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Who are the Osage Indians?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Osage Indians are a tribe of Native Americans that originally made their homes in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Today, many members of this tribe still call Oklahoma home. The Osage Indians have a reservation in Oklahoma and have their own government and legal system. Modern Osage Indians have a leader who is called their chief. He is elected to this position by members of the tribe; in the past, the chief was appointed to this position by members of the tribal council.

The ancient name of the Osage Indians is NiuKonskam. This means little ones of the middle waters. The Osage Indians call themselves the Wazhazhe. The name Osage came about when Frenchmen attempted to translate the Indian name using French phonetics.

This tribe of Native Americans has its own language. Most of the tribe's members, however, speak English as their primary language. Tribe elders are more likely to speak the native tongue than other members of the tribe. Some younger members of the tribe may also make a commitment to learning the native language in an effort to preserve it.

The historical dress of the Osage tribe was quite different from the clothing members wear today. The women typically wore dresses made of deerskin, adorning their clothing with beads and other decorations while the men dressed in breach cloths as well as leggings made of leather. Moccasins were the chosen footwear, and robes made of buffalo hide would protect the Native Americans from the cold. The Osage Indians also painted their faces for special occasions or before going to war. People of both genders would sometimes bear tattoos that indicated they were esteemed warriors or the spouses or daughters of esteemed warriors.

Today's Osage members may wear moccasins and some may own deerskin dresses. They typically wear modern clothing, however, and save the clothing their ancestors wore for ceremonies and special occasions. For example, they might dress in the traditional way to attend a special dance celebration.

Many people think of Native American homes of the past as tepees. While many Indians did live in these cone-shaped dwellings, the Osage tribe members typically lived in round lodges that had wooden frames topped with earth. They sometimes used tepees when they needed to erect a temporary shelter. For example, they used tepees much in the same way modern people use tents. Today's Osage tribe member doesn't live in a lodge or a tepee, however; he lives in a modern-day home or apartment.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a America Explained writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By mmoran — On Apr 15, 2014

It is my understanding that the Osage Indians are out of Quebec, QC. I am working on a family tree and have found out that I may have Osage Indian in my bloodline. I do know that my 15th or 16th G- Grandmother was full blood Osage and a number of others, too.

This is something that I have started working on over the past half year or so. If anyone can help me out or tell me how to go about looking into this, let me know. If all goes well I hope to take my soon to be 12 g-son to Quebec, QC with me.

If the Osage women took the last name as the men they married, then I hope to have some luck. The last name has a number of spellings. Here are a few of them: diit Brault- Pomainville, Brault -Pomainville, Pominville, Pomaville. The towns are Montreal, QC; Lachine, QC; and Cap-de-la-Madeleine .

So if anyone can help or tell me what to do, I thank you now.

By anon266618 — On May 07, 2012

It would be nice if the Wahzhazi would return to Missouri and establish Osage settlements along the old paths.

By whitesand — On Aug 03, 2011

I believe the spelling and pronunciation of the Osage people is Wah Zha Zhi. You'll find it in the first paragraph of the Osage Tribes Mission Statement which reads as follows.

To ensure the survival of the Wah Zha Zhi Nation of people, we will share, preserve and celebrate the values, teachings and tribal ways that our elders entrusted to the present and future generations.

By Sierra02 — On Aug 02, 2011

Did you know that the Osage Indians occupy the largest county in Oklahoma that runs over twenty three hundred square miles? The county is even called Osage County and is located in the northeastern part of the state near Tulsa.

On a recent trip through there we stopped in at the Osage Nation Cultural Center and Museum located in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

It's a beautiful establishment and filled with so much history, not only about the Osage Indians, but also about our nations past in general.

The center houses a library and a learning center where they offer free classes in shawl making, fingerweaving, ribbon work, beading and more. It looked like a lot of fun. I may have to do a little more research on that.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a America Explained writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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