The Omaha tribe began as a larger woodland tribe comprised of both the Omaha and Quapaw tribes. This original tribe inhabited the area near the Ohio and Wabash rivers.
As the tribe migrated west it split into what became the Omaha tribe and the Quapaw tribe. The Quapaw settled in what is now Arkansas and the Omaha tribe, known as "those going against the wind or current" settled near the Missouri river in what is now northwestern Iowa. Conflict with the Sioux and the splitting off of part of the tribe into the Ponca, forced the Omaha tribe to retreat to an area around Bow Creek, Nebraska.
French Fur trappers found the Omaha on the eastern side of the Missouri River in the mid-1700s. The Omaha were believed to have ranged from the Cheyenne River in South Dakota to the Platte River in Nebraska. Lewis and Clark found the tribe on the western side of the Missouri south of what is now Sioux City.
Omaha villages were established and lasted from 8 to 15 years. Eventually, disease and/or Sioux aggression would force the tribe to move. Villages were established near what is now Bellevue, Nebraska; Homer, Nebraska; and on the Papillion River.
50 to 100 lodges comprised a village and the woodland custom of bark lodges was replaced with the idea of tipis borrowed from the Sioux and earthen lodges borrowed from the Pawnee.
As the buffalo disappeared from the plains the Omaha had to increasingly rely upon the U.S. government and its new culture.
The last full-blooded Omaha Chief and grandfather of Logan Fontenelle, Chief Big Elk, is buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Bellevue, Nebraska.