The Omaha

The gentes keeping the sacred pipes and those having the sacred tents are

designated among the Omaha by appropriate designs. The sacred tent of the

Wejincte was the tent of war, those of the Hanga were the tents associated

with the buffalo hunt and the cultivation of the soil. The diameter of the

circle (figure 34) represents the road traveled by the tribe when going on

the buffalo hunt, numbers 1 and 10 being the gentes which were
always in

the van. The tribe was divided into half tribes, each half tribe

consisting of five gentes. The sacred tents of the Omaha and all the

objects that were kept in them are now in the Peabody Museum of

Archaeology and Ethnology at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The two groups of gentes forming the half tribes or phratries, sometimes

composed of subgentes or sections, are as follows:

Hangacenu gentes--1, Wejincte, Elk. 2, Inke-sabe, Black shoulder, a

Buffalo gens; the custodian of the real pipes of peace. 3, Hanga or

Ancestral, a Buffalo gens; the regulator of all the so-called pipes of

peace and keeper of two sacred tents. 4, catada, meaning uncertain; in

four subgentes: a, Wasabe hit'aji, Touch-not-the-skin-of-a-black-bear;

b, Wajinga cataji, Eat-no-small-birds; Bird people; c, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}e-*d*a it'aji,

Touch-no-buffalo-head; Eagle people; d, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED K~}e-'in,

Carry-a-turtle-on-the-back; Turtle people. 5, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED K~}anze, Wind people.

Ictasanda gentes--6, Mancinka-gaxe, Earth-lodge-makers; coyote and wolf

people. 7, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}e-sinde, Buffalo-tail; a Buffalo-calf people. 8, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}a-*d*a,

Deer-head; Deer people. 9, Ingce-jide, Red dung; a Buffalo-calf gens. 10,

Icta-sanda, meaning uncertain (gray eyes?), said to refer to the effect

of lightning on the eyes. This last gens consists of Thunder and Reptile


The Inke-sabe formerly consisted of four subgentes. When the gens met as a

whole, the order of sitting was that shown in figure 35. In the tribal

circle the Wacigije camped next to the Hanga gens, and the other Inke-sabe

people came next to the Wejincte; but in the gentile council fire the

first became last and the last first.

The Iekice or Criers.

The Naqceit'a-baji, Those-who-touch-no-charcoal.

The three subgentes here named sat on the same side of fireplace.

The Hanga formerly had four subgeutes, but two of them, the Waciitan or

Workers, and the Ha-{~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}u-it'aji, Touches-no-green(-corn)-husks, are extinct,

the few survivors having joined the other subgentes. The remaining

subgentes are each called by several names: 1, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}csanha-{~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}acican, pertaining

to the sacred skin of an albino buffalo cow, or Wacabe, Dark buffalo; or

Hanga-qti, real Hanga; or {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}e-ceze-cataji, Do-not-eat-buffalo-tongues. 2,

Janha-{~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}acican, pertaining to the sacred (cottonwood) bark; or

Waqcexe-acin, Keeps-the-spotted-object (the sacred pole); or

Jan-waqube-acin, Keeps-the-sacred-or-mysterious-wood (pole); or

{~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}a-waqube-cataji, Does-not-eat-the-sacred (mysterious)-buffalo-sides; or

Minxa-san-cataji-ki *P*etan-cataji, Eat-no-geese-or-swans-or-cranes.

In the tribal circle the Wacabe camped next to the Inke-sabe, and the

Waqecxe-acin were next to the Wasabe-hit'aji subgens of the catada; but in

the Hanga gentile assembly the positions were reversed, the Wacabe sitting

on the right side of the fire and the Waqcexe-acin on the left.

The Wasabe-hit'aji subgens of the catada was divided into four sections:

Black-bear, Raccoon, Grizzly-bear, and Porcupine. The only survivors are

the Black-bear and Raccoon (Singers).

The Wajinga cataji subgens was divided into four sections: 1, Hawk people,

under the chief Standing Hawk (now dead). 2, Blackbird people, under the

chief Wajina-gahiga. B, Starling or Thunder people. 4, Owl and Magpie


The {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED K~}anze gens was divided into at least two subgentes, the Keepers of the

pipe and the Wind people. Lion, of the Deer-head gens, said that there

were four subgentes, but this was denied in 1882 by Two Crows of the Hanga


The Mancinka-gaxe subgentes, as given by Lion, were: 1, Coyote and Wolf

people. 2, In'e-waqube-acin, Keepers-of-the-mysterious-stones. 3,

Niniba-t'an, Keepers-of-the-pipe. 4, Minxa-san-wet'aji.

Touch(es)-not-swans. Cange-ska, White Horse, chief of the Mancin-ka-gaxe

(in 1878-1880) named three subgentes, thus: 1, Qube, Mysterious person, a

modern name (probably including the Mi{~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED K~}asi and In'e-waqube-acin, and

certainly consisting of the descendants of the chief Wa-jinga-sabe or

Blackbird). 2, Niniba-t'an. 3, Minxa-san-wet'aji.

The {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}a-*d*a were divided into four parts: 1, Niniba-t'an,

Keepers-of-the-pipe, under Lion. 2, Naqce-it'aji, Touches-no-charcoal,

under Boy Chief. 3, Thunder-people, under Pawnee Chief. 4, Deer-people,

under Sinde-xanxan (Deer's-)tail-shows-red-at-intervals


The Ictasanda gens also was in four parts: 1, Niniba-t'an,

Keepers-of-the-pipe. 2, Real Ictasanda people, (Numbers 1 and 2 were

consolidated prior to 1880.) 3, Wacetan or Reptile people, sometimes

called Keepers-of-the-claws-of-a-wildcat. 4, Real Thunder people, or

Those-who-do-not-touch-a-clamshell, or


The social organization of the Omaha has been treated at length by the

author in his paper on Omaha Sociology.(6)