry  of  the  fawn,  and  thus  attracted  the  male  and  female 
deer.  When  a  party  went  out  they  camped  near  a  place  where  deer 
were  plentiful;  the  hunters  then  went  off  and  returned  to  the  camp. 
On  such  expeditions  boys  were  sometimes  sent  into  the  brush  to  beat 
up  the  game  for  the  hunters. 

While  the  animals  were  alive,  and  in  connection  with  the  hunt, 
each  had  its  distinctive  name,  but  when  they  were  butchered  their 
flesh  bore  the  common  name  of  ta.  If  the  meat  was  fresh  it  was 
spoken  of  as  tanuka,  "wet  meat;"  when  dried  it  was  simply  ta. 


The  following  customs  were  observed  in  cutting  up  the  carcasses 
of  the  deer,  antelope,  elk,  and  buffalo : 

After  a  chase  anyone  could  help  in  butchering  the  game.  The  first 
person  to  arrive  had  to  set  to  work  at  once  in  order  to  secure  the  rights 
of  the  first  helper.  Every  animal  was  cut  up  into  certain  portions. 

272  THE    OMAHA   TKIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

These  were  graded  and  assigned  by  custom  to  the  helpers  in  the  order 
of  their  beginning  work  on  the  carcass.  The  man  who  shot  the  animal 
might  find,  on  reaching  it,  men  already  engaged  in  cutting  it  up.  In 
that  case  he  would  go  to  work  on  some  other  man's  game.  He  did  not, 
however,  lose  his  rights  in  the  animal  he  had  shot.  As  every  man's 
arrows  bore  the  owner's  peculiar  mark,  there  could  be  no  dispute  as 
to  who  fired  the  fatal  shot  and  so  owned  the  killer's  share. 

All  animals  were  made  ready  for  butchering  by  being  rolled  on  the 
back  with  the  head  pulled  around  backward  by  the  beard  until  the 
face  lay  on  the  ground;  next,  the  head  was  pushed  under  the  edge 
of  the  side  to  serve  as  a  support  to  the  body  as  it  lay  on  its  back  with 
feet  upward.  First,  the  skin  was  removed  in  this  way:  An  incision 
was  made  at  the  lower  end  of  the  dewlap  and  the  knife  run  up  to  the 
middle  of  the  underlip;  the  knife  was  then  again  inserted  at  the 
starting  point  and  a  straight  cut  was  made  down  to  the  vent ;  again  the 
knife  was  inserted  at  the  starting  point  and  a  straight  cut  made  down 
the  inside  of  each  fore  leg  to  the  ankle.  A  straight  cut  was  made 
down  the  inner  side  of  each  hind  leg  to  the  ankle.  A  cut  was  then 
made  around  the  mouth  and  up  the  line  of  the  nose  to  the  base  of  the 
horns  and  around  the  horns,  leaving  the  hide,  when  taken  from  the 
deer,  antelope,  elk,  or  buffalo,  in  one  piece.  The  hide  was  called 
Jia;  this  belonged  to  the  man  who  killed  the  animal.  The  summer 
hide  of  the  buffalo  was  called  tesJina'ha,  meaning  "hide  without 
hair."  From  the  teshna'Jia  clothing,  moccasins,  and  tent  covers 
were  made,  as  these  hides  were  easily  tanned  on  both  sides.  The 
hides  taken  in  winter  were  called  meha;  these  were  used  for  robes 
and  bedding  and  were  tanned  on  one  side  only.  The  hide  of  an 
old  bull  was  preferred  for  bedding.  In  flaying  the  animal  for  this 
purpose  the  usual  incisions  were  made  on  the  breast ;  after  this  was 
flayed  it  was  turned  thereon,  the  hind  legs  were  stretched  out  back 
ward,  the  fore  legs  doubled  under  the  body,  and  a  straight  cut  was 
made  down  the  back;  then  the  skin  was  drawn  off  on  each  side. 
Skill  was  required  to  make  straight  cuts  and  was  the  result  of  much 
practice.  One  of  the  most  difficult  cuts  to  make  was  to  follow  the 
dewlap.  A  true  outline  was  the  pride  of  the  hunter  and  added  to 
the  value  of  a  skin,  as  well  as  to  its  beauty,  particularly  when  it  was 
to  be  used  as  a  robe.  , 

After  flaying  a  buffalo,  one  of  the  hind  legs  was  disjointed  at  the  hip 
and  cut  off.  The  flesh  of  the  leg  was  cut  lengthwise,  following  the 
natural  folds  of  the  muscle,  and  the  bone  extracted;  this  portion 
was  called  tezhe'ga.  The  next  act  was  to  open  the  body  sufficiently 
to  remove  the  intestines.  The  large  intestine,  the  stomach,  and  the 
bladder  were  removed  and  laid  to  one  side.  The  fore  leg  was  then 
unjointed  and  cut  off  at  the  shoulder  and  the  bone  extracted;  this 
portion  was  called  tea'.  The  breast  was  next  cut;  this  portion 


was  called  temon'ge.  The  meat  between  the  ends  of  ribs  and  the 
breast  was  called  tezhu' '.  There  were  two  portions  of  this  cut,  which 
were  considered  very  choice.  These  were  the  pieces  that  were  offered 
at  the  ceremony  of  Anointing  the  Sacred  Pole  and  were  tabu  to  the 
Waxthe'xeton  subgens  of  the  Hon'ga,  who  had  charge  of  these  rites. 
Next,  the  ribs  were  severed  from  the  backbone;  the  ribs  from  both 
sides  made  one  portion,  which  was  called  tethi'ti.  The  tongue  was 
last  to  be  taken  out ;  this  was  secured  by  making  an  incision  in  the 
middle  of  the  underjaw,  pulling  the  tongue  through  the  slit  and  then 
cutting  it  off  at  the  roots.  If  it  was  late  in  the  day,  or  the  hunters 
were  in  haste,  the  tongue  was  left  untouched.  When  one  of  the 
writers  commented  on  the  loss  of  so  dainty  a  part,  she  was  answered: 
"Men  do  not  pay  attention  to  these  little  delicacies  but  when  their 
children  ask  for  them,  the  men  remember." 

The  following  are  the  portions  of  the  buffalo  and  their  graded 
values : 

1.  Tezhu'' — side  meat;  2  portions. 

2.  Tezhe'ga — hind  quarters;  2  portions. 

3.  Tethi'ti — ribs;  2  portions. 

4.  U'gaxetha — includes  the  stomach,  beef  tallow,  and  intestines;  1  portion. 

5.  Tenon/xahi — back;  includes  muscles  and  sinew;  1  portion. 

6.  Temonge — the  breast;  1  portion. 

7.  Tea' — forequarters;  2  portions. 

To  the  man  who  killed  the  animal  belonged  the  hide  and  one  por 
tion  of  tezhu'  and  the  brains.  Whether  he  had  more  or  not  depended  on 
the  number  of  men  who  were  helping.  If  there  were  only  three  helpers, 
their  portions  were  as  follows:  To  the  first  helper  to  arrive,  one  of  the 
tezhu'  and  a  hind-quarter;  to  the  second  comer,  the  u'gaxetha;  to  the 
third,  the  ribs.  The  various  portions  were  adjusted  by  the  owner  of 
the  animal.  Each  helper  received  something  for  his  services.  It 
sometimes  happened  that  eight  or  ten  men  helped,  in  which  case  all 
the  cuts  were  required.  If  two  or  more  men  butchered  an  animal  in 
the  absence  of  the  hunter,  when  they  finished  the  work  each  man  took 
his  proper  portions  and  left  those  belonging  to  the  man  who  had  killed 
the  game.  When,  therefore,  the  hunter  returned  to  the  animal 
he  had  shot,  he  might  find  it  flayed  and  cut  up  and  his  portions 
lying  on  the  hide  awaiting  him.  Prominent  men  did  not  do  the  butch 
ering.  This  work  was  performed  by  the  poor  or  by.  young  men,  who 
thus  secured  food  or  choice  bits.  Should  a  chief  or  the  son  of  a  chief 
appear  on  the  scene  when  butchering  was  in  progress,  he  would  be 
allowed  the  choice  of  any  portion  of  the  animal. 

The  large  intestine  was  disentangled  by  the  men,  stripped  between 
the  fingers,  and  its  contents  were  thrown  away.  Then  it  was  handed 
over  to  the  women  to  be  prepared  for  cooking.  They  turned  it 
inside  out,  washed  it,  and  turned  it  back,  being  careful  not  to  disturb 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 18 

274  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

the  fat  that  adhered  to  the  outside.  A  narrow  strip  of  tender  meat 
from  the  side  of  the  backbone  was  then  cut;  one  end  of  the  intestine 
bearing  fat  on  it  was  turned  in  and  the  strip  of  meat  was  inserted 
at  this  end.  As  the  meat  was  pushed  along,  the  intestine  became 
reversed — the  fatty  outside  became  the  inside.  After  the  meat  was  in, 
both  ends  of  the  intestine  were  securely  tied;  it  was  then  boiled,  or 
roasted  'on  coals.  This  was  called  tan'he  and  was  esteemed  a  great 
delicacy.  The  meat  thus  cooked  was  very  tender  and  all  the  juice 
was  preserved  within  its  close  covering.  The  stomach  was  turned 
inside  out,  carefully  washed,  and  the  inner  coating  removed  and 
thrown  away;  the  remainder  was  used  for  food.  The  heart  and  lungs 
were  usually  left  in  the  carcass.  The  small  intestines  of  the  sucking 
calf  were  braided  and  roasted  over  coals;  these  were  regarded  as  a 
delicacy.  Meat  was  generally  boiled,  the  water,  or  soup,  being  taken 
after  the  meat  had  been  eaten. 

The  bones,  used  for  their  marrow  after  roasting,  were :  wazhi'be,  "  leg 
bones;"  tenon/xahi,  "backbone."  The  waba'pnon,  "shoulder  blades," 
were  valuable  as  implements,  particularly  those  of  the  elk,  used  as 
hoes.  The  other  bones  were  called:  te'pa,  "skull;"  he,  " horns;" 
u'gaxon,  "hip  bone;"  wazhi'beuton'ga,  "upper  leg  bone;"  zhi'beupni, 
''lower leg  bone;"  te  sha'ge,  "hoofs." 

The  buffalo  meat  was  brought  into  camp  on  ponies.  Boys  drove 
these  animals  out  to  the  hunting  field  for  the  purpose  of  packing  the 
meat  on  them.  The  running  horses  used  in  hunting  were  not  permitted 
to  carry  burdens.  Sometimes  women  went  out  to  help  in  butchering, 
particularly  widows  or  childless  women,  or  they  drove  the  pack  ponies. 
It  was  the  woman's  part  to  cut  the  meat  into  thin  sheets  and  hang  it 
on  the  racks  for  drying.  The  rib  meat  was  cut  into  strips,  braided, 
and  dried. 

The  rules  for  butchering  an  elk  and  dividing  the  meat  among  the 
helpers  were  the  same  as  for  the  buffalo. 

After  being  flayed  a  deer  was  cut  in  half,  one  side  being  cut  close  to 
the  backbone;  this  half  was  called  the  tathie' '.  This  cut  became  the 
property  of  the  first  man  to  reach  the  deer  and  to  begin  to  butcher 
the  game.  The  other  half  of  the  deer,  that  to  which  the  backbone 
and  the  neck  adhered,  was  divided  through  the  ribs,  making  two  por 
tions.  The  hind  part  of  this  cut  belonged  to  the  second  person  who 
arrived  on  the  scene  and  took  part  in  the  butchering.  To  the  man 
who  shot  the  deer  belonged  the  skin  and  the  portion  to  which  the  neck 
was  attached.  Sometimes  a  man  was  alone  when  he  killed  a  deer. 
In  that  case,  after  he  had  flayed  the  animal  he  cut  all  the  meat  from 
the  bones  and  left  the  skeleton.  If  after  he  had  finished  a  person 
should  come  up,  the  hunter  would  say,  Bthe'uihi  shnude  (like,  "all;" 
uthishnude,  "stripped"),  that  is,  "the  meat  is  stripped  from  the  bones," 


making  but  one  piece  without  divisions.  Under  such  circumstances 
no  portion  would  be  given  to  the  newcomer  nor  would  any  be 
demanded.  This  manner  of  taking  home  the  deer  saved  labor  to  the 
women,  as  the  meat  was  nearly  ready  to  hang  on  the  wa'mon  shiha, 
or  "rack,"  for  jerking. 

The  rules  for  butchering  and  dividing  the  flesh  of  the  antelope  and 
bear  were  the  same  as  observed  with  the  deer. 


When  the  crops  were  well  advanced  and  the  com,  beans,  and  melons 
had  been  cultivated  for  the  second  time,  the  season  was  at  hand  for 
the  tribe  to  start  on  its  annual  buffalo  hunt.  Preparations  for  this 
great  event  occupied  several  weeks,  as  everyone — men,  women,  and 
children — moved  out  on  what  was  often  a  journey  of  several  hundred 
miles.  Only  the  very  old  and  the  sick  and  the  few  who  stayed  to  care 
for  and  protect  these,  remained  in  the  otherwise  deserted  village. 
All  articles  not  needed  were  cached  and  the  entrances  to  these  recep 
tacles  concealed  for  fear  of  marauding  enemies. "  The  earth  lodges 
were  left  empty,  and  tent  covers  and  poles  were  taken  along,  as  during 
the  hunt  these  portable  dwellings  were  used  exclusively.  For  a  century 
ponies  have  superseded  dogs  as  burden  bearers.  The  tent  poles  were 
fastened  to  each  side  of  the  pony  by  one  end ;  the  other  trailed  on  the 
ground.  The  parfleche  cases  containing  clothing,  regalia,  the  food  sup 
plies,  and  the  cooking  utensils,  were  packed  on  the  animal.  Travoix 
were  used,  supporting  a  comfortable  nest  for  the  children,  some  of 
whom,  however,  often  found  places  among  the  household  goods  on 
the  pony's  back.  Men  and  women  walked  or  rode  according  to  the 
family  supply  of  horses.  Between  the  trailing  tent  poles,  which  were  fast 
ened  to  a  steady  old  horse,  here  and  there  rode  a  boy  mounted  on  his 
own  unbroken  pony,  for  the  first  time  given  a  chance  to  win  his  place 
as  an  independent  rider  in  the  great  cavalcade.  Many  were  the  droll 
experiences  recounted  by  older  men  to  their  children  of  adventures 
when  breaking  in  their  pony  colts  as  the  tribe  moved  over  the 
prairies  on  the  hunt.  Much  bustling  activity  occupied  the  house 
holds  in  anticipation  of  the  start.  Meanwhile  a  very  different  kind 
of  preparation  had  been  going  on  for  months  in  the  thought  and 
actions  of  the  man  wrho  had  determined  to  seek  the  office  of  wathon', 
or  director  of  the  hunt.  He  had  been  gathering  together  the  mate 
rials  to  make  the  washa'le,  or  staff  of  that  office.  These  consisted 
of  an  ash  sapling,  two  eagles  (one  black,  one  golden),  a  crow,  a  swan 
skin,  a  dressed  buffalo  skin,  two  pieces  of  sinew,  a  shell  disk,  a  copper 
kettle  (formerly  a  pottery  cooking  vessel),  and  a  pipestem.  These 
articles  were  all  more  or  less  difficult  to  obtain,  and  represented  a 
determined  purpose  and  labor  on  the  part  of  the  man  and  his  family. 

276  THE   OMAHA  TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


The  office  of  wathon' ',  or  director  of  the  hunt,  was  one  of  grave 
responsibility  and  high  honor.  The  man  who  aspired  to  fill  it  needed 
to  possess  courage  and  ability  to  lead  men  and  command  their  respect 
and  obedience.  During  the  term  of  his  office  the  entire  tribe  was 
placed  under  his  direction  and  control;  the  Council  of  Seven  Chiefs 
acted  only  as  his  counselors  and,  together  with  the  people,  obeyed 
his  instructions.  He  directed  the  march  of  the  tribe,  selected  its 
camping  places,  chose  and  dispatched  the  runners  in  search  of  buffalo 
herds,  and  directed  the  hunt  when  the  game  had  been  found.  He 
became  responsible  for  all  occurrences,  from  the  pursuit  of  the  buffalo 
and  the  health  and  welfare  of  the  people  down  to  the  quarreling  of 
children  and  dogs. 

When  the  time  drew  near  for  the  tribe  to  go  forth  on  the  hunt, 
the  aspirant  to  the  office  of  waihon'  took  or  sent  the  prescribed 
articles  he  had  secured  for  making  the  washa'be,  or  ceremonial  staff 
of  the  director,  to  the  Washa'be  subgens  of  the  Ho"'ga  gens,  to  which 
belonged  the  hereditary  right  to  make  the  staff.  It  was  a  pole  of 
ash  more  than  8  feet  high,  the  end  bent  like  a  shepherd's  crook. 
The  buffalo  skin  furnished  by  the  aspirant  was  cut  and  a  case  made 
from  it  for  covering  the  pole.  All  the  coarse  feathers  were  removed 
from  the  swan  skin,  leaving  only  the  down;  the  skin  was  cut  in 
strips  arid  wound  about  the  staff,  making  it  a  white  object.  On  one 
side  of  the  staff  was  fastened  a  row  of  eagle  feathers,  and  a  cluster  of 
golden  eagle  feathers  hung  at  the  end  of  the  crook.  Crow  feathers 
were  arranged  at  the  base  about  10  inches  from  the  end  of  the 
pole,  which  was  sharpened.  (For  picture  of  the  washa'be,  see  fig.  27.) 
To  the  pipestem  which  must  accompany  the  washa'be  was  fastened  a 
shell  disk.  This  stem  was  probably  used  when  smoking  the  peculiar 
pipe  belonging  to  the  White  Buffalo  Hide. 

After  the  washa'be  was  made,  the  Hon/ga  subgens  in  charge  of  the 
White  Buffalo  Hide  called  a  council  composed  of  the  governing 
tribal  council  (p.  208)  and  the  Washa'be  subgens,  to  which  was  invited 
the  man  who  desired  to  be  the  waih,on' .  This  ,action  of  the  Hon/ga 
subgens  constituted  the  appointment  of  the  man  to  the  office  of 
wafhon> '.  This  council  had  also  to  determine  the  direction  in 
which  the  people  were  to  go  and  the  day  on  which  they  were  to 
start.  This  decision  was  considered  one  of  the  most  important 
acts  in  the  welfare  of  the  people;  on  it  depended  the  food  supply 
and  also  safety  from  enemies  while  securing  it.  The  food  eaten  at 
this  council  was  either  dried  buffalo  meat  or  maize,  which  had 
to  be  cooked  before  sunrise.  At  this  council  the  two  Sacred  Tribal 
Pipes  were  ceremonially  filled  while  their  ritual  was  chanted. 
This  was  done  as  the  sun  rose.  Everyone  present  wore  the  buffalo 
robe  with  the  hair  outside,  the  head  on  the  left  arm  and  the  tail 


on  the  right,  and  sat  with  head  bowed  and  arms  crossed  on  the 
breast  so  as  to  bring  the  robe  around  the  head  like  a  hood.  No 
feathers  or  ornaments  or  any  articles  pertaining  to  war  could  be 
worn  or* could  be  present  in  the  Sacred  Tent.  The  Pipes  were  smoked 
in  the  formal  manner;  the  Inke'cabe  and  Tha'tada  servers  passed 
them  to  the  members.  The  smoking  was  in  silence.  After  the  Pipes 
had  been  cleaned  by  the  officers  appointed  for  this  duty  and  returned 
to  their  keeper,  one  of  the  principal  chiefs  opened  the  proceedings  by 
mentioning  the  terms  of  relationship  between  himself  and  the  others 
present.  Each  one  responded  as  he  was  designated.  The  chief  then 
spoke  of  the  great  importance  of  the  subject  before  them  and  called 
on  those  present  to  express  their  opinions.  If  since  the  last  similar 
council  any  chief  or  member  present  had  given  way  to  violence  in 
word  or  act,  he  must  not  speak.  So  long  as  he  took  no  part  in  these 
official  proceedings  the  evil  consequences  of  his  words  or  actions 
remained  with  himself,  but  should  he  act  officially  the  consequences 
of  his  misdeed  would  be  transferred  to  the  people.  After  all  who 
could  rightfully  take  part  in  the  discussion  had  spoken  with  due 
deliberation,  the  newly  chosen  waihon'  was  called  on.  He  generally 
summed  up  the  views  that  were  acceptable  to  the  majority  of  those 
present.  If  there  were  differences  of  opinion,  then  the  men  had  to 
remain  in  council  until  they  came  to  an  agreement.  At  this  council 
the  general  route  the  tribe  was  to  take  was  laid  out.  In  planning 
the  route  two  necessary  features  were  always  considered — wood  and 
a  plentiful  supply  of  water.  It  was  also  important  to  lead  the 
people  where  they  could  gather  the  wild  turnip  in  great  quantities. 
These  turnips  were  peeled,  sliced,  dried,  and  sewed  up  in  skin  bags 
for  winter  use.  Only  the  general  direction  was  determined  at  this 
council.  The  daily  camps  were  selected  by  the  waihon'  as  the  people 
went  along.  These  were  usually  from  10  to  15  miles  apart,  wood  and 
water  again  being  important  factors  in  the  choice  of  the  camping 
place.  If,  owing  to  the  lack  of  wood  or  water,  the  distance  between 
two  camping  places  was  greater  than  could  conveniently  be  made  in 
one  journey,  the  waihon'  directed  the  tribal  herald  to  consult  the  women, 
on  whom  devolved  much  of  the  labor  of  the  camp  as  well  as  the  care 
of  the  children,  and  to  ascertain  their  decision  in  the  matter.  The 
herald  then  reported  the  wishes  of  the  majority  and  the  waihon' 
issued  his  order  accordingly. 

When,  at  the  initial  council  held  by  the  Washa'be  subgens,  the 
governing  tribal  council,  and  the  watho"',  a  decision  was  reached, 
the  official  herald  was  sent  to  proclaim  to  the  people  the  day  fixed 
for  departure.  Meanwhile  the  council  sat  in  the  bowed  attitude 
and  the  sacred  feast  was  served  in  seven  wooden  bowls.  These  were 
passed  four  times  around  the  council,  each  person  taking  a  mouthful 
from  a  black  horn  spoon.  This  food  could  not  be  touched  with  the 



[ETH.  AXN.  27 

fingers  or  any  other  utensil.  The  sun  must  have  set  before  the  chiefs 
could  lift  their  heads  and  the  council  break  up,  and  the  members 
return  to  their  homes.  The  day  for  the  start  once  fixed,  no  change 
could  be  made,  as  that  would  be  breaking  faith  with  Wakon/da,  in 
whose  presence  the  decision  had  been  reached. 

No  prescribed  order  was  observed  in  making  the  start.  Those 
who  were  ready  moved  first,  but  all  kept  fairly  well  together.  For 
four  days  prior  to  the  start  the  man  who  was  to  act  as  wathon' 
fasted,  and  when  all  were  departing  he  remained  behind.  After  everv- 
one  had  gone  he  took  off  his  moccasins  and,  carrying  no  weapons, 
followed  slowly  with  bare  feet.  He  reached  the  camp  after  the  peo 
ple  had  eaten  their  supper,  went  to  his  own  tent,  and  as  he  entered 
everyone  withdrew  and  left  him  alone.  The  fast,  the  barefoot  march, 
and  the  lonely  vigil  were  explained  to  be  "a  prayer  to  Wakon/da  to 
give  courage  to  the  man  to  direct  wisely  and  to  lead  successfully  the 
people  as  they  went  forth  to  seek  for  food  and  clothing."  The  old 
men  went  on  to  state  that  "during  all  the  time  the  man  is  waihon' 
he  must  be  abstemious,  eat  but  little,  and  live  apart  from  his  family: 
he  must  continually  pray,  for  on  him  all  the  people  are  depending." 
This  manner  of  life  by  the  director  was  called  non'zhinzhon — the  same 
word  that  was  applied  to  the  fast  observed  by  the  youth  when  he  went 
alone  to  pray  to  Wakon/da.  (See  p.  128.)  The  idea  expressed  in  this 
word  was  explained  to  be  that  "the  man  stands  oblivious  to  the  nat 
ural  world  and  is  in  communication  only  with  the  unseen  and  super 
natural  world  which  environs  him  and  in  which  he  receives  power 
and  direction  from  Wakon/da,  the  great  unseen  power."  Every 
effort  was  made  by  the  chiefs  and  leading  men  to  prevent  or  to  con 
trol  petty  contentions,  for  if  everyone  was  to  secure  a  share  in  the 
products  of  the  chase,  there  had  to  be  harmony,  obedience  to  author 
ity,  and  good  order  throughout  the  tribe.  If,  however,  disturbances 
frequently  occurred,  or  if  the  winds  continually  blew  toward  the 
game,  thus  revealing  the  approach  of  the  people  and  frightening  away 
the  buffalo,  such  ill  fortune  might  necessitate  the  resignation  of  the 
wathon> '.  To  avoid  this  necessity  on  the  part  of  the  director,  a  man 
was  appointed  by  the  chiefs  who  took  the  name  waiho11'  and  was  to 
assume  all  the  blame  of  quarrels  and  other  mishaps.  This  official 
scapegoat  took  his  office  good-naturedly  and  in  this  humorous  way 
served  the  tribal  director. 

On  the  march  the  contents  of  the  three  Sacred  Tents  were  in  charge 
of  their  keepers.  In  late  years  the  White  Buffalo  Hide  was  packed 
on  a  pony;  in  early  days  it  was  carried  on  the  back  of  its  keeper.  The 
washa'be  (fig.  27)  was  carried  by  a  virgin,  and  as  it  belonged  to  the 
White  Buffalo  Hide  she  walked  near  that  sacred  article.  When  in  camp 
this  staff  of  office  was  kept  in  the  Sacred  Tent  containing  the  Hide. 
The  Sacred  Pole  was  carried  by  its  keeper.  When  the  camping  place 


was  reached,  each  woman  knew  exactly  where  to  place  her  tent  in  the 
Jiu'thuga,  or  tribal  circle.  The  Sacred  Tents  were  set  up  in  their 
respective  places  and  the  sacred  articles  put  at  once  under  cover. 
After  the  camp  was  made  the  daily  life  went  on  as  usual;  the  ponies 
were  tethered  or  hobbled  and  put  where  they  could  feed;  wood  and 
water  were  secured,  and  soon  the  smoke  betrayed  that  preparations 
for  the  evening  meal  were  going  forward. 

The  beauty  of  an  Indian  camp  at  night  deserves  a  passing  word. 
It  can  never  be  forgotten  by  one  who  has  seen  it  and  it  can  hardly 
be  pictured  to  one  who  has  not.  The  top  of  each  conical  tent, 
stained  with  smoke,  was  lost  in  shadow,  but  the  lower  part  was  aglow 
from  the  central  fire  and  on  it  the  moving  life  inside  wras  pictured  in 
silhouette,  while  the  sound  of  rippling  waters  beside  which  the  camp 
stood  accentuated  the  silence  of  the  overhanging  stars. 

The  signal  to  move  in  the  morning  was  the  dropping  of  the  cover 
from  the  tent  of  the  director.  When  the  poles  of  his  tent  were  visible 
every  woman  began  to  unfasten  her  tent  cover,  and  in  a  short  time 
the  camp  was  a  memory  and  the  people  were  once  more  on  the  march, 
stretched  out  as  a  motley  colored  mass  over  the  green  waste. 

As  the  buffalo  country  was  reached — that  is,  when  signs  of  game 
were  discerned — then  the  chiefs,  the  waihon' ,  and  the  Washa'be  subgens 
of  theHon/ga  gens  met  in  council  and  appointed  a  number  of  men  who 
were  to  act  as  "soldiers"  or  marshals.  These  men  were  chosen  from 
among  the  bravest  and  most  trusty  warriors  of  the  tribe,  those  who 
had  won  the  right  to  wear  "the  Crow"  (see  p.  441).  They  were 
summoned  to  the  Sacred  Tent  of  the  White  Buffalo  Hide,  where  they 
were  informed  of  their  duty.  It  is  said  that  these  officers  were  told : 
"You  are  to  recognize  no  relations  in  performing  your  duty — neither 
fathers,  brothers,  nor  sons."  Their  services  began  when  the 
camp  was  within  hearing  distance  of  the  herd  selected  for  the  coming 
surround.  The  marshals  were  to  prevent  noises,  as  loud  calls  and 
the  barking  of  dogs,  and  to  see  that  no  one  slipped  away  privately. 
Few,  however,  ever  attempted  to  act  independently,  as  it  meant  death 
to  a  man  to  stampede  a  herd  by  going  out  privately  to  secure  game. 
During  the  surround  the  marshals  held  the  hunters  back  until  the 
signal  was  given  for  the  attack  on  the  herd.  It  was  in  the  exercise 
of  this  duty  that  the  marshals  were  sometimes  put  to  the  test  of  keep 
ing  true  to  the  obligations  of  their  office. 

The  wafhon'  chose  some  twenty  young  men  to  act  as  runners  to 
search  for  a  herd  suitable  for  the  tribe  to  surround.  If  the  region 
was  one  in  which  there  was  danger  of  encountering  enemies,  the  run 
ners  went  out  in  groups;  otherwise  they  might  scatter  and  go  singly 
in  search  of  game.  When  the  runners  had  been  selected  the  tribal 
herald  stood  in  front  of  the  Sacred  Tent  containing  the  White  Buffalo 
Hide,  and  intoned  the  following  summons.  First  he  called  the  name 

280  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

of  a  young  man  and  then  added:  Monzhon  inthegafonga  tea  ia  ihin  ho! 
(monzhon,  "land;''  inthegaponga,  " explore  for  me;"  tea,  "may;"  ia, 
"come;"  fhin,  "action;"  Jio,  "calling  attention") — "Come!  that  you 
may  go  and  secure  knowledge  of  the  land  for  me." 

When  the  runners  (the  wadon'be,  "those  who  look")  had  found  a  suit 
able  herd,  they  made  a  speedy  run  back  to  where  the  tribe  was 
camped ;  when  they  were  near  they  paused  on  some  prominent  point 
where  they  could  be  seen  and  signaled  their  report  by  running  from 
side  to  side;  if  there  were  two  young  men,  both  ran,  one  from  right  to 
left  and  the  other  from  left  to  right,  thus  crossing  each  other  as  they 
ran.  (See  picture  of  I'shibazhi,  pi.  39,  a  runner  on  the  last  tribal  buf 
falo  hunt.)  This  signal  was  called  waba'Jia.  As  soon  as  they  were 
seen,  word  was  taken  to  the  Sacred  Tents  and  to  the  wathon'.  The 
Sacred  Pole  and  the  pack  containing  the  White  Buffalo  Hide  were 
carried  to  the  edge  of  the  camp  in  the  direction  of  the  returning  run 
ners,  followed  by  the  Seven  Chiefs.  There  a  halt  was  made  while  the 
runners  approached  to  deliver  their  message.  The  White  Buffalo 
Hide  was  taken  out  and  arranged  over  a  frame  so  as  to  resemble  some 
what  a  buffalo  lying  down.  The  Sacred  Pole  was  set  up,  leaning  on  its 
staff,  the  crotched  stick.  The  chiefs,  the  keepers,  and  the  herald  wrere 
grouped  in  the  rear  of  these  sacred  objects.  The  first  runner  ap 
proached  and  in  a  low  tone  delivered  his  message,  telling  of  the  wThere- 
abputs  and  the  size  of  the  herd,  being  careful  not  to  exaggerate  its 
numbers.  He  was  followed  by  the  second  runner,  who  repeated  the 
same  message.  The  herald  was  then  dispatched  by  the  chiefs  to  notify 
the  people.  He  returned  to  the  camp  and  shouted:  "It  is  reported 
that  smoke  (dust)  is  rising  from  the  earth  as  far  as  the  eye  can  reach ! " 

Meanwhile,  as  soon  as  signs  of  the  returning  runners  were  seen  the 
director  went  to  his  own  tent  and  remained  alone  until  he  heard  the 
voice  of  the  herald  shouting  to  the  people.  Then  he  went  at  once  to 
the  Sacred  Tent  of  the  White  Buffalo,  where  were  the  Seven  Chiefs 
and  the  subgens  of  the  Hon'ga,  who  had  charge  of  the,  tent  and  its 
belongings.  The  waihon/  now  became  the  leader  of  the  council,  and 
gave  commands  to  the  herald.  Two  men  wrere  selected  by  him  to 
lead  in  the  surround,  one  to  carry  the  washa'be  and  the  other  the 
pipestem.  Two  boys  wTere  also  selected  to  secure  the  twenty  tongues 
and  one  heart  for  the  sacred  feast.  Then  the  herald  went  out,  and 
turning  to  the  left  passed  around  the  tribal  circle,  calling  as  he  went 
the  command  in  the  name  of  the  director: 

You  are  to'go  upon  the  chase,  bring  in  your  horses. 
.  Braves  of  the  Inshtax<;unda,  Hon/gashenu,  pity  me  who  belong  to  you! 
.  Soldiers  of  the  Inshta/5unda,  Hon/gashenu,  pity  me  who  belong  to  you! 

Women  of,  the  Inshta/5unda,  Hon/gashenu,  pity  me  who  belong  to  you! 

The  tribe  was  always  addressed  by  the  names  of  its  two  divisions, 
and  the  words  "Pity  me  who  belong  to  you  "  constituted  an  appeal  by 





the  wathon>  to  the  honor  and  the  compassion  of  the  people  to  avoid 
all  dissensions  and  imprudence  which  might  bring  about  trouble  or 
misfortune,  since  any  misdeed  or  mishap  would  fall  heavily  on  the 
director,  who  was  responsible  for  every  action,  fortunate  or  unfortu 
nate,  and  who  must  suffer  for  the  acts  of  the  tribe,  as  through  his 
office  he  belonged  to  them,  was  in  a  sense  a  part  of  them,  "as,"  an 
Omaha  explained  "a  man's  hand  belongs  to  his  body." 

If  the  herd  was  at  such  a  distance  that  the  tribe  must  move  on 
and  camp  again  before  the  chase  took  place  then  the  Pole  and  the  Hide 
remained  where  the  message  of  the  runners  had  been  received,  until 
the  people  were  ready  to  go  to  the  new  camping  place.  On  that 
journey  the  two  sacred  objects,  with  the  Seven  Chiefs,  led  the  ad 
vance,  while  the  marshals  rode  on  the  sides  of  the  great  cavalcade 
and  kept  the  people  in  order.  Once  arrived  at  the  camping  place,  the 
camp  was  made  silently,  for  fear  of  any  sound  frightening  the 
herd,  and  strict  silence  was  maintained  until  the  hunters  were  ready 
to  start.  If,  however,  the  herd  wras  discovered  near  the  camp,  then 
after  the  message  from  the  runners  had  been  delivered  the  two  sacred 
objects,  the  Sacred  Pole  and  the  White  Buffalo  Hide,  were  returned 
to  their  tents  and  the  marshals  at  once  enforced  silence,  killing  any 
barking  dogs  if  necessary.  All  preparations  were  made  as  quietly 
as  possible.  Each  hunter  was  attended  by  one  or  two  mounted  boys 
who  led  the  fast  running  horses  to  be  used  in  the  chase :  later  his  own 
mount  would  be  used  to  bring  in  the  meat  from  the  field.  Once  again 
the  herald  circled  the  camp.  His  return  to  the  tent  of  the  White  Buf 
falo  Hide  was  the  signal  for  the  hunters  to  move.  The  two  young  men 
bearing  the  washa'be  and  the  pipestem  were  the  first  to  start;  these  led 
the  procession  of  hunters,  headed  by  the  waiho71'  and  the  Seven  Chiefs. 
The  advance  to  the  herd  was  by  four  stages.  At  the  close  of  each 
stage  the  chiefs  and  the  director  sat  and  smoked.  This  slow  approach 
to  the  herd  was  for  definite  purposes:  First,  to  afford  opportunity  to 
make  prayer  offerings  of  smoke  to  Wakon/da,  to  secure  success;  sec 
ond,  to  check  haste  and  excitement  among  the  hunters;  third,  to 
insure  an  orderly  progress  toward  the  buffalo  so  that  each  person 
might  take  part  in  the  chase  and  obtain  his  share  of  the  food  supply. 
As  the  four  stops  partook  of  a  religious  character  they  could  not  be 
disregarded  with  impunity.  The  following  incident  occurred  during 
a  tribal  hunt  early  in  the  last  century:  At  the  third  halt  a  man  gal 
loped  up  to  where  the  waiho11'  and  the  chiefs  sat  smoking  and  spoke 
impatiently  of  the  slow  progress,  declaring  that  the  herd  was  moving 
and  might  escape  because  of  the  delay.  The  wathon'  said  quietly, 
"If  your  way  is  the  better,  follow  it!"  The  man  dashed  off,  followed 
by  the  hunters,  who  rushed  on  the  herd;  in  the  confusion  several  of 
the  hunters  were  injured  and  the  man  who  led  the  people  to  disobey 
the  rites  was  crippled  for  life  by  his  horse  falling  on  him.  This  dis- 

282  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

aster  was  regarded  as  a  supernatural  punishment  of  his  irreverent 
action  in  interrupting  the  prescribed  order  of  procedure. 

When  the  designated  place  for  the  attack  was  reached  the  two 
youths  paused  while  the  hunters  divided  into  two  parties.  One  was 
to  follow  the  youth  with  the  washa'be;  the  other  the  youth  with  the 
pipestem.  At  the  command  of  the  waihon>  the  two  young  men 
started  and  ran  at  full  speed  to  circle  the  entire  herd,  followed  by 
the  horsemen.  The  marshals  with  their  whips  held  the  riders  back 
and  in  order,  for  no  one  was  allowed  to  break  into  the  herd  or  advance 
beyond  the  washa'be  or  the  pipestem.  Whosoever  attempted  to  do  so 
or  who  failed  to  control  his  horse  and  keep  in  line  was  flogged,  the 
rawhide  thong  of  the  marshal  falling  on  the  bare  body  of  the  hunter 
with  all  the  force  of  the  strong  arm  of  the  officer.  These  officers 
were  the  only  men  to  wear  ornaments  on  the  hunts.  They  were 
decorated  with  the  highly  prized  insignia,  "  the  Crow."  All  of  the 
hunters  were  nude  except  for  moccasins  and  breechcloths.  When 
the  two  youths  bearing  the  washa'be  and  the  pipestem  met,  the 
washa'be  was  thrust  into  the  ground  and  the  pipestem  tied  to  it. 
This  was  the  signal  at  which  the  marshals  gave  the  word  of  com 
mand  to  charge  on  the  herd.  The  hunters  responded  with  shouts 
and  yells,  driving  the  bewildered  buffalo  in  confused  circles  toward 
the  camp.  When  the  two  youths  started  with  the  emblems  of 
authority  to  circle  the  herd  their  places  were  immediately  taken  by 
the  two  boys  who  had  been  selected  to  secure  the  tongues  and 
heart  for  the  sacred  feast.  As  soon  as  the  hunters  rushed  on 
the  herd  and  a  buffalo  was  seen  to  fall,  these  boys  pushed  in,  dodg 
ing  hi  and  out  among  the  animals  and  hunters,  for  they  must  take 
the  tongue  from  a  buffalo  before  it  had  been  touched  with  a  knife. 
They  carried  their  bows  unstrung  and  thrust  the  tongues  on  them. 
They  had  been  instructed  as  to  the  manner  in  which  the  tongues 
must  be  taken.  An  opening  was  made  in  the  throat  of  the  buffalo 
and  the  tongue  pulled  through  and  taken  out;  then  the  end  of  the 
tongue  was  bent  over  and  the  fold  cut.  It  was  thought  that  if  a  knife 
was  thrust  through  the  tongue  to  make  a  hole,  it  would  bring  bad 
luck.  Through  the  slit  thus  made  the  unstrung  bow  was  thrust.  Ten 
tongues  were  carried  on  one  bow.  When  the  twenty  tongues  and 
the  heart  were  secured,  the  boys  returned  with  these  articles  to 
the  Sacred  Tent  of  the  White  Buffalo  Hide.  Meanwhile  the  slaughter 
of  the  game  went  on.  The  Omaha  were  expert  hunters  and  many 
a  man  could  boast  of  sending  his  arrow  clear  through  a  buffalo  and 
wounding  a  second  one  beyond  with  the  same  missile.  (PI.  40.) 
At  the  conclusion  of  the  hunt  the  washa'be  and  the  pipestem  were 
brought  back  and  delivered  to  the  waihon' '.  The  meat  was  packed  on 
the  horses  and  taken  to  camp,  where  it  was  jerked  by  the  women.  On 
the  night  of  the  surround  the  feast  of  tongues  and  heart  was  held  in  the 





Tent  of  the  White  Buffalo  Hide.  The  Seven  Chiefs,  the  waihon> ', 
the  Washa'be  subgens  of  the  Hon'ga,  and  sometimes  a  few  of  the 
leading  men,  were  present.  All  wore  the  buffalo  robe  in  ceremonial 
fashion.  On  this  occasion,  though  the  subgens  prepared  the  food 
they  could  not  partake  of  it — the  buffalo  tongue  was  their  tabu. 
Their  position  was  that  of  host;  they  were  acting  for  the  White 
Buffalo,  of  which  they  were  the  keepers,  and  tribal  etiquette  de 
manded  that  at  a  feast  the  host  should  not  eat  any  of  the  food 
offered  his  guests.  Those  who  were  permitted  to  eat  at  this  feast 
took  their  food  in  the  crouching  attitude  observed  at  the  initial 
council  when  the  wathon'  was  authorized  and  the  route  to  be  taken 
on  the  hunt  determined.  Sometimes  the  boys  gathered  more  than 
the  twenty  tongues  required  and  if  the  supply  was  more  than  suf 
ficient  for  the  feast  they  received  a  portion,  as  did  other  persons. 
The  feast  being  a  sacred  one,  the  consecrated  food  was  prized,  as  it 
was  believed  to  bring  health  and  long  life.  A  share  was  sometimes 
begged  and  the  portion  received  was  divided  among  a  number  of 
people,  who  ate  of  it  in  the  hope  that  they  might  thereby  secure  to 
themselves  the  promised  benefits.  The  tongues  and  heart  were 
boiled;  only  the  chiefs  and  the  waihon'  were  present  during  the 

After  the  feast  the  Washa'beton  subgens  of  the  Hon'ga  sang  the 
ritual  of  the  White  Buffalo  Hide.  The  Hide  was  mounted  on  its 
frame  and  occupied  the  place  of  honor  in  the  back  of  the  tent  facing 
the  east,  while  the  chiefs  and  the  waihon'  muffled  in  their  robes  sat 
with  bowed  heads  and  smoked  the  peculiarly  shaped  pipe  belonging 
to  the  Hide. 


The  manner  in  which  the  ritual  of  the  White  Buffalo  Hide  was 
obtained,  as  well  as  that  of  the  Sacred  Pole,  has  been  recounted  (pp. 
247-250).  When  the  old  man  Wakon/monthin  (fig.  60)  had  completed 
the  rituals,  he  agreed  to  deliver  the  White  Buffalo  Hide  to  the  writers 
the  following  spring  or  summer.  He  desired  to  have  this  sacred 
object,  which  had  been  so  long  his  care,  with  him  during  one  more 
winter  and  until  "the  grass  should  grow  again."  He  kept  the  Hide 
in  a  tent  set  apart  for  its  use  that  was  pitched  near  his  little  cabin. 
He  used  to  go  and  sit  near  it  as  it  hung  on  a  pole  tied  up  as  a  bundle. 
There  he  would  muse  on  the  memory  of  the  days  when  it  presided 
over  the  hunt  and  its  ritual  was  sung  by  him  and  his  companions 
while  the  chiefs  smoked  its  sacred  pipe  and  the  people  feasted  on  the 
product  of  the  chase,  enjoying  peace  and  plenty.  It  was  hard  for 
the  old  man  to  adjust  himself  to  the  great  changes  that  had  taken 
place.  He  realized  that  his  years  were  few,  that  the  other  sacred 
articles  belonging  to  the  tribe  were  in  safe  keeping,  and  he  said:  "It 
is  right  that  the  Hide  should  go  and  be  with  the  Pole,  as  it  always  used 

284  THE    OMAHA   TKIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

to  be,  and  it  shall  go  there  when  the  grass  comes  again."  Pitying 
the  old  man,  the  writers  acceded  to  his  request,  although  a  large  sum 
of  money  had  been  given  him  for  the  Hide,  and  they  left  it  with  him. 
In  February,  1898,  came  the  tidings  that  while  the  old  man  was  at  the 
Agency  (whither  he  had  been  called  to  transact  some  business), 
thieves  had  broken  into  his  tent  and  had  stolen  the  White  Buffalo 
Hide.  The  grief  of  the  old  keeper  was  most  pathetic.  For  months 
every  morning  he  went  out  and  while  yet  the  morning  star  hung  in 
the  eastern  sky  he  wailed  as  for  the  dead.  His  sorrow  shortened  his 
days,  for  he  survived  only  a  season  or  two.  He  bitterly  lamented  not 
putting  the  Hide  where  no  irreverent  hands  could  reach  it — but  it 
was  too  late.  After  months  of  search  the  writers  traced  the  Hide, 
which  had  been  sold  to  a  man  in  Chicago,  and  learned  the  name  of 
the  thief.  Efforts  were  made  to  buy  back  the  stolen  relic  and  place 
it  where  the  old  keeper  had  wished  it  to  go,  beside  the  Sacred  Pole, 
but  the  purchaser  would  not  accede  to  any  plan  looking  to  that  end. 
The  Hide  is  now  deposited  with  the  Academy  of  Sciences,  Lincoln  Park, 

It  is  the  skin  of  a  small,  whitish0  buffalo,  with  hoofs  and  horns 
intact.  A  row  of  shell  disks  are  fastened  down  the  back.  (PI.  41.) 
The  exact  measurements  the  writers  have  been  unable  to  obtain. 
The  pipe  is  peculiar.  It  is  of  red  catlinite,  nearly  circular  in  shape, 
and  represents  the  hoof  of  the  buffalo.  (Fig.  64).  The  significance  of 
this  pipe  is  indicated  in  the  last  stanza  of  the  first  song  of  Part  II 
of  the  ritual  belonging  to  the  Hide.  (See  p.  290.) 

According  to  Monxe'wathe,  who  was  hereditarily  one  of  the  keepers 
of  the  Tent  of  the  Sacred  Hide,  there  were  formerly  two  Sacred  White 
Buffalo  Hides,  one  male,  the  other  female.  The  male  hide  was  buried 
with  its  keeper  many  years  ago,  so  that  it  was  the  female  that  was  in 
the  charge  of  Wakon/monthin.  The  same  authority  stated  that  on 
the  first  or  second  camp,  when  the  tribe  was  on  the  annual  buffalo 
hunt,  any  man  who  desired  to  make  a  present  to  the  Sacred  Tent,  so 
as  to  " count"  the  gifts,  could  do  so  in  the  following  manner:  He 
would  send  to  the  keeper  and  ask  him  to  "untie  the  buffalo."  The 
keeper  made  a  sort  of  frame  of  withes  and  spread  over  it  the  Hide,  so 
as  to  give  it  the  appearance  of  a  live  buffalo.  The  man  who  wished  to 
make  gifts,  took  them  and  with  a  little  girl  stood  before  the  tent  but 
at  a  distance  from  it.  Then  he  sent  his  presents  one  by  one  by  the 
hand  of  the  little  girl  to  the  keeper,  who  received  them.  When  he 
had  finished,  some  other  ambitious  man  would  advance  with  presents 
and  send  them  by  a  little  girl  in  the  same  manner.  These  presents 

a  The  albino  buffalo  was  sacred  among  all  the  close  cognates  of  the  Omaha  and  also  among  the  Dakota 
tribes.  Tallin  mentions  that  the  Mandan  gave  the  Blackfeet  the  value  of  eight  horses  for  a  white  buffalo 
skin,  which  they  placed  with  great  ceremony  in  their  medicine  lodge.  Personal  names  referring  to  the 
white  buffalo  occur  in  all  the  cognates.  (For  an  account  of  a  "  White  Buffalo  Ceremony''  among  the 
Dakota,  see  Peabody  Museum  Reports,  in,  260-275,  1880-86,  Cambridge,  1887.) 







could  all  be  "'counted"  toward  the  one  hundred  which  would  entitle 
a  man  to  entrance  into  the  Hon/hewachi  and  to  put  the  "mark  of 
honor"  on  his  daughter.  The  reason  the  presents  were  sent  one  at  a 

Upper  surface 

Under  surface 
FIG.  64.    1'ipe  belonging  to  White  Buffalo  Hide. 

time  was  to  give  the  man  the  ability  to  say,  "I  have  been  to  the 
Sacred  Tent  so  many  times."  If  he  had  sent  all  his  presents  at  once, 
they  would  have  counted  as  only  one  gift. 

286  THE    OMAHA    TRIBE  [ETII.  ANN.  27 

When  the  tribe  was  near  the  buffalo  herds  the  people  moved  abreast 
and  not  in  a  file.  As  the  Sacred  Tent  was  then  always  in  advance, 
when  the  Tent  stopped  and  the  buffalo  was  untied  all  the  people  had 
to  stop,  so  the  man  was  then  seen  by  all  the  tribe  as  he  made  his 
presents  to  the  Sacred  Hide. 


The  ritual  of  the  White  Buffalo  Hide  is  dramatic  in  character  but 
hardly  a  drama  in  form.  It  is  composed  of  nineteen  songs,  divided 
into  four  groups.  The  ritual  deals  with  the  gift  of  the  buffalo  to  man 
and  although  it  pictures  in  a  realistic  way  man's  efforts  to  secure  this 
gift  provided  for  him,  yet  a  supernatural  presence  more  or  less  per 
vades  the  ritual  from  its  opening  song  to  the  close.  The  belief  in  the 
supernatural  presence  was  emphasized  by  the  muffled  figures  of  the 
chiefs  and  the  waihon>  as  they  sat  with  bowed  heads  and  smoked  the 
peculiar  pipe  sacred  to  the  Hide  while  the  ritual  was  sung. 

The  argument  of  the  ritual  is  briefly  as  follows: 

Part  I.— The  Pipe 

(1)  The  pipe  "appears.''  (2)  Man  is  commanded  to  take  it,  that 
he  may  supplicate  Wakon/da. 

Part  II. —  The  Supplication 

(1)  Creation  recalled;  the  species  buffalo  created.  (2)  The  buf 
falo's  growth  and  its  perpetuation  are  provided  for.  (3)  The  buffaloes 
converge  toward  man.  (4)  They  come  from  every  direction  and 
cover  the  face  of  the  earth. 

Part  III.— Assurance  of  Wakon/da 

(1)  The  animals  are  to  grow  and  perpetuate  themselves  that  they 
may  benefit  man. 

Part  IV.— The  Hunt 


(1)  The  chiefs'  song;  refers  to  the  council  when  the  route  for  the 
hunt  was  decided  upon.  (2)  The  people  start  "toward  the  lowing 
herds."  (3)  The  herds  retreat  but  are  seen  at  a  distance.  (4)  Run 
ners  go  in  search  of  the  herds,  aided  by  the  birds.  (5)  Return  of  the 
runners;  joyful  murmurs  among  the  people  at  the  good  news.  (6) 
The  herald  tells  of  the  council's  decision  to  move  on  the  herd  and 
repeats  the  director's  admonition.  (7)  The  herald  proclaims  the  sig 
nal  for  the  start.  (8)  Depicts  the  field  of  the  hunt ;  the  men  seek  the 
animals  they  have  shot.  (9)  Refers  to  the  custom  of  cutting  up  the 
meai,.  (10)  The  song  of  plenty  and  teaching  of  economy.  (11)  Re- 



turn  to  camp  of  the  hunters,  when  the  boys  carry  the  meat  for  the 
sacred  feast.  (12)  The  plentifulness  of  the  game  causes  some  hunters 
to  camp  on  the  field. 

Each  song  was  repeated  four  times.  There  was  a  pause  after  each 
part,  for  all  ceremonials  had  to  be  performed  with  deliberation.  The 
singing  of  this  ritual  occupied  the  greater  part  of  the  night.  And 
the  same  rule  applied  to  these  songs  as  to  those  belonging  to  the  Sacred 
Pole.  An  error  made  it  necessary  to  begin  at  the  first  song  again,  for 
the  ritual  must  go  straight  through  without  any  break  in  the  order  of 
the  songs. 

It  is  a  question  with  the  writers  whether  the  ritual  as  here  given  is 
entire.  The  old  keeper-priest  gave  the  songs  as  a  wThole  and  the  few 
old  men  who  remembered  them  declared  them  correct  and  complete. 
Still,  there  may  be  unintentional  omissions.  To  sing  these  songs  into 
a  graphophone  was  very  different  for  the  old  man  from  giving 
them  in  their  order  during  the  ceremonial,  when  any  omission  would 
have  been  rectified  at  once  by  aid  of  the  xu'ka,  or  prompters.  The 
ritual  as  it  here  stands  is  at  least  fairly  complete,  and  if  any  songs  are 
lacking  they  would  seem  to  be  unimportant  to  the  general  outline. 

fart  I.—  The  Pipe 

(Sung  in  octaves) 







Tha   -    ni    -    ba   -   ha! 

Xu     -     be         be    -    be. 

Tha    ui-ba-ha      e      -      thou     be         tha  -  ni  -  ba  -  ha,          Don  -   ba? 

1.  Thani'baha 

2.  Xu'be  hehe 

3.  Thani'ba  ha,  e'thonbe 

4.  Thani'baha.     Don/ba 

Literal  translation 

1.  Thani'ba,  an  old   form  of   nini'ba,  pipe.     The  Osage  use  this 
form  in  daily  speech.     Ha,  vowel  prolongation  of  preceding  syllable. 

2.  Xu'be,  part  of  waxu'be,  an  object  set  apart  from  ordinary  usage 
and  made  holy;  some  consecrated  thing  that  is  used  as  a  medium  of 
communication  with  the  supernatural,  with  Wakon'da.     Hehe,  ehe,  I 
say;  the  added  h  is  for  euphony  in  singing. 

3.  Erihonbe,  appears,  comes  into  view,  of  its  own  volition,  from  a 
covered  place,  so  as  to  be  seen  by  all. 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

4.  Don'ba,  to  see;  the  word  as  here  used  is  a  part  of  the  phrase 
don'ba  iga  (donla,  to  see;  i,  plural  sign,  a  number  addressed;  ga, 
command).  The  phrase  is  equivalent  to  "Behold  ye!'' 

Free  translation 

The  holy  Pipe! 

Holy,  I  say. 

Now  it  appears  before  you, 

The  holy  Pipe,  behold  ye! 

In  this  song  the  pipe  is  not  addressed,  but  speaks  through  its  keeper- 
priest,  first  by  its  proper  name,  then  by  a  term  indicative  of  its  func 
tion;  it  is  then  asserted  that  it  "appears"  not  by  any  agency  of  man, 
but  by  its  own  power,  and.  commands  men  to  behold.  The  use  of  the 
word  ethonbe  gives  the  key  to  the  meaning  of  the  song  —  the  Pipe 
acts,  "appears;"  it  is  not  acted  upon  or  made  to  appear.  Although 
so  simple  and  concrete,  this  song  throws  more  light  on  the  native 
thought  and  belief  in  the  use  of  the  pipe  than  any  single  song  the 
writers  have  found.  The  pipe  is  here  represented  as  infused  with 
"movement,"  that  special  attribute  of  life,  and  "appears"  to  become 
the  bearer  of  man's  supplication  to  Wakon'da.  The  music  fittingly 
clothes  the  thought  expressed  in  the  words  and  makes  a  majestic 

opening  to  the  ritual. 


M.M.  J—  54  (Sung  in  octaves) 

_ 1— 1 1 1 1 i (— ; 1- 

*-- 0- • 0 •— 0 «— &- 

he  tho"    thon  -  ha     ha       he   tho"  -    be 

— 0 — 

•»  •*•        TT        •*• 

he  -    tho°  -    thon-  ba      ha 


-4  —  &  —  '  1" 

.•              .,_]-_! 

ni  -    ni  -  ba  ha 

he- tho"-thoa-ba- ha       he     tha 

Ha  e-.he      the         I  -  u    -     gthe         he- thon-thon  ba     ha     he    tho"     be 

H                                =r— 

?ff        -N 

-   ?=H 

.**         ,      .   -4         - 

—  Pv  — 

i  —  3 

Tha  -  ni     -    ni  -  ba      ha 


-  thon  -  ba       ha        he      tha 

1.  Niniba,  xuba,  he  lhoutho"ba  ha  hethonbe 

2.  Ha  ehe  the 

3.  lugthe,  he  thonthonba  ha  he  thonbe 

4.  Thaniniba  ha,  he  thonthonba  ha  he  tha 

5.  Ha  ehe  the 

6.  lugthe  he  thonthonba  ha,  he  thonbe 

7.  Thaniniba  ha  he'thonthonba  ha,  he  tha 


Literal  translation 

1.  Nini'ba,  pipe;  xiiba,  part  of  waxu'be,  holy  object.     The  change  of 
the  final  vowel  to  a  is  for  euphony  in  singing;  Jieihonihonba,  the  same  as 
e'thonbe — prefixing  of  h,  doubling  of  syllable  thon,  and  change  of  final 
vowel  to  a  are  for  euphony  and  to  bend  the  word  to  the  music,  and 
to  convey  the  sound  of  the  breath;  ha,  vowel  prolongation. 

2.  Ha,  modified  form  of  ho,  now,  at  this  time;  ehe,  I  say;  the,  this. 

3.  lugthe — i,  mouth;  ugthe,  to  insert. 

4.  He,  a  part  of  ehe,  I  say;  tha,  an  oratorical  sign  at  the  close  of  the 
sentence,  implying  something  of  a  command. 

Free  translation 

Holy  Pipe,  most  holy,  appears;  it  appears  before  you. 

Now  I  bid  ye 

Within  your  lips  take  this  holy  Pipe,  holy  Pipe. 
The  Pipe,  it  appears,  appears  before  you.  I  say. 

Now  I  bid  ye 

Within  your  lips  take  this  holy  Pipe,  holy  Pipe. 
The  Pipe  it  appears,  appears  before  you,  I  say. 

In  this  song  the  chiefs,  the  representatives  of  the  people,  are  bidden 
to  accept  the  holy  Pipe,  take  it  within  their  lips,  that  the  fragrant 
smoke  may  carry  upward  their  supplication.  This  song  precedes  the 
actual  smoking  of  the  Pipe.  The  music  is  interesting,  as  in  it  the 
motive  of  the  first  song  is  echoed,  but  it  is  treated  in  a  way  to  suggest 
the  movement  toward  the  Pipe,  which  in  the  first  song  stood  apart, 
clothed  with  mysterious  power.  It  now  comes  near  and  in  touch 
with  the  supplicants  and  lends  itself  to  service.  These  two  songs 
complement  each  other  and  show  both  dramatic  and  musical  form. 

Part  II. — The  Supplication 



( S u Dg  in  octaves ) 


Li«:_t±_?__»___. — i_l_JTj — J-T— t 

Ki  -  non  shko"  ha   I    ba  -  ha  -  don   ha    e  •  he    e  -  he 

rlast  phrase. 

thi-shton       a  -  don  pa       te   shkou  e    he  -    a  -    ha  <^i        gthi! 

1.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado"  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11,  ado"  Pa  te  shko",  ehe  a  ha 

2.  Kinonshko"  ha,  I  bahado11  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto'1  ado",  Inde  shko",  ehe  a  ha 

3.  Kinonshkoa  ha,  I  bahado"  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  ado",  I"shta  shko11,  ehe  a  ha 

4.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado11  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto"  ado",  He  te  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

5.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahadon  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  ado11,  Nitateshko",  ehe  a  ha 

6.  Kino^hkon  ha,  I  bahadou  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  adon,  Nonshki  shko",  ehe  a  ha 

7.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahadon  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishtoa  adou,  Nonka  shkou,  ehe  a  ha 

83993°—  27  ETH—  11  -  19 

290  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  2? 

8.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado"  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  adon,  Tea  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

9.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado"  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  ado",  Monge  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

10.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado"  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto"  adon,  Thiti  shko",  ehe  a  ha 

11.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado11  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishton  adon,  Zhuga  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

12.  Kinonshko"  ha,  I  bahado"  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishton  adon,  Nixa  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

13.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado11  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  ado",  £inde  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

14.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado11  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  ado",  Imbe  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

15.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado11  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto"  ado",  Zhinga  shkon,  ehe  a  ha 

16.  Kinonshkon  ha,  I  bahado11  ha,  ehe  ehe,  thishto11  adon,  £ite  shkon,  ehe  a  ha,  £i  gthe 

Literal  translation 

I.  Ki,   himself   or  itself;  nonshkon,   movement,   action — it   moves 
itself;  ha,  end  of  the  sentence;  /  bahadon,  conscious,  having  knowl 
edge;  ha,  behold;  ehe,  I  say;  thishto11,  it  is  done,  it  is  finished,  accom 
plished;  adon,  badon,  because;  pa  te,  nose  (te,  suffix,  standing);  shkon, 
moves ;  a  ha,  behold. 

2.  Inde',  face. 

3.  Inshta',  eyes. 

4.  lie,  horns;    te  (suffix),  standing. 

5.  Nita' ,  ears;  te,  standing. 

6.  Nonshki',  head. 

7.  Non'Jca,  back. 

8.  Tea',  arm  (buffalo  arm). 

9.  Mon'ge,  breast. 
10.  Thi'ti,Tibs. 

II.  Zhu'ga,  body. 

12.  Ni'xa,  stomach. 

13.  £in'de,  tail. 

14.  Im'be,  hind  quarters. 

15.  Zhin'ga,  little  one,  the  calf. 

16.  fite,  feet;  £i  gth e,  tracks,  footprints. 

In  this  song  the  creation  of  the  buffalo  is  depicted.  " Movement" 
is  synonymous  with  life.  The  living  embryo  moves  of  itself.  Ac 
cording  to  native  reasoning  it  moves  because  it  is  endowed  with 
consciousness.  As  breath  is  the  sign  of  life,  the  nose,  whence  the 
breath  issues,  is  the  first  to  "move."  Next  the  face  moves,  then 
the  eyes,  and  so  on  until  all  the  parts  of  the  body  "move"  because 
of  conscious  life.  Then  the  little  one,  the  calf,  is  born.  Finally  as 
the  feet  move  they  leave  on  the  earth  a  sign  of  life — "tracks."0 

The  music  is  recitative  and  in  a  minor  key.  The  emphasis  on 
the  keynote,  of  the  last  word,  Qigthe,  "tracks,"  indicates  the  finality 
of  the  creation. 

a  Observe  in  this  connection  the  peculiar  pipe  belonging  to  the  Hide  (fig.  04),  in  the  shape  of  a  track 
of  a  buffalo  hoof. 


(Recitative  in  octaves  ) 




i-  thi" 



Nu'ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi11!  he  he 
Nu'ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he 
Nu'ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thin!  he  he 


Zha'wa  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he  he 
Zha'wa  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he 
Zha'wa  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi11!  he  he 

Mi'ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he  he 
Mi'ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thin!  he 
Mi'ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he  he 


Zhin/ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he  he 
Zhin/ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he 
Zhin/ga  ha!  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he  he 


Texi  he  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he  he 
Texi  he  du'di  ha  i  thi"!  he 
Texi  he  du'di  ha  i  thin!  he  he 

Literal  translation 

1.  Nu'ga,  male,  bull.     The  word  is  here  used  in  a  generic  sense. 
Ha,  sign  showing  that  the  male  is  addressed;  du'di  ha,  nearer  this 
way;  i,  come;  thin,  sign  showing  that  the  object  spoken  of  is  moving; 
lie  he,  ehe,  I  say — the  Ji  is  added  for  euphony  in  singing. 

2.  Zha'wa,  large,  majestic,  imposing;  zha'wa  ~ha!,  O  majestic  one! 

3.  Mi'ga,  cow,  female.     The  word  is  here  generic  and  not  specific. 
Mi'ga  ha!,  O  mother  one! 

4.  Zhin'ga,  little — the  word  refers   to   the  young  of  the  buffalo; 
zhin'ga  ha!,  O  little  one! 

5.  Texi,  difficult  to  accomplish;  he,  ha,  the  sign  of  address.. 

This  song  is  closely  related  to  the  preceding.  In  the  first  stanza 
of  this  supplicating  song  the  newrborn  male  moving  yonder  is  ad 
dressed  and  asked  to  come  nearer  this  way — that  is,  toward  man, 
for  whose  benefit  he  was  created.  In  the  second  stanza  the  male 
has  grown,  has  reached  maturity,  and  presents  the  imposing  appear- 



[BTH.  ANN.  27 

ance  of  the  buffalo  bull.  He  is  asked  to  come  nearer  with  all  his 
powers,  that  man  may  be  helped  to  live.  In  the  third  stanza,  the 
female,  the  mother  with  all  her  potency,  is  addressed,  and  bidden 
to  come  nearer  toward  waiting  mankind  to  yield  him  food.  The 
fourth  stanza  addresses  the  calf,  with  its  promise  of  growth  and  of 
a  future  supply  of  food.  The  calf  is  bidden,  as  were  its  progenitors, 
to  come  nearer  and  give  food  to  man.  In  the  fifth  stanza  the  word 
texi  is  used  as  a  trope.  It  refers  to  the  great  power  of  Wakon'da 
as  shown  in  the  vast  herds  brought  about  by  the  multiplication  of 
single  pairs.  These  moving  herds  are  asked,  supplicated,  to  come 
nearer  to  man,  to  yield  him  food  and  life. 

The  music  is  the  five- tone  scale  of  F  major.  Although  divided 
into  three  phases  it  is  recitative  in  character  and  the  motive  is 
similar  to  the  preceding  song,  to  which  it  is  related. 

(Sung  in  octaves) 

i — Q~5n*'~o   M~ 


ton  -  a-i 

ba-doa    ha  -  i  -  bi 

du  -   da! 

1.  I  "to"  ai  badou  ha  ibi'hi  the,  zhonge  he  shenouha  ge  thon 

2.  I  nton  ai  badonha  ibi'hi  the,  'to"  ai  bado11  ha  ibi'hi  the 

3.  Yo,  yo,  duda 

Literal  translation 

1.  Inton,  now,  at  the  present  time;  ai  ladon,  they  coming;  Jia,  end 
of  sentence;  ibi'he,  they  are  coming;  the,  fha,  oratorical  close  of  sen 
tence;    zhonge,   uzhon'ge,    path    or    paths;    Tie,    vowel    prolongation; 
she'nonlia,  all;  ge,  many;  thon,  the. 

2.  '  Ton,  in'ton,  now. 

3.  Yo,  come  —  a  form  of  call;  duda,  this  way. 

In  this  supplicatory  song  the  "moving  herds"  spoken  of  in  the 
previous  song  are  now  drawing  near,  converging  by  many  paths 
toward  man.  Such  was  the  motive  of  their  birth,  to  benefit  man, 
to  respond  to  his  supplications  and  yield  their  life  when  he  reverently 
calls  them:  Yo,  yo,  duda!  —  "this  way,  hither  come!"  The  music 
is  in  the  five-tone  scale  of  F  sharp  minor.  The  call  is  on  the  key 
note  an  octave  and  a  fifth  below  the  opening  of  the  song,  which  is 
recitative  in  form,  and  follows  the  motive  of  the  two  preceding  songs, 
to  which  it  is  related. 


(Sung  in  octaves) 



Wi-ax-chi  ha       ha  -  i     bi  hi      the    wi-ax-chi  ha  ha       a  -  i    bi  hi    the 

Wi  -  ax-chi-ha  ha   -  i      bi  hi    the 

wi  -  ax  -  chi  -  ha     ha-  i  bi  hi 

ri-ax-chi     ha-    ha  -  i     bi  -  hi   the    wi  -  ax  -  chi      ha   -    i      bi     hi 

Wiaxchi  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Wiaxchi  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Wiaxchi  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Wiaxchi  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 

Nonba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Nonba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Nonba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Xonba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi 

Thabthin  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Thabthin  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Thabthi11  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Thabthin  ha,  hai  bi  'hi 

Duba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Duba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Duba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Duba  ha,  hai  bi  'hi 

Qaton  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
£atou  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Qaton  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Qaton  ha,  hai  bi  'hi 


Shape  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Shape  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Shape  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Shape  ha,  hai  bi  'hi 

294  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Pethonba  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Pethonba  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Pethonba  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Petho"ba  ha,  'i  bi  'hi 

Pethabthi n  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Pethabthi"  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Pethabthi'1  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Pethabthi'1  ha,  'i  bi  'hi 

Shonka  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Shonka  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Shonka  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Shonka  ha,  hai  bi  'hi 


Gthebon  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Gthebo11  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Gthebo"  ha,  hai  bi  'hi  the 
Gthebo"  ha,  hai  bi  'hi 


Ongeda  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Ongeda  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Ongeda  ha,  'i  bi  'hi  the 
Ongeda  ha,  'i  bi  'hi 

Literal  translation 

1.  Wiaxchi,  one;  lia  added  to  the  word  makes  it  to  mean  "in  one 
direction;"  hai,  ai,  they  are  coming — the  Ji  is  added  for  euphony  in 
singing ;  bi,  are ;  'hi,  a  part  of  ehe,  I  say — the  final  vowel  is  changed  for 
euphony;  the,  the  same  as  tha,  the  oratorical  end  of  the  sentence. 

2.  Nonba  ha,  two  directions. 

3.  Thabthin  ha,  three  directions. 

4.  Duba  ha,  four  directions. 

5.  @aton  ha,  five  directions. 

6.  Shape  ha,  six  directions. 

7.  Pethonbaha,  seven  directions;  'i,   contraction  of  ai,   the}-  are 

8.  Pethabthin  ha,  eight  directions. 

9.  Sh,onTca  ha,  nine  directions. 

10.  Gthebo71  ha,  ten  directions. 

11.  Ongeda  ha,  from  every  direction. 

In  this  song  the  ''moving  herds"  are  depicted  as  coming  wherever 
man  can  turn;  they  cover  the  face  of  the  earth;  they  approach  him 
from  every  direction.  On/geda  is  one  of  the  ni'kie  names  in  the 
Hon'ga  gens  and  was  taken  from  this  ritual.  The  old  priest  shook 
his  head  as  he  sang  this  stanza  and  in  a  broken  voice  he  repeated  the 

rLETfHER-LA   FLESCHE]  THE     QUEST     OF     FOOD  295 

word  on'geda,  meaning  the  buffalo  are  coming  from  everywhere,  and 
added1  "Not  now!  not  now!"  Wakon/da's  promises  seemed  to  him 
to  have  been  swept  away.  He  could  not  face  what  appeared  to  be 
a  fact  nor  could  he  understand  it. 

The  music  follows  the  five-tone  scale  of  E  major;  the  movement 
of  the  phrase  is  dignified  and  lends  itself  well  to  unison  singing. 

Part  I  I  I. ^Assurance  of 
(Sung  in  octaves) 


'ft  o         ~ p^j , ^^ *^  •>  ~~  [I 


Shade  he  shade  he  tha  ha 
Nuga  hane  'he  tha  ha 
Nuga  hane  'he  tha  ha 

Shade  he  shade  'he  tha  ha 
Zhawa  hane  'he  tha  ha 
Zhawa  hane  'he  tha  ha 


Shade  he  shade  he  tha  ha 
Miga  hane  'he  tha  ha 
Miga  hane  'he  tha  ha 


Shade  he  shade  he  tha  ha 
Zhinga  hane  'he  tha  ha 
Zhinga  hane  'he  tha  ha 

Shade  he  shade  he  tha  ha 
Texi  hane  'he  tha  ha 
Texi  hane  'he  tha  ha 

Literal  translation 

1.  Shade,  it  is  done — a  declaration  of  something  accomplished;  Tie, 
part  of  eTie,  I  say;  tha  ha,  oratorical  close  of  the  sentence,  calling  at 
tention  to  an  important  declaration;  nuga,  male;  hane,  you  have; 
'he,  ehe,  I  say. 

2.  Zhawa,  majestic  one. 

3.  Miga,  female,  mother  one. 

4.  Zhinga,  little  one,  calf. 

5.  Texi,  difficult  to  accomplish. 


[ETH.  ANN.  27 

In  this  song  Wakon'da  gives  assurance  that  man's  supplication  for 
the  animals  desired  for  his  food  has  been  heard.  In  it  the  form  of  the 
second  song  of  Part  II  is  repeated,  both  as  to  words  and  music,  with 
the  difference  that  the  act  supplicated  by  man  in  the  first  song  is  here 
stated  authoritatively  as  accomplished.  The  change  in  the  motive 
of  the  music  after  the  second  lie  in  the  first  measure  is  marked  and 
emphasizes  the  meaning  of  the  words  of  the  entire  song,  which  was 
explained  to  be  the  emphatic  assertion,  ehe,  "I  say,"  of  Wakon/da 
that  the  provision  for  the  perpetuation  of  the  buffalo  and  the  creation 
of  the  "moving  herds"  was  because  of  the  needs  of  man,  and  to  give 
him  food  in  abundance.  The  music  is  in  D  minor  and  is  recitative 
in  character. 

Part  IV.— The  Hunt 


M.  M.  J=58  (Sung  in  octaves) 


— M — • 1 — H 

—9 g 0 0 ^ 

mon  zlu>n  no"     tho      e      tho  -  e 

Wi  -   e  ton  thin    hi     tha  -  e        te        doa       a      -     me 

ton-  thi°   hi 

i  -  e        te         do" 

£:_*__« *— 

Be        ton  thin   hi       i    -  e        te    -   do° 

mon-zhon-hon      tho  -  e         tho     e 
-• ^ 



Wi     -     e       ton-thin 

hi  tha  e    te       dou     a    -    me 

tou  tbi>»    hi       i  -  e        te       do" 

1.  'Be  tonthin  hi  ie  te  don 

2.  'Be  'tonthin  hi  ie  te  don 

3.  Monzhon  hon'  thoe'  thoe  te  don 

4.  Wi  etonthiu  hithae  te  don  ame,  tonthin  hi  te  te  don 

5.  'Be  'tonthin  hi  ie  te  don 

6.  Monzhon  hon  'thoe'thoe  te  don 

7.  Wi  etonthiu  hithae  te  don  ame,  tonthin  hi  ie  te  don 


Literal  translation 

1.  'Be,  ebe,  who;  'tonihin,  etonthin,  first;  hi,  the  prolongation  of  the 
last  vowel  sound;  ie,  speak;  te,  must;  don,  a  terminal  word  or  syllable 
to  indicate  a  question. 

3.  Monzhon,  land  or  country;  Jion,  prolongation  of  vowel  sound; 
'tJioe,  uthue,  to  speak  of. 

4.  Wi,  I  (the  chiefs) ;  etonthin,  first ;  hithae,  I  speak — the  chiefs  must 
speak  with  one  mind  and  voice ;  ame,  they  say  (the  people) . 

The  above  song  refers  to  the  preliminary  council  held  by  the  Seven 
Chiefs  with  the  Washa'beto11  subgens  of  the  Hon/ga,  which  had  charge 
of  the  hunt,  at  which  the  route  to  be  taken  by  the  tribe  when  going 
after  the  buffalo  was  determined.  The  responsibility  thrown  on  this 
council  was  regarded  as  very  grave.  This  responsibility  is  indi 
cated  by  the  question  in  the  first  line:  "Who  must  be  the  first  to 
speak,"  speak  of  the  land  (the  route  to  be  taken)?  The  fourth  line 
gives  the  answer:  "I"  (the  chiefs),  "I  speak"  (the  chiefs  must 
speak  as  with  one  mind,  as  one  person) ;  ame,  they  say  (i.  e.  the 
people,  the  words  implying  the  authority  placed  on  the  chiefs  by 
the  people;  see  definition  of  ni'kagahi,  p.  136).  The  song  not  only 
refers  to  the  council  and  its  deliberations  in  reference  to  the  hunt 
but  it  voices  the  loyalty  of  the  people  to  their  chiefs  and  also  the 
recognition  by  the  chiefs  of  their  responsibility  for  the  welfare  of 
the  tribe.  While  the  words  refer  only  to  the  "land,"  the  route  to  be 
traveled  by  the  tribe,  the  music  fills  out  the  picture  of  the  purpose 
of  the  journey.  The  motive  is  similar  to  that  of  the  second  song  of 
Part  II,  that  deals  with  the  perpetuation  of  the  buffalo  and  the  mov 
ing  herds,  and  also  recalls  the  Song  of  Assurance  in  Part  III.  The 
song  is  divided  into  seven  phrases  and  is  in  the  five-tone  scale  of  D 

298  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

(Sung  in  octaves) 

Hu  -  to0  -   ma   -    di         Wa  -  pi      e  -   he     tha        Hu  -   to"  -    ma        di 


7 j-     -]— q q___4_i j J— -J m — 

IL* .M — rZ2IZ_I * WH. 

wa  -   pi    e-  he     tha      Hn  -  to"  -  ma      di       wa  -   pi      e  -  he  tha 

Hu  -  ton 

di       wa  -    pi      e  -  he      tha 

Hu-  to"     ma      di 

wa    -    pi    e  -  he       tha 



'di  wapi, 
'di  wapi, 
'di  wapi, 
'di  wapi, 
'di  wapi, 
'di  wapi, 
'di  wapi, 

ehe  tha 
ehe  tha 
ehe  tha 
ehe  tha 
ehe  tha 
ehe  tha 
ehe  tha 

Xthazhe  ama 
Xthazhe  ama 
Xthazhe  ama 
Xthazhe  ama 
Xthazhe  ama 
Xthazhe  ama 
Xthazhe  ama 

'di  wapi,  ehe  tha 
'di  wapi,  ehe  tha 
'di  wapi,  ehe  tha 
'di  wapi,  ehe  tha 
'di  wapi,  ehe  tha 
'di  wapi,  ehe  tha 
'di  wapi,  ehe  tha 

Literal  translation 

1.  Huton,  the  noise — of  the  animals,  as  the  lowing  of  the  herds; 
ma,  ama,  they;  'di,  a  part  of  the  word  edi,  there;  wapi,  to  bring  (bflie, 
I  go,  is  understood,   although  the  word  bthe  is  not  present  in  the 
song)—  "I  go  to  the  lowing  herds  to  bring  back  the  product  of  the 
hunt,"  is  the  meaning  of  the  line;  eh.e,  I  say;  tha,  the  oratorical  close 
of  the  sentence. 

2.  Xthazhe,  the  bellowing  of  the  bulls. 




The  music  of  this  song  is  spirited  and  suggests  movement,  not 
merely  the  moving  of  the  lowing  herds  but  the  orderly  progression  of 
the  people  going  over  the  prairies  to  bring  back  the  spoils  of  the  hunt 
ing  field.  It  is  in  the  five-tone  scale  of  F  minor,  and  is  divided  into 
seven  phrases. 

(Sung  in  octaves) 


**  '  '  •*   ':    ^~ •«» 

Shu  -  de  a  -  ki         a  -  ma        di  bthe         na  he  he       the    he       tha        shu  - 

de  a  -  ki          a  -    ma         di      bthe         na  he    lie        the       he        tha       shu  - 

0—1 — » — 

-*•  .      -jr  -»-.•*•  -JT  . 

de     a-  ki    a-  ma       di  bthe     na  he  he     the  he      tha          He         he  he  bthe-na 

L 1 —    — N- 

he       he         the      he         na         shu    -de         a  -  ki      a    -    ma     di  bthe  na 

he  he      the  he      tha  Shu  de      a  -  ki   a  -  ma      di  the       tha 

Shu'de  aki  ama  'di  bthe  na,  hehe  the  he  tha 
Shu'de  aki  ama  'di  bthe  na,  hehe  the  he  tha 
Shu'de  aki  ama  'di  bthe  na,  hehe  the  he  tha 
Hehe  he  bthe  na,  hehe  the  he  na 
Shu'de  aki  ama  'di  bthe  na,  hehe  the  he  tha 
Shu'de  aki  ama  'di  bthe  na,  hehe  the  he  tha 

Literal  translation 

Shu'de,  smoke;  ciki,  retreating;  am,a,  they;  'di,  a  part  of  edi,  there; 
bthe,  I  go;  na,  a  vocable  introduced  to  accommodate  the  music;  hehe, 
ehe,  I  say;  the  and  he,  vowel  prolongations;  tha,  the  oratorical  termina 
tion  of  the  sentence.  "Where  yonder  retreating  herds  enveloped  as 
in  smoke,  there  I  go." 

The  song  recounts  the  vicissitudes  of  the  hunt;  herds  sometimes 
scent  the  people  and  scatter;  they  are  seen  in  the  distance,  the  dust 
raised  by  their  trampling  rising  and  covering  them  as  if  enveloped 
in  smoke. 

The  music,  in  B  flat  major,  is  rather  rapid  and  partakes  of  the 
recitative  character. 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

fe(Sung  in  octaves) 
-J  -(.-!  ^ 

—  c~~i  —  ~?~'  —  •  — 

—  ^^  P-  —  -|  

gr-  *-^--  -F^=f 

Wa  -  zhin  -  ga       ca  / 


--Fr-—  —  ~- 

ga-  \vin   -  xa           a    - 

hi"       u-ne     the 
.  —  1 

JR___jJ  fv  ]  -J  -J  
I/TV  ff                     j   •         »    •           » 

—  r  —  ^=j  1     -H  c 

H  -^ 

a    -     hi 

u-ne      the      Ga  -  win   -     xa 

hiu  u-ne  the    he  Ga-win  -  xa 

a    -    hin  u-ne  the    he  Ga-wi°  -  xa 

Wazhinga  yabe  gawinxa 
Ahin  une  the  he  gawinxa 
Ahin  une  the  he  gawinxa 
Ahin  une  the  he  gawinxa 
Ahin  une  the  he  gawinxa 

Literal  translation 

Wazhin/ga,  bird ;  fabe,  black — the  word  is  used  as  a  trope  and  means 
the  crow;  gawinxe,  soaring;  ahin,  wings;  une,  to  search;  the,  to  go, 
or  goes;  lie,  vowel  prolongation. 

The  crow  follows  the  herds — "He  is  a  buffalo  hunter/'  the  old  man 
explained.  "He  watches  to  find  his  chance  for  carrion."  So,  when 
the  runners  go  out  to  search  for  herds,  they  scan  the  sky  to  catch 
sight  of  the  crow  and  other  birds  of  prey,  that  they  may  direct  their 
steps  in  the  direction  of  the  soaring  birds.  When  the  herds  are  found, 
credit  is  given  to  the  guiding  birds  who  thus  lend  their  assistance  to 
man  when  searching  for  the  game.  (Note  the  ritual  in  which  the 
crow  promises  to  help  man,  p.  311.) 

The  music,  in  A  major,  is  recitative  in  form,  but  resembles  the 
motive  of  the  buffalo  songs  already  referred  to  in  Part  II. 


(  Sung  in  octaves  ) 

E-  thon-be        a  -  ke   -    da   ha        ha  ha         §a  -  e        ti  -  the        a-  wa-the 


'  N1         ^*     ~ 

P—  !- 

f—  I— 




^^  •?_!_ 


—  m  m~ 

.      -                     j—  ; 


_  H  ^  —  -j- 

--(_       1     ..J.  

E-  thon-be 


a  -  ke 

-     da    ha 

ha  ha 


-  e       ti  -  the 

-»      t  ' 
a-  wa-the 




—*m^m  - 

-  —  • 



1  •                   !  

+i  • 

r  ff  T 



•     j 



^        ••      I 

J        J 

•      J       J  • 

jtf      ^  * 

*      •           *              *       • 

0               -      • 



E-  thon-be 

a  -  ke 

-  da   ha 

ha   ha 


e        ti     the 





--  [ 

G  t 

r  —  ^T~T 

f-±—  ~- 

—  !•  —  i- 


—  ^^—.  — 

—  h- 

^—  ^s*^— 

M  • 


—  «  m  «—  - 

m       * 

i  —  J  -_± 

—  m  m~-- 


1™          1 

E-  thon-be        a  -  ke    -   da   ha       ha   ha      §a  -   e        ti    the       a-wa-the 

-ft *-: f- 

Q ~~4T~ff~  '_ 

E-  thon-be       a  -  ke    -   da  ha      ha  ha     §a  -  e        ti    tLe       a-wa-the 

Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  fae  tithe  awa  the 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  cae  tithe  awa  the 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  cae  tithe  awa  the 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  yae  tithe  awa  the 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  cae  tithe  awa  the 

Ethoube  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  wezhnon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  wezhnon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  wezhnon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  wezhnon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  wezhnon  tithe  awathe 

Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  gthongthon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  gthongthon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  gthongthon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  gthongthon  tithe  awathe 
Ethonbe  ake  da  ha  ha  ha,  gthongthon  tithe  awathe 

Literal  translation 

1.  Ethonbe,  appear;  ake,  aJci,  I  return;  e,  vowel  prolonged;  da,  do11, 
when;  ha,  end  of   sentence;  ha  Jia,  vowel  prolonged;  cae,  noise,  as 
made  by  voices;  tithe,  suddenly;  awathe,  I  make  them. 

2.  Wezhnon,  grateful. 

3.  Gthongthon,  murmur,  as  many  people  talking  in  low  tones. 



[ETII.  ANN.  27 

The  runner  speaks  in  the  song,  telling  that  when  he  appears  on 
the  eminence  near  the  camp  and  signals  his  tidings,  then  suddenly 
the  sound  of  many  voices  is  heard,  the  people  talking  of  the  good 
news  he  brings.  The  second  stanza  speaks  of  the  gratitude  voiced 
by  the  people  over  the  word  he  brings  to  them.  The  third  stanza 
refers  to  the  restraint  that  is  put  on  the  camp — no  loud  talking 
permitted,  nor  any  noise,  for  fear  of  frightening  the  herd. 

The  music  is  in  E  major  and  is  recitative  and  subdued  in  character. 
Even  the  song  is  repressed  in  conformity  with  the  scene  to  which  it 
is  related. 



(Sung  in  octaves) 

Wa  -  ni    -     ta      a  -  uoa      ge     e        ta      a  -  ma     ha 

E -  di       shne 


te  e  -  a  thon-  ka    a    tha  ha 

E  -  di      shue    te  e  -  a  thon-  ka   a    tha  ha 


Wa-ton     tho 


tha     ha 

E  -   di       shne      te  e  -  a 

thon  -  ka    a     tha   ha 

E  -  di       shne      te  e  -  a  thon  -  ka     a     tha  ha 

Wa  -  ni 


a    -    noQ    -    ye 


a    -    ma      ha 

tha      ha 

Wanita  a/nonc;e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a 

tha  ha 
Wato"  'thohe  tha  ha;  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

wani  ta  a/nonc;e  e  ta  ama  ha  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

Wanita  a'ncPye  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a 

tha  ha 
Qabe  uthohe  tha  ha;  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

wani'ta  a/nonce  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  txe  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 


Wani'ta  a'non<;e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a 

tha  ha 
Gthezhe  uthohe  tha  ha;  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  ehne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

wani'ta  a'no^e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

Wani/ta  a'no^e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a 

tha  ha 
Gani  uthohe  tha  ha;  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

wani'ta  a'no^e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

Wamvta  a'non£e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a 

tha  ha 
Gashpe  uthuhe  tha  ha;  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

wani'ta  a'no^e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 


Wani'ta  a  nonfe  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a 

tha  ha 
Texi  uthohe  tha  ha;  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

wani'ta  a  Xnon9e  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

Wani'ta  a'nonfe  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a 

tha  ha 
fani  uthuhe  tha  ha;  edi  shne  te  ea  tho"ka  a  tha  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

wani'ta  a'nonfe  e  ta  ama  ha,  edi  shne  te  ea  thonka  a  tha  ha 

Literal  translation 

1.  Wani'ta,  animals,  game;  anonce,  surround,  inclose;   e,  vowel  pro 
longation;  ta,  will,  intention;  ama,  they;  ha,  the  sign  of  the  end  of 
the  sentence;  edi,  there;  shne,  you  go;  te,  must;  ea  thonka,  say  they, 
who  are  sitting  (refers  to  council  in  the  White  Buffalo  Tent) ;  a,  vowel 
prolongation;  ha,  modification  of  tha,  the  oratorical  close  of  a  sentence; 
waton,  possessions;  Jthohe,  part  of  uthohe,  a  collection  of  sacred  articles 
(refers  particularly  to  all  the  materials  used  in  making  the  washa'be, 
the  staff  or  badge  of  the  office  of  the  leader  of  the  hunt). 

2.  Qabe,  black  (used  as  a  trope,  meaning  the  crow,  one  of  the  birds 
used  in  making  the  washa'be). 

3.  Gthezhe,  spotted  or  brown  eagle  (used  in  making  the  washa'be). 

4.  Gani,  the  golden  eagle  (the  feathers  are  tied  on  the  washa'be). 

5.  Gashpe,  broken  (a  trope,  meaning  the  shell  disk  fastened  on  the 
pipestem.     These  disks  were  presented  to  the  White  Buffalo  Hide 
and  fastened  in  a  row  down  the  back). 

6.  Texi,  difficult  to  perform  (the  word  refers  to  the  labor  involved 
in  securing  the  materials  used  in  making  the  washa'be). 

7.  (Jani,  all — that  is,  not  only  the  "possessions,"  but  what  they 
in  their  collective  form  stand  for  officially. 

304  THE    OMAHA  TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

In  this  song  of  the  herald  the  people  are  notified  that  the  council 
has  ordered  the  hunters  to  make  ready  to  surround  the  herd.  They 
are  to  follow  the  washa'be,  and  to  remember  all  that  it  signifies  and 
the  help  given  by  the  birds — the  crow,  the  eagle- — and  the  elements, 
represented  by  the  shell.  All  these  things,  difficult  to  bring  together,  are 
now  united  to  lead  the  people  toward  the  herd  and  to  help  them  in  secur 
ing  food  wherewith  to  sustain  the  life  of  the  people,  both  young  and  old. 

The  music,  in  E  flat  major,  is  recitative. 

(Sung  in  octaves) 

Ti-thon   ga-win    ki-  hi   bthe-e     £ka  ha     a    ha     a  -  ma    he-  he    the-  he      tha 

Ti-tho"  ga-wi"    ki-  hi  bthe-e     jka  ha     a    ha       a-ma      lie-he     the-  he     tha 

: : 

Ga  -  thin       de      ho  ho     o  ho    a-ma   he  he  the  he  tha       Ti-thoD  ga-wi"    ki   hi 


bthe    e       te      e       £ka     a         a    ha        a  -  ma     he    he       the  he       tha 

Titho"  gawi11'  ki  hi  bthe  e  yka  ha  a  ha  ama  hehe  the  he  tha 
Titho"  gawi"'  ki  hi  bthe  e  fka  ha  a  ha  ama  hehe  the  he  tha 
Gathin  'deho'  ho  o  ho  ama  hehe  the  he  tha 
Tithon  gawin'  ki  hi  bthe  e  te  e  ^ka  a  a  ha  ama  hehe  the  he  tha 

Literal  translation 

\.  Tithon,  village,  camp;  gaunn,  part  of  gaivinxe,  to  circle,  as  a  bird 
soars;  K,  when;  hi,  vowel  prolongation;  bthe,  I  go;  e,  vowel  pro 
longation;  fkdj  may;  ha  a  ha,  vowel  prolongation;  ama,  they;  hehe, 
ehe,  I  say;  e  he,  vowel  prolongation;  tha,  oratorical  close  of  the 

3.  Gathin,  yonder  walking;  'deho,  edea,  what  does  he  say?  (the  final 
vowel  changed) ;  ho  o  ho,  vowel  prolongation. 

4.  Te,  must. 

In  this  song  the  figure  of  speech,  which  likens  the  herald  going 
around  the  camp  to  the  soaring  and  circling  of  a  bird,  recalls  the  song 
of  the  runner  when  the  birds  by  their  soaring  guided  to  the  game. 
The  herald  left  the  Sacred  Tent  of  the  White  Buffalo  Hide  and 
passed  around  the  tribal  circle  by  the  left;  the  completion  of  his 
round  by  his  return  to  the  Sacred  Tent  was  the  signal  that  the  tribe 
had  been  notified  and  the  people  were  to  start.  The  song  refers  to  the 
questioning  of  the  people  as  he  walked  giving  the  order  of  the  leader. 

The  music,  in  G  minor,  is  recitative. 




(Sung  in  octaves)      Harmonized  by  John  C.  Fillmore  for  interpretation  on  the  piano 

Spirited,  with  marked  rhythm 


* 0       I       0—f         j       -0—  T f- 

Wi"a-u    the    thin  ga      thu    hi-thin  he         Wina-u    the     thin  ga     thu    hi  thin 


i_n — • 1 — 

==1*=iHi-^=^--^3=^EEE^^E  - — j~ 

he          he  \Vi"a-u       the         i        wa      mi          hi- thiu      he  Wina -u 

1=1^=1=^ -I"  —  .=— =-[— - - 

«        *— '-  «        9-^—^-' 

~^~'~'~  -0-       -& 

the-  thin  ga  thu  hi  thin     lie      he       wina-u     the   thin  ga   thu  hi  thin     he      he 

^          W 

*       *^-   ^  ^ 


~0 1 

-O. t 

rr  f   f  r  p   fr 

Win  au  the  thin  gathu  hi  thin  he 
Win  au  the  thin  gathu  hi  thin  he  he 
Wia  au  the  i  wami  hi  thin  he 
Win  au  the  thi"  gathu  hi  thin  he  he 
Win  au  the  thin  gathu  hi  thin  he 


Wia  au  the  thin  gathu  hi  thin  he 
Win  au  the  thin  gathu  hi  thin  he  he 
Win  au  the  takiki"  hi  thin  he 
Win  au  the  thiQ  gathu  hi  thin  he 
Win  au  the  thin  gathu  hi  thin  he 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 20 


[ETH.  ANN.  27 

Win  au  the  ke  gathu  hi  ke  he 
Win  au  the  ke  gathu  hi  ke  he  he 
Win  au  the  xiatha  hi  ke  he 
Win  au  the  ke  gathu  hi  ke  he  he 
Win  au  the  ke  gathu  hi  ke  he 

Literal  translation 

1.  Win,  one;  au,  I  wounded;  the,  there;  thin,  moving;  gathu,  yon 
der,  in  a  definite  place;  hi,  has  reached  or  arrived  at;  thin,  moving; 
Tie,  ha,  the  end  of  the  sentence;  i,  mouth;  wanii,  blood  or  bleeding. 

2.  Tdkikin,  staggering. 

3.-  Ke,  lying;  xiatha,  fallen. 

In  this  song,  the  wounded,  bleeding,  staggering,  and  fallen  game 
is  referred  to. 

The  music,  in  C  major,  is  vigorous,  virile,  and  suggestive  of  action. 


(Sung  in  octaves) 

ln  thi"  won-  thon  ga 

in      gthon  hon    5!  -  i  -  hi  inthi"  won-thon  ga 

i  -  hi    in  thin  won-thon  ga       ha 

•«*     *^ 

ln  thiQ  won-thon  ga          in     gthoQ    hoD  £i  -   i  -  hi 


I"  thin  wonthon  ga  ingthon  hon  giihi  in  thi"  wonthon  ga  ha 

in  thin  won-thon  ga      ha 

In  thin  wonthon  ga  ingthon  hon  yiihi  in  thin  wonthon  ga  ha 
In  thin  wonthon  ga  ingthon  hon  fiihi  in  thin  wonthon  ga  ha 

In  thin  bahon  ga  ingthon  hon  pa  thon  hon  in  thin  bahon  ga  ha 
I"  thin  bahon  ga  ingthon  ho"  pa  thon  hon  in  thin  bahon  ga  ha 
In  thin  bahon  ga  ingthon  hon  pa  thon  hou  in  thin  bahon  ga  ha 

In  thin  wonthon  ga  ingthon  hon  finde  he  in  thin  wonthon  ga  ha 
In  thiu  wonthon  ga  ingthon  hon  finde  he  in  thin  wo^ho1?  ga  ha 
In  thin  wonthon  ga  ingthon  hon  ?inde  he  in  thin  wonthon  ga  ha 

Literal  translation 

1.  In,  mine;  thin,  you;  wonthon,  hold;  ga,  the  sign  of  command; 
ingthon,  eldest  son;  hon,  prolongation  of  the  vowel  sound;  piihi,  pihi, 
ankle  (the  middle  i  is  to  prolong  the  vowel). 

2.  Bahon,  to  push  up,  to  boost;  pa,  head;  thon,  the  roundish  shape 
of  the  head ;  h,on,  vowel  prolongation. 

3.  @inde,  tail;  he,  vowel  prolongation. 




The  customs  relating  to  cutting  up  the  game  have  been  given 
(p.  271).  The  first  stanza  of  this  song  refers  to  the  hunter  direct 
ing  his  assistants  during  the  butchering,  placing  the  animal  on  its 
back;  the  second  stanza,  putting  the  head  so  as  to  hold  the  body  in 
position;  the  third  speaks  of  the  tail,  used  to  lift  the  carcase  in  order 
that  the  task  may  be  completed. 

The  music,  in  E  flat,  is  recitative  rather  than  melodic  in  character. 


(Sung  in  octaves) 

Te  -  a  mi  ke    tha     te   -   a-a-a  Te-a  -   a-a      mi-kebetha  thia    he      he 

Tea  miketha,  tea  a,  tea  a,  mikehetha  thin  he 
Literal  translation 

Tea,  buffalo  arm,  the  fore  quarter;  a,  vowel  prolongation;  miketha 
mikiheihe,  to  put  on  the  hip ;  thin,  moving  (equivalent  in  this  instance 
to  walking);  lie,  end  of  sentence. 

Teaching  economy :  The  fore  quarter,  being  tough,  was  the  least 
desirable  part  of  the  animal  for  food,  and  wTas  frequently  thrown 
away.  When  the  hunter  took  it,  he  did  not  carry  it  with  the  rest  of 
his  load,  but  on  his  hip,  so  he  could  drop  it  if  it  became  too  burden 
some.  The  meaning  of  the  song  could  hardly  be  gathered  from  the 
words.  It  was  explained  that  the  song  indicated  a  plentiful  supply 
of  meat;  but  the  good  hunter,  unwilling  that  anything  should  be 
lost,  took  the  fore  quarter,  the  most  undesirable  piece,  and,  being 
heavily  laden,  he  had  to  carry  it  on  his  hip.  The  song,  the  old  priest 
said,  was  one  to  instill  the  teaching  that  even  when  there  is  abun 
dance  there  should  never  be  wastefulness. 

The  music,  in  C  major,  is  recitative. 



(Sung  in  octaves) 

ki       a-ma-hawa    -    no"  xthi™    a  -  hagthe  a  -  ma-  ha  do"  wa  -  iu 

gthe          a    -    ma  ha          She  a  ki    -    a  -  ma-ha       ki   -    a  -  ma-ha. 

She  aki  ama,  haki  ama  ha  Wain  'ki  ama  ha,  wanonxthin  ahagthe  ama  ha  do",  wai1 

'gthe  ama  ha 
She  aki  ama,  haki  ama  ha 

308  THE    OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETIJ.  ANN.  27 

Literal  translation 

She,  yonder;  aki.  a  point  on  the  return  (to  camp) ;  ama,  one  mov 
ing;  Tiaki,  aki,  returning  to  camp;  ha,  vowel  prolongation;  wain,  car 
rying  a  burden;  'Id,  aid,  returning;  wanonxthin,  hurrying;  ahagthe, 
agthe,  going  home;  'gthe,  agthe,  going  home. 

The  hunters  hasten  back  to  camp,  and,  as  they  go,  see  one  hurrying 
with  a  burden.  This  is  one  of  the  boys,  who  is  carrying  the  tongues 
and  heart  for  the  sacred  feast.  All  are  going  home. 

The  music  is  recitative. 

(Sung  in  octaves) 

he-e     he     bi-moQ  ha  ha       Bi  zi     e  -  ha       bi  -  inoa  Bi-zi  a-ha        bi-iuou 


Texi  ohe  bimon/  aha,  a. 
Bimon/  aha  a  o  tha 
He  ehe  bimon/  ha  ha 
Bizi  a  ha  ha  bimon/ 
Bizi  aha  ha  bimon/ 


Texi  ehe  bimon/  aha,  a 
Bimon/  aha  a  e  tha 
He  ehe  bimon/  ha  ha 
Shude  eha  bimo"' 
Shude  eha  birno"' 


Texi  ehe  bimon/  aha,  a 
Bimon/  aha  a  e  tha 
He  ehe  bimon/  ha  ha 
Zia  ha  ha  bimon/ 
Zia  ha  ha  ha  naxthi" 

Literal  translation 

1.  Texi,  difficult;  ehe,  I  say;  bimon/ ,  rubbing  (bi,  to  press;  mon,  rub 
bing,  as  betwreen  the  hands) ;  aha,  ehe,  I  say  (the  vowel  modified  in 
singing) ;  a,  ha,  tha,  syllables  indicating  prolonged  effort;  bizi — bi,  part 
of  bimon/,  to  rub,  zi,  yellow  (the  word  describes  the  appearance  of  the 
wood  when  it  begins  to  glow,  and  is  used  only  to  indicate  the  act  of 
making  fire  by  rubbing) . 

2.  Shude,  smoke. 

3.  Zia,  yellow  glow;  naxthin,  flames 

FLETCHER-LA   FLESrilE]  THE     QUEST     OF     FOOD  309 

This  song  refers  to  edi'nethe,  building  a  fire  on  the  hunting  iield  by 
hunters  who  have  killed  so  much  game  they  can  not  get  through  in 
time  to  carry  all  the  meat  back  to  camp.  The  words  mark  the  prog 
ress  of  kindling  fire  by  friction,  twirling  one  stick  in  another  stick 
prepared  to  receive  it,  by  rubbing  between  the  hands — first  the  glow, 
then  the  smoke,  and  at  last  the  yellow  flames.  The  rhythm  of  the 
rubbing  can  be  brought  out  in  the  singing  of  the  song,  as  well  as  the 
efforts  used  in  kindling  the  fire.  While  this  song  is  realistic,  yet 
the  making  of  fire  by  friction  was  always  an  act  more  or  less  fraught 
with  religious  sentiment  and  it  probably  was  esteemed  a  fitting  close 
to  the  ritual  sacred  to  the  buffalo. 

In  hunting  the  buffalo  no  songs  invoking  magical  help  were  sung 
or  decoy  calls  used  or  disguises  worn,  success  being  believed  to  come 
through  the  strict  observance  of  the  ritual  by  the  leader,  the  obedience 
of  the  tribe  to  the  prescribed  rites,  and  the  skill  of  the  individual  hunter. 
From  the  detailed  description  of  the  Omaha  tribal  hunt  here  given, 
as  it  was  told  the  writers  by  those  who  had  taken  part  in  it  both  as 
officials  and  as  ordinary  hunters,  it  is  evident  that  the  Omaha's  hunt 
ing  was  not  a  sporting  adventure  but  a  task  undertaken  with  solemnity 
and  with  a  recognition  of  the  control  of  all  life  by  Wakon/da.  The 
Indian's  attitude  of  mind  when  slaying  animals  for  food  was  foreign 
to  that  of  the  white  race  with  which  he  came  into  contact  and  perhaps 
no  one  thing  has  led  to  greater  misunderstandings  between  the  races 
than  the  slaughter  of  game.  The  bewilderment  of  the  Indian  result 
ing  from  the  destruction  of  the  buffalo  will  probably  never  be  fully 
appreciated.  His  social  and  religious  customs,  the  outgrowth  of  cen 
turies,  were  destroyed  almost  as  with  a  single  blow.  The  past  may 
have  witnessed  similar  tragedies  but  of  them  we  have  no  record. 


An  old  man,  a  leader  among  the  Ponca,  who  died  some  fifteen  years 
ago,  related  the  following: 

When  I  was  a  young  man  I  used  to  see  a  very  old  man  perform  this  ceremony  and 
recite  the  ritual  of  the  Feast  of  the  Soldiers.  This  feast  took  place  when  many  buffalo 
had  been  killed,  when  food  was  plenty,  and  everyone  was  happy.  The  hu'thuga  was 
made  complete  and  a  large  tent  pitched,  where  were  gathered  all  those  who  were 
entitled  to  be  present.  When  the  feast  was  ready,  a  bowl  containing  soup  and  bits  of 
meat  was  placed  near  the  door  of  the  lodge  and  the  leader  said,  as  the  bowl  was  set 
down,  "  It  is  done ! "  When  the  leader  said  this  the  old  man  went  to  the  bowl  and  took 
it  up  and  held  it  as  he  sat  and  began  to  recite  the  ritual.  The  ritual  is  in  four  parts. 
There  are  two  names  mentioned  in  the  ritual.  The  name  mentioned  after  the  first 
part  was  A/thinwashe.  This  name  belonged  to  the  Wazha'zhe  gens.  The  name  men 
tioned  after  the  second  j>art  I  can  not  recall;  it  belonged  to  the  Makon  gens.  When 
the  first  name  was  mentioned  the  old  man  made  a  depression  in  the  ground  near  the 
edge  of  the  fire  with  the  knuckle  of  his  first  finger  and  into  this  depression  he  dropped 
four  drops  from  the  tip  of  the  little  spoon  which  was  in  the  bowl.  The  offering  was  to 
the  spirit  of  this  man.  At  the  end  of  the  second  part,  when  he  mentioned  the  name 
of  the  second  man,  he  again  dropped  four  drops  from  the  tip  of  the  spoon.  At  the  end 

310  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  AXX.  27 

of  the  third  part,  which  referred  to  the  wolf,  he  dropped  four  more  drops  and  at  the 
close  of  the  fourth  part,  in  which  the  crow  is  spoken  of,  he  dropped  four  drops,  making 
four  times  four — sixteen  drops  in  all. 

After  this  ceremony  was  completed  the  servant  approached  the  one  who  presided 
and  fed  him  from  the  bowl.  He  took  the  food  deliberately  and  solemnly.  He  was 
fed  all  that  was  in  the  bowl.  When  he  finished,  those  present  could  begin  to  eat. 
Each  person  who  had  his  bowl  could  take  only  four  spoonfuls  and  must  then  pass  his 
bowl  to  his  next  neighbor,  who  took  four  spoonfuls  and  passed  the  bowl  on.  In  this 
manner  the  bowl  was  kept  moving  until  the  feast  was  consumed. 

The  following  is  the  ritual  recited  on  this  occasion.  Of  line  2  the 
old  man  said:  "The  teaching  implied  in  these  words  is  that  thus  the 
chiefs  had  spoken,  and  there  is  never  any  variation  or  change  in  these 
words."  And  of  line  9  he  said:  ''It  is  said  that  the  club  as  the  badge 
or  mark  of  the  chief  or  leader  was  older  than  the  pipe."  The  red 
clubs  mentioned  in  the  ritual  represented  the  chiefs,  the  black  clubs 
the  officers  of  the  hunt.  Concerning  the* dropping  of  the  broth  he 
remarked:  ''The  chiefs,  although  long  dead,  are  still  living  and  still 
exercise  a  care  over  the  people  and  seek  to  promote  their  welfare; 
so  we  make  the  offering  of  food,  the  support  of  our  life,  in  recognition 
of  them  as  still  our  chiefs  and  caring  for  us." 


1.  He!  Ni'kagahi  e?ka 

2.  Esha  bi  a  bado" 

3.  He!  Ni'kagahi  ecka 

4.  Ni'tonga  athite  uthishi  ke  thon 

5.  He!  ni  uwitha  ati  thasthi"  badon 

6.  He!  Ni'ka?ahi  ecka 


7.  E  no"  athonka  bi  abado0  ecka 

8.  He!  Ni'kagahi 

9.  He!  wetin  duba  fa'be  tha  bado° 

10.  Duba  zhide  tha  badon 

11.  <>be  the  te  thon 

12.  Thuda  the  thinge  xti  abthin  ta  athin  he  e?ha  biabado"  ni'kawaea 

13.  Shingazhinga  wiwita  xti  thinke  shti  wan 

14.  Thuda  agitha  monzhi  ta  mike  e*ha  bi  abado"  ecka 


15.  He!  ugaxe  thinge  xti  ni'kawaca 

16.  Wani'ta  to°ga  duba  utha  agthi  badon 

17.  Edi  ainonzhi  bado" 

18.  Ni'kawaca  ecka 

19.  Wani'ta  shukato"  win 

20.  Ushte'  thinge  xti  gaxa  badon 

21.  U'zhawa  xti  agtha  badon 

22.  Wai^gi  uzhonge  ke  washin  unonbubude  xti  monthin  bado" 

23.  Shon/tonga  nuga  thathi^he  thon 

24.  £inde  ke  gaathiko" 

25.  Kigthi/honhon  xti  monbthin  ta  athin  he  edi  e?he  abado" 



26.  He!  ni'kawa9a  ecka 

27.  Ka'xe  nuga  thathi^he  thon 

28.  Ugaxe  thinge  xti  edi  uwehe  ta  athinhe  eshe  abado" 

29.  Xu'ka  edi  uwehe  ta  athinhe  eshe  abado" 

30.  He!  nikashiga  aho!  ethabi  wathe  egon  monthin/  ahon 

31.  Baxu  win  thactube  ego"  ithe  ado" 

32.  Gryte  zhi1^  egon  monthin  ki 

33.  Baxu  ke  ibiu  xti  ethunbe  gthi  abado" 

34.  He!  nikashiga  aho!  etha  bi  wathe  egon  ethunbe  gthia  don 

35.  Baxu  ke  thon  ethunbe  gthi  ki 

36.  Wani'ta  shuka  to"  win  te  wiki  the  xti  moniyatha  ethin  abadon 

37.  Xu'ka  edi  uwihe  abadon 

38.  NiOcawaca  ecka 

Free  translation 


1.  O!  Chiefs,  ecka  [ecka,  I  desire] 

2.  Thus  you  have  spoken,  it  is  said 

3.  O!  Chiefs,  ecka 

4.  The  great  water  that  lay  impossible  to  cross 

•  5.  0!  you  crossed,  nevertheless,  and  sat  upon  the  banks 

6.  O!  Chiefs,  ecka 


7.  Thus  have  you  ever  spoken,  it  is  said,  ecka 

8.  O!  Chiefs 

9.  Four  clubs  you  have  blackened 

10.  Four  you  have  reddened 

11.  Those  that  are  black 

12.  Verily,  my  people,  without  fear  I  shall  carry,  you  have  said,  so  it  is  said 

13.  Not  even  my  own  child 

14.  Shall  stay  my  hand,  you  have  said,  so  it  is  said,  ecka 


15.  Without  overconfidence,  my  people 

16.  Word  has  been  brought  back  that  great  animals  have  been  found 

17.  Near  to  them  they  (the  people;  approached,  and  stood 

18.  My  people,  er;ka 

19.  A  great  herd  of  animals 

20.  Verily  they  (the  people;  shall  cause  none  of  them  to  remain 

21.  Verily  they  (the  people;  shall  go  toward  home  rejoicing 

22.  Along  a  trail  strewn  with  fat. 

23.  I,  the  male  gray  wolf,  shall  move 

24.  With  tail  blown  to  one  side 

25.  I  shall  gallop  along  the  trail,  you  have  said,  so  it  ia  said 


26.  O!  my  people,  e?ka 

27.  I,  the  male  crow 

28.  Verily,  without  overconfidence  I  shall  join  (in  giving  help;,  you  have  said,  BO  it 

is  said 

29.  As  instructor  I  shall  join,  you  have  said,  so  it  is  said 

30.  The  people,  astonished  at  your  coming,  cry  O-ho! 

31.  Beyond  the  ridge  you  disappear  as  though  piercing  the  hill 

32.  After  a  little  you  return 

33.  Sweeping  closely  the  hill 

34.  The  people,  astonished  at  your  coming,  cry  O-ho! 

35.  As  you  appear  on  the  ridge 

36.  Verily,  one  herd  of  animals  I  have  killed  for  you,  you  have  said,  so  it  is  said 

37.  Thus  you  have  instructed,  it  ia  said 

38.  My  people,  ecka 

312  THE   OMAHA  TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


The  streams  and  lakes  accessible  to  the  Omaha  abounded  in  fish, 
which  were  much  liked  as  food.  Men,  women,  and  children  engaged 
in  the  pursuit  of  catching  fish;  while  greatly  enjoyed,  it  could  hardly 
be  called  sport,  for  it  was  engaged  in  for  a  very  practical  purpose. 
The  names  of  fish  known  to  the  tribe  are  given  on  page  106. 

So  far  as  can  be  learned  there  were  no  fishhooks  of  native  manufac 
ture,  but  small  fish  were  caught  by  means  of  a  device  called  takon'Jion- 
iha  pni'de,mside  as  follows :  Three  or  four  strings  having  bait  tied  at  one 
end  were  fastened  by  the  other  end,  about  6  inches  apart,  to  a  slender 
but  tough  stick;  a  cord  of  twisted  hair  tied  to  the  middle  of  this  stick 
was  attached  to  a  stout  pole.  This  was  thrown  into  the  stream,  and 
often  as  many  fish  as  there  were  lines  were  caught  and  landed.  This 
style  of  fishing  was  called  Jmga'pi,  a  name  now  applied  to  fishing  with 
hook  and  line.  As  the  name  implies,  the  bait  usually  consisted  of  bits 
of  meat  (hu'tazhu). 

Fish  were  sometimes  shot  or  speared.  The  former  method  of 
taking  them  was  termed  huki'de  (hu,  "fish;"  Td'de,  "to  shoot"); 
spearing  fish  was  termed  liuzha'Tie.  Another  mode  of  fishing  was  by 
means  of  a  kind  of  movable  weir  of  willows  tied  together,  taken  into 
deep  water  by  a  company  of  men  or  women,  some  holding  the  ends 
upright  and  others  the  center;  all  would  walk  up  the  stream  pushing 
this  fence  of  willows  before  them  and  so  drive  the  fish  into  shallow 
water  where  they  were  shot,  speared,  or  caught  by  the  hand.  The 
willow  weir  was  called  hu'bigide,  and  this  manner  of  fishing,  hu'kontha. 



Kinship  terms  played  an  important  part  in  all  social  intercourse. 
They  not  only  designated  the  actual  relationship  between  persons 
but  the  custom  of  never  addressing  anyone — man,  woman,  or  child — 
by  his  personal  name  or  of  using  a  person's  name^when  speaking 
of  him,  if  he  chanced  to  be  present,  made  the  use  of  kinship  terms 
a  practical  necessity.  These  terms  were  also  applied  to  what 
may  be  called  potential  relationships,  that  is,  relationships  that 
would  be  established  through  marriage  made  in  accordance  with 
tribal  custom.  If  the  wife  had  sisters,  these  women  held  a  poten 
tial  relationship  to  her  husband,  as  they  might  become  his  wives 
either  during  his  wife's  lifetime  or  at  her  death.  According  to 
tribal  usage  a  man  had  the  potential  right  to  marry  his  wife's  sisters 
and  also  her  nieces  and  her  aunts.  On  the  other  hand,  a  man 
was  under  obligation  to  marry  his  brother's  widow.  Should  he  fail 
in  this  respect,  he  was  liable  to  suffer  in  person  or  property,  either 
by  the  act  of  the  woman  herself  or  by  that  of  her  near  of  kin,  in  order 
to  force  him  to  recognize  or  make  good  her  rights.  Because  of  these 
potential  relationships  the  children  of  the  wife  called  all  those  whom 
their  father  might  marry  "mother"  and  all  their  father's  brothers 
"father."  Moreover,  all  the  children  of  such  relationships  called 
one  another  "brother"  and  "sister."  There  was  no  cousinship.  All 
the  brothers  of  the  mother  were  called  "uncle"  by  her  children,  and 
the  father's  sisters  were  called  "aunt." 

The  regulation  of  marriage  implied  in  these  potential  relationships 
was  explained  to  be  for  the  purpose  of  ''holding  the  family  intact,  for 
should  the  children  be  bereft  of  their  own  mother  they  would  come 
under  the  care  of  her  close  kindred  and  not  fall  into 'the  hands  of  a 
stranger."  This  interpretation  seems  borne  out  by  the  approval 
still  expressed  when  a  woman  weds  the  brother  of  her  late  husband 
or  a  man  marries  the  sister  of  his  dead  wife  or  the  widow  of  his  brother; 
even  when  there  is  a  marked  disparity  in  the  ages  of  the  parties, 
it  is  said,  ''The  marriage  does  not  make  a  break  in  the  family 
and  it  shows  respect  for  the  dead."  The  interweaving  of  actual  and 
potential  relationships  greatly  extended  the  family  connection  and 
supplied  the  proper  terms  for  familiar  and  ceremonial  address.  Men 
tion  is  made  of  the  custom  of  speaking  of  the  women  of  the  tribe  as 


314  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

•' 'sisters"  (p.  474).  At  meetings  of  the  Council  of  Seven  duty  to  the 
tribe  was  ceremonially  recognized  by  a  formal  mention  of  kinship 
terms  between  the  members.  Th'e  same  practice  obtained  in  several 
of  the  societies  within  the  tribe. 

In  the  Omaha  language  the  term  for  relationship,  or  the  accent  on 
the  word,  was  varied  according  to  the  sex  of  the  speaker  and  accord 
ing  to  his  or  her  relation  to  the  person  spoken  of,  as  (1)  when  a  father 
or  mother  was  spoken  to  by  a  son,  (2)  when  addressed  by  a  daughter, 
(3)  when  spoken  of  by  a  male  relative,  (4)  when  spoken  of  by  a 
female  relative,  and  (5)  when  spoken  of  by  a  person  not  a  relative. 

The  following  table  sets  forth  these  distinctions:0 

a  The  first-born  male  child  was  called  Ingthon;  the  first-born  female,  Wihi.  Both  these  names  are  old 
and  untranslatable  terms;  they  were  strictly  "  baby  names  "  and  were  '•  thrown  away  "  at  the  ceremony 
of  Turning  the  Child  and  bestowal  of  the  ni'kie  name  (pp.  117,  136).  There  were  no  other  special  "  baby 
names"  in  use  among  the  Omaha. 










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[ETH.  ANN.  27 

The  proper  modes  of  address  were  difficult  to  master  by  one  not 
born  to  their  usage  and  mistakes  were  regarded  as  impolite  as  they 
.were  embarrassing;  therefore  children  were  carefully  trained  in  these 
forms.  This  custom  of  address  facilitated  story  telling,  for  the  nar 
rative  was  not  broken  by  such  expressions  as  "he  says"  or  "she  says" 
or  by  explaining  the  relation  "he"  or  "she"  bore  to  the  hero  of  the 
tale,  as  the  form  or  accent  of  the  terms  of  relationship  used  made  this 



Friendship  played  an  important  part  in  the  lives  of  both  men  and 
women  and  the  intimacies  begun  in  childhood  often  extended 

FIG.  05.     Playing  on  the  flute. 

throughout  life.  The  friendships  among  the  women  had  seemingly 
fewer  dramatic  incidents  than  those  between  young  men,  the  lives  of 
the  former  being  less  exposed  to  the  stirring  incidents  of  the  warpath 
and  the  chase.  Nevertheless,  instances  have  come  to  the  writers' 
knowledge  of  enduring  friendships  between  women  under  circum 
stances  that  would  be  apt  to  test  the  strength  of  affection  and  kind 
ness.  Friends  were  apt  to  be  confidants  and  few  secrets  appear  to 
have  been  withheld  from  one's  intimate  companion.  A  man  would 
cleave  to  his  friend,  follow  him  in  the  face  of  danger,  and  if  necessary 
protect  him  with  his  life.  To  be  false  to  a  friend  in  either  love  or  war 
marked  such  an  individual  as  without  honor  and  especially  to  be 




shunned.  Young  men  befriended  one  another  in  minor  matters  as  well 
as  in  the  graver  affairs  of  life.  A  young  man  would  be  assisted  by  his 
friends  to  deck  himself.  Two  friends  would  paint  each  other's  faces, 
fasten  each  other's  ornaments,  and  at  the  close  of  the  toilet  they 
were  resplendent  in  their  finery.  Not  only  would  a  friend  help  to 
make  his  friend  look  well  but  he  would  act  as  a  go-between  and 
secure  an  interview  for  his  friend  with  the  chosen  girl.  Such  meet 
ings  generally  took  place  at  the  spring,  in  the  early  morning. 
Girls  never  went  alone  to  get  water  for  the  family;  two  sisters,  an 
aunt  and  niece,  or  else  two  intimate  friends  and  neighbors  started  off 
together.  The  young  men  haunted  these  places  ;  they  lay  hidden  in 
the  grass  or  among  the  bushes,  so  that  one  could  suddenly  seize  a 
favorable  opportunity  to  speak  with  the  girl  of  his  fancy.  These 
encounters  were  sometimes  accidental  but  generally  the  lover  made 
his  presence  known  to  the  girl  by  his  love  song  played  on  the  flute 
(fig.  65).  Music  was  composed  especially  for  this  flute,  as  songs  that 
were  sung  were  not  played  on  the  instrument,  its  compass  being 
too  limited.  The  following  is  a  favorite  flute  song: 


As  custom  did  not  permit  young  men  to  visit  young  women  in 
their  homes,  the  opportunities  for  the  young  people  openly  to  become 
acquainted  were  limited  to  gatherings  for  tribal  ceremonies  and  during 
the  confusion  incident  to  breaking  up  or  making  camp  when  the  tribe 
was  on  the  annual  hunt.  The  stream  and  spring  were  at  all  times 
the  favorite  trysting  places.  Men  sometimes  composed  their  own 
love  songs  and  by  the  song  the  girl  not  only  identified  her  lover  but 
became  aware  of  his  nearness.  There  are  pathetic  as  well  as  humor 
ous  stories  told  which  hinge  on  these  individual  love  songs.  It  has 
been  stated  that  a  true  love  song,  one  that  had  for  its  purpose  the 
honorable  wooing  of  a  maid,  did  not  exist  among  peoples  living  in 
the  stage  of  development  represented  by  the  native  tribes  of  Amer 
ica.  This  statement  does  not  hold  good  for  the  Omaha  and 
their  close  cognates.  The  following  songs  belong  to  the  love-song 
class.  The  words  are  few;  soft,  breathing  vocables  float  the  voice 
throughout  most  of  the  melody.  Where  there  are  words,  they  gener 
ally  refer  to  the  morning  but  most  of  the  songs  have  only  vocables. 
These  songs  are  called  bife'waan.  The  music  expresses  the  purpose 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

of  the  song.  The  songs  are  all  major  and  generally  joyous  in  feeling, 
although  there  are  others  that  express  considerable  subjective  emo 
tion.  Sometimes  in  singing  songs  of  the  latter  class,  of  which  no.  2 
is  an  example,  the  hand  is  waved  at  a  little  distance  from  the  mouth 
to  produce  a  vibrating  effect. 

BI£E'  WAAN  No.  1 

Light  and  smoothly  joyous 

No  words — vocables  Ha  he  he  ha,  etc. 

r^^  ^a^-T—.H-  2  — i 

WAAN  NO.  2 

—  ^  --  1  --  1_*!  —  i  -  ^  -- 

No  words — vocables  Ha-hc  lie  ha  he,  etc. 


F3C*g3=   ^=qCT^  ==1-37—     L.g=r=^l & - 1 

Ffe^a-g^=aLg=HT=^7  i  "TnF^ ^^l-•'-^:=^^:     —  ^  i  I  i  T^r     ,     . 

l  •£+t—  -S-*-»-J--— *T-^-i!?— "-  —•-&— *-&— *^-J-j — 1-^ 

— H— 




There  is  another  class  of  songs  that  have  been  mistaken  by  some 
writers  for  love  songs.  These  songs  refer  to  flirtatious  and  amorous 
adventures.  They  were  not  sung  in  the  presence  of  women  but  by 
men  when  by  themselves.  The  existence  of  this  class  of  songs  was 




withheld  from  the  knowledge  of  women  of  the  better  class.  These 
songs  were  called  wau'waan,  "woman  songs."  They  were  composed 
by  men  yet  they  always  represent  the  woman  as  speaking,  betraying 
her  fondness  for  some  one  and  thus  violating  social  etiquette  by 
speaking  of  her  personal  liking  for  a  young  man.  They  sometimes 
refer  to  uncongeniality  in  the  marriage  relation;  the  unhappy  wife 
begs  her  lover  to  fly  with  her  to  another  tribe.  In  most  of  these 
songs  the  act  of  the  man  is  made  to  originate  with  the  woman. 
The  following  belongs  to  the  wau'waan  class  of  songs.  It  reveals 
something  of  social  customs  and  also  fairly  well  portrays  the  char 
acter  of  this  class  of  songs,  of  which  few  if  any  are  what  might  be 
termed  ribald. 


Flowingly  (Aria  as  sung) 

-9 0 — i — 0- 



Da  -  dun  na      i  -  ba-hun  bi-a-  ke       the      the         Da  -  dua-  na  i    -    ba- 
-f t^s-,— — ^ — "    -    ,    f 0—,—f f-<-0+ 

r—0 • 1 • f— i— 0— —0 *-L 

— IB B 1 & 5 1 1 — 2 m — 

3^13=!=  E*=3EEEEfe 

Harmonized  by  John  C.  Fillmore  for  interpretation  on  the  piano 

lui"      bi-a  -  ke       the        the Han-a   de  u-tha-gtha  a-thuu  e-zlia-zhe 

:ri?^   n .  \—^-A — ^ 

Da  -  du"  na    i  -  ba  -  hu*.     bi-a 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 21 



[ETII.  ANN.  27 

^-r-^»=?VV  ,"| 

ke     the      the...        .    hi  !      ha         ha 

dan     e  -  he     ni  -  ke        the 

•*-       -*-       -*• 

mi-  ke  the  the !     the  !          E-zha  zhe  we-btha-de  the  the !     tha !      hi 

-tJT—  •!     _[- 

I*  "-*•        •*-" 


Dadu"  na  ibahu"  biakithe,  the 

Dadun  na  ibahuu  biakithe,  the 

Honadi  uthagthaa  thun  izhazhe  wibthade  the. tha 

Dadun  na  ibahun  biakithe  the;  hi 

Ebeinte  the!  abedan  ehe  mike  the;  the 

Waguntha  ma  ehe  mike  the;  the 

Izhazhe  wibthade  the,  the  hi 

Literal  translation 

Dadun,  an  exclamation  denoting  anticipated  trouble  from  fear  of 
consequences;  na,  a  part  of  ena,  a  woman's  exclamation  indicating 
surprise;  ibahun,  known;  biakiihe,  I  have  made  myself;  the,  vocable; 
honadi,  last  night;  uthagthaa,  you  sang;  thun,  a  part  of  tethundi,  when; 
izhazhe,  name;  wibthade,  I  spoke  your;  the,  feminine  ending  of  a 
sentence;  the,  vocable;  ebeinte,  who  is  it?;  abedan,  when  they  said; 
ehe  mike,  I  said,  sitting;  Waguntha,  her  lover's  name;  ma,  a  suffix  indi- 


eating  that  he  was  moving,  passing  along.  The  word  the  (the  next 
to  the  last  word  in  each  line)  is  the  feminine  termination  of  a  sen 
tence;  the  final  the  is  a  vocable  which  serves  as  a  sort  of  refrain; 
hi,  a  punctuation  word  equivalent  to  a  period. 

Free  translation 

Dadun  na — I  have  made  myself  known,  the! 

Dadun  na — I  have  made  myself  known,  the! 
Last  night  when  you  sang  I  uttered  your  name,  the! 

Dadun  na — I  have  made  myself  known,  the!  hi. 
"Who  is  it  that  sings?"  the!  they  said,  and  I  sitting  there,  the! 

"Waguntha  is  passing,"  I  said,  the! 

It  was  your  name  I  uttered,  the!  hi. 

As  with  all  Indian  songs,  both  as  to  words  and  music,  there  is  no 
setting  or  introduction.  Nothing  is  said  of  the  girl  or  her  surround 
ings.  The  stanza  opens  with  her  lament  addressed  to  her  lover,  who, 
having  won  her  affection,  has  so  possessed  her  thoughts  that  when 
he  sang  without  the  tent  and  the  family  asked  "  Who  is  it  that  sings? " 
the  girl  unconsciously  lets  drop  his  name.  All  eyes  are  turned  on 
her  and  then  she  realizes  what  she  has  done.  When  next  day  she 
meets  her  lover  she  tells  him  in  distress  of  her  betrayal  of  their  secret. 
The  young  man  responds  by  making  this  song,  in  which  he  betrays 
the  girl's  confidence  to  his  companions  and  scores  his  conquest. 

The  structure  of  the  song  reveals  a  groping  after  metrical  form. 
The  choice  of  words  and  their  arrangement  are  not  colloquial  and  indi 
cate  a  desire  to  express  the  story  effectively  and  not  in  a  common 
place  way.  The  use  of  the  vocable  the  at  the  end  of  each  musical 
phrase  is  of  interest,  and  its  introduction  into  the  fifth  line  after  ebeinte, 
"Who  is  it  that  sings?,"  has  the  effect  of  a  sigh — it  adds  to  the  dramatic 
expression  and  gives  a  touch  of  pathos  to  the  narrative. 

The  opening  lines  present  at  once  the  theme  of  the  song,  therein 
resembling  the  chorus  of  a  ballad,  which  always  sets  forth  the  central 
thought  or  feeling  around  which  the  circumstances  of  the  story 
cluster.  In  this  Omaha  ballad  there  is  no  elaboration  in  literary 
form  and  the  music  is  equally  simple;  but  we  find  here  indications 
that  the  Omaha  had  begun  more  or  less  consciously  to  desire  that  the 
rhythm  of  emotions  should  have  an  answering  expression  in  measured 
language.  It  is  not  improbable  that  the  nascent  poetic  form  of  this 
class  of  songs  may  account  in  a  measure  for  their  popularity.  While 
all  other  songs  depended  largely  on  vocables  for  carrying  the  voice,  the 
"woman  songs"  were  well  supplied  with  words  that  always  told  a  story. 

Men  and  women  were  socially  on  a  moral  equality.  Tribal  custom 
favored  chastity  and  those  who  practised  it  stood  higher  in  public 
esteem  than  those  who  did  not.  In  the  case  of  a  woman  who  in 
her  youth  committed  indiscretions  and  later  led  a  moral  life,  while 
her  former  acts  were  remembered,  they  were  not  held  against  her 

324  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

or  her  husband  or  children.  Both  men  and  women  were  allowed  to 
to  win  back  by  subsequent  good  conduct  their  lost  position. 

When  a  young  man  asked  the  hand  of  a  girl  in  marriage  he  observed 
a  certain  conventional  form  of  address.  The  words  were  not  always 
the  same  but  the  aspect  put  on  the  proposal  was  practically  uniform. 
The  young  man  extolled  the  girl  and  her  relations ;  he  did  not  vaunt 
himself;  he  pleaded  his  constancy  and  asked,  rather  than  demanded, 
that  she  become  his  wife,  craving  it  as  a  boon.  There  were  signals 
other  than  songs  or  flute  calls  to  let  a  girl  know  her  lover  was  near. 
A  tent  pole  might  fall  or  some  other  noise  be  made  which  she  would 
know  how  to  interpret  and  so  be  able  to  meet  the  young  man  if  a 
meeting  had  been  agreed  on.  Marriage  was  usually  by  elopement. 
The  claims  on  a  girl  by  men  holding  a  potential  right  to  marry  her 
almost  necessitated  her  escaping  secretly  if  she  would  exercise  her 
free  choice  in  the  matter  of  a  husband.  When  a  young  couple  during 
their  courtship  determined  on  taking  the  final  step  of  marriage,  they 
agreed  to  meet  some  evening.  The  youth  generally  rode  to  a  place 
near  the  lodge  of  the  girl  and  gave  the  proper  signal ;  she  stepped  out 
and  they  galloped  oft"  to  one  of  his  relations.  In  a  day  or  two  the 
young  man  took  the  girl  to  his  father's  lodge,  where,  if  she  was  re 
ceived  as  his  wife,  all  claims  by  other  men  as  to  marriage  were  can 
celed  by  this  act,  but  gifts  had  to  be  made  to  the  girl's  parents  and 
shared  with  her  relatives,  in  order  to  ratify  the  marriage.  To  bring 
this  about,  the  father  of  the  young  man  made  a  feast  and  invited  the 
relatives  of  the  girl.  When  this  invitation  was  accepted  and  the 
presents  received,  the  marriage  was  considered  as  settled  beyond 
all  dispute.  In  the  course  of  a  few  months  the  father  of  the  bride 
generally  presented  his  daughter  with  return  gifts  about  equal  in 
value  to  those  he  had  received  and  the  young  husband  was  expected 
to  work  for  a  year  or  two  for  his  father-in-law.  This  latter  claim 
was  frequently  rigidly  exacted  and  the  father-in-law  was  sometimes 
a  tyrant  over  his  son-in-law's  affairs. 

The  following  story  is  told  of  a  man  who  was  highly  respected, 
industrious,  and  thrifty.  He  never  married;  why,  no  one  knew,  for 
he  was  an  attractive  man.  He  had  a  brother  who  for  some  reason 
was  always  unsuccessful  in  his  wooing  and  as  he  greatly  desired  to 
marry  a  certain  girl  the  bachelor  brother  was  moved  to  say:  "I  will 
help  you  to  get  the  girl  you  want."  To  the  surprise  of  everyone,  the 
girl  included,  the  bachelor  was  seen  at  the  spring,  where  he  wooed  the 
girl  and  planned  their  elopement.  At  the  appointed  hour  he  signaled 
her,  she  came  to  him,  and  together  they  rode  to  the  lodge  of  one  of 
his  near  relatives  where  the  brother  was  in  waiting.  The  bachelor 
explained  to  the  girl  that  he  had  been  wooing  her  for  his  brother,  and 
the  girl,  having  compromised  herself  by  running  away  with  her  sup- 





posed  lover,  concluded  to  accept  the  transfer;  the  marriage  so  strangely 
entered  on  turned  out  pleasantly  for  both  parties. 

The  marriage  ceremony  as  described  above  depended  for  its 
completion  on  the  recognition  of  the  girl  as  the  son's  wife  bv  the 
father  of  the  young  man,  but  should  this  formal  consent  be  denied 
by  either  parent,  while  this  act  interrupted  the  festivity,  it  did  not 
invalidate  the  marriage  or  have  any  effect  on  the  issue  of  such  mar 
riage;  it  merely  made  the  lives  of  the  young  couple  difficult  and 
uncomfortable.  There  was  no  tribal  usage  or  tradition  which  made 
it  possible  to  deprive  a  child  of  its  rights  to  or  through  its  father; 
according  to  tribal  custom  all  a  man's  children  had  equal  claim  on 
him  and  he  was  responsible  for  all  his  progeny. 

Cohabitation  constituted  marriage  whether  the  relation  was  of 
long  or  short  duration,  always  provided  that  the  woman  was  not  the 
wife  of  another  man,  in  which  case  the  relation  was  a  social  and 
punishable  offense.  Prostitution,  as  practised  in  a  white  com 
munity,  did  not  exist  in  the  tribe. 

It  was  obligatory  that  a  man  and  wife  should  belong  to  different 
gentes  and  not  be  of  close  blood  relation  through  their  mothers.  It 
was  counted  an  honor  to  a  man  to  marry  a  woman  who  had  tattooed 
on  her  the  "mark  of  honor"  (fig.  105).  Marriage  with  a  man  either  on 
or  about  to  go  on  the  warpath  was  not  permitted;  such  a  union  was 
looked  on  as  a  defiance  of  natural  law  that  would  bring  disaster  on 
the  people  for  the  reason,  it  was  explained,  that  "War  means  the 
destruction  of  life,  marriage  its  perpetuation."  The  same  law  was 
thought  to  be  operative  when  a  hunter  failed  to  kill  game;  it  would 
be  said:  "His  wife  may  be  giving  birth  to  a  child." 

In  the  family  the  father  was  recognized  as  having  the  highest 
authority  over  all  the  members,  although  in  most  matters  pertaining 
to  the  welfare  of  the  children  the  mother  exercised  almost  equal 
authority.  In  the  event  of  the  death  of  the  mother  and  father,  pro 
vided  the  father  had  no  brothers,  the  uncle  (mother's  brother)  had 
full  control  of  the  children  and  no  relative  of  the  father  could  dis 
pute  the  right  of  the  uncle  to  the  children.  During  the  lifetime  of 
the  parents  the  uncle  was  as  alert  as  their  father  to  defend  the 
children  or  to  avenge  a  wrong  done  them.  The  children  always 
regarded  their  uncle  as  their  friend,  ever  ready  to  help  them. 

When  a  marriage  was  arranged  by  a  girl's  parents,  with  or  without 
her  consent,  it  was  apt  to  be  with  a  man  in  mature  life  and  estab 
lished  position.  The  would-be  husband  made  large  presents  to  the 
girl's  parents  and  relatives.  When  the  time  came  for  the  marriage  the 
girl  was  well  dressed,  mounted  on  a  pony,  and  accompanied  by  four 
old  men  she  was  taken  to  the  lodge  of  her  husband.  Young  men 
derided  this  kind  of  marriage,  saying,  uAn  old  man  can  not  win  a 
girl;  he  can  win  only  her  parents."  (PL  42.) 

326  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

Polygamy  existed,  although  it  was  not  the  rule;  in  the  majority 
of  families  there  was  but  one  wife.  A  man  rarely  had  more  than 
two  wives  and  these  were  generally  sisters  or  aunt  and  niece.  These 
complex  families  were  usually  harmonious  and  sometimes  there  seemed 
to  be  little  difference  in  the  feeling  of  the  children  toward  the  two 
women  who  were  wives  to  their  father.  No  special  privileges  were 
accorded  to  the  first  wife  over  the  others.  Polygamy  was  practised 
more  among  the  prominent  men  than  among  any  other  class.  On 
the  former  devolved  the  public  duty  of  entertaining  guests  from 
within  and  without  the  tribe.  This  duty  brought 'a  great  deal  of  labor 
on  the  household.  There  was  no  serving  class  to  render  help  to  man 
or  woman,  so  that  the  wife  could  not  hire  anyone  to  assist  her  in  any 
extra  labor  or  in  her  daily  work  or  her  varied  avocations,  as  in  the 
dressing  and  tanning  of  skins,  the  making  of  tent  covers  and  clothing, 
not  to  mention  the  embroidery  put  on  garments  and  regalia.  It  will 
be  remembered  that  embroidered  garments,  robes,  pipestems,  and 
other  articles  were  required  for  gifts  that  went  toward  a  man's 
" count,"  which  led  to  his  tribal  honors.  Looking  at  the  duties  and 
customs  of  the  tribe,  it  seems  that  the  question  of  domestic  labor 
had  a  good  deal  to  do  with  the  practice  of  polygamy.  "I  must  take 
another  wife.  My  old  wife  is  not  strong  enough  now  to  do  all  her 
work  alone."  This  remark  was  made  not  as  if  offering  an  excuse  for 
taking  another  wife  but  as  stating  a  condition  which  must  be  met 
and  remedied  in  the  only  way  which  custom  permitted. 

Divorce  was  not  uncommon,  although  there  were  many  instances 
in  the  tribe  in  which  a  man  and  woman  lived  together  throughout  a 
long  life  in  monogamous  marriage.  If  a  man  abused  his  wife,  she 
left  him  and  her  conduct  was  justified  by  her  relations  and  by  tribal 
opinion.  As  the  tent  or  dwelling  always  belonged  to  the  woman, 
the  unkind  husband  found  himself  homeless.  The  young  children 
generally  remained  with  the  mother,  although  the  father's  brothers 
would  be  expected  to  assist  the  woman  in  their  support.  If  the 
woman  was  immoral,  she  was  put  away  and  sometimes  punished  by 
her  husband.  In  that  case  no  one  interfered  to  protect  her.  These 
punishments  were  sometimes  very  severe.  Generally  speaking,  the 
family  was  fairly  stable ;  tribal  sentiment  did  not  favor  the  changing 
of  the  marriage  relation  from  mere  caprice. 

The  Omaha  woman  worked  hard.  Upon  her  depended  much  of  the 
livelihood  of  the  people — the  preparation  of  food,  of  shelter,  of  cloth 
ing,  and  the  cultivation  of  the  garden  patches.  In  return,  she  was 
regarded  with  esteem,  her  wishes  were  respected,  and,  while  she  held 
no  public  office,  many  of  the  movements  and  ceremonies  of  the  tribe 
depended  on  her  timely  assistance.  In  the  family  she  w&s  generally 
the  center  of  much  affection.  There  were  many  happy  Indian  fami 
lies  in  which  affection  bound  all  hearts  closely  together. 


One  can  sometimes  judge  of  the  light  by  the  depth  of  the  shadow 
cast.  An  old  Omaha  man  stood  beside  a  husband  whose  wife  lay 
dead.  The  mourner  sat  wailing,  holding  the  woman's  cold  hand  and 
calling  her  by  the  endearing  terms  that  are  not  uttered  to  the  living. 
"Where  shall  I  go,  now  you  are  gone?"  he  cried.  "My  grandson," 
said  the  old  man,  "It  is  hard  to  lose  one's  mother,  to  see  one's  children 
die,  but  the  sorest  trial  that  can  come  to  a  man  is  to  see  his  wife  lie 
dead.  My  grandson,  before  she  came  to  you  no  one  was  more  willing 
to  bring  water  for  you;  now  that  she  has  gone  you  will  miss  her  care. 
If  you  have  ever  spoken  harshly  to  her  the  words  will  come  back  to 
you  and  bring  you  tears.  The  old  men  who  are  gone  have  taught 
us  that  no  one  is  so  near,  no  one  can  ever  be  so  dear,  as  a  wife ;  when 
she  dies  her  husband's  joy  dies  with  her.  I  am  old;  I  have  felt  these 
things;  I  know  the  truth  of  what  I  say." 


In  the  Omaha  family  the  children  bore  an  important  part;  they 
were  greatly  desired  and  loved.  Mention  has  been  made  of  the  belief 
that  women  who  bore  the  "mark  of  honor"  would  become  mothers 
of  many  children  who  would  live  to  grow  up.  The  baby  was  its 
mother's  constant  companion,  although  other  members  of  the  family 
often  helped  to  take  care  of  it.  (Fig.  66.)  More  than  one  instance 
is  recalled  where  the  father  took  considerable  care  of  the  little  ones 
and  it  was  not  an  uncommon  sight  to  see  a  father  or  grandfather 
sooth  or  amuse  a  fretful  child.  Soon  after  birth  the  baby  was 
laid  in  its  own  little  bed.  This  was  a  board  about  12  or  14  inches 
wide  and  3  feet  long.  On  this  was  laid  a  pillow  stuffed  with  feathers 
or  the  hair  of  the  deer,  over  which  were  spread  layers  of  soft  skins. 
On  this  bed  the  baby  was  fastened  by  broad  bands  of  soft  skin,  which 
in  recent  years  were  replaced  by  similar  bands  of  calico  or  flannel. 
There  was  no  headboard  to  the  Omaha  cradle-board  but  the  skins  that 
were  laid  over  the  pillow  were  so  arranged  as  to  form  a  shelter  and  pro 
tection  for  the  top  of  the  baby's  head.  While  the  child  slept  its  arms 
were  bound  under  the  cover  but  as  soon  as  it  awoke  they  were  released. 
The  cradle-board  (u'ihuhe)  was  principally  used  in  carrying  the  baby 
around  and  it  served  as  a  bed  when  the  little  one  was  asleep.  A  good 
portion  of  the  time  the  baby  lay  on  a  soft  skin  in  a  safe  warm  place 
where  it  could  kick  and  crow,  while  the  mother  sat  by  with  her  sewing 
or  at  some  other  employment.  If  the  mother's  duties  took  her  out  of 
doors  the  baby  might  be  laced  on  its  cradle  and  hung  up  in  the  shade 
of  a  tree ;  or,  if  the  mother  happened  to  be  going  away  on  horseback 
the  baby  in  its  cradle  was  hung  at  her  saddle,  where  it  rode  safely 
and  comfortably.  When  the  child  was  old  enough  to  cling  to  its 
mother  it  was  thrown  over  her  shoulder,  where  it  hugged  her  tightly 
around  the  neck  while  she  adjusted  her  robe  or  blanket.  The  robe 



[ETH.  ANN.  27 

worn  by  the  women  was  tied  by  a  girdle  around  the  waist,  the  upper 
part  was  placed  over  the  clinging  child,  and  the  ends  were  crossed  in 
front  and  tucked  into  the  girdle.  Then  the  mother  gave  a  gentle 
but  decided  shrug,  when  the  child  loosened  its  arms  and  settled  itself 
into  its  bag-like  bed,  from  out  of  which  it  winked  and  peered  at  the 
world  or  fell  fast  asleep  as  the  mother  trudged  about  her  business. 

It  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  Indian  babies  never  cry.  They  do 
cry,  most  lustily  at  times,  but  efforts  are  always  made  to  soothe  a  child. 
No  true  lullaby  songs  have  ever  been  heard  in  the  tribe  by  the  writers, 
but  both  men  and  women  make  a  low  murmuring  that  resembles  some 
what  the  sound  of  the  wind  in  the  pines  and  sleep  soon  comes  to  the 
listener.  There  was  a  belief  that  certain  persons  were  gifted  with  an 
understanding  of  the  various  sounds  made  by  a  baby;  so  when  a  little 

FIG.  66.    Omaha  mother  and  child. 

one  cried  persistently,  as  if  in  distress,  some  one  of  these  knowing  people 
was  sent  for  to  ascertain  what  troubled  the  child.  Sometimes  it  was 
said  that  the  baby  did  not  like  the  name  given  it  and  then  the  name 
would  be  changed.  Sometimes  the  difficulty  was  of  a  more  practical 
kind,  as  in  the  case  of  a  baby  whose  mother,  being  particularly  desirous 
of  having  her  son  lie  on  the  softest  of  beds,  had  put  next  to  him  the 
soft  skin  of  a  buffalo  calf;  whenever  the  child  was  laid  on  its  bed  its 
cries  kept  everyone  awake.  In  her  distress  the  mother  sent  for  a 
person  who  understood  the  talk  of  a  baby.  This  person  was  evi 
dently  a  keen  observer,  for  he  at  once  saw  what  the  trouble  was — the 
fur  tickled  the  child!  He  turned  the  skin  and  the  baby  was  pacified. 
The  birth  of  twins  was  considered  a  sign  that  the  mother  was  a 
kind  woman.  It  was  said,  "Twins  walk  hand  in  hand  around  the 


Tiu'tliuga  looking  for  a  kind  woman;  when  they  find  her,  she  becomes 
'their  mother."  When  a  woman  desired  to  ascertain  the  sex  of  her 
coming  child,  she  took  a  bow  and  a  burden  strap  to  the  tent  of  a 
friend  who  had  a  child  not  yet  old  enough  to  speak  and  offered  it  the 
articles.  If  the  bow  wTas  chosen  the  unborn  would  be  a  boy;  if  the 
burden  strap,  a  girl.  If  a  teething  child  looked  at  one,  at  the  same 
time  grinding  its  teeth,  stretching  out  its  arms,  and  clenching  its 
hands,  it  meant  to  break  friendship  with  that  person.  A  child  who 
had  lost  either  one  or  both  of  its  parents  was  called  wahon'thinge 
("no  mother"),  "orphan." 

As  soon  as  a  child  could  walk  steadily  it  passed  through  the  cere 
mony  called  Turning  the  Child,  and,  if  a  boy,  through  the  supple 
mental  ceremony  of  cutting  the  lock  of  hair  in  consecration  of  its  life 
to  the  Thunder  and  to  the  protection  of  the  tribe  as  a  warrior.  (See 
p.  122.)  After  this  experience  home  training  began  in  earnest.  The 
child  had  now  its  name,  marking  its  ni'kie  rites,  and  its  gentile 
relationship.  Careful  parents,  particularly  those  who  belonged  to  the 
better  class,  took  great  pains  in  the  training  of  their  children.  They 
were  taught  to  treat  their  elders  with  respect,  to  be  particular  in 
the  use  of  the  proper  terms  of  relationship,  to  be  peaceable  with  one 
another,  and  to  obey  their  parents.  Whipping  was  uncommon 
and  yet  there  were  almost  no  quarreling  and  little  dowrnright  dis 
obedience.  Much  attention  was  given  to  inculcating  a  grammatical 
use  of  the  language  and  the  proper  pronunciation  of  the  words. 
There  was  no  "baby  talk."  Politeness  was  early  instilled.  No  child 
wrould  think  of  interrupting  an  elder  who  was  speaking,  of  pestering 
anyone  with  questions,  of  taking  anything  belonging  to  an  older 
person  without  permission,  or  of  staring  at  anyone,  particularly  a 
stranger.  Yet  the  children  were  bright  and  had  their  share  of  curi 
osity  but  they  were  trained  not  to  be  aggressive. 

Little  girls  were  subject  to  restraints  that  w^ere  not  put  upon  the 
boys.  The  mother  was  particular  in  teaching  the  girl  how  to  sit  and 
how  to  rise  from  a  sitting  posture.  A  woman  sat  sidewise  on  the  left, 
her  legs  drawn  round  closely  to  the  right.  (Fig.  67.)  No  other  posture 
was  good  form  for  a  woman.  Sometimes  old  women  sat  with  the  feet 
stretched  out  in  front  but  that  was  the  privilege  of  age.  All  other 
attitudes,  as  kneeling  or-squatting,  were  only  for  temporary  purposes. 
Concerning  this  point  of  etiquette  mothers  were  rigid  in  the  training 
of  their  daughters.  To  rise  well,  one  should  spring  up  lightly,  not 
with  the  help  of  both  hands;  one  hand  might  be  placed  on  the  ground 
for  the  first  movement,  to  get  a  purchase.  A  girl  w*as  taught  to  move 
about  noiselessly  as  she  passed  in  and  out  of  the  lodge.  All  her 
errands  must  be  done  silently.  She  must  keep  her  hair  neatly 
braided  and  her  garments  in  order.  At  an  early  age  little  girls  as 
sumed  the  role  of  caretaker  of  the  younger  children.  The  boys  had 

330  THE   OMAHA  TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

to  help  about  the  ponies  but  not  much  training  in  etiquette  fell  to  the 
lot  of  the  boy— he  could  jump  about  and  sit  in  any  manner  he  chose, 
except  after  the  fashion  of  a  girl.  Later  he  had  to  learn  to  sit  steadily 
on  his  heels,  to  rise  quickly,  and  to  be  firm  on  his  feet. 

When  quite  small  the  two  sexes  played  together  but  the  restraints 
and  duties  put  on  girls  soon  separated  them  from  the  boys  and  when 
girls  were  grown  there  were  few  recreations  shared  in  common  by  the 

FIG.  67.    Sitting  posture  of  women. 

sexes.  In  olden  times  no  girl  was  considered  marriageable  until  she 
knew  how  to  dress  skins,  fashion  and  sew  garments,  embroider,  and 
cook.  Nor  was  a  young  man  a  desirable  husband  until  he  had  proved 
his  skill  as  a  hunter  and  shown  himself  alert  and  courageous. 

Politeness  was  observed  in  the  family  as  well  as  in  the  presence  of 
strangers.  The  etiquette  in  reference  to  the  fire  was  always  observed 
and  care  was  taken  not  to  interrupt  a  speaker,  and  never  to  accept 


anything  from  another  without  recognition  by  the  use  of  an  expression 
the  equivalent  of  " thank  you;"  this  equivalent  was  the  mention  of  a 
term  of  relationship. 

To  elucidate  further  the  teachings  and  training  given  to  children 
and  youths,  the  insistence  with  which  industry,  good  manners,  and 
consideration  for  others  were  impressed  upon  the  young,  the  follow 
ing  notes,  taken  beside  a  camp  fire  one  evening  in  early  September 
years  ago,  are  here  given.  An  old  man,  no  longer  living,  was  on  that 
occasion  in  a  reminiscent  mood  and  somewhat  inclined  to  question 
the  advantage  of  influences  that  were  creeping  in  among  the  people. 
As  he  talked  he  sat  playing  with  a  little  stick,  tracing  figures  on  the 
ground,  while  the  firelight  shed  a  ruddy  glow  on  the  faces  of  those 
who  made  the  circle.  In  the  distance  the  tents  stood  pale  and 
specterlike,  overhead  the  stars  were  brilliantly  white  in  the  clear  dark 
sky  and  no  sound  but  the  snapping  of  the  burning  wood  broke  in  on 
the  flow  of  the  old  man's  words. 

The  children  do  not  receive  the  training  that  we  men  did  from  our  fathers.  Every 
thing  is  changed.  I  remember  some  of  the  sayings  that  used  to  be  common  in  my 
young  days:  sayings  that  were  supposed  to  hold  us  young  people  in  order  and  teach 
us  to  be  mindful  of  our  elders  and  not  become  self-indulgent.  Write  them  down;  I 
would  like  the  Omaha  to  know  how  children  were  talked  to  in  the  old  times — chil 
dren  from  10  to  15  years  of  age. 

When  a  boy  used  a  knife  in  cutting  meat  the  old  men  said:  "The  knife  eats  more 
meat;  you  should  bite  it."  This  saying  means,  the  use  of  the  knife  makes  one  lazy; 
a  man  should  rely  on  his  own  resources;  the  one  who  so  trains  himself  is  ready  for  any 

In  old  times  kettles  were  scarce  and  the  same  kettle  would  often  serve  several 
families.  It  was  also  customary  never  to  return  a  borrowed  kettle  entirely  empty  but 
to  leave  a  little  of  the  last  portion  that  was  cooked  in  it.  If  a  lad  should  help  himself 
to  that  which  came  home  in  the  kettle  the  old  men  would  say:  "If  you  eat  what  is 
brought  home  in  the  kettle  your  arrows  will  twist  when  you  shoot"  [will  not  go 
straight],  adding  in  explanation:  "The  youth  who  thinks  first  of  himself  and  forgets 
the  old  will  never  prosper,  nothing  will  go  straight  for  him." 

There  is  a  part  of  the  intestine  of  the  buffalo,  called  washna,  that  is  very  tender, 
so  that  the  old  people  who  have  no  teeth,  or  but  few,  can  eat  it,  chew  and  digest  it. 
If  the  lads  want  to  eat  this  tender  bit  the  father  would  say:  "You  must  not  eat  the 
washna,  for  if  you  do,  and  go  with  a  war  party  for  spoils,  the  dogs  will  bark  at  you." 
Why  the  dogs  would  bark  was  left  a  mystery,  which  fact  would  make  the  young  people 
afraid  to  take  the  washna,  and  so  the  old  people  could  enjoy  it  in  peace. 

When  a  young  man  attempted  to  drink  the  broth  in  the  kettle,  the  old  men  would 
say:  "A  young  man  must  not  drink  the  broth;  if  he  does,  his  ankles  will  rattle  and 
his  joints  become  loose." 

When  the  marrowfat  was  tried  out  and  the  lad  desired  some  of  it  with  his  meat,  the 
old  men  would  say:  "If  you  eat  of  the  marrowfat  you  will  become  quick  tempered, 
your  heart  will  become  soft,  and  you  will  turn  your  back  to  your  enemy"  [be  afraid]. 

In  my  day  the  young  men  were  forbidden  to  smoke,  for  smoking,  we  were  told, 
would  make  young  men  short  winded  and  when  they  went  into  battle  they  would 
be  quickly  overcome. 

The  old  men  used  to  tell  the  young  men  that  they  must  learn  to  make  arrows.  They 
said:  "If  one  does  not  make  arrows  he  will  borrow  moccasins,  leggings,  and  robes  and 

332  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

be  disliked  by  the  persons  from  whom  he  borrows."  This  meant  that  one  must  be 
industrious  in  order  to  have  things  of  one's  own.  The  old  men  also  said:  "If  you  don't 
make  arrows  yourself  and  a  young  man  who  is  industrious  shows  you  his  arrows,  you 
will  be  tempted  to  steal  from  him."  Also:  "If  you  are  not  industrious  you  will  borrow 
a  horse  from  a  young  man  who  may  be  insignificant  [of  no  position  in  the  tribe],  and 
you  may  be  proud  that  you  ride  a  horse  even  if  it  is  not  your  own;  you  will  borrow 
a  bridle,  too,  and  you  will  be  disliked  by  the  men  from  whom  you  borrow."  Also: 
"If  you  are  not  industrious,  when  a  herd  of  buffalo  is  slaughtered  you  may  come  across 
a  young  man  whom  you  may  consider  insignificant  but  who  has  killed  a  buffalo  by 
his  energy;  you  will  look  longingly  at  the  best  portions  of  the  meat,  but  he  will  give 
to  another  who  is  known  to  be  thrifty  and  generous  and  you  will  go  away  disap 

Boys  used  to  be  made  to  swallow  a  turtle's  heart  so  as  to  make  their  hearts  strong. 
I  was  an  orphan,  and  tender  hearted  and  when  any  woman  talked  to  me  I  would 
easily  weep.  I  did  not  like  this,  but  I  could  not  help  it.  I  swallowed  a  turtle's  heart 
and  since  then  I  can  control  myself.  He  [pointing  to  a  man  in  the  group  about  him] 
has  swallowed  three.  The  turtle  is  hard  to  kill;  even  when  the  heart  is  cut  out  it  will 
still  quiver  and  the  turtle's  head  will  be  able  to  bite  after  it  is  severed  from  the  body. 
The  heart  is  flat  and  about  an  inch  long.  The  boy  took  the  heart  and  swallowed  it 
by  himself.  Only  the  heart  was  used. 

In  eating  the  rib  of  the  game,  if  the  young  man  tried  to  unjoint  it  the  old  men  say: 
"You  must  not  do  that;  if  you  do,  you  will  sprain  your  ankles." 

Once  when  I  had  killed  an  elk  I  wanted  to  eat  the  marrow  in  the  bone;  so  I  roasted 
it  but  when  I  was  ready  to  eat  it  some  old  men  saw  me,  and  they  said :  "  If  you,  a  young 
man,  eat  that,  your  leg  bone  will  become  sore." 

The  lad  must  not  pick  the  bones  of  the  rabbit  with  his  teeth,  but  must  pull  off  the 
meat  with  his  fingers.  If  he  used  his  teeth  they  would  become  cracked.  He  must 
use  his  fingers  in  order  that  his  teeth  may  be  sound. 

If  a  lad  desired  to  eat  the  turkey's  head  he  was  told:  "If  you  eat  that,  tears  will 
come  into  your  eyes  when  you  hunt.  You  will  have  watery  eyes."  If  he  should 
wish  to  play  with  the  turkey's  legs  after  they  had  been  cut  off,  the  old  men  said: 
"If  you  play  with  turkeys'  legs  your  fingers  will  be  cold  in  winter  and  liable  to  be 
frost-bitten;  then  you  can  not  handle  anything." 

The  fat  about  the  heart  of  the  buffalo  was  given  to  children  that  they  might  have 
strong  hearts — be  courageous. 

The  liver  of  the  buffalo  must  be  eaten  raw.  This  was  said  to  make  a  man  courageous 
and  to  give  him  a  clear  voice. 

We  were  taught  that  when  a  man  wounded  a  buffalo  a  lad  must  not  shoot  an  arrow 
at  it.  He  would  be  justly  chastised  if  he  did,  as  the  buffalo  belonged  to  the  man 
who  first  wounded  it. 

I  was  told :  You  must  not  be  envious  and  maim  the  horse  of  another  man  if  it  is  a 
fine  horse  to  look  at.  You  must  not  take  another's  robe  or  blanket,  or  his  moccasins, 
or  anything  that  belongs  to  another.  You  will  be  tempted  to  do  these  things  if  you 
are  not  industrious  and  if  you  yield  to  the  temptation  you  will  be  shunned  by  all 
persons.  A  man  must  be  energetic,  industrious — kiwa'shkon.  If  you  are  not  indus 
trious  your  blanket  will  be  ragged,  your  moccasins  will  be  full  of  holes,  you  will  have 
no  arrows,  no  good,  straight  ones;  you  will  be  in  poverty  and  finally  you  will  go  to 
neighboring  tribes  to  avoid  meeting  the  members  of  your  tribe,  who  should  be  your 
friends.  If  you  are  lazy,  by  chance  you  may  have  a  horse  that  is  stalled  and  you 
will  think  that  you" own  property.  You  may  have  a  horse  that  is  blind  and  you  will 
think  yourself  well  off.  You  may  have  a  horse  with  a  disjointed  hip  and  you  will 
think  yourself  rich.  If  you  are  lazy,  your  tent  skin  will  be  full  of  holes.  You  will 


wear  leggings  made  out  of  the  top  of  an  old  tent  that  is  smoked  yellow;  for  a  robe  you 
will  wear  a  buffalo  skin  pallet  pieced  with  the  fore  part  of  a  buffalo  hide — such  is  a 
lazy  man's  clothing.  An  industrious  man  wears  leggings  of  well-dressed  deer  skin; 
his  robe  is  of  the  finest  dressed  buffalo  skin  and  he  wears  earrings — such  is  the  dress 
of  the  energetic,  industrious  man.  If  a  man  is  not  industrious  and  energetic,  he  will 
not  be  able  to  entertain  other  people.  A  lazy  man  will  be  envious  when  he  sees  men 
of  meaner  birth  invited  to  feasts  because  of  their  thrift  and  their  ability  to  entertain 
other  people.  If  you  are  lazy,  nobody  will  have  pleasure  in  speaking  to  you.  A  man 
in  passing  by  will  give  you  a  word  with  only  a  side  glance  and  never  stand  face  to  face 
in  talking  with  you.  You  will  be  sullen,  hardly  speaking  to  those  who  address  you — 
that  is  the  temper  of  the  lazy  man.  The  energetic  man  is  happy  and  pleasant  to  speak 
with;  he  is  remembered  and  visited  on  his  deathbed.  But  no  one  mourns  for  the 
lazy  man;  nobody  knows  where  he  is  buried;  he  dies  unattended.  Even  when  only 
two  or  three  are  gathered  to  a  feast  the  industrious  and  energetic  man  is  invited. 
People  in  speaking  of  him  say:  He  is  pleasant  to  talk  with,  he  is  easy  of  approach. 
Such  a  man  has  many  to  mourn  his  death  and  is  long  remembered.  A  thrifty  man  is 
well  spoken  of;  his  generosity,  his  help  are  given  to  those  who  are  weaker  than  he 
and  all  his  actions  are  such  as  to  make  others  happy.  Such  are  some  of  the  things 
that  used  to  be  said  by  the  old  to  the  young  men. 

Yes,  girls  were  also  talked  to  by  the  old  men  and  all  this  talk  to  both  boys  and  girls 
was  to  prevent  their  becoming  thieves  through  envy.  When  they  saw  valuable 
things  and  desired  them,  they  should  know  that  if  they  were  industrious  they  could 
have  such  things  for  themselves.  And  these  sayings  were  also  to  prevent  the  young 
men  from  growing  up  in  laziness  so  that  they  would  go  from  house  to  house  in  order  to 
live.  Girls  were  required  to  know  how  to  scrape  and  to  dress  skins  and  to  tan  them; 
to  cut  and  make  tent  covers,  garments  of  all  kinds,  and  moccasins.  There  were  many 
other  things  that  a  woman  must  know.  She  had  much  to  do,  and  upon  her  work  the 
people  depended. 

These  are  some  of  the  sayings  to  girls:  If  you  do  not  learn  to  do  these  things  [men 
tioned  above]  and  abide  by  the  teachings  of  the  elders  [about  thrift,  honesty,  etc.], 
you  shall  stop  at  a  stranger's  house  and  your  place  will  be  near  the  kettle  pole,  your 
hand  shall  rest  on  the  kettle  pole  and  without  being  told  to  go  you  shall  go  for  water, 
and  when  you  have  brought  the  water  you  shall  look  wistfully  into  the  door  of  the 
lodge,  and  they  will  tell  you  to  open  a  pack  so  that  they  may  do  their  cooking.  On 
opening  the  pack  you  will  take  a  bit  of  the  dried  meat,  thrust  it  slyly  into  your  belt, 
and  take  it  away  with  you  and  eat  it  stealthily — but  it  shall  not  satisfy  you.  Food 
eaten  in  fear  satisfies  not  the  hunger. 

The  thrifty  woman  has  a  good  tent;  all  of  her  tools  are  of  the  best;  so  is  her  clothing. 

Hear  what  happens  to  the  thriftless  woman:  She  shall  stop  at  a  stranger's  place; 
there  are  holes  in  her  moccasins  but  she  has  nothing  to  patch  them  with,  so  she  will 
cut  a  piece  out  of  her  robe  to  mend  her  moccasins  with;  then  she  will  borrow  her 
neighbor's  workbag  and  from  it  take  sinew  stealthily  and  tuck  it  into  her  belt. 

If  you  are  a  thrifty  woman,  your  husband  will  struggle  hard  to  bring  you  the  best  of 
materials  for  your  tent  and  clothing  and  the  best  of  tools.  If  you  have  a  good  tent, 
men  and  women  will  desire  to  enter  it.  They  will  be  glad  to  talk  with  you  and  your 

If  you  are  willing  to  remain  in  ignorance  and  not  learn  how  to  do  the  things  a  woman 
should  know  how  to  do,  you  will  ask  other  women  to  cut  your  moccasins  and  fit  them 
for  you.  You  will  go  on  from  bad  to  worse;  you  will  leave  your  people,  go  into  a 
strange  tribe,  fall  into  trouble,  and  die  there  friendless. 

If  you  are  thrifty,  build  yourself  a  good  tent  or  house  [earth  lodge],  and  people  will 
like  you  and  will  assist  your  husband  in  all  his  undertakings. 

334  THE   OMAHA  TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


In  the  tent  and  in  the  earth  lodge  the  fire  was  always  in  the  center 
and  was  the  point  from  which  certain  lines  of  etiquette  were  drawn. 
The  space  back  of  the  fire,  opposite  the  entrance,  was  the  place  of 
honor.  It  was  therefore  the  portion  of  the  tent  given  to  guests,  to 
which  they  always  directed  their  steps  when  entering  a  lodge;  it 
answered  to  the  reception  room  or  parlor  of  a  white  man's  dwelling. 
Skin  robes  were  spread  here  to  make  the  visitor  comfortable  and  wel 
come.  The  guest  on  entering  must  never  pass  between  his  host  and 
the  fire.  When  the  guest  was  seated  no  one,  not  even  a  child, 
would  pass  between  him  and  the  fire.  If  by  any  chance  it  became 
necessary  to  do  so,  notice  was  given  to  the  person  passed  and  an 
apology  made.  This  etiquette  applied  to  the  members  of  the  family 
as  well  as  to  guests.  When  a  guest  arrived  he  took  his  seat  quietly 
and  remained  quiet  for  a  little  time,  no  one  addressing  him.  This 
was  for  the  purpose  of  giving  him  time  to  "catch  his  breath"  and 
"compose  his  thoughts."  When  conversation  opened  it  was  genial, 
although  formal,  and  if  there  was  any  matter  of  importance  to  be  dis 
cussed  it  was  never  hastily  or  quickly  introduced.  Deliberation  was 
a  marked  characteristic  of  Indian  etiquette. 

When  a  guest  was  ready  to  leave,  he  rose  and,  using  the  proper 
term  of  relationship,  added,  Shonpa'xeJia  ("I  have  finished,"  i.  e., 
my  visit),  or  he  said,  te  ha  ("permit  me")  and  without  further  cere 
mony  departed. 

There  was  a  peculiar  courtesy  practised  toward  the  parents  of  a 
man  by  his  wife  and  toward  the  parents  of  a  woman  by  her  husband. 
A  man  did  not  directly  address  his  wife's  father  or  mother,  nor  did 
any  of  his  brothers  do  so.  If  the  parents  were  visiting  in  the  same 
tent  with  their  son-in-law  or  any  of  his  brothers,  conversation  could 
be  carried  on  but  it  was  generally  done  indirectly,  not  directly  be 
tween  these  persons.  A  wife  did  not  directly  address  her  husband's 
father  but  this  did  not  apply  to  his  mother.  This  custom  has  been 
explained  by  old  Omaha  men  to  mean  that  respect  was  thus  shown  by 
the  younger  to  the  elder  generation.  This  rule  of  conduct  was  not, 
however,  rigidly  practised.  There  are  stories  told  in  which  a  man  and 
his  son-in-law  were  very  close  friends,  living  and  hunting  together. 

Mention  has  been  made  of  the  custom  of  never  addressing  an  indi 
vidual  by  his  personal  name;  etiquette  demanded  also  that  a  per 
son's  name  should  not  be  mentioned  in  his  presence.  It  may  be 
recalled  that  a  man's  name  referred  to  the  rites  in  charge  of  his  gens 
or  to  some  personal  experience — a  dream  or  a  valorous  deed.  The 
personal  name  sustained  therefore  so  intimate  a  relation  to  the  indi 
vidual  as  to  render  it  unsuitable  for  common  use.  It  is  doubtful, 
however,  whether  this  characteristic  was  the  fundamental  motive 


for  the  custom  under  discussion;  it  is  more  likely  that  the  benefits 
to  be  derived  from  the  daily  emphasis  of  kinship  as  a  means  to  hold 
the  people  together  in  peaceable  relations  had  to  do  with  the  estab 
lishment  of  the  custom,  which  was  strengthened  by  the  sanctity 
attached  to  the  personal  name.  This  interpretation  seems  to  accord 
with  the  comment  made  by  an  aged  Omaha  on  the  custom  of  the 
white  people  of  addressing  one  another  by  name,  particularly  mem 
bers  of  the  same  family:  "It  sounds  as  though  they  do  not  love 
one  another  when  they  do  not  use  terms  of  relationship." 

While  only  kinship  terms  were  used  in  social  intercourse,  no  one, 
not  even  children,  being  called  by  a  personal  name,  there  was  a  term 
employed  in  making  a  formal  address  to  a  stranger:  Tcage'Jia,  "friend;" 
this  term  was  used  also  between  men  not  closely  related  to  each  other. 
Its  use  was  confined  strictly  to  men.  When  a  man  of  distinction  was 
spoken  to,  etiquette  demanded  that  he  be  addressed  as  insha'ge, 
"aged  man;"  the  term  was  one  of  respect  and  implied  his  possession 
of  wisdom,  dignity,  and  position.  A  woman  addressed  another  of 
her  sex  as  wihe' ',  "younger  sister,"  and  when  speaking  to  a  boy  or 
a  young  man  she  had  to  use  the  term  Tcage' ,  "younger  brother. " 

Under  no  circumstances  would  politeness  permit  a  person  to  ask 
a  stranger  his  name  or  what  business  brought  him  to  the  tribe.  If 
one  was  curious  he  must  await  the  development  of  events.  It  is  said 
that  men  sent  on  an  embassy  from  another  tribe  have  come,  trans 
acted  their  business,  and  departed  without  anyone  learning  their 
personal  names. 

A  curious  reversal  of  these  social  customs  is  shown  in  the  following 
sayings  about  birds: 

The  whip-poor-will  sings  its  own  name,  ha'kugthi  ("translucent 

An  unidentified  bird  having  a  brown  back,  yellow  breast,  and  a 
black  ring  around  the  neck,  says,  Oki'te  dadan?  ("Of  what  tribe  are 

The  meadow  lark,  which  heralds  the  time  for  the  ceremonies  con 
nected  with  the  children  (see  p.  118),  sings,  Qni'tethuPgthi  tegaze 
(' '  winter  will  not  come  back  " ) . 

Generally  two  meals  were  taken,  one  in  the  morning,  the  other  at 
night.  When  the  food  was  cooked  it  was  removed  from  the  fire  and 
the  kettles  were  set  near  the  mother's  place  in  the  tent.  The  family 
took  their  places  in  a  circle  around  the  fire.  If  there  were  neigh 
bors  or  informal  guests,  they  sat  with  the  family.  The  mother 
apportioned  the  food  into  bowls,  which  she  set  on  a  skin  spread  in 
front  of  those  who  were  to  eat.  In  the  duty  of  passing  the  food  she 
might  be  assisted  by  her  elder  daughter  or  some  near  kinswoman 
or  an  intimate  friend.  After  all  had  "been  served,  including  herself, 
the  father  or  the  principal  guest  made  the  offering  of  food,  lifting  a 

336  THE   OMAHA  TEIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 

small  portion  and  dropping  it  into  the  fire,  in  recognition  that  all 
food  was  the  gift  of  Wakon'da.  After  this  ceremony  everyone  was 
at  liberty  to  eat.  If  for  any  reason  this  ceremony  was  omitted,  no 
one  touched  his  food  until  everyone  had  been  served.  If  there 
were  many  present  the  mother  would  be  apt  to  say,  "Eat;  do  not 
wait."  After  that,  anyone  who  had  been  served  would  be  at  liberty  to 
partake  of  the  food.  Each  person  was  served  separately  except  in  the 
case  of  infants  or  very  young  children.  When  the  meal  was  at  an  end 
the  dishes  were  handed  back  to  the  mother.  In  returning  his  dish, 
each  person  gave  thanks  by  mentioning  a  term  of  relationship. 
When  a  child  was  too  young  to  speak  for  itself  the  father  or  mother 
offered  thanks  for  it.  Should  a  dish  be  returned  with  a  portion  of  the 
food  uneaten,  an  apology  or  explanation  was  made  to  the  mother  or 
hostess.  At  an  informal  meal  at  which  guests  were  present  the  host 
and  hostess  ate  with  their  visitors.  When  only  the  family  were 
present,  the  thanks  to  the  mother  were  not  exacted  from  the  children. 
The  exchange  of  hospitalities,  however,  was  so  frequent  that  the 
little  ones  soon  learned  what  was  expected  of  them  in  the  presence  of 
company.  If  a  child  or  a  guest  seemed  to  be  confused  as  to  the  right 
expression  of  relationship  to  use,  the  host  or  hostess  helped  the 
embarrassment  by  suggesting  the  proper  term.  Children  were  cor 
rected  if  they  made  noises  or  grimaces  when  eating.  Silence  with 
the  lips,  when  eating,  was  not  exacted  except  from  the  chiefs  when 
they  were  taking  their  soup.  This  act  must  be  done  quietly.  It 
was  said  there  was  a  religious  reason  attached  to  this  custom,  but 
just  wThat  could  not  be  definitely  ascertained. 

At  a  formal  feast  men  served  the  food.  The  offering  to  Wakon/da 
was  made  by  the  man  of  highest  rank  present.  Etiquette  demanded 
that  after  the  food  was  placed  before  the  company  a  prominent 
man  should  say  to  the  servers,  "  Have  you  provided  for  yourselves  ?" 
On  the  occasion  of  a  formal  feast  the  host,  the  one  wTho  gave  the  feast, 
never  partook  of  the  food.  This  custom  obtained  whatever  the  feast 
might  be ;  whether  it  was  given  by  a  man  to  the  chiefs,  or  by  a  member 
to  a  society,  or  by  a  group,  as  a  subdivision  of  the  Hon/ga,  on  the 
occasion  when  the  ceremonies  in  its  charge  took  place. 

It  was  also  in  accord  with  etiquette  to  eat  all  placed  before  one; 
if,  however,  it  was  not  possible  to  do  so,  the  untasted  food  should  be 
carried  home.  This  custom  was  made  practical  by  the  custom  of 
guests  bringing  their  own  bowls  to  use;  untasted  food  was  regarded 
as  a  reproach  to  one's  host.  If  a  kettle  was  borrowed  for  any  pur 
pose,  on  being  returned  a  little  of  whatever  had  been  cooked  in  it 
must  remain  in  the  vessel.  This  remnant  was  called  ihe'xuxe. 
Anyone  disregarding  this  custom  could  never  .borrow  again,  as  the 
owner  must  always  know  how  the  kettle  had  been  used  and  what  had 
been  cooked  in  it.  An  incident  is  told  of  a  white  woman  who 


scoured  a  borrowed  kettle  before  returning  it  to  the  owner ;  the  well- 
meant  act  was  resented  as  showing  a  lack  of  respect  and  courtesy 
toward  the  latter. 

Looking  into  a  lodge  and  seeing  all  the  inmates  sitting  or  lying  on 
the  ground,  it  would  hardly  occur  to  one  unfamiliar  with  Indian  life 
that  the  ground  space  of  a  lodge  was  almost  as  distinctly  marked  off 
as  the  different  rooms  in  our  composite  dwellings ;  yet  such  was  the  fact. 
The  father  occupied  the  middle  of  the  space  to  the  left  of  the  fire  as  one 
entered.  The  mother  kept  all  her  household  belongings  on  the  left, 
between  the  father's  place  and  the  entrance.  It  was  thus  easy  for  her 
to  slip  in  and  out  of  the  lodge  without  disturbing  any  of  the  inmates 
when  attending  to  the  cooking  and  getting  the  wood  and  wrater.  If  there 
were  young  men  in  the  family,  they  generally  occupied  the  space  near 
the  door  to  the  right,  where  they  were  in  a  position  to  protect  the 
family  should  any  danger  arise.  If  there  were  old  people,  their  place 
was  on  the  right,  opposite  the  father.  The  young  girls  were  farther 
along,  more  toward  the  back  part.  The  little  ones  clung  about  the 
mother  but  were  welcome  everywhere  and  seldom  made  trouble. 
Each  member  had  his  packs  in  which  his  fine  garments  and  small 
personal  treasures  were  kept.  These  packs  were  set  against  the 
wall  back  of  the  place  belonging  to  the  owner. 

In  the  earth  lodge  the  compartments  were  quite  commodious. 
The  willow  seats  were  lounges  by  day  and  beds  by  night.  There  was 
ample  space  beneath  them  for  stowing  packs,  although  storage  spaces 
adjoined  the  lounges.  In  cold  weather  skins  were  sometimes  hung 
between  the  inner  circle  of  posts,  making  an  inclosed  space  about 
the  fire  where  the  family  gathered — the  children  to  play  games  or  to 
listen  to  the  stories  of  the  old  folk.  It  was  a  picturesque  scene  that 
can  never  be  forgotten  by  one  who  has  enjoyed  the  welcoming  cheer 
and  kindly  hospitality  of  an  Indian  family  circle  in  its  earth-lodge 

Young  girls  were  carefully  guarded;  they  never  went  to  the  spring 
or  to  visit  friends  unless  accompanied  by  an  older  woman — mother, 
aunt,  or  relative.  Young  married  women  seldom  if  ever  went  any 
where  alone.  Custom  permitted  only  elderly  women  to  go  about 

Etiquette  demanded  that  when  husband  and  wife  walked  abroad, 
the  man  precede  the  woman.  (PL  43.)  This  was  explained  by  the 
old  men  and  women,  "The  man  ought  always  to  go  first;  it  is  his 
duty  to  see  that  the  path  is  safe  for  the  woman." 

Women  held  no  official  position  in  the  tribe  but  under  certain  cir 
cumstances  they  were  consulted  during  the  annual  buffalo  hunt 
(see  p.  277) ;  they  were  respected,  the  value  of  their  industry  was 
recognized,  and  their  influence  was  potent  in  all  affairs  pertaining  to 
the  home. 

83993°— 27  ETH— 11 22 

'338  THE   OMAHA   TRIBE  [ETH.  ANN.  27 


The  avocations  of  men  were  chiefly  those  connected  with  their 
duties  as  providers  for  and  protectors  of  the  family.  As  hunter 
(p.  270)  the  man  secured  the  meat  and  the  pelts  but  the  work  of  trans 
forming  these  into  food,  clothing,  and  shelter  did  not  belong  to  him. 
As  warrior  (p.  474)  he  was  obliged  to  be  on  the  alert  and  ever 
ready  to  respond  at  once  to  the  cry  of  danger.  Men  made  all  their 
own  weapons.0  Bows  and  arrows  were  used  for  the  hunt  as  well  as 
for  battle  (for  the  method  employed  in  making  these  see  p.  449).  The 
manufacture  of  stone  implements  was  accomplished  in  two  ways: 
(1)  by  flaking  by  pressure  from  an  elk  horn,  or  (2)  by  placing  the  piece 
of  flint  between  the  folds  of  a  strip  of  rawhide,  holding  this  between 
the  teeth  as  in  a  vise  and  working  it  sideways  so  as  to  break  or  chip 
the  edge  of  the  flint  within  the  skin  without  injury  to  the  teeth,  a 
somewhat  difficult  and  hazardous  process.  Men  made  all  the  stone 
implements  used  in  felling  trees,  as  the  stone  ax  and  wedge;  these 
were  ground  into  shape  and  smoothed,  a  slow  and  tedious  operation. 
Disks  about  four  inches  in  diameter  and  an  inch  in  thickness  were 
made  in  the  same  manner.  These  disks  (in'thapa)  were  used  to  crush 
kernels  of  corn  into  meal,  also  wild  cherries  into  pulp  for  cooking; 
they  were  mainly  used  for  grinding  corn  when  traveling,  as  the  large 
mortar  and  pestle  were  inconvenient  for  transportation. 

The  making  of  wooden  articles  was  also  the  task  of  the  men.  The 
mortar  (u'he),  which  was  a  necessity  in  every  household,  was  formed 
from  a  section  of  a  tree-trunk  a  foot  or  so  in  diameter  and  about  three 
feet  long.  One  end  was  chipped  to  a  point  so  that  it  could  be  thrust 
into  the  ground  to  hold  the  utensil  stead