Date of Graduation

Fall 2017


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

John Chuchiak


Osage, borderlands, Native American, indigenous peace, Spanish Illinois, Spanish Louisiana, Missouri River Valley, St. Louis, kinship, trade

Subject Categories

Cultural History | Diplomatic History | Latin American History | United States History


This thesis examines peaceful Spanish-Osage and Spanish-Missouri relations with an emphasis on the period 1763-1780. Using specific primary source documentation, this study highlights frequent reports from Lieutenant-Governors stationed at St. Louis concerning the thriving fur trade and positive Osage economic exchanges with Spanish-licensed traders. The multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial inhabitants and the entangled nature of trade and political interactions in the Missouri River Valley region, specifically in the Upper Louisiana capital, St. Louis, complicated and sometimes undermined peace. During this period, however, the Spanish, Osage, and Missouri nations, sought to overcome these misunderstandings and emphasized instead the mutual benefits of trade and peace. The findings of this thesis challenge the characterization of the Osage as warlike and violent and demonstrate that the Osage understanding of belonging and the use of fictive kinship ties established between St. Louis and the Osage made peace possible in this region.


© Maryellen Ruth Harman

Open Access