Osage Tribe

Osage Native American Indian

This article contains interesting facts, pictures and information about the life of the Osage Native American Indian Tribe of the Great Plains.

The Osage Tribe
Summary and Definition: The Osage tribe, originally a woodlands tribe,  inhabited lands midway between the Mississippi River and the Great Plains and between Canada and New Orleans. The Osage were a fierce, war-like nation who were Missouri's greatest Native Indian traders when they were encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1805).

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Facts about the Osage Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Osage Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Osage tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Osage tribe with facts about their wars and history.

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Osage tribe?
The Osage called themselves Ni-U-Kon-Ska meaning "Children of the Middle Waters"), but were known as "Wah Sha She" by most whites at the time they were encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804 - 1806) when they were referred to as the "the great nation South of the Missouri".

The people of the tribe were strong and unusually tall. Warriors were extremely swift-footed and were known to travel up to 60 miles in just one day. The above picture of an Osage warrior was painted by the famous artist George Catlin (1796-1872) who described the brave as wearing "a profusion of Wampum on his neck, and a fan in his hand made of the eagle's tail". The fierce, powerful, war-like braves wore striking red face paint and shaved their heads except for a scalplock (one long lock of hair in back) and wore a porcupine roach headdress on top. The Osage were great traders and fought on the side of the French in the wars with the British. They acquired flintlock muskets and sharp tomahawks from the Europeans early in their history which made the tribe formidable military opponents to many other Native American tribes. The Louisiana Purchase (1803) the 1808, the Osage signed the Drum Creek Treaty  in 1868, ceding almost all of Missouri, to the United States. The Osage later became scouts for the U. S. Army.


Where did the Osage tribe live?
The Great Plains Osage were woodland farmers but adopted a nomadic lifestyle, hunting the great buffalo herds and living in tepees made of buffalo hides.

  • They lived in the American Great Plains region in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The tribe settled in Missouri

  • Land: Grass covered prairies with some streams and rivers

  • Climate: Hot summers and cold winters

  • Animals: The  animals included the Bison (Buffalo), black bears from the Ozark Mountains, deer, cougars, elk, bear, beaver, porcupine, antelope, prairie dogs, eagles and wolves

  • Fish: Various fish including sturgeon, crayfish and mussels

  • Crops: Maize, beans, and squash raised in farmlands by their permanent villages

Map showing Great Plains Native American Indian Tribes

What did the Osage tribe live in?
During the summer the Great Plains Osage hunted for buffalo using
Tepees as shelters, but their permanent homes were originally large fortified villages of thatched longhouses and later Earth Lodges.

What language did the Osage tribe speak?
The tribe spoke in the Dhegihan dialect of the Siouan language, closely related linguistically to the Sioux and the Stoney tribe.

What food did the Osage tribe eat?
The food that the Osage tribe ate came from the animals they hunted on the Great Plains including Buffalo, elk, deer (venison), black bear and wild turkey. This food was supplemented with roots and wild vegetables such as spinach, prairie turnips and potatoes and flavored with wild herbs and dried buffalo meat called pemmican. The Osage farmers produced beans, maize and squash supplemented with pumpkin.

What weapons did the Osage use?
The weapons used by the tribe included muskets, lances, knives, hatchets, tomahawks and strong bows and arrows made of Osage Orangewood.

What clothes did the Osage wear?
The men of the tribe wore breechcloths, fringed buckskin tunics or shirts and leggings. Warm buffalo robes or cloaks were also worn to protect against the cold and the rain. The women wore buckskin knee-length dresses and leggings and buffalo robes during bad weather. The Osage used 'hair pipe' beads to create highly decorative choker necklaces.

Osage History: What happened to the Osage tribe?
The following Osage history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Osage timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Osage History Timeline

  • 1673: French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet made the first European contact with the Osage tribe along the Osage River

  • 1700's: Strong fur trading links were established with the French

  • 1746: Major conflict with Comanche and the Pawnee tribes

  • 1750: The Osage defeated the Caddo tribes to establish dominance in the plains region with control "over half or more of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas".

  • 1754: French Indian War (1754-1763), also known as the 7 year war, was the fourth and final series of conflicts in the French and Indian Wars fought between the British and the French. Both sides were aided by Native Indian allies. The Osage are allied to the French

  • 1763: French and Indian War ends in victory for the British. Canada, east of the Mississippi River, was added to the British empire

  • 1795: Rene Auguste Chouteau, a French fur trader controlled the trade with the Osage built Fort Carondelet

  • 1801: A devastating smallpox epidemic decimates the Osage people

  • 1803: The Louisiana Purchase. The U. S. found the Osage to be the largest and most formidable tribe encountered in the Louisiana Purchase

  • 1804: Jean Pierre Chouteau, a half-brother of Rene Auguste Chouteau, was appointed as the US Indian agent

  • 1804: Lewis and Clark expedition (1804 - 1806) encounter the Osage and establish friendly relations

  • 1806: A grand council was held September 28, 1806 between Zebulon Pike and James Wilkinson and various chiefs of the Kansa, Pawnee and Osage Nations

  • 1808: Treaty of Fort Osage, the first cession of their lands in Missouri

  • 1813: Manuel Lisa (1772 -1820) established Ft. Lisa, the most important trading post on the Missouri River, controlling trade with the Omaha, Pawnee, Missouria, Otoe, and other neighbouring Indians from 1813 to 1822

  • 1817: The Battle of Claremore Mound, also known as the Claremore Mound Massacre, when 500 Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and whites perpetrate a bloody massacre at an Osage village

  • 1833: The Cutthroat Gap Massacre when the Osage massacred 150 Kiowa near the Wichita Mountains

  • 1834: The artist George Catlin visits the Osage tribe

  • 1837: The Osage War in Missouri

  • 1837: Second great Smallpox epidemic kills many Native American Indians

  • 1860's: The Osage become scouts for the U. S. Army

  • 1868: May 27, 1868 The Drum Creek Treaty is signed at Drum Creek Agency in which the Osage nation sell 8.03 million acres to the Federal Government for $1.6 million

  • 1870: Treaty established the Osage Reservation in the northeastern part of Indian Territory (Oklahoma)

  • 1870's: The buffalos had been deliberately slaughtered by the whites to the point of extinction so ending the lifestyle of the Great Plains Native Indians

  • 1872: Indian Agent, Isaac Gibson, selects the site of the Osage Agency at Pawhuska

  • 1887-1934: General Allotment Act (1887) began land allotment of Osage territory

  • 1894: Oil discovered on the Osage reservation

  • 1906: The Osage Allotment Act was passed by Congress

  • 2001: Osage Casino, Hominy, Oklahoma, opened and five other casinos followed

  • 2013: Osage Casinos officially opened newly constructed casinos and hotels in Ponca City and Skiatook

Osage History Timeline


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the people lived
  • The clothes worn by men and women
  • History Timeline
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the people would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Osage
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Osage Native American Indians

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Osage Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Osage nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Osage tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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