The Nebraska Aborigines as They Appeared in the Eighteenth Century
Shine, Michael A.
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EDITOR’S PREFACE:A cloud of obscurity long hung over the history of the Nebraska region prior to the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-06. We knew that the early French maps located with approximate accuracy the position of the Nebraska Indian tribes. We knew that occasional French trappers and fur traders ventured up the Missouri. After the publication of the sixth volume of Margry’s memoirs in 1888, we knew something of the brief reports regarding the “Missouri Country” which these bold adventurers brought down the river to New Orleans nearly one hundred years before Lewis and Clark. But for the most part the record of Nebraska in the world’s history was a blank prior to 1804. Father Shine has rendered a great service to this early and almost unknown period of Nebraska history by bringing together in a brief article the important historical information we have regarding the Indians of Nebraska during the eighteenth century, citing sources so that each statement can readily be located and verified. Since Father Shine’s paper was given a year ago a most important additional document has been discovered at Seville, Spain, and published in French in the American Historical Review for January, 1914. This is the “Journal of Jean Baptiste Truteau on the Upper Missouri,” from June 7, 1794, to March 26, 1795, by far the most valuable contribution yet discovered regarding actual conditions of the early fur trade in Nebraska a hundred and twenty years ago when this region was under the dominion of the king of Spain and adventurous French fur traders from St. Louis were endeavoring to establish permanent fur trading posts in the region of Nebraska and the Dakotas. Truteau’s journal gives us the most definite and vivid first hand portrait of the great Omaha chief Blackbird found in any literature. Besides this it gives us an actual account written from day to day of life among the Nebraska Indians in that distant time. A translation of this document from the French, together with other early French documents relating to Nebraska, has been made by the editor of this series and will shortly appear in another pamphlet of the series.Meanwhile Father Shine’s story of Nebraska Aborigines in the Eighteenth Century furnishes the best condensed account of early Nebraska Indians yet written, and is printed in pamphlet form as a valuable contribution to Nebraska history and an incentive to further study of early Nebraska sources by our people.