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Photo of 'Host Drum' 1983
Drumming at an Omaha pow-wow in 1983

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Listen to Omaha singers perform "Hethu'shka Song."

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The Omaha Indians in Nebraska
Hundreds of years ago, the Omaha Indians lived in the middle and south Atlantic regions of the United States. They gradually migrated west with other Plains Indians until they split off in South Dakota and ended up in what is now Nebraska. In 1854 the Omaha tribe gave way to the pressure of incoming white settlers and sold the majority of the land they held to the U.S. government. Today, the Omaha Reservation is located in the northeastern corner of Nebraska on 31,148 acres.

The Omaha were traditionally farmers and hunters. Their structured class system included chiefs, priests, physicians, and commoners. Groups with common goals and duties -- called clans -- performed various functions for the tribe. The earth clan was responsible for ceremonies of war and food, and the sky clan was responsible for ceremonies relating to the supernatural. Today, music and oral tradition play important roles in the preservation and perpetuation of Omaha culture. The state's largest city, Omaha, is named after the tribe.

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CREDIT: Fleischhauer, Carl. "Host Drum [color]." August 13, 1983. Omaha Indian Music, Library of Congress.
AUDIO CREDIT: Tai Piah Singers, performers. Fleischhauer, Carl, recordist. "Hethu'shka Song." August 14, 1983. Omaha Indian Music, Library of Congress.