Siouan peoples who migrated from the Atlantic coastal region and settled in the central portion of the North American continent long before the arrival of Europeans are now known as Osage. Because the Osage did not possess a written language, their myths and cultural traditions were handed down orally through many generations. With time, only those elements deemed vital were preserved in the stories, and many of these became highly stylized. The resulting verbal recitations of the proper life of an Osage—from genesis myths to body decoration, from star songs to child-naming rituals, from war party strategies to medicinal herbs—constitute this comprehensive volume.
Osage myths differ greatly from the myths of Western Civilization, most obviously in the absence of individual names. Instead, “younger brother,” “the messenger,” “Little Old Men,” or a clan name may serve as the allegorical embodiment of the central player. Individual heroic feats are also missing because group life took precedence over individual experience in Osage culture.
Supplementing the work of noted ethnographer Francis La Flesche who devoted most of his professional life to recording detailed descriptions of Osage rituals, Louis Burns’s unique position as a modern Osage—aware of the white culture’s expectations but steeped in the traditions himself is able to write from an insider’s perspective.
<This is a facsimile. The original will be shot from the book>Table of Contents Dedication iii List of Maps, Charts, and Illustrations x Preface xi Part I: Customs 1 Chapter One: The Little Old Men 3 Qualifications of the Little Old Men 3 Origin of the Little Old Men 6 Philosophy of the Little Old Men 8 Symbolism of the Little Old Men 11 Sayings, Thoughts, and Allegory of the Little Old Men 22 Chapter Two: Government 27 Introduction 27 Legendary History of Organization 29 Final Military Government 31 Creation of the Civil Government 32 Separation of Civil and Military Power 35 Executive Limitation 36 Judiciary Powers 36 The Military and the White Man 36 Chapter Three: Religion 39 Introduction 39 Overview 41 The Seven Songs 43 The Six Songs 59 Uses of the Rite of Vigil 65 Penalties 65 Sending of Will Power 67 Sham War 67 Chapter Four: Marriage, Child Naming-Adoption, and Education 73 Marriage 73 Child Naming and Adoption 80 Education 88 Chapter Five: Hunting, Planting, and Gathering 97 Hunting 97 Planting 108 Gathering 112 Chapter Six: War 125 Introduction 125 Organization of a War Party 126 The Symbolic Man 128 War Paint 129 Strategies and Tactics 129 Valor Adornments 132 War Honors 136 The Seven War Honors 136 The Six War Honors 138 Wa shin Le le Ke non 139 Chapter Seven: Mourning 143 Introduction 143 Origin of Mourning War 143 Mourning Ceremony for Fallen Warriors 144 Adornment for Burial 146 Changes 147 Burial 147 Looting Graves 148 Chapter Eight: General Customs 151 Dress 151 Curtesies 153 Types of Communication 154 Fire Building 168 Hair Custom 170 Respect Toward Relatives 170 Parfleches 170 Part Two: Myths 175 Chapter Nine: Genesis Myths 177 Introduction 177 Different Versions 178 Genesis Myth (Panther Clan Version) 179 Genesis Myth (Black Bear Version) 183 Genesis Myth (Elder Tsi shu Versio) 185 Genesis Myth (Wearers of Symbolic Locks Version) 187 Genesis Myth (Tsi shu Peacemaker Version) 191 Chapter Ten: General Myths 195 Animal Myths 195 Name Myths 203 Special Muths 207
"Burns is an extremely meticulous researcher and has written an excellent general study of the Osage."--Garrick Bailey, University of Tulsa
"This book is recommended for those interested in the Osage Tribe. This is also a good addition to any Native American collection."Catholic Library World
"Louis F. Burns, a member of the Osage Mottled Eagle clan, has written several excellent books on Osage history and culture. This latest volume provides for the general reader as well as the specialist a valuable introduction to Osage ceremonial customs and associated traditional narratives....Burns provides a great service in selecting from [a] mountain of information the most essential facts required for a general understanding of traditional Osage customs. He presents these facts in a well-organized, easy-to- read account."
—H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences