Summary of Native American Tribes – O

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Occaneechi – This tribe lived primarily on a large, 4-mile long Occoneechee Island and east of the confluence of the Dan and Roanoke Rivers, near current day Clarksville, Virginia in the 17th century. They were Siouan-speaking and thus related to the Saponi, Tutelo, Eno and other Southeastern Siouan-language peoples living in the Piedmont region of present-day North Carolina and Virginia.

In 1676, in the course of Bacon’s Rebellion, the tribe was attacked by militias from the Colony of Virginia and decimated. Also under demographic pressure from European settlements and newly introduced infectious diseases, the Saponi and Tutelo came to live near the Occaneechi on adjacent islands. By 1714 the Occaneechi moved to join the Tutelo, Saponi, and other Siouan people living on a 36-square-mile reservation in current-day Brunswick County, Virginia. It included a fort called Christanna. The Siouan people had been drastically reduced to approximately 600 people. Fort Christanna was closed in 1717, after which there are few written references to the Occaneechi. Colonists recorded that they left the area in 1740 and migrated north for protection with the Iroquois.

Although circumstantial evidence suggests that at least some of the remaining Occaneechi may have migrated northward with the Tutelo and Saponi to Pennsylvania and New York, a small community of Indians in North Carolina’s Orange and Alamance Counties, known as the Occaneechi Band of Saponi Nation, claim descent from the eighteenth-century Occaneechi and were officially recognized by the state of North Carolina in 2001.

Oconee – This tribe belongs to the Muskhogean linguistic stock. Early documents reveal at least two groups of Indians bearing the name Oconee who were probably related. One was on or near the coast of Georgia and seems later to have moved into the Apalachee country and to have become fused with the Apalachee tribe before the end of the 17th century. The others lived just below the Rock Landing on Oconee River in Georgia.

In about 1716 they moved to the east bank of the Chattahoochee in Stewart County, Georgia, and a few years later part of them went to the Alachua Plains, in the present Alachua County, Florida, where they became the nucleus of the Seminole Nation and furnished the chief to that people until the end of the Seminole war. Most of them were then taken to Oklahoma, but they had already lost their identity.

Ofo – Also called the Mosopelea tribe, this Siouan-speaking people historically inhabited the upper Ohio River. In reaction to Iroquois Confederacy invasions to take control of hunting grounds in the late 17th century, they moved south to the lower Mississippi River. Around 1700, French travelers reported Ofo villages in Louisiana on the Yazoo River. Refusing to join the Natchez in their war against the French in the 1710s and 1720s, the Ofo moved further south. They and other remnant peoples became assimilated into the Biloxi and Tunica peoples. Their language became extinct. Today their descendants are enrolled in the federally recognized Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe and have a reservation in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.

Ojibwe – The Ojibwe and Chippewa are the same tribe, but are pronounced a little differently due to accent. Ojibwe is used in Canada, although the Ojibwe west of Lake Winnipeg are sometime referred to as the Saulteaux. In the United States, Chippewa was used in all treaties and is the official name. See Chippewa HERE.

Okanagan – Calling themselves Syilx, this tribe is part of the Interior Salish ethnological and linguistic grouping. Their traditional territory spans the U.S.-Canada boundary in Washington state and British Columbia in the Okanagan Country region. At the height of Okanagan culture, about 3000 years ago, it is estimated that 12,000 people lived in this valley and surrounding areas. The Okanagan people employed an adaptive strategy, moving within traditional areas throughout the year to fish, hunt, or collect food, while in the winter months, they lived in semi-permanent villages of kekulis, a type of pithouse. Descendants still live in both the United States and Canada.

Okelousa – Associated with the Muskhogean peoples, this tribe moved about considerably along the Mississippi River and the seacoast. They finally united with the Houma, the Acolapissa, or some other Muskhogean band on the lower Mississippi.

Omaha – The Omaha were a powerful Siouan nation living in Nebraska. Their name means “those going against the wind or current” and is sometimes shortened to Maha. The Omaha belonged to that section of the Siouan linguistic stock which also included the Ponca, Kansa, Osage, and Quapaw. See full article HERE.

Onathaqua – The name of a tribe or village near Cape Canaveral on the eastern coast of Florida. They were in alliance with the Calusa tribe in the 16th Century. They spoke a language similar to Timucuan, which is related to Muskogean.

Onondaga – An important tribe of the Iroquois confederation, formerly living on the mountain, lake, and creek bearing their name, in the present-day Onondaga County, New York, and extending northward to Lake Ontario and southward to the Susquehanna River. Their name means “People of the Hills.” On November 11, 1794, the Onondaga Nation, along with the other Haudenosaunee nations, signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States, in which their right to their homeland was acknowledged.  Today, the nation is a member of the Haudenosaunee group of tribes, which have been united for several hundred years by complementary traditions, beliefs, and cultural values. Sometimes referred to as the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations, the Haudenosaunee originally consisted of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations. The Tuscarora migrated from the south and peacefully joined the Confederacy in the early 1700’s, bringing to six the number of nations united by Haudenosaunee traditional law. The present-day territory of the Onondaga Nation is approximately 7,300 acres just south of Syracuse, New York with their tribal headquarters located at Nedrow, New York.

Osage – Of Siouan linguistic stock and Plains culture, the Osage were situated on the Osage River just south of the Missouri River in what is now the western part of the state of Missouri. However, they ranged as far as ArkansasKansas, and Oklahoma. They call themselves Niúko’nska, “People of the Middle Waters.” Most of the year they farmed, living in villages whose dwellings were similar to the lodges of the Winnebego, but when on the tribal hunt, they lived in teepees. One of their hunting techniques was to drive herds of buffaloes off cliffs. The Winnebego occasionally warred against them. They first came in contact with Europeans in the early 1700s, and eventually allied themselves with the French against enemy tribes, and later became scouts for the U. S. Army. The Osage, being rich in land, subsequently sold most of it to the American Government, from which came oil and mineral fees to the Osage. Today, the Osage Nation claims more than 10,000 members. More …

Oto, Otoe, OH toh – The Otoe were once part of the Siouan tribes of the Great Lakes region, commonly known as the Winnebago. At some point; however, they began to migrate southwest where they were located just north of the Missouri River and west of the Mississippi River in what is now northern Missouri and Iowa. This group eventually split into at least three distinct tribes: the Ioway, the Missouri, and the Otoe, who finally settled near the Platte River in southeastern Nebraska. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the Otoe were the first tribe encountered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, meeting at a place that would become known as Council Bluffs. In the earliest times, the Oto lived in villages and practiced farming, but eventually, they adopted the culture of the plains. In 1881 they moved to a reservation in Oklahoma with the Missouri. Today the Otoe-Missouria remain a federally recognized tribe, based in Red Rock, Oklahoma.

Ottawa, Odawa – An Algonquain tribe, the Ottawa were closely related to the Anishinaabe and Potawatomie. In the 17th century, the Ottawa occupied the lands north of Lake Huron. The Ottawa and Ojibwe were part of a long-term alliance with the Potawatomi tribe, called the Council of Three Fires and which fought the Iroquois Confederacy and the Sioux. The Ottawa allied with the French against the British and the Ottawa Chief Pontiac led a rebellion against the British in 1763. A decade later, Chief Egushawa led the Ottawa in the American Revolutionary War as an ally of the British. In the 1790s, Egushawa again fought the United States in a series of battles and campaigns known as the Northwest Indian War. Most live in their original homeland in southern Ontario and Michigan state, although some Ottawa were deported to Oklahoma by the US government and others assimilated into Ojibway bands. There are about 15,000 Ottawa today.  More ...

Ouachita – A former Caddoan tribe, the Ouachita resided the Black or Ouachita River in northeast Louisiana. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, a Louisiana colonizer, encountered them in 1700 encountered some of them carrying salt to the Taensa, with whom they were intending to live.  Later, when Bienville reached the main Ouachita village, he found about five houses that held some 70 men. Sometime later, it is thought that the Ouachita Natchitoch and their identity was soon lost.

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