The Osage Indians (c. 1600-1830)
The most important tribe in the early history of Missouri was the Wazhazhe
("the upstream people"). They were composed of the two principal
groups the Grand and the Little Osage. They hunted across the Ozark highlands
south of the Missouri River, and in to the western plains. The Osage represented
a blending of Indian cultures having traits of Plains and Woodland Indians.
It was observed that these Indians were tall, robust, and broad shouldered
people. Most of them reached six feet tall. The males had shaved heads.
The Osage male wore a breech cloth with leggings, and a blanket coverall that draped over his shoulders. Both men and women wore moccasins. The Osage Indians hunted and they were also farmers. They had crops of corn, beans, and pumpkins. They gathered walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, grapes, papaws, acorns, and roots. The Osage society was mostly male dominant. The men hunted and provided for the women of the tribe. The women however gathered fire wood, cooked meals, and tended to the children of the tribe. The horse was used mostly for hunting because the Osage went to war on foot. The Osage obtained their horses by stealing, trading, and capturing, wild horses in the plains. However a stolen horse was considered to be a honor.
The most important rituals for the Osage was preparing for war and mourning the dead. In the first decade of the nineteenth century 6,300 Osage Indians lived in present day Bates and Vernon Counties. Less than 2 years later the Osage gave up the rights to Missouri east of a line drawn from the village of Sibley in Clay County due south. By the treaty of 1825, the United States took what was left of Osage land.