Central City is a city and the county seat of Merrick County, Nebraska, United States. It is part of the Grand Island, Nebraska Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,934 at the 2010 census.
The inhabitants just prior to the establishment of Lone Tree (Central City) were the Pawnee. In the late 1700s, the Chaui had a village on the current location of Central City. An account that an old Chaui man gave to Major Frank North in 1875 about a battle that took place between two divisions of the Pawnee (the Chaui, Pitahauerit, and Kitkehahki, jointly known as the Southern Pawnee, on one side; and the Skidi on the other) in the late 1700s illustrates the political complexities of the early inhabitants of what would come to be Central City.
There had been considerable rivalry between the Chaui and the Skidi, which eventually led to an unprovoked attack by the Skidi on a group of Chaui hunting buffalo. It was estimated that 200 Chaui were killed. All were men from the Chaui village, which was near Lone Tree and where Central City is now located. The surviving Chaui returned to their village (this was thought to have occurred during winter). The Chaui did not believe they were strong enough to attack the Skidi, so they held councils with two other Southern Pawnee bands and told them what happened.