About the Omaha and Ponca Digital Dictionary Project

Principal Investigator (Project Director)

  • Mark Awakuni-Swetland
  • Associate Professor, Anthropology and Ethnic Studies (Native American Studies)
  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Co-Principal Investigator

  • Catherine Rudin
  • Professor, Modern Languages, Linguistics
  • Wayne State College

UNL Center for Digital Research in the Humanities Team

  • Katherine Walter, CDRH Co-Director
  • Brian Pytlik Zillig, Digital Initiatives Librarian
  • Laura Weakly, Metadata Encoding Specialist
  • Stacy Rickel, Programmer/Analyst, Computing Operations and Research Services
  • Karin Dalziel, Digital Resources Designer
  • Brent Baum, Digital Initiatives and Special Collections Library Assistant

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Workers

  • Justin Hathaway, Anthropology, Microfilm Scanning
  • David Nesheim, History, Data Entry
  • Jianguo Wang, Computer Science, Data Entry
  • Jacob Hilton, English, Data Entry

About The Project

This multimedia language resource is being created from a 19th century unpublished Omaha/Ponca word list collected by James Owen Dorsey (1848-1895). The original slip file housed in the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution was microfilmed by the Project Director in 1988. The estimated 20,000 images have now been digitized by the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. The information from each slip is being entered into a database where it is organized and undergoes linguistic analysis. The on-line dictionary emerges from the database.

The Dorsey slip file represents an important collection of Omaha language, and the culture it transmits, from an historic perspective. The purpose of the OPDD project is to bring this 19th century collection to light and present it in a way that is accessible and useable for people interested in the Omaha and Ponca languages. The database and its on-line dictionary component are designed for future growth with the addition of contemporary language annotations, images, audio files, and text.

The compilers of this dictionary web site are solely responsible for its contents.


This digital language resource is funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant #PD-5007-08 (2008-2011). Microfilm Images in cooperation with the Smithsonian.

The project is supported by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the Department of Anthropology, and the Institute for Ethnic Studies.

Content Questions

Comments and questions regarding the Omaha and Ponca Digital Dictionary project can be directed to cdrh.unl.edu

Technical Questions

Comments and questions regarding the technological support for this project can be directed to cdrh.unl.edu