The Sarpy County Museum, 2402 Clay St. in Bellevue, will highlight Native American history as its theme this year.
This will include an exhibit showing some of the artifacts and history of Native Americans in Sarpy County, especially the Omaha tribe, as well as monthly events involving Native American history.
In 2015, World War II was chosen as the theme, marking the 70-year anniversary of the end of the war, but the Sarpy County Museum staff had considered Native American history as a theme for years.
“This year, we felt it was time to address it,” Sarpy County Museum Executive Director Ben Justman said.
Justman spoke of the unique history of the Native Americans in Sarpy County, especially in many areas that have now been developed. The ground where Twin Creek Cinema stands, for example, was once a village of the Omaha tribe. One of the most noteworthy Native Americans in Sarpy County history is Chief Big Elk, the last full-blooded Omaha chief, as well as his grandson, Logan Fontenelle.
On display at the museum are many Native American artifacts, especially of the Omaha tribe, including pottery, arrowheads, dreamcatchers and traditional clothing.
Some of the items on display are from the 1800s, while others are from a more recent time.
“They’re not all 150 years old, but the artistry that goes into them is still pretty neat,” Justman said.
Many of the items on display were donated by Dr. Anthony Yonkers, who worked as an ear, nose and throat doctor at the Pine Ridge Reservation for many years and had a collection of Native American themed crafts he donated to the museum.
Justman expects as the year goes on, Sarpy County residents will loan the museum plenty of their own historical artifacts to be displayed.
“It never fails, whenever we do an exhibit, people will come up to us and say ‘I’ve got this, would you like to add it to the exhibit?’” Justman said.
The monthly programs that the museum hosts also will emphasize Native American themes.
February’s program will be “Sometimes Freedom Wears a Woman’s Face: Native Woman Veterans of World War II,” a presentation by Creighton University’s Dr. Pamela Bennett at 2 p.m. on Feb. 28.
Justman also hopes to lead a guided tour of the Native American history of Fontenelle Forest this fall.