Skip to main content

The Otoe-Missouria - Walking in the Footsteps of our Ancestors 


Since my blog post in 2021, I’ve learned a bit more about the Otoe-Missouria people who lived with the land we call Wilderness. Especially since January when FWP partnered with Walking in the Footsteps of our Ancestors (Ahadada Wathigre Hįnéwi Ke) which is a joint project of the Center for Great Plains Studies and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma that aims to promote healing and reconciliation in southeast Nebraska by reconnecting the Otoe-Missouria to their homelands and educating non-Native people about the history and ongoing presence of the Tribe and other Indigenous peoples in our region.

As I stated in the post about the Pawnee, this article will in no way encompass the realities of living within the salt creek watershed or give a correct scale of the historical importance of these communities. There is a whole universe of understanding to be found through our indigenous relatives. A universe with a story older than books. To gaze on this vastness places the project we call Lincoln and even Wilderness Park into a more rightfully humble place.

From a great article by Margaret Reist in the Lincoln Journal Star, “Grant will help reconnect Otoe-Missouria to ancestral lands in and around Lincoln”, 11-30-23, “Before settlers came to southeast Nebraska and what would one day become Lincoln, people from many Indigenous nations hunted along Salt Creek and its tributaries and harvested salt from its deposits.

By 1714, the Otoe had settled in a village on a Salt Creek tributary and in 1798, their relatives the Missouria joined them there. But on Sept. 21, 1833, and March 15, 1854, the Otoe-Missouria Nation signed treaties with the U.S. government ceding the land that became Lincoln and the University of Nebraska. The Otoe-Missouria moved to the Big Blue reservation near Beatrice, but Congress sold the land and moved them to Indian Territory in Oklahoma in 1880 and 1881.”

From attending an amazing retreat with the Otoe-Missouria and reading the books “The Oto” by William Whitman and “The Otoe-Missouria People” by Kenneth E. Black, I learned some about the cosmology of the Otoe-Missouria and their life in the salt creek watershed. What struck me strongest were their origins near the Great Lakes, the formation of their clans, and the connection to their home in the salt creek watershed and southeast Nebraska. These are people spiritually connected to their families, land, and water, it inspires me to go deeper into my own love for this place we call Wilderness.

I highly suggest staying tuned into Walking in the Footsteps of our Ancestors by signing up for their e-newsletter and following them on social media. This is a crucial project with a perfect goal. It is a true honor to work with our Otoe-Missouria relatives and commemorate their growth and success in Lincoln’s largest park. Other initiatives in southeast Nebraska are also underway.

I would like to thank Christina Faw Faw, Kevin Abourezk, and Margaret Jacobs for their kind inclusion of FWP into this project. I’m excited to see our futures together.

Adam Hintz

Executive Director

Friends of Wilderness Park