Osage Indians are also known as Wah-Zha-Zhi, which translates to “Children of the Middle Water” or “People of the Block” in their native language.
Traditional Home Territory
The Osage language belongs to the Dhegihan branch of the Siouan language family. This language was widely spoken by the Osages at the time of European contact. However, due to various factors such as forced assimilation, the number of speakers has decreased over the years. As far as I know, in September 2021, Osage speakers were estimated to have about 200 fluent speakers.
Historically, the Osage Indians made treaties with various Native American tribes such as the Kaw, Ponca, and Quapaw. They also had close ties to Missouri, with whom they often shared villages and intermarried.
The Osage Indians had previous conflicts with several tribes. They were at war with the Chickasaw and Caddo tribes and the Omaha and Ponca tribes, traditional enemies of the Osages. In addition, they came into conflict with European settlers and other non-native groups as they expanded westward.
In the 17th century, the Osage population is estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals. By the early 19th century, their numbers had risen to about 10,000 to 12,000. However, their numbers declined dramatically again over the years due to disease, conflict and forced displacement.
The Osage Nation, as of September 2021, was over 20,000 registered tribal members. While not all enrolled members may live within the borders of the Osage Nation, the tribal population has been shown to rise relative to historical lows.
The Osage family has a rich history spanning many centuries. They were a semi-nomadic tribe known for their hunting and warrior traditions. European contact with the Osages began in the 17th century when French travelers encountered them in what is now Missouri. The Osages established trading relations with the French, exchanging furs for European goods.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Osage Nation faced conflict with other tribes and European settlers, as well as territorial invasions. They were repeatedly forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands, including what is now the Oklahoma City Reservation.
The discovery of oil on Osage lands in the early 20th century brought wealth and prosperity to the tribe. But it also led to a series of murders and conspiracies known as the “Osage Indian Murder Investigation,” as non-Native individuals sought to exploit the tribe’s newfound wealth.
Today, the Osage Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe with its own government, headquartered in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. They have a strong cultural identity and continue to preserve and promote their language, traditions and heritage.