Location: Vernon, Missouri
Webpage: Missouri State Park
General Description: The Osage Indians were first recorded in 1673 by French explorers Louis Joilet and Jacques Marquette. The area claimed by the Osage was vast covering all of Missouri, Arkansas, eastern Kansas, and eastern Oklahoma. Between 1700 and 1775, one of the larger Osage villages was located on a high, open hilltop near the Osage River. At its peak the village numbered between 2000-3000 inhabitants living in more than 200 semi-permanent rectangular homes made of wood covered with weaved mats. The Osage would typically live in the village during the winter where in the spring they would plant their crops of corn, beans, and squash. They would travel during the summer hunting season, returning again the fall to harvest their crops and repair their village. They were major traders in furs with the French and then the Spaniards following the French and Indian War. It is estimated that over 9000 pounds of beaver, bear, and other furs were harvested from the area each year.
1) There is not much to see today of the Osage Village as the structures were only semi-permanent to start with and the Osage Indians were forcibly removed from the area in the 1800s. There is a nice kiosk at the parking lot giving good information on the Osage culture and history.
2) Beginning at the kiosk there is a 0.8 mile loop trail that climbs the hill up to the village site and then circles around the top. There are 10 numbered posts along the trail which gives some information about the site if you pick up the brochure at the kiosk. Unfortunately, most of the posts are about other villages, settlements, and trading posts in the distance, which are difficult to understand, especially with all the trees in the way. There has been some archeological work on the hilltop and they have been able to located a few of the homes and communal structures.