Scourge of the Osage from the hand that held the quill: The economic survival of the Osage Indians concerning their transformation from warlords to landlords in the nineteenth century
As the sun rose upon the Plains of the Midwest, dawning the nineteenth century, the Osage nation found itself embroiled in heavy trading and combat tactics with the French, Spanish, and even neighboring tribes. And while intricate negotiations had managed to smooth out the problematic agreements, for the most part, made between the Osages and each party, it would be of no avail against their novel, Nineteenth-Century predicament: American expansionism. By the early 1800s, the newly formed United States of America was beginning to pursue its Manifest Destiny and expand its borders westward—across lands that were historically accepted as the Osages’. Faced with unforeseen advances in weaponry and the sheer number of Americans now surrounding them, the Osages began their descent from a significant, warring Amerindian power in the Midwestern United States to their hundred year struggle to survive as a nation of men and women, now foreign in their own homeland. The economic survival of the Osage Indians during the nineteenth century can best be examined during three key events in American history: the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson; the removal of Indians East of the Mississippi River to Osage territory during the 1830s and 1840s; and the Osages’ implementation of the cattle-leasing business to support themselves once federal aid failed to reach their hands. With each experience, the Osage nation became more patient with their fellow man and their distressing situation, and keenly recognized that the means to their own survival within the United States was to model certain functions of their own economic and political systems after that of the capitalistic society. Doing so prevented the government from luring the Osages into an endless cycle of falsely assigning land to them only to take it back in minor technicalities, years later. It is through this ingenuity and wisdom that, by the late 1880s, the Osage people, overcoming poverty and homelessness, became one of the richest Native American tribes in the United States of America.