The Osage were fierce warriors who seized control of most of present-day Missouri and Arkansas in conflicts with other tribes. Against Euro-American invaders, however, they adopted non-violent resistance. Even though their territory steadily diminished, and the tribe was relocated to a small strip in northern Oklahoma, the tribe's cultural and religious beliefs and practices survived. Willard Hughes Rollings' claims Osage non-violent resistance was a successful strategy for cultural preservation. By avoiding war they avoided military defeat and were better able to minimise the compromises forced upon them. Living among competing colonial powers, they successfully manipulated imperial rivalries. For most of the nineteenth century the Osage were the targets of intense missionary activity, part of the American goal to relocate and 'civilise' them. Here, too, the tactic of passive resistance served them well. Earlier scholars claimed that while the Protestant missionaries failed in their efforts to convert the Osage, the Jesuits succeeded. Rollings shows, however, that neither Protestants nor Catholics had any real success in converting the Osage to Euro-American Christianity.
Willard Hughes Rollings, a Cherokee, is associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The Osage: Unaffected by the Gospel; Osage Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains; The Protestants Prepare for the Osage; The Protestants Arrive: 1821; Peaceful Resistance and the Co-Option of the Protestants: 1821-1839; Spiritual Victories, Secular Compromises: 1838-1859; Spiritual Victories, Secular Compromises: 1838-1859; The Catholics Return: 1820-1870; Resisting the Catholics; Ga-ni-tha -- ""Move to a New Country""; Epilogue; Index.