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Origin of the Osages

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The following tradition is taken from the official records of the St. Louis Superintendency.

The Osages believe that the first man of their nation came out of a shell, and that this man, when walking on earth, met with the Great Spirit, who asked him where he resided, and what he eat. The Osage answered, that he had no place of residence, and that he eat nothing. The Great Spirit gave him a bow and arrows, and told him to go a-hunting. So soon as the Great Spirit left him, he killed a deer. The Great Spirit gave him fire, and told him to cook his meat, and to eat. He also told him to take the skin and cover himself with it, and also the skins of other animals that he would kill.

One day, as the Osage was hunting, he came to a small river to drink. He saw in the river a beaver hut, on which was sitting the chief of the family. He asked the Osage what he was looking for, so near his lodge. The Osage answered that, being thirsty, he was forced to come and drink at that place. The beaver then asked him who he was, and from whence he came. The Osage answered, that he had come from hunting, and that he had no place of residence. “Well, then,” said the beaver, “you appear to be a reasonable man. I wish you to come and live with me. I have a large family, consisting of many daughters, and if any of them should be agreeable to you, you may marry.” The Osage accepted the offer, and, sometime after, married one of the beaver s daughters, with whom he had many children. Those children have formed the Osage people. This marriage of the Osage with the beaver, has been the cause that the Osages do not kill the beaver. They always supposed that by killing the beaver, they were killing the Osages.

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