Tag Archives: Buffalo

The Omaha Tribe and Horses

March 3, 2017 by
Photography by Nebraska State Historical Society (provided)

The city of Omaha is named after the Umonhon people. The state of Nebraska is also an Umonhon word, NiBlaSka, or “Land of the Flat Waters.”

Neither this city nor this state would be named as it is without horses. The Umonhon people originally lived in Ohio, migrating to Nebraska in the 1750s after horses were introduced to the tribe from trade networks. The Umonhon controlled extensive trade networks through their oversight of the Missouri River, or NiShude. The network extended as far north as Lake Winnipeg in Canada and as far south as St. Louis. The shonge or “horse” was acquired at this time from trade relationships, and by 1775, the main Umonhon village was located at TonwonTonga or “Big Village,” near current day Dakota County, Nebraska.

The Umonhon, or Omaha, are part of the Dhegiha linguistic group. Dhegiha means “people of this land.” Umonhon translates to “people who went upstream,” relating to the separation of the Umonhon and the other cognate tribes at the headwaters of the Mississippi River hundreds of years ago. Umonhon women were agriculturalists, breeding strains of maize, beans, squash, quinoa, and melons. They also gathered other foods and medicines that grew naturally in their environment and were herbalists. Men hunted large game, such as elk and buffalo. Buffalo was especially important as it was a staple food source and provided primary provisions for blankets, robes, moccasins, fuel, shelter, and utensils. The Umonhon had a complex kinship system based on the clanship, known as the Hu’thuga.

The Umonhon had a historical impact on the state of Nebraska that is evident in present day. The Umonhon were the first equestrian culture of the northern plains as the evolving economy of the horse and fur trade was occurring. The adoption of the horse into Umonhon society forever changed Umonhon culture.

Umonhon quickly developed a strong relationship with horses. Horses were highly prized and used as a form of currency. Men, women, and children could possess horses equally. Horses were seen as the highest form of a gift one could offer.  Some marriage ceremonies consisted of women being led around the village on horseback followed by her husband’s gifts to her family.

Umonhon people loved their horses. Men frequently painted their horses for spiritual reasons or to illustrate rank. Horses would also be decorated with ribbons, and their tails would be painted or braided. Women embroidered the cruppers of their horses for decoration and spiritual significance.

Horses were used to assist with labor, often in the form of a travois, a historical A frame structure that was used to drag loads over land. Prior to the introduction of the horse, travois were pulled by dogs. The horse travois were often used by women in times of long distance travel. Parflesche, or rawhide bags are utilized to store materials, were used as saddlebags on horses.

Horse culture became an integral part of Umonhon life. They changed the trade economy and horses and Umonhon people maintained a strong spiritual and social connection that continues to exist today. In January 2015, the Omaha Tribe hosted “Spiritual Ride: Prayers for Generations to Come.” This ceremony consisted of a 21-mile horse ride in freezing conditions. The purpose was to pray and bring attention to the state of Nebraska suing the Omaha Tribe over reservation boundaries. In the end, the Supreme Court sided unanimously with the Omaha Tribe in preservation of their boundary.

Nebraska was granted statehood on March 1, 1867. In March 2017, Omaha Magazine published a collection of horse-related articles that appear in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping and FEI World Cup Dressage Finals held in Omaha. This was the first of those articles.The other articles in this series are:

Into the Wild

Horses Pave the Way in Nebraska Territory

Horses Run Early Statehood

Horses in Nebraska Today

Umonhon Chief Prairie Chicken on Horseback, circa 1898.

Buffalo Cauliflower

Photography by Baldwin Publishing Company

Hot sauce, blue cheese and celery transform boring cauliflower into irresistible Super Bowl Sunday party food. This easy appetizer is a healthy dish that everyone will love. Cauliflower never tasted so good.

Find more great recipes at HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parents about healthy nutrition and fitness.


  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup hot sauce, according to taste
  • 1 Tbsp trans-fat free margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat blue cheese or ranch dressing
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced into 3-inch sticks


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the oil and pepper.
  2. On a baking sheet, arrange the florets in a single layer. Roast, turning halfway through cooking, for 45 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer the cauliflower back to the large bowl.
  3. Add the hot sauce and margarine to the cauliflower and toss to coat. Serve immediately with blue cheese dressing for dipping and celery sticks on the side.

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size: 1/2 cup; Calories: 96; Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 0; Cholesterol: 1mg; Sodium: 645mg; Carbohydrates: 10g; Fiber: 3g; Protein: 3g

Yield: 4 servings


Craig Nigrelli

June 8, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article originally published in May/June 2015 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Whether he’s giving the scoop, dishing the dirt, spilling the beans over the airwaves, or just delivering a friendly “hello” at his local supermarket, Craig Nigrelli is always on.

It might sound exhausting to some, but for the KMTV news anchor who has been serving Omaha his buffet-style brand of broadcast journalism for nearly the past seven years, it’s just another perk of the job.

“I think when you’re in the public eye, you always have to be aware that you’re on the air,” Nigrelli, 48, admits in a dynamic tone that makes everything he says sound newsworthy. “People are always watching you no matter where you are. It’s what I signed up for. It comes with the territory.”

Known as “Ron Burgundy” or “Newsboy” within the ranks of his hockey buddies, Nigrelli says he’s been tirelessly engaging his new home as his station’s “Steady Eddy.” But perhaps the Buffalo native’s most appropriate nickname derives not from his profession, but from his habitual nature, which he says has allowed him to consistently bring high energy to his news teams for over two decades.

“I’m a man of routine, and I get that from my father,” Nigrelli says. “My wife calls me ‘Mr. As Is.’”

Nigrelli’s as-isness, he says, manifests itself in taking the first half hour of a day in silence, pumping iron four times a week, playing hockey twice a week, and watching his wife, Omaha Magazine contributor Carol Crissey Nigrelli, play the cello at their church every Sunday.

“As soon as you step outside the house and as soon as you step into the subterfuge of the daily [routine],” Nigrelli explains, “you’re on. You’re in the spin cycle from 10:30 in the morning till when you get home at 11:30 at night.” Nigrelli’s dedication to an unwavering, controllable routine lends balance the often chaotic world of news reporting. “For better or for worse, the world never stops spinning.”

As a master storyteller, Nigrelli is resigned to the fact that he must often report on doom and gloom to the viewers he likes to consider his neighbors.

“People are curious—they want to know why there’re flashing lights. They want to know why a road was closed. We live in a curious world.”

As part of his professional regimen, the anchor says he writes almost all of the reporter introductions for all four of his daily newscasts. The humanizing aspect of Nigrelli’s style, which seems to break a fourth wall at times while making an emotional connection with audiences instead of just an informative one, is how he says he’s comfortable selling his station’s content.

“Because if I’m bored, the viewer is bored,” Nigrelli says. “If I’m engaged and I’m energetic and I’m driving the content and I’m excited about it and I’m taking viewers on my shoulder for a ride like it’s a roller coaster…then they’ll probably enjoy it.”


Concertmaster Susanna Perry Gilmore

April 9, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Originally published in March/April 2015 Omaha Magazine.

When the house lights dim at the Holland Performing Arts Center, the formally dressed musicians on stage cease warming up and the rustle of the audience immediately dies down. The silence and stillness in the 2,000-seat, acoustically superior hall signal a very satisfying tradition at every classical music concert: the entrance of the concertmaster.

A woman with luxuriously thick, curly strawberry blonde hair and a sweet smile appears from stage left, violin in hand, igniting enthusiastic applause. After bowing to the audience, she turns and faces her 75 or so colleagues, making eye contact with each of them as if to say, “We’re in this together. Let’s do it!” She then nods to the principal oboe to play a concert “A” and that wondrous sound of an orchestra tuning fills the space.

Susanna Perry Gilmore is the symphony’s principal first violinist, a high profile “glamour” job and, after the conductor, an orchestra’s second-most pivotal position. The concertmaster must possess superior playing and leadership abilities, but what the audience sees leans toward the ceremonial.

“I symbolically represent the orchestra,” Gilmore explains in her low, assertive voice. “There’s the tradition of entering, my hand gets shaken all the time by the conductor and the guest soloist and I ‘tune’ the orchestra, which isn’t really true but it’s part of the little rituals.” In addition, Gilmore plays all the violin solos within an orchestral work and is often featured as a soloist standing up front on stage. Reviewers have praised her deep tone and impeccable technique.

Behind the scenes, the job of concertmaster requires an exhaustive list of qualifications and abilities. Gilmore works closely with music director and conductor Thomas Wilkins to make sure the violins are playing exactly what he wants musically or what the composer intended.

“Thomas calls me his field general,” she says with a gentle laugh, amused by the image. “In rehearsal, I’m constantly evaluating what [the violins] are doing. Are we achieving what he or a guest conductor wants? If not, would a different bowing or a different fingering help? It may be just asking the conductor, ‘May we please just do this passage slower?’”

With the negotiating skills of a diplomat, the patience and understanding of a Zen master, and the obsessive drive of a politician, Gilmore gets an entire section of violinists—each with their own personality and style—to play as one voice.

Gilmore had just turned 40 when she came to Omaha in 2011 and quickly won the admiration of her peers.

“She has been a really important figure in transforming the violin section,” praises principal horn Jason DeWater, currently on sabbatical. The bow strokes are identical, they play the same phrasing and they sound amazing. Plus, she’s humble and kind and very talented.” But a strain of steel magnolia runs through Gilmore. “There’s an intensity about her and she’s no pushover,” reveals DeWater. “She’ll go toe-to-toe with anybody, including a conductor, if she thinks something can be done better.”

That kind of self-assuredness grew gradually out of her musical training. Born in Buffalo, N.Y. to a pair of academics, Gilmore always had the music in her. “My mother says I sang before I could talk,” says Gilmore, who has two brothers who, like their parents, became professors.

When she was 8, the family moved to Bloomington and Indiana University where she added violin to her piano studies and took lessons at the university’s school of music. She was too young to appreciate I.U.’s string program as one of the most prestigious in the world. Gilmore only knew she loved the violin. “I was a really sensitive, shy, and introverted kid and the violin was, and still is, a tremendous emotional outlet for me.”

Her training eventually took her across the pond to London and Oxford University where she received a degree in musicology and theory. Did she want to teach music or play violin fulltime? Her decision led to Boston where she earned a Master’s degree in performance at the New England Conservatory. Two years later Gilmore won the position of concertmaster with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, where she stayed for 15 years and raised a family. She has two daughters: Katy, 13, and Zoe, 10.

It was in Memphis as guest conductor that Thomas Wilkins met Gilmore and saw everything he wanted in a concertmaster. Their personalities clicked; their musical tastes meshed in what Gilmore calls “beautiful serendipity.” She was open to the possibility of change and spent a week “auditioning” with the symphony in Omaha. Serendipity struck again.

“I felt very embraced by the musicians here; very welcomed and supported,” she recalls of her tryout week. “That’s not always the case in a work environment. It makes making music easier.”

With positive vibes all around, Omaha’s concertmaster continues her course of excellence.