There was little incentive at the time for Americans to move into the western parts of the original Louisiana Territory. Reports from the western expeditions had not been glowing in their descriptions of region-—Stephen Long described the High Plains as a “desert”-—and it was already extensively occupied by Native American tribes. And on to top of this, it was far removed from the center of economic and political life in the U.S., bordered beyond by seemingly impenetrable mountains and then Spanish territory.
So, in 1834, an Indian Intercourse Act set aside for Native Americans "…all that part of the United States west of the Mississippi and not within the states of Missouri and Louisiana, or the territory of Arkansas…" This Indian Territory was steadily reduced over the years, but by 1845 in what had been the Louisiana Purchase, other than a single row of states and territories strung along the Mississippi River, the rest was unorganized Indian lands.
The out-of-the-way, practically useless character of this region, which made it such a perfect place to stick the Native Americans, was soon to radically change. With the increased emigration of Americans to the Oregon Country and California beginning in the 1830s, there was concern in Washington of the need for the development of the lands through which the emigrants would have to pass on their way from the Mississippi River to the Rockies. The need for a military presence for protection, a formal government structure for laws, laws for economic development, and new settlements to help feed and house the emigrants, all made it evident that there had to be some sort of governmental presence crossing the Indian Territory.
The need for some sort of U.S. government control over a land bridge between the territories and states along the Mississippi River and California and Oregon was clear. Between 1844 and 1854 there were 8 proposals for a new territory spanning the Indian Country. The name for this proposed territory was to be "Nebraska," a name first used by Frémont to refer to the Platte River, which was for much of its length the main route for the emigrants heading west. "Nebrathka," was an Otoe word for ‘flat water' and was used by them as the name for the Platte.
The first official proposal was by Secretary of War William Wilkins in his annual report of Nov. 30, 1844. This was taken up by Stephen Douglas with House bills in December 1844. The idea was to create a territory along the Platte River Valley with a string of military posts from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. These bills failed. Another bill was put forth in 1848, and others in 1850 & 1852 & 1853, but all failed.