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Elder John Pappan (Omaha/Pawnee) (CYGM) was raised by his parents, uncles and aunts to be of service to his people.  Many of his relatives are spiritual leaders & healers.  He has a vision for the “Big Elk Native American Center” that will be of great benefit to the youth & elders in the community.



Prayers always help with those who believe in me, and the cause we will be successful. Aho! -John Pappan (Omaha/Pawnee)


John Pappan, Director for Big Elk




Our mission is to promote equity & access for the Native American community in the Omaha, Nebraska area by providing advocacy & support.


We were hit by sickness & family emergencies of our board & volunteers, then the covid crisis further hit us and our new Native non-profit organization.  We welcome any donations which are tax deductible for our determined rise from this delay to launching a successful native grassroots organization.

Use paypal to send funds to director John Pappan.

Email: whitebison777@yahoo.com

The center is named after honored & respected Omaha Chief Big Elk (Onpa-tonga), this organization will serve the needs of our diverse native inter-tribal community in the Omaha metro area.



-We have a founding date of April 29, 2016.

-We have an initial board of directors.

-We have established membership guidelines.

-We have a plan for membership recordkeeping.

-We publish minutes on our Facebook group.


-We established a fiscal year coinciding with the calendar year.

-We have registered a name with the state of Nebraska.

-We have filed articles of incorporation with the state of Nebraska.

-We have an EIN number with the IRS.

We received our 501(c)(3) status.

We set up checking account, which was opened in December 2016.



We hosted many meetings to collect feedback from community members.

We have been holding bi-weekly meetings on starting a Native American Center.



We are working to address Indian Child Welfare Act issues in Nebraska, with the support of Dr. Rudi Mitchell, who is the official Omaha Nation Qualified Expert Witness.  He is a commissioner for the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.

We have discussed creating a Native American entrepreneurship residency house by partnering with Nebraska Startup Village.

We are in discussion about starting a transitional housing program.

Last fall in 2015 we hosted a community potluck at Yates Elementary in collaboration with the Mayan community.


Community Space

A community space is a place for the community to use. The space could be reserved for events such as birthdays, or for scheduling social activities. The space could also be reserved at times for Native American ceremonial services. Cultural activities, such a place for drum group practice, and a place for storytelling would also work well at a community space.


Gathering Space

Larger space is needed for gatherings, and could include dinners, activities during religious and secular holidays, and smaller community dances (Pow-Wows).


Elderly Senior Space

Our elderly need opportunities to socialize, companionship, and to be on-hand as a cultural resource. This would also be a good opportunity to provide elderly meals, and a space for activities.


Wakes, Funerals and Memorial Space

For the community in Omaha, a place for wakes, funerals and memorials is needed. Many times, families must have these activities in their homes where there is not enough room for the social nature of a wake.


Transitional Homes

Transitional homes provide a supportive environment, and teaches skills & training to help people get on their feet. These homes can help combat issues related to domestic violence & human trafficking.


Field Office Space

In some cases, it would be helpful to have official tribal representation. For tribes who do not yet have a presence in Omaha, a space for field offices could be useful. It would also make sense to have a field office for some neighboring tribes. For example, the Lakota have high rates of foster care children in the Nebraska area, and for various reasons, one or more Lakota tribes might want to have a field office in the Omaha area.


Virtual Center (Friendly spaces)

Access to friendly spaces! There is a need for space, but until the time when a single center can be established, a center that meets the many needs for the community, a “resource list” can be established including arrangements with the many existing spaces in Omaha, to help meet the space needs for the Native American community in Omaha.


Community Education/Interpretive Center

A Community education/Interpretive Center would appeal to the greater Omaha community, and would be mostly useful for education & fundraising purposes.


Community Get-Togethers

Regardless of whether a space is found, many community members have voiced the need for regular community gatherings.


Help with transitioning to Omaha

For new residents who arrive in Omaha, a center could help as a starting point for someone who needs to orient themselves with the services in Omaha, and also begin to socialize with the others in the community. New tribal members arriving to Omaha, Nebraska, may also need assistance with basic needs such as housing, food, medical care, and employment


Advocacy and Team-Building

The way we plan to address the many needs is through “advocates” & “teams”. The advocates are volunteer or paid members of our group who are tasked with providing guidance, assistance, and follow-up for anyone who wants to contact our group with a need. The “teams” are leaders in the community who are taking the initiative to build a local coalition that focuses on needs in the Native American community. Each of the needs addressed here could not be addressed unless someone from the community is willing to form a team.


Advocacy and team-building activities will include:

-Developing a resource catalog for BENAC & Omaha (of services, facilities, equipment)

-Training for team members & advocates

-The ability to get the word out about activities through announcements

-The ability to coordinate Native American events through a shared calendar

-News reporting through news releases & website maintenance.

-Operating as a fiscal agent to help teams address the need.

-Community awards to recognize leaders, and youth for their achievements.



Author: John PappanElder John Pappan (Omaha/Pawnee) was raised by his parents, uncles and aunts to be of service to his people. Many of his relatives are spiritual leaders & healers. He has a vision for the “Native American Center” a healing- cultural center by for run by Native community and allies

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