The Osage Tribe of Indians is a branch of the southern Sioux tribe of Indians. Recorded history indicates the Osages migrated to the area now known as Missouri prior to 1673. The Osages subsisted by hunting and horticulture. Earliest form of Government consisted of twenty-four patrilineal clans headed by spiritual leaders and two hereditary Chiefs who shared civil authority.
In 1808 due to policies formulated by Presidents Thomas Jefferson thru Andrew Jackson, the Osages were forced to cede 52,480,000 acres to the U.S. Government which includes lands in Arkansas and Missouri. Osages received $1,200.00 cash and $1,500.00 in merchandise. This was referred to as the Treaty of 1808.
In 1818 the Osages were forced to cede 1,800,000 remaining acres in Arkansas and Oklahoma to the U.S. Government in the treaty of 1818. Osages received no compensation. In the treaty of 1825 the Osages were forced to cede all remaining lands and removed to an area along the border of present day Kansas. This treaty resulted in the Osages ceding 45,000,000 acres to the U.S. Government for a total of 96,800,000 acres ceded by three treaties and a total compensation of $166,000.00.
The Osages remained in Kansas until 1870 when they were removed to Oklahoma in present day Osage County, as a result of a treaty which began as the Drum Creek Treaty of 1868. This time however, the Osages received $ 7 million dollars which enabled them to purchase 1,470,058.58 acres from the Cherokee Nation.
In 1906 by way of a congressional act, the Osage reservation was divided into individual allotments of 657 acres of surface rights divided among 2,229 Osage Tribal Members. Mineral rights to be shared in common, this act created the present day Osage Reservation which includes approximately 160,000 acres of “restricted” lands and three “Villages” located at Pawhuska, Hominy, and Greyhorse near Fairfax, Oklahoma.
The first form of Law Enforcement among the Osage Nation was a result of an Osage government put in place by the Dept. of Indian Affairs in 1876. Police Officers were appointed by the Department of Indian Affairs to enforce unpopular actions. In 1884 the Osage Nation abolished the Department of Indian Affairs form of government and adopted their own constitution on December 31, 1884
The new Constitution created an Executive, Legislative and Judicial branch of government. The Executive branch consisted of a Principal Chief and Assistant Chief with Three counselors. Law Enforcement Officers were appointed by the Executive Branch.
The Osage Reservation at this time was composed of five districts so five Police Officers were appointed and directed by an individual referred to by the title of Sheriff. All violators or prisoners were detained in a jail facility in Pawhuska near the area of the present Osage Nation Tribal facilities.
This form of Law Enforcement continued until approximately 1900 when the Department of Indian Affairs abolished the National Council due to resistance to the Allotment Act. Law Enforcement thereafter continued as “Police Appointments” by Indian Affairs and supplemented with U.S. Marshalls until approximately the 1920’s when jurisdiction of most crimes fell upon the local Sheriff’s Office and assisted by the Federal bureau of Investigation.
In recent years responsibility for Law enforcement on the Osage Reservation has been the responsibility of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Law Enforcement Division under the direction of the Agency Superintendent. On November 8, 1994 pursuant to the National Council Bill Number 10; the Osage Nation elected to establish their own Law Enforcement Agency to be called the Osage Nation Police Department. The ONPD is charged with enforcing all laws including Tribal, State and Federal on the Osage Nation Reservation. The ONPD is directed by a Chief of Police who is responsible for the day to day operations of the Police Department.
At present the Police Department is staffed with a total of 18 sworn Law Enforcement Officers.