The Osage Indians are a tribe of Native Americans that originally made their homes in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Today, many members of this tribe still call Oklahoma home. The Osage Indians have a reservation in Oklahoma and have their own government and legal system. Modern Osage Indians have a leader who is called their chief. He is elected to this position by members of the tribe; in the past, the chief was appointed to this position by members of the tribal council.
The ancient name of the Osage Indians is NiuKonskam. This means little ones of the middle waters. The Osage Indians call themselves the Wazhazhe. The name Osage came about when Frenchmen attempted to translate the Indian name using French phonetics.
This tribe of Native Americans has its own language. Most of the tribe's members, however, speak English as their primary language. Tribe elders are more likely to speak the native tongue than other members of the tribe. Some younger members of the tribe may also make a commitment to learning the native language in an effort to preserve it.
The historical dress of the Osage tribe was quite different from the clothing members wear today. The women typically wore dresses made of deerskin, adorning their clothing with beads and other decorations while the men dressed in breach cloths as well as leggings made of leather. Moccasins were the chosen footwear, and robes made of buffalo hide would protect the Native Americans from the cold. The Osage Indians also painted their faces for special occasions or before going to war. People of both genders would sometimes bear tattoos that indicated they were esteemed warriors or the spouses or daughters of esteemed warriors.
Today's Osage members may wear moccasins and some may own deerskin dresses. They typically wear modern clothing, however, and save the clothing their ancestors wore for ceremonies and special occasions. For example, they might dress in the traditional way to attend a special dance celebration.
Many people think of Native American homes of the past as tepees. While many Indians did live in these cone-shaped dwellings, the Osage tribe members typically lived in round lodges that had wooden frames topped with earth. They sometimes used tepees when they needed to erect a temporary shelter. For example, they used tepees much in the same way modern people use tents. Today's Osage tribe member doesn't live in a lodge or a tepee, however; he lives in a modern-day home or apartment.