The Osage are a Midwestern Native American tribe of Plains Indians who historically ruled much of Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The tribe formerly lived in the areas in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys around 1,200 BC. They then began migrating west due to wars with the invading Iroquois. The term "Osage" is considered a French name for the tribe which roughly translates into "Mid-Waters". The Osage people refer to themselves in their own language as Wazhazhe.
Official seal of the Osage Nation
|9,400 Full-Blood |
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States (Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma)|
|Christianity (Roman Catholicism), Native American Church, traditional tribal religion|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Kansa, Omaha, Ponca, Quapaw|
At the height of their power in the early 18th century, the Osage had become the dominant power in the region. They were feared by neighboring tribes as ruthless and "savage" fighters. The Osage would often practice ritual scalping and beheading as military trophies. The tribe controlled the area between the Missouri and Red River to the South and were greatly dependent on nomadic buffalo hunting and farming.
The 19th-century painter George Catlin described the Osage as:
the tallest race of men in North America, either red or white skins; there being few indeed of the men at their full growth, who are less than six feet in stature, and very many of them six and a half, and others seven feet.
The missionary Isaac McCoy described the Osage as an "uncommonly fierce, courageous, warlike nation", and Washington Irving said they were the "finest looking Indians I have ever seen in the West."
The Osage originally lived among the Kansa, Ponca, Omaha, and Quapaw in the Ohio Valley. Researchers believed that the tribes likely developed differences in their languages and cultures after leaving the lower Ohio country. The Omaha and Ponca settled in the present-day area of Nebraska, the Kansa in Kansas, and the Quapaw in Arkansas.
The Osage are a federally recognized tribe. They were forced to move to Indian Territory in the 19th century, and have been based in Oklahoma. There are 9,400 descendants, 5,620 of which reside in area surrounding Osage county. Members live both on the nations tribal land in Oklahoma and in other states around the country such as Kansas.
- 2011 "Osage Reservation", Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory, Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, 2011: 24. Retrieved 14 June 2016
- American Indian, Alaska Native Tables from the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2004-2005. (pdf file) Statistical Abstract of the United States 2004-2005. 2005 (retrieved 2 March 2009)
- Francis La Flesche, A Dictionary of the Osage Language (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1932), p. 110
- George R. Matthews, Zebulon Pike: Thomas Jefferson's Agent for Empire (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016), p. 41
- George A. Schultz, An Indian Canaan (Norman: University of Oklahoma press, 1972), p. 113