The grandson of an Osage Indian, author Louis Burns wrote this primer to help persons of Osage descent trace their paternal lineage and to introduce researchers to Osage culture and the nuances of its language. The book opens with a discussion of the Osage dispersion from Missouri to Oklahoma and Kansas from about 1800 to 1870. Mr. Burns provides very helpful maps showing the concentration of the various tribal bands in each state. Next comes a summary of the richest sources of 19th-century Osage heritage, namely, Jesuit records, a great source of information concerning baptisms, marriages and interments; U.S. Government Annuity Rolls; and Osage Mission records, the best source of Osage family data. The aforementioned is followed by a list of tribal towns, as extracted from Jesuit records, and a list of Osage bands as found in the Annuity Rolls of 1878.
When these sources are used in conjunction with the author's detailed listing of clans and their members, which furnishes names in both phonetic Osage and English, researchers stand a good chance of tracing their Native American heritage from about 1800 to the present. The balance of this carefully crafted volume focuses on aspects of the language, some knowledge of which is indispensable for successful research. Featured are an index to Osage names in Osage and in English, a listing of and indexes to kinship terms, a critical pronunciation key to Osage, and a conversion table for Osage Indian syllables. Mr. Burns' seminal work concludes with a bibliography of tribal literature.