The first significant earthquake felt in Nebraska occurred in 1867, the year that statehood was achieved. The tremor occurred on April 24, 1867, and was apparently centered near Lawrence, Kansas. It affected an area estimated at 780,000 square kilometers including much of Nebraska. Since 1867, at least seven earthquakes of intensity V or greater have originated within Nebraska's boundaries. Several strong earthquakes centered in neighboring States have also been felt over limited portions of Nebraska. None of these caused damage.
Floods are a common threat in Nebraska, where blizzards, hailstorms, and tornadoes lash the plains and prairies most years. At other times, however, droughts, or prolonged dry spells, endanger the state's crops and cattle. Weather in Nebraska swings from hot summers to cold winters. Temperatures average 76 F in July and 23 F in January.
Farm output and income increased dramatically into the 1970s through wider use of hybrid seed, pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, close-row planting, and irrigation, but contaminated runoff adversely affected water quality and greater water use drastically lowered water-table levels. Many farmers took on large debt burdens to finance expanded output, their credit buoyed by strong farm-product prices and exports. When prices began to fall in the early 1980s, many found themselves overextended. By spring 1985, an estimated 10% of all farmers were reportedly close to bankruptcy. In the early 1990s farm prices rose; the average farm income in Nebraska rose more than 10% between 1989 and the mid-1990s.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 established Nebraska Territory, which stretched from Kansas to Canada and from the Missouri River to the Rockies. The territory assumed its present shape in 1861. Still sparsely populated, Nebraska escaped the violence over the slavery issue that afflicted Kansas. The creation of Nebraska Territory heightened conflict between Indians and white settlers, however, as Indians were forced to cede more and more of their land. From mid-1860 to the late 1870s, western Nebraska was a battleground for Indians and US soldiers. By 1890, the Indians were defeated and moved onto reservations in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
The land that is now Nebraska was once a part of the territory of Spain and later of France, and was peacefully acquired by the United States in 1803 when the French Emperor Napoleon offered the vast Louisiana Territory to the U.S. for $15,000,000. For three cents an acre, the fledgling American Republic doubled its size and acquired what would eventually form all or part of 15 states.
With no governmental control, the area became known as a wild region, and a great deal of trouble was made by fur traders. They sold whisky to the Indians, cheated them, and killed their game. Quarrels and wars became frequent. In 1834, an attempt was made to end these troubles. The United States declared, on June 30, 1834, that all land west of the Missouri River that was outside of the states of Missouri and Louisiana and the territory of Arkansas was to be known as "The Indian Country." Strict laws were set up that forbade white men to hunt, trap, or settle in this area without special permission from the government. It was now a crime to take liquor into the area. The Indian Superintendent at St. Louis was made governor over "The Indian Country."
France and Spain began to compete for the good will of the Indians living in Nebraska. Wars broke out between Indians in Nebraska and those in Kansas, the French helping one side and the Spanish the other.
But France and Spain weren't the only countries who claimed the Nebraska area. The King of England had given grants of land to the first English settlers along the Atlantic coast. Each grant was a certain number of miles wide to the north and south, and stretched from the Atlantic Ocean "to the South Sea ," as the Pacific Ocean was then called. Nebraska was within the boundaries of the grants given to settlers in Massachusetts and Connecticut . The settlers themselves were so busy trying to fight Indians on the Atlantic coast in order to keep their homes that they never ventured west. Although these settlers never even saw the prairies of Nebraska, the King of England still claimed them.
The Native Indians of Nebraska were the were the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Chippewa, Delaware, Fox, Omaha, Fox, Kansas, Kiowa, Missouri, Iowa Oto, Sauk and the Pawnee tribes
The First People who came to the place we now call Nebraska were the Native Americans. Like the Euro-Americans who came later, the various Indian tribes differed in language and culture. The mixture in Nebraska was unique - similar to but certainly not the same as the groups who populated surrounding areas. So it was also with the people who came to Nebraska in the nineteenth century. Most settlers came from states directly east; fewer came from southern states or New England. Other newcomers were immigrants from northern and central Europe. Understanding the cultures of all these people helps explain Nebraska's history.
Nebraska, which was admitted to the union as the 37th state on March 1, 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War, contains some of the nation’s best ranchland and farmland. Prior to its statehood, the Nebraska Territory had been sparsely settled but saw growth during the California Gold Rush in 1848, with a larger wave of settlers arriving as homesteaders in the 1860s.