Osage - Orientation

Identification. The Osage are an American Indian group who currently live mainly in Oklahoma. The name "Osage" is derived from "Wa-sha-she," or "water people," the name of one of the Osage phratries. The original Osage name for themselves was "Ni-u-ko'n-ska," or "people of the middle water."

Location. At the time of earliest European contact, the Osage villages were located along the Osage river in what is today southwestern Missouri. During the late eighteenth Century, the Osage hunting territory encompassed most of Southern and western Missouri, northern and western Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Kansas. Today, most Osage live in Oklahoma.

Demography. In 1976 the Osage population numbered 8,842. Of this number, only 156 were full-blood Osage, while over 75 percent of the population was less than one-fourth degree Osage in ancestry. During the late eighteenth century, the Osage numbered about 6,500.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Osage language belongs to the Dhegiha branch of the Siouan family.

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