History Nebraska Blog

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month - NSHS Manuscript Collections

Young men and women of a graduate class at Genoa Indian School posed for a picture with their diplomas in hand. RG4422.1-24


November is Native American Heritage Month. To celebrate, we will highlight Native American artifacts in our collections every Wednesday during the month of November. (Wild Weather Wednesday will be on hiatus.) Today we are focusing on manuscript collections. The ones we have chosen to highlight here are just a handful of the collections that include information about the past and present influences of Native Americans in Nebraska. Some of these collections were written by white Indian agents instead of Native American authors and offer a very white-centered perspective. However, their contents still have valuable records of Native American history in Nebraska. Please visit http://nebraskahistory.org/databases/index.shtml and browse through our other collections.

Genoa Indian School, Grace Stenberg Parsons – RG1298.AM

Please see our earlier blog post about the Genoa Indian School here. This collection contains a short biographical account about Grace Stenberg Parsons. The bulk of the component consists of Parson's descriptions of her experiences at the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana and at the Genoa Indian School in Genoa, Nebraska. Parsons presents a detailed account of the routine and activities at the Genoa Indian School and includes her opinions on the obstacles faced by Native American youth in the early 1900s. The photo component of the collection [RG1298.PH] includes approximately 160 images of students and activities at the Genoa Indian School in Genoa, Nebraska. There are also a number of images of the school's buildings. Most of the photographs are from the early 1900s.

Lakota, Lakota and Omaha Stories - RG1147.AM

The collection consists of two manuscripts containing compilations of Lakota and Omaha Indian stories. One manuscript is entitled, "Lakota Stories," by Leo American Horse and John Cress. Other editors mentioned include Clark Wissler, Martha Beckwith and J. Owen Dorsey. The manuscript includes stories told by Edgar Red Cloud. No credit is given to the editor of the Omaha stories. These stories explore the mythology and legends of the Lakota and Omaha people.

Otoe, William Wallace Dennison – RG0946.AM

The collection consists of research material about William Wallace Dennison. Dennison served as an Otoe Indian agent in the late 1850s to early 1860s. The research material consists of photocopies from various sources including Proceedings and Collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society; Nebraska News articles; Otoe County Pioneers by Raymond E. Dale; Illustrated History of Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton; and "Reports of the Secretary of the Interior," 1857-1860. Also included are photocopies of the probate papers for Helen A. Dennison, wife of William Wallace Dennison, and a list of Otoe Agency letters held on microfilm by the National Archives. Mrs. R.L. Spangler compiled the research materials, and correspondence regarding her research is included.

Pawnee, John Dunbar – RG4302.AM

John Dunbar was born on March 7, 1804 and reared in Palmer, Massachusetts. He graduated from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1832 and from Auburn Theological Seminary, Auburn, New York in 1834. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister at Ithaca, New York on May 1, 1834. Four days later Rev. Dunbar accompanied by Rev. Samuel Parker and Mr. Samuel Allis began a tour of the far west to locate a site for a mission under the auspices of the American Board of Missions for Foreign Missions. In St. Louis the plan was changed and Parker returned to New England while Dunbar and Allis went to Bellevue, Sarpy County, Nebraska, to begin a twelve year mission to the Pawnee Indians. Dunbar divided his time between Bellevue and traveling with the Grand band on their biannual buffalo hunts until the fall of 1836. The Pawnee's polite but stubborn resistance to Christianity and the increasing hostility by the Lakota led to the abandonment of the mission on April 17, 1846. The Dunbars moved to Andrew County and then Holt County, Missouri. In 1856 they moved to Brown County, Kansas where Rev. Dunbar died on November 1, 1857.


Oglala and Brule leaders from the Nebraska agencies were photographed in Omaha on May 14, 1875, while on their way to Washington, D.C. to meet with government officials.

Sitting Bull (Oglala) is seated on the left.


Ponca, Standing Bear – RG1429.AM

This collection consists of two folders of manuscript material relating to the trial of Standing Bear and his burial site. The 1879 trial transcript is a copy of the proceedings in the case Chief Standing Bear brought against General George Crook, Commander of the Department of the Platte. A copy of this material is also filed in the State Archives collection RG0512: U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska. The second folder includes correspondence about Standing Bear's grave, 1951-1952, and a 1915 reminiscence by Caroline L. Poppleton about his war bonnet, which is in the NSHS Museum Collections.

Santee, Santee Normal Training School – RG2497.AM

This collection consists of manuscript materials relating to the Santee Normal Training School and is arranged in three series: 1) Correspondence, 1914-c.1929; 2) Printed Matter; 3) Miscellany. The bulk of the collection contains tracts and pamphlets relating to the history and activities of the school, 1888-1933. Much of the material is printed in the Dakota language and was published by the Santee Normal Training School. The pamphlets are mostly of an instructional nature, probably intended for the use by the students at the school. The smaller tracts relate to the general activities of the institution and were apparently intended for general public distribution. Additional materials in the collection include biographical sketches of the Reverend Alfred Riggs, and attendance records of the Santee Normal Training School. Note: Copies of the "Word Carrier," ("Iapi Oaye") the school paper, are in the NSHS Library collections on microfilm.

Winnebago, Oliver Lamere – RG1149.AM

The collection contains copies of a paper read at the annual meeting of the Nebraska State Historical Society, January 22, 1914, entitled, "Clan Organization of the Winnebago," by Oliver Lamere. The paper emphasizes the history of the general organization of the Winnebago and includes a brief account of how the Winnebago clans came to be and their significance to the tribe. Lamere also relates their various customs on ceremonies of birth, death, burial, marriage, naming of children, etc. Also included in the collection are a short biography of Oliver Lamere and an obituary about Joseph Lamere. Check back next Wednesday for our blog post on Native American photo collections, part of our month-long celebration of Native American Heritage Month!      

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