Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1993


Published in Great Plains Research 3:2 (August 1993). Copyright © 1993 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Until recently, anthropological archaeology considered the burial grounds of Native Americans to be a proper subject of scientific investigation with little or no consideration for the cultural values of contemporary Native people regarding the resting places of their ancestors. Between 1939 and 1941 archaeologists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln excavated cemeteries and dwelling sites of the Omaha tribe at the site of their former village near the present town of Homer, Nebraska. Known to Omahas as Ton'wontonga (Big Village), the site was occupied from 1775 to 1845. Under the direction ofJohn Champe, the remains of something like a hundred Omahas were brought to the university and placed in storage with little or no examination for three decades. In the 1970s, the authors of this volume began working on the material with the cooperation of Champe until his death in 1978. The report is valuable, if long overdue, because it summarizes information previously unavailable to scholars or to members of the Omaha tribe. It also provides a convenient overview of Omaha tribal history and adaptive strategies in the early nineteenth century.