Omaha-Ponca Intertribal Relations, 1854-1879
The proposed site would explain the relationship between the Omahas and Poncas during a crucial time in their respective national histories, 1854-1879. Special emphasis is placed on the last five years, during the time of Ponca removal and the Standing Bear Trial.
General perceptions persist that the Plains nations . as well as many Native nations in general . were static groups who eventually faced encirclement and conquest by the United States. In truth, the Omahas, Poncas, and other nations were dynamic groups with complex relationships and cultural variance. These groups regularly interacted, traded, and warred with one another. In the nineteenth century, they all faced a new cataclysmic force: the encroachment of the United States. This new development in itself affected how the Native nations dealt with white settlers but also how they interacted with each other.
The historical relationship between the Omaha and Ponca nations, despite its complexity, is rooted in kinship. Outside forces continually continually have severely tested the relationship, as well as the very existence of the two tribes. After dealing with devastating Sioux attacks and undesirable or unfaithful treaties for much of the nineteenth century, Omahas and Poncas faced choices that often caused conflict among themselves.
During what was arguably their biggest test of the century - the threat and reality of forced removal from their reservation homelands by the U.S. government in the 1870s - the relationship between Omahas and Poncas was key to their national survival. While Omahas bore most of the burden in helping the Ponca tribe, Poncas unquestionably bore the burden of dealing with the worst effects of federal removal policy, and the subsequent publi outcry and reform policies ensured that the Omaha tribe itself would stay put. Thus, their intertribal relationship during this period, particularly the late 1870s, set a precedent for how the tribes perceive and work with one another when dealing with potentially adverse government policies.
Some primary documents for the project: