The Osage were a powerful group of Native Americans who lived along the prairies and plains of present-day Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Despite their power and critical role, however, little has been written about them. In The Osage: An Ethnohistorical Study of Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains, Willard Rollings shows how the Osage formed and maintained political, economic, and social control over a large portion of the central United States for over 150 years.
Author: Willard H. Rollings
Publisher: University of Missouri (1992)
Rollings begins this book by establishing the Osage people’s culture and history, including their political and religious beliefs. His ethnohistorical approach makes this book invaluable to anyone interested in the study of the Osage and in American history and culture. He traces the Osage’s fateful encounters with the Europeans and Americans who entered their territory and with many groups of other Native Americans. Throughout, the Osage are shown to be resilient and flexible people; they retained their long-held traditions while making adaptations that enabled them to survive and prosper. Finally, however, a combination of disease, rapid social change, and political disunity encouraged by influential men such as Auguste and Pierre Chouteau served to break the Osage’s hold on their territory, and by the mid-nineteenth century, the Osage hegemony had come to an end.
Combining traditional historical analysis with recent archaeology, cultural anthropology, sociology, biology, and animal ecology research, Rollings has written a history of these complex people that places them in their proper cultural context. This ethnohistorical approach makes The Osage: An Ethnohistorical Study of Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains invaluable to anyone interested in the study of the Osage, American history and culture, or the American Indian in general.
About the Author: Willard H. Rollings
Willard H. Rollings was a distinguished scholar of Native American History and Ethnohistory. He joined the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) History Department in 1989 and helped to build the department’s Ph.D. program. Rollings, who was of Cherokee descent, wrote numerous essays on Indian history and several books including: The Osage: An Ethnohistorical Study of Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains, Unaffected by the Gospel: Osage Resistance to the Christian Invasion, 1673-1906: A Cultural Victory, The Comanche (Indians of North America). He held a postdoctoral fellowship at the D’Arcy McNickle Center for the History of the American Indian at the Newberry Library in Chicago and a Fulbright Scholarship to New Zealand, where he studied the culture and history of the Māori and also spent time in Christchurch and Wellington. Rollings was widely recognized as one of UNLV’s truly outstanding teachers and mentors. Remarkably, and inspirationally, he accomplished so much while courageously fighting brain cancer for a decade and losing his beloved wife and companion, Barbara J. Williams-Rollings, in 2007.
Pick up your own copy of The Osage: An Ethnohistorical Study of Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains, here.
Interested in learning more? Check out our list of Recommended Books about the Osage People.