Visualize the once-thriving Indian village and the surrounding area as it was on your walk to interpretive stops along the site's trail. The information listed below corresponds with numbers on the historic site map.
The Late Big Osage Village
Between 1775 and 1823, the Big Osage occupied another village to the west. This second and last Big Osage village in Missouri lay about five miles ahead between the two hills you see.
Excavations conducted in 1962 and 1963 revealed two large houses in the area before you. Archaeologists believe one of these was a ceremonial lodge and the other was a typical dwelling.
Manuel Lisa’s Post
At the northern end of Timber Hill, which is visible in the distance, stood Manuel Lisa’s post. The post was built in 1802 at the confluence of the Little Osage and Marmaton rivers between the Big Osage and Little Osage villages.
Little Osage Village
About two miles past the Little Osage River stood the Little Osage village, occupied from the 1780s until 1823.
The large hill before you is Blue Mound. Osage lore says that a number of prominent chiefs, including Pawhuska (White Hairs), were buried there.
Harmony Mission and Fort Osage Factory
Between 1821 and 1827, a Christian mission occupied a site about three miles from the confluence of the Marais des Cygnes and Osage rivers. Just down river was the site of a factory, or trading post, which operated from 1821 until about 1826 under the supervision of Fort Osage.
Utilized Bedrock Outcrop
Notice the two pecked depressions, which probably resulted from Osage woman cracking nuts, and two grooves for making bone tools.
Americans were slow to settle this area even after the Osage left the state. E.T. Smith, the first settler here, came shortly after the Civil War. His house stood here until well into the 20th century.
Notice the bedrock outcrops in this area of the site. Signs of use by the Osage include bedrock mortars, small depressions from cracking nuts, grooves from sharpening bone tools and broad grooves from sharpening axes.
About five miles away, the Chouteau family of St. Louis built Fort Carondolet on the Osage River in 1795. It is probable that the fort burned after Manuel Lisa took over the Chouteau’s trade monopoly in 1802.
The Osage Village
Imagine this site in 1774, when 2,000 to 3,000 people lived in about 200 lodges. The hilltop would have been worn bare by horses grazing, men and women working, and children playing. Skins drying on the ground or on frames, and meat and food drying on racks would have been everywhere. The hustle and bustle common during the Osage’s residence here was quite different from the peaceful setting you see today.
A stream from one of the springs that supplied water for the village ran through this ravine. Shortage of water may have been part of the reason for the tribe’s move to the Late Big Osage village about 1775.