Nebraska State Study

NebraskaLand of endless prairies and the route of the westward migration, it’s time for a Nebraska State Study.  Let’s start with the history.

History of Nebraska

The French were the first Europeans to explore and claim Nebraska, naming it Louisiana after the contemporary King Louis.  The Americans bought the territory from France during the days of Napoleon and soon divided it up into smaller territories.  Nebraska became part of the Missouri territory.  Missouri territory was sub divided again with the Nebraska-Kansas act of 1854.  Americans began settling the land in the mid 1800’s and were mostly farmers.  There were also army forts, and many wagon trains passed through the territory on their way west.  Eventually most of those forts became towns.

There was some controversy over the admittance of Nebraska as a state.  The Civil War had just been fought and Nebraska’s new constitution restricted blacks from voting.  The congress finally declared that Nebraska could become a state, but only if it did not restrict the vote.  The constitution was re-written and Nebraska was admitted by the congress only to be vetoed by President Andrew Johnson.  The veto was over-ridden by a 3/4 majority of the House and Senate and Nebraska finally became a state in 1887.

This is a corn field in southern Nebraska. Corn is one of the major crops produced here. But corn needs much more water than is naturally available from precipitation in this region so the crops are irrigated heavily using the resources of the Ogallala Aquifer, which has caused some controversy. Because this is a low precipitation area, the aquifer supposedly takes thousands of years to replenish what humans can take from it in a matter of years. There are fears that the aquifer will be diminished to the point where it will fail and then so will the entire agricultural area of the midwest, Americas grain fields. Image by Ryan Peters, CC license, Wikimedia.

In the late 1800’s the railroads arrived in Nebraska and gave rise to large cities where before all was rural or small town.  The population really boomed during this time.

This is downtown Omaha, Nebraska’s largest city and home to five Fortune 500 companies. Photo by shannonpatrick17, CC license, Wikimedia.


Here are some Nebraska themed activities to do with your kids.

Map Exploration

And here’s a blank Nebraska Map from Layers of Learning to color and label.

Nebraska web

 Additional Layers

  • Car-henge, a play on Stonehenge, can be found in Nebraska.  Find out more.
  • Learn which native tribes lived in Nebraska.
  • The pony express traveled though Nebraska in its mail route.
  • Pioneers traveled along the Platte River on their way west.  Learn more about the Oregon trail and the Mormon trail.
  • Learn how presidential vetoes and the over-riding power of congress work.
  • Nebraska has a prairie environment.  Learn more about prairies.

More From Layers of Learning




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