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Osage Nation History

The vibrant history of the Osage is that of a proud, spiritual people who have weathered hardship to emerge as a leading force in Native America. Part of the Northern Plains tribes, the Osage were known for being bold warriors, skilled hunters and farmers, and preservers of family life.

Between 1808 and 1825, treaties with the United States resulted in the cessation of Osage tribal land across Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The Osage traveled the Trail of Tears and settled in southeast Kansas on the Cherokee Strip. By the time they negotiated the treaty of 1865, to purchase land in Oklahoma, the Osages had reduced in population by 95%. Only 3000 Osage People walked across the Kansas border into their new land. Through an act of Congress in 1870, remaining tribal lands in Kansas were sold, and the Osage relocated to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, site of present-day Osage County.

Life was hard in Kansas and Oklahoma. Food, clothing and medical supplies were in short supply. In 1894, the tribe’s fortunes finally changed when crude oil was discovered under Osage land.
The Osage Allotment Act of 1906 ensured that the Osage would retain mineral rights to the land. Oil companies bid for land rights under the shade of a spreading elm in Pawhuska. With millions of dollars often changing hands in a single day, the tree became known as the Million Dollar Elm.

The Osage of today, resonate their culture of long standing traditions by clinging to the lessons of their ancestors. The modern day Osage is educated, diverse and staunch to the fact that being Osage is their identity.

Their native culture today is a respectful memorial to their past. They participate in their dance, feasting and naming ceremonies because that is what the Osages have left. They do not try to
re-create the past, they are the present and their culture is in the present. Like all indigenous cultures, the Osages are a traditional people. “No matter where we roam, we are always ‘Osage’ and that is what brings us back to our Osage Nation. To commune with each other, to relate to each other and to be recognized each year during our ceremonials as Osages”.

The Osage Nation Foundation is a non-profit organization that exists to promote the continued development of the Osage Reservation and the communities influenced by the Osage Nation.

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