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Osage Indian Customs and Myths, Osage Indian Customs and Myths, 0817351817, 0-8173-5181-7, 978-0-8173-5181-6, 9780817351816,

Osage Indian Customs and Myths
by Louis F. Burns

Quality Paper
2005. 248 pp.
Illus.
978-0-8173-5181-6
Price:  $24.95 s

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.

This volume supplements 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 and able to write from an insider's perspective—makes this work valuable to scholar and layperson alike.


Louis F. Burns, of Osage-French-Scottish heritage, is a member of the Mottled Eagle Clan and author of 6 books, including A History of the Osage People.

"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. The information provided in each chapter yields many valuable insights into the organization of Osage culture and the manner in which it was sustained, and some information is included that illustrates how these customs were modi ed across the generations.... Burns's well-organized treatment ably succeeds in conveying the richness of Osage beliefs and associated ceremonial practices....
Beyond the general reader, Burns's careful reliance on basic source materials makes the book a handy, thoroughly annotated reference for students and scholars, who can use it to guide more thorough study....In sum, this brief volume is a very welcome addition to the literature on Osage culture and history. It will appeal to the interests of the general reader, it can be used as a text in college courses on North American Indians, and it will serve as a useful reference for more advanced students, scholars, and teachers. Many thanks are owed to Louis F. Burns for his personal commitment to disseminating high-quality information about the Osage people, and to the University of Alabama Press for assisting in this endeavor." --George Sabo, Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, in H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences


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History of the Osage People
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