Osage Indian Tribe

The Osage tribe is theoretically separated into twenty-one fireplaces. These fireplaces were grouped into three divisions:

  1. The Seven Tsi-shu Fireplaces
  2. The Seven Hanka Fireplaces
  3. The Seven Osage Fireplaces (the Wa-sha-she Fireplaces)

Each fireplace is a gens, so the Osage tribe is composed of twenty-one gentes, or clans. When the two “sides” of the tribe were fixed—the War Side and the Peace Side—there were but fourteen gentes in the Nation. At that time the Osage camping circle, or tribal circle was adopted. Positions for the fourteen gentes were provided. The circle is shown as follows.

At some period after the adoption of this camping circle the tribe was enlarged by the admission of the Seven Hanka fireplaces. It was not practicable to enlarge the camping-circle, for it had of necessity, to contain an even number of fireplaces, that it should show an even balance of sides—each side an equal number of fireplaces. In making the adaptation of the tribe, as enlarged, to the old tribal circle, the seven Hanka gentes were counted as but five, and the seven Osage gentes were reckoned as only two.

In the tribal ceremonies it was the law that each fireplace should have a pipe, or be assigned a pipe, or to be in some way associated with or represented by a pipe. The Hanka brought in seven such pipes when it joined the tribe. The Wa-sha-she had seven of these pipes—one for each of their fireplaces. For some reason—yet unexplained—the Tsi-shu had no pipes of this nature. To remedy this defect, the Wa-sha-she, or Osage, gave their seventh ceremonial pipe to the Tsi-shu, with authority to the Tsi-shu to make for themselves seven pipes from it. The Wa-sha-she have now but six ceremonial pipes, though the ceremonies for the seventh are still retained.

The fourteen gentes represented in the Osage tribal circle, with their subgentes, are as follows:

  1. Elder Tsi-shu, or Tsi-shu-wearing-a-tail (of hair) -on-the-head
    1. Sun and Comet People
    2. Wolf People
  2. Buffalo-bull face
    1. (Not known)
    2. Hide-with-the-hair-on
  3. Sun Carriers. Carry-the-sun (or Buffalo hides) -on-their-backs
    1. Sun People
    2. Swan People
  4. Tsi-shu Peacemaker, or Villagemaker, or Giver of Life
    1. Touches-no-blood, or Red Eagle
    2. Bald Eagle, or Sycamore People. The principal gens of the left side of the tribal circle
  5. Night People, or Tsi-shu-at-the-end
    1. Night People proper
    2. Black Bear People
  6. Buffalo Bull
    1. Buffalo Bull
    2. Reddish Buffalo (Corresponds to the Yuqe of the Kansa)
  7. Thunder Being, or Camp-last, or Upper World People, or Mysterious Male being.
    (Subgentes not ascertained.)
  8. Elder Osage, or Wa-sha-she Wa-nun. This gens embraces six of the seven Wa-sha-she or Osage Fireplaces, as follows:
    1. White Osage
    2. Turtle Carriers
    3. Tall Flags
    4. Deer Lights, or Deer People
    5. Fish People
    6. Turtle People (Turtle-with-serrated-crest-along-the-shell. Possibly a mythical water monster)
  9. Real Eagle People, or Hanka-apart-from-the-rest. The War Eagle gens. One of the original Hanka Fireplaces. The guards, policemen, or soldiers for the right side of the tribal circle are taken from the eight and ninth gentes.
  10. Ponka Peacemaker. This is the principal gens on the right side of the tribe circle. It was one of the original seven Osage Fireplaces.
    1. Pond Lily
    2. Dark Buffalo
      Or, as some say.
    3. Flags
    4. Warrior-come-hither-after-touching-the-foe
    5. Red Cedar
  11. White Eagle People, or Hanka-having-wings
    1. Elder White Eagle People
    2. Those-wearing-four-locks-of-hair

    These Subgentes were two of the original seven Hanka Fireplaces.

  12. Having Black Bears
    1. Wearing-a-tail-of-hair-on-the-head
      1. Black Bear
      2. (Meaning not ascertained)
    2. Wearing-four-locks-of-hair
      1. Swan
      2. Dried Pond Lily
  13. Elk
    One of the seven Hanka Fireplaces.
  14. Kansa, or Holds-a-firebrand-to-the-sacred-pipes-in-order-to-light-them
  15. Or, South Wind People
    Or, Wind People
    Or, Fire People

Each of the divisions A and B of the twelfth gens were originally a Fireplace of the Hanka.

There are four divisions of the Osages which have not yet been identified, the—

  1. Beaver People
  2. Crane People
  3. Owl People
  4. Earth People

Additional Osage History

2 thoughts on “Osage Indian Tribe”

  1. I am looking for info on Osage Indian Peace Lover Clan and was it changed by name to another clan, Thanks for your help.

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