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The History of the Osage Indians in Missouri

    Early History

    • Delaware, Kickapoo, Sac and Shawnee tribes inhabited Missouri in the 17th century. However, the Osage Indians occupied the most land in the state, and the river that they settled around would later be named the Osage River. In what is today called Warsaw, Missouri, the Osage Indians lived on the river and settled in the local area in villages. They used the rivers and springs for a fresh supply of food. They used flint rock from the hills to make knives, arrowheads and other weapons.


    • Hunting was an important part of the Osage's life. Men would make several long hunting trips a year to the Missouri wilderness. They made permanent hunting camps, which they returned to every year. Women would work as farmers in villages, cultivating crops and gathered wild seeds as another source of food. Some women would go to the permanent hunting camps to prepare the meat caught by the men. The Osages were governed by a council of elders and two chiefs. The elders, known as "little old men," would pass down traditions and settle disagreements with the chiefs.

    Conflict and Communication

    • Osages in Missouri were often in conflict with other tribes. They would raid neighboring tribes for horses and other supplies. To steal a horse was considered an honor to the tribe. The first white settlers to Missouri also struggled with the Osage, who they saw as fierce and proud. However, the tribe was considered much easier to understand than northern Sioux tribes.

    The Treaty of Osage

    • The start of the 1800s saw a significant change in the settlement of the Osage tribe in Missouri. In 1808, the Osage Treaty was signed, forcing the Osages to give up part of the land they occupied in Missouri. They had to move from their communities on the Osage River to western Missouri.

    Final Osage Settlers

    • By 1825, more discussions had taken place between the government and the Osages leaders. A further treaty in June of that year gave the United States power to take away the last of the remaining tribe's land in Missouri, as well as Arkansas. Instead, they were given a reservation in Oklahoma. The Osages were one of the only tribes to adapt to living among Anglo-Americans, and they profited from the oil and gas reserves on their Oklahoma land. They eventually went on to be the wealthiest tribe in North America. As of 2011, they still occupy land in Oklahoma.

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