Columns

Osage Clans

I have always been very proud of the Osage Clan Name I received as a child.  I, of course, do not remember the occasion because I was just reaching my first birthday.  

Several years ago I was having a conversation with a person who was gathering material for an academic paper she was writing for a class about Native Americans. The Native Americans she had chosen to write about were Osages.  

I told her that I had been given my Osage Clan name when I was a child. A well respected Osage Man had given me the name. My name is pronounced, Wa ni a tah.

“What does it mean?” she asked.

I knew the translation of my name. I also knew that as simple it was at the time, that somehow the question of discussing my Clan name made me feel good. 

There was no question of how proud I am of my clan name, and in fact, I feel certain that people who take the time to ask are normally interested in learning more about Osages or Indians in general.   

I tend to think that a very important part of understanding more about Osages is having more knowledge of the Clan system. The Clans tend to explain a great deal of who we are, where we come from, and who we are, and it is a beautiful story that can explain a great deal about human nature in general.

The story of the Clans tells of a beginning for Osage People and a great story of wandering the earth. Learning about the many plants that the People found to be helpful to living on Earth. The story of the Clans tells the story of the other animals that walk the Earth and of how those animals adjust to the challenges of living on the Earth. 

The story of the Clans tells of how the Water and how mankind adjusted to Water just as other Animals adjust to water.

Story of the Clans explains how the Osages divided the People into three parts, with there being Earth People, Water People and Sky People.

All things are created by Wa ko’n ta. No Man has ever seen by Wa ko’n ta.

One of the many ways that those Osages of those early days of Osage existence acknowledged Wa ko’n ta was a daily Prayer that took place at Sun Rise, Noon and at Sunset.

Men and Woman and some Older Children would begin each day with a Prayer. They would rise up face East and would offer the Prayer. The Prayer would cover what it was that the Osage delivering the Prayer felt a need to request of Wa ko’n ta.