Origins of the Osage People

Tags: Myth, Origin Story, Osage Tribe, Indigenous Peoples, Northwest Arkansas


In the Ozarks, there’s an indigenous tribe of people known as the Osage. When they came to Earth, nothing existed except mud. And then, a great elk came and rolled around in the mud, blessing the indigenous people with grass.

Informant Info

Race/Ethnicity: Indian

Age: 22

Occupation: College Student

Residence: Northwest Arkansas, USA

Date of Performance: March 2024

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): N/A

Relationship: Friend


AH, the informant, was born and raised in Northwest Arkansas (NWA). NWA exists in a region known as the Ozarks.


The Ozarks is home to many indigenous groups, each with their own origin stories. Upon some more research on the origins of the Osage people, I found that the story was more complex than the informant had explained. According to the Arkansas Archaeological Survey[1], they were initially “spirit beings” and came from the sky. In their humility, they called themselves the “Little Ones” and came down to Earth to become people. When they arrived, they found the Earth submerged in water and asked their messenger, the Radiant Star, for help. The Radiant Star sent them a sacred person known as the Great Elk. The Great Elk rolled in the water and lowered it. He then blessed the Osage people with more gifts of grass and landforms.

While the informant AH’s recounting of the origin story of the Osage people contained different details about what medium the Great Elk rolled in, the one similarity was that there existed a Great Elk. In indigenous cultures, a lot of traditions and customs surrounded their spiritual connection with animal figures. The elk, for instance, is often personified as protectors in indigenous cultures. In the origin story of the Osages, this was exemplified through the Osage’s reverence for the sacred Great Elk and the blessings that he brought.

[1] “Creation of the Work (Osage).” Osage Creation Story, Arkansas Archeological Survey, 3 Feb. 2017,