The Osage tribe, whose members sometimes are referred to as Oklahoma Indians, is a group of Native American peoples in the territory now known as the United States, specifically the state of Oklahoma. These people are one of a number of Oklahoma tribes considered to be a nation within a nation. Indian nations are groups of the indigenous people of the land of the U.S. and parts of Canada.
The Osage tribe once had skilled farmers who grew corn primarily lived in what are now the U.S. states of Arkansas and Missouri. Like other Native Americans, they also were skilled hunters of buffalo and small game. Members of the Osage tribe were considered by whites and other Native American nations to be well-organized people who also were powerful in war.
Some of their customs and part of their culture were similar to those of other tribes that inhabited the prairie. For example, clothing was made of buckskin. The women wore dresses, and the men wore shirts and leggings, but the men also wore buckskin aprons that were secured around the waist. It was not uncommon for them to heavily decorate their garments with the quills of the porcupine, the teeth of elk and glass beads. Some even painted hunting scenes or images of powerful animals on their clothes.
Although many Native Americans of the past wore their hair very long without shaving off any part of it, the males of the Osage tribe also were known to shave off their hair, leaving only a strip in the middle. "Mohawk" is sometimes the word used to describe this styling of the hair. A brush of deer tail typically dyed a red color and called a roach often was attached. Feathers sometimes were added as well.
It generally is believed that the Osage tribe received its name from a misinterpretation by French traders. The Osage tribe's original language was Siouan-Dhegiha, and the people called themselves "wazhazhe." The Osage tribe became an ally to the French and won a battle against the Fox tribe in 1714. This decision and the event led to the Osage tribe's name being associated with "enemy" in the eyes of the other tribes.
Most of the members of the Osage tribe came to settle in what now is the state of Oklahoma in 1870. Many modern descendants of these people still reside in Oklahoma and preserve some of their traditions, customs and culture as part of the Osage Nation. Much of the tribe's old way of life, however, such as hunting buffalo, has vanished.