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TONWANTONGA

An important Omaha Indian village called Tonwantonga (Large Village) by the Omaha stood on
Omaha Creek in this area. Ruled by the great chief Blackbird, an estimated 1,100 people lived in
this earthlodge town about 1795 and it played an important role in Indian and exploratory history.
Many explorers and fur traders visited this spot before 1800. Near it the Spanish built a fort,
armed it with heavy guns, and named it Fort Charles honoring Charles IV.

The Lewis and Clark expedition visited the village August 13, 1804, finding it deserted, as the
Omaha were away on an extended buffalo hunt. The explorers stayed near the site for a week
and held a conference with three chiefs of the Oto tribe who had come to make peace with the
absent Omaha.

In 1800 disaster had struck the village as smallpox killed an estimated 400 including the famous
Chief Blackbird. After Blackbird's death the village ceased to play so important a role in the
struggle for control of the Missouri Valley and the Plains beyond.

Historical Land Mark Council
US 77, north of Homer
Dakota County
Marker 13

 


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Last updated 4 June 2004

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