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Omaha (Umoⁿhoⁿ)

Omaha is a Siouan language spoken in Nebraska in the USA by 60 people, 25 of whom are fluent, and of of whom are over 60 years old. Omaha is mutually intelligible with Ponca, which has a handful of speakers in Oklahoma and Nebraska. The Omaha and Ponca people consider their languages to be separate, however some consider them variants of one language: Omaha-Ponca, which is part of the Dhegiha dialect continuum along with Kansa, Osage and Quapaw.

The Omaha language was first documented in 1890 and 1891 by James O. Dorsey for the Bureau of American Ethnology. He devised a way of writing the language, known as the Dorsey Orthography, and other researchers came up with other ways of writing the language.

The orthography shown one below is used in the Omaha Nation Public School in Macy in Nebraska, and in Omaha Language Classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Omaha alphabet and pronunciation

Omaha alphabet and pronunciation


An accute accent (á) is used to indicate syllable stress, and stress placement can change the meaning of words. For example: wáthatʰe = table; wathátʰe = food


Sample texts

Part of The first battle between the Omahas and the Ponkas after the death of Black Bird (Dorsey Orthography)

\op Di´xe e´goñ-biama´. He´gazhi t'a´-biama´. Ga´xthoñ athai´ te ha te´ une´.
\op Poñ´ka ama´di ahi´-biama´. Te´ wa´thatai te Poñ´ka ama´. Ki the´-ma she´toñ
\op di´xe iñ´choñ giniñ´ te noñpe´hii te Umoñ´hoñ ama´; uki´gthi'age e´goñ moñthiñ´i te.

\Small-pox / they were so, they say. / Not a few / they died, they say. / Migrating / they went / , / buffalo / to hunt. /
\Ponkas / at the / they arrived, they say. / Buffalo / ate them / Ponkas / the (sub.). / And / these / that far /
\small-pox / now / recovered / when / were hungry / Omahas / the (sub.); / indisposed / somewhat / they walked. /


Part of a recipe for cowboy bread (wamóskeshúga)

  1. Wamóskeshóga páxe tamiⁿkʰe.
  2. Úxpe tóⁿga théde btháska móⁿ.
  3. Wamóskexóde ózhiha wéthihoⁿ sáthoⁿ, niskiⁿthe, téskamoⁿsenibthípe, ní kí wawégahi shénoⁿ.
  4. Néxetishóga kʰé unéthe gahá ináthe péde moⁿshíatʰa.
  5. Thénoⁿ, wamóskexóde ithágahi támiⁿkʰe.
  6. Wamóskexóde tʰé ózhiha widénoⁿ óbimoⁿ.


  1. I will make cowboy bread.
  2. I use a large bowl with a flat bottom.
  3. I use a five pound bag of flour, salt, powdered milk, water and baking powder.
  4. I place the skillet on the grill above the fire.
  5. Next, I will mix the dough.
  6. I pour one half of the bag of flour into the bowl.



Information about the Omaha language

Omaha & Ponca Digital Dictionary

Siouan languages

Assiniboine, Biloxi, Chiwere, Crow, Dakota, Lakota, Omaha, Osage, Stoney, Winnebago / Ho-Chunk

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

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