September 21 Proclaimed Otoe-Missouria Day
First Otoe-Missouria Day on September 21, 2022 NPR, 2022
Before the arrival of settlers in Lincoln and the surrounding area, this land was home to Indigenous nations who hunted along Salt Creek and harvested salt from its deposits. Among these nations were the Otoe and Missouria people, who played a significant role in shaping the history of the region.
By 1714, the Otoe people had established a village along the Salt Creek tributary of the Platte River in what is now eastern Nebraska. Later, in 1798, their relatives, the Missouria people, joined them in this area. These Indigenous communities had a rich history in the region long before any European settlers arrived.
The Otoe-Missouria Tribe signed two crucial treaties with the U.S. government. The first was on September 21, 1833, and the second on March 15, 1854. These treaties resulted in the cession of the lands that would eventually become Lincoln and the University of Nebraska. It's important to note that these cessions did not happen willingly, as they occurred under duress, reflecting a challenging period in Indigenous history. After ceding their ancestral lands, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe moved to the Big Blue Reservation near Beatrice, Nebraska. However, this land was also sold out from under them by Congress in 1881. This forced the community to endure a journey to Indian Territory.
On September 21, 2002, a delegation of approximately 60 Otoe-Missouria members returned to their ancestral homeland. This visit was significant because, for the first time ever, the city of Lincoln formally recognized the Otoe-Missouria as the original stewards of what would later become Lancaster County. During this visit, Lincoln mayor, Leirion Gaylor Baird, proclaimed September 21 as Otoe-Missouria Day.