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During the 1870s both Euro-American Catholics and leaders of the Osage Nation fought against federal restrictions on Catholic schools in Indian Territory. During this fight, Native and non-Native advocates argued that the Osage had a right to Catholic schools. For each group, however, the freedom to establish Catholic education in Indian Territory cohered differently; as a right it derived from different sources of authority. On both sides, these sources existed in complex relation to the sovereignty of the U.S. nation-state. Among the Osage, anger over the absence of Catholic schools, and demands for them as a treaty right, speak to Catholicism's importance to the tribe—not as a belief system, but as a site of political possibility amid the crisis provoked by U.S. colonialism.