An Old Indian Man once told me that when an Indian speaks he, or she, speaks the truth. I did not push the conversation. I just assumed that was one of his ways of determining who he thought of as being Indian, so I listened. One thing I have learned is how important it is to listen.
I later learned the Old Indian Man probably was saying that speaking the truth was, in fact, a part of his definition of being an Indian, and more specifically Osage.
I remember as a child, growing up in Indian Camp, one of three 160-acre tracts of land set aside for Osage residence. As a young person I believed that most of the young people there seemed to have positive and high opinions of what being an Indian meant, what being an Osage meant.
That kind of thinking leads me to those ancient Osages who found their learning to understand and record the many aspects of nature to be a lifelong endeavor. Those Ancients lived in nature and gained the knowledge to predict what turns and directions nature may take were important things to know. They learned just how much they could depend upon their understanding of Nature.
Those ancient Osages observed the Sun and the Moon, or Day and Night. They observed many of the stars. They studied the seasons and came up with Winter when the earth was still, and Spring Time. They learned when cycle of creation indicated it was Summer, a season of growing and the process of Fall when the earth was matured, and then Winter, the season of dying and a time of preparation for being reborn.
Those ancient Osages were wise enough to ask the question of just how did human kind fit into the overall picture of nature. So, those wise old Indians developed and organized a social order that matched the personality of the Earth and Sky, and all that grew and existed there.
They gained knowledge about how their brothers, the buffalo, deer, wolves, otters, elk, eagles, and beavers existed on Land and in the Sky, and they could ask Wa Kon’ Ta for his help in doing those things. Wa Kon’ Ta, the one who created all things.
To exist on Earth and Water required that the People have a way of keeping and storing knowledge, and that knowledge must be stored and remembered accurately. It took gifted individuals to fill those difficult and demanding roles of developing and storing the Osage language accurately.
The Osage Language is a beautiful language. It has a cadence that I find to be unique. Of course, I am no linguist.
It was a system of language development that had evolved over the centuries. I believe it was that time that allowed our language to develop into the beautiful thing that it is, and it is unfortunate that during the century of the 1900s the language came to be used less and less.
Early in the century just passed, several Osages saw the danger of losing the language and assumed the responsibility of keeping the language alive. Today, the Osage language has a new generation of dedicated Osages, and friends of Osages, who are not going to let the language drift away into history.
Charles Red Corn
Original Publish Date: 2015-12-15 00:00:00