P.E.O. celebrates 150 years!

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

PEOExhibit-1
The seven original founders of P.E.O.

Recently, I noticed a billboard in Bartlesville announcing P.E.O. is celebrating 150 years in existence. This billboard became the catalyst for my interview with a member of P.E.O.

With the blessing of its President Dixie Squires, I met with Kathy Triebel, a chapter CH member, and past president.

Triebel, met me at the Bartlesville Community Center’s Lyon Gallery, where an exhibit about the organization’s history is now on display through Tuesday.

Triebel, a certified archivist retired from Phillips Petroleum, guided me through the exhibit. As she did, the organization’s mission and legacy became clear.

P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization. At its foundation, it is a Christian-based sisterhood. However, P.E.O. also reaches outside its membership with a higher purpose — to help women achieve their academic goals.

P.E.O.’s tagline is “for women, by women, about women,” and the organization provides educational assistance to elevate women, Triebel said.

Started in 1869 by seven young women, ages 17-21, who were students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, P.E.O. has become a major philanthropic organization — helping more than 105,000 women with $321 million in educational assistance.

The statistics for their four types of scholarships/grants demonstrate their commitment to that goal.

• P.E.O. Star Scholarships are for exceptional high school senior women to attend accredited post-secondary education institutions in the U.S. or Canada. P.E.O. has awarded $8.5 million in Star Scholarships.

• P.E.O. Scholar Awards provide merit-based awards for women in the U.S. and Canada who are pursuing doctoral-level degrees at accredited colleges and universities. They have awarded $24.5 million in these scholarships.

• P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education provides need-based grants to women in the U.S. and Canada whose education has been interrupted and who need to return to school to support themselves and/or their families. P.E.O. has given $55.3 million in these grants.

• P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship provides scholarships for women who are international students pursuing graduate study in the U.S. and Canada. They have provided $37.9 million in these scholarships.

And, P.E.O. has made $195.4 million in low-interest educational loans to women for higher education.

Triebel said P.E.O. also provides funds for trade schools.

P.E.O. also owns Cottey College, a women’s college in Nevada, Mo., which operates debt free, Triebel said. According to their printed material, Cottey College is a nationally ranked, fully accredited, independent liberal arts/sciences college for women offering baccalaureate and associate degrees in a variety of majors.

“Cottey College is a member of the intercollegiate athletes, second in lowest student debt, and second in best value by the U.S. News and World Report, and No. 6 as a top women’s college.”

One of the things Triebel said she hears from the women they help are expressions of appreciation for, not just the funds provided, but also the emotional support.

Triebel shared about a Tri-County Tech student chapter CH had helped in 2018.

At exam time “everyone wrote a card and gave a gift. They gave final exam tips to remember — tidbits of help when studying or words of encouragement.”

Some of the gifts given were — a stethoscope, scrubs, gas cards, homemade cookies and snacks.

“The great thing about P.E.O. is that age doesn’t matter,” Triebel said.

They recognize that through a divorce or the death of a spouse, women find themselves needing to increase their skills to better provide for themselves and their families, she explained.

As part of the exhibit in the Lyon Gallery each Bartlesville chapter has a table set up along the wall describing their chapter. The adjoining wall contains life-size cutouts of the seven original founders of P.E.O.

“The portraits were done many years ago by Jean Threlkeld, a member of the CH chapter,” Triebel said.

“They ended up in an estate sale. Someone saw them and bought them. Louise Reich of chapter ED repaired and touched them up. We added the skirts for the exhibit,” she said. “We’ve been asked to bring them to the state convention.”

The seven women who founded P.E.O. were fortunate enough to attend college, but they saw the need to lift up other women by providing needed educational funds, Triebel said.

Part of their legacy is that today P.E.O. has 6,000 chapters and some 230,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.

In Oklahoma P.E.O. has 180 chapters and some 6,600 members. Bartlesville has five chapters, each with 35-45 members on average. The chapters are named using the alphabet in the order they are formed. In Bartlesville the chapters are — AW, CH, DW, ED and FT.

In chapter CH “we have two members, Sandra Waldo and Margaret Boesiger, who have been members for 62 years. I’m sure the other chapters would say the same thing. The women who’ve been members 50-plus years are honored with a luncheon at the state convention every year,” Triebel said.

As for how they find women to help, “we go to college fairs at high schools. A lot of it is word of mouth,” she said.

They also inquire at Jane Phillips Medical Center to discover employees who want to pursue higher education in health fields. And, they seek out teachers pursuing higher degrees, she said.

Each chapter has a committee that plans fundraisers. For example, one Bartlesville chapter will soon have a murder mystery fundraiser, she said.

Within each chapter, as expressions of sisterhood, the members reach out when one of them is dealing with a health issue, loses a spouse or has another need. New members are recruited by other members, she said.

The members meet once a month at one another’s houses and have a program and a meeting. In addition, they have social events, such as day trips and meetings at which they bring their husbands or significant others.

“Last year we had a hay ride and cookout,” she said.

One fun program Triebel had was when she and another member dressed as outlaws with water guns and bandanas over their faces and “held up” the others — having them weigh their purses and pay money based on the purses’ weights — as a fundraiser. Then, they had the members give them all of their loose purse change.

“We weighed the purses before we had them give us the change,” she said with laughter.

State Sen. Julie Daniels is the member of chapter CH. She maintains the chapter’s historical archive. Triebel said Daniels had shared that on the chapter’s second anniversary, the members met for lunch. Someone baked a cake and put a dime in it. That year it was a marble cake held the special dime, and whoever got it was supposed to have had good luck.

This is a tradition chapter CH has continued.

“I still have that same dime,” Triebel said. “It’s a 1924 dime 87 years later.”

If you are a woman needing a scholarship or grant, email me at the EE at rmckee@examiner-enterprise.com, and I’ll pass the information along to the members.

Osage marriage customs of the past

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Historically, Osage people had a very different approach to marriage than they do today. Marriages were arranged through a formal, negotiation process between the families over four days.

Author Robert Liebert describes the process in his book “Osage Life & Legends.”
He states that young men could not interact with young women. Instead, “young men could only express their love and frustration as they sat at some distant point on moonlit nights and played a melancholy tune on a flute made of cedar,” Liebert said.

According to author Francis La Flesche, marriageable age was reached shortly after puberty.

“If a boy was interested in a certain maiden, his maternal uncle went to the girl’s side of the village and spoke with her uncle; uncles took a special interest in the care of their nephews and nieces. If the girl’s uncle did not refuse the offer, it showed that he was open to the arrangement. The boy’s relatives prepared a great feast of buffalo, elk, deer, turkey, fish, corn, nuts and other delicacies, and came in a procession to the girl’s lodge. After the feast, the girl’s relations would wash the utensils and return them, showing that they accepted the boy as a suitable husband. On the next day a number of horses and other gifts were sent to the girl’s relatives, and if the gifts were thought worthy of the bride, there would be another feast, and the utensils would once more be washed and returned.”

The University of Oklahoma’s Western History Library has historic photos showing this negotiation process during the early 20th century.

Dr. Daniel Swan, a University of Oklahoma professor, collected over 100 Osage wedding photos over five years for an exhibit at the Osage Nation Museum in 2015. At a presentation for the exhibit’s opening, he said, “[o]ne of the things we learned was that each day the family would eat the food and put the dishes out at the end of the driveway and if those dishes were put back out washed, that meant that the negotiations were still open and they would expect for food to be brought again the next day. If those dishes were put out at the end of the driveway and they weren’t cleaned, it was over. Everybody packed up and went home. The negotiations had broken down.”

If the negotiation process proceeded with clean dishes on all three days, the couple would finally get to see one another and marry on the fourth day, Liebert wrote.

“The girl and her bridesmaids then stepped out of the lodge and her relatives would place piles of gifts at their feet. The boy relatives would line up, and at a signal would race toward the gifts. … the girl’s relatives would apportion out the gifts to the winners … until everyone had received something. There was a large wedding feast, and the groom was finally called to take his place beside the bride. The boy went back to his lodge, where his bride was carried to him on a robe, and they were left alone.”

The groom presented the bride with a sacred burden strap — something used by women to carry wood and items for hunting, Liebert said.

The sacred burden strap was made by the groom and his relatives for the bride and represented the groom’s respect for his bride and all of the hard work she would do as his wife. This one was not used, but was hung in the lodge above the doorway.

The formalities seemed to have changed over time. The Osage wedding exhibit shown in 2015 indicates slightly different customs, which are described in an article by the Osage News published on their website Feb. 20, 2015 by Shannon Shaw-Duty entitled, “Museum collaboration to showcase Osage weddings in exhibition.”

In her article Shaw-Duty describes a transfer of clothing worn by the women in the wedding party to the women in the groom’s family. This was followed by a gathering under the arbor or a tent with food and the marriage ceremony. Once the marriage had taken place a new family was formed.

By the 20th century, the clothing worn by brides had become military jackets and hats, originally given to the Osage by U.S. dignitaries from Washington, D.C.
Swan shared that Romaine Shackelford, had conducted research of government documents on microfilm at the Osage Nation Museum, and made a significant discovery.

“Low and behold, he turns up a letter from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs writing the Superintendent of the Osage Nation, the agency, in which he said, ‘we received your letter requesting a chief’s coat for 17 Osage chiefs. We’ve received their measurements and on our next visit, we’ll bring them.’ This shows this continuous process of using these coats as symbols of authority and respect — that there was this continual supply coming in to them,” Swan explained.

“It’s clear that eventually that supply of old military coats exceeded the demands of the community and that people up here started to make these coats. These are stories that we’re working on right now — the different mechanisms that Osage people have employed to build their inventory of coats.

“Lastly, we’ve undertaken a series of interviews about more modern times and the construction of coats and their use in paying for the drum,” Swan said.
Osage military-style wedding regalia are on display at both the Osage Nation Museum and the Osage County Historical Society Museum in Pawhuska.

Recordings of interviews of Osages interviewing other Osages about the wedding arrangement process are at the Osage Nation’s Wahzhazhe Cultural Center in Pawhuska.

USPS releases Kiowa mural stamp with Anadarko celebration

Based on a press release by the USPS

The Postal Service is celebrating one of its lobby government-commissioned artworks featuring one of the Anadarko, OK, Post Office murals, named “Kiowas Moving Camp.”

In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration commissioned artwork in Post Offices across the nation to provide jobs to artists and illustrate the history and culture of local communities across America. These murals brought a touch of beauty to post offices across the United States and helped boost the morale of Americans during the Great Depression.

Anadarko PO Mural

The Anadarko Post Office mural is one of five Murals Stamps featured on the recently released pane of 10 stamps.

On the stamp art, the town or city and state in which the work of art is located is printed underneath each mural. The murals included are: “Kiowas Moving Camp” (1936), Anadarko, Okla.; “Mountains and Yucca” (1937), Deming, N.M; “Antelope” (1939), Florence, CO; “Sugarloaf Mountain” (1940), Rockville, M.D.; and “Air Mail” (1941), Piggott, Ark.

The Postal Service is committed to the upkeep of these classic paintings and has a federal preservation officer and historian to both help maintain the beauty of the murals and also educate the public about their place in postal lore. Today, many of these works have been restored and remain on display for the public to enjoy.

Art Director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps.

The Post Office Murals stamps are being issued as Forever stamps and will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

What: Special Dedication Ceremony of the Anadarko Post Office Mural Stamp
Who: Oklahoma District Manager Julie Gosdin
When: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 11:00 AM
Where: Anadarko, Okla., Post Office
120 S. 1st Street
Anadarko, OK 73005

The event is free and open to the public. News of the stamp is being shared with the hashtags #PostOfficeMurals and #MuralStamps

 

Osage mark months with moon references

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Calendar months for the Osage were marked by references to the moon. For example, the month of February was “Light of Day Returns Moon,” according to the book “Osage Life & Legends” by Robert Liebert.

After the winter, in February Osage people resumed food gathering. The men when to hunt deer, elk and bear, whose fur was sleeker at this time, Liebert said.
March was the “Whimsical Moon,” when women gathered new greens to add to soups and stews, he said. Wild onions are still gathered in the spring and are served with scrambled eggs and ham at wild onion dinners held by the Osage and other tribes.

April, when the Osage began their new year, was referred to as “Deer Giving Birth Moon” and “Planting Moon,” said Liebert.

Sweat baths were taken at the year’s start — to purify the mind and body, he said. Also at this time the two grand chiefs would go to “the lodge of a man who owned a shrine” to pray for peace and health in the tribe.

April was a time of planting seeds. Corn, a staple crop, was planted in a very particular way.

Liebert wrote, “it was the planting of corn that kept them anchored to their villages rather than being continual nomads, as were some of their relatives out in the plains.”

The planting was done by women, but men could help under their direction, because it was the women who were considered wise to the ways of earth and in tune with Grandmother Earth, Liebert said.

“There was a class of men who, usually in response to a potent dream or vision, … excelled at gardening. … They were called mi-xu-ga, which translates “instructed by the moon,” said Liebert.

Family gardens were located in bottomlands along rivers and were about one-half acre in size, he said.

When they planted, the women would paint the part of their hair red, something the women did when they came of age, and painted blue lines down their faces to signify the sun and the rain, Liebert explained.

Corn, saved from special, sacred ears of corn, was planted in seven hills. As the women planted they sang and kept time with their planting sticks. The song told of the sacred act of planting and the significance of her tamping the soil.
“Poking a hole into the south side of the hill, she planted a seed and tamped the earth with her foot. She then placed two kernels in the second hill, three in the third and so on,” Liebert wrote.

After the sacred corn was planted, the women went on to plant the rest of the field with hills for squash between the corn hills. They also planted beans, which climbed the corn stalks. Later, pumpkins, gourds, sunflowers and melons were planted, Liebert said.

This planting method reminds me of the method being used by Osage tribal member Scott Lohah who grows Osage corn specially for the In Lonshka Dances held each June in all three Osage Villages — Hominy, Grayhorse and Pawhuska. Lohah is from Hominy.

Lohah plants more than one seed in one hole. This is called clump farming. He shared an article with me from the Sept. 2011 issue of Progressive Farmer Magazine, which bears out the advantages of this planting method.

Although the article doesn’t credit the Osage, this is the way they have planted the corn for generations, Lohah said. The article states that experiments conducted in 2003 at the USDA ARS conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas, showed that the grain yields for both corn and sorghum were 70 percent, to more than 100 percent greater, when clump-seeding was used compared to the single-seed planting method.

Liebert’s account seems to agree — “Osage corn was famous among many tribes, for it often grew ten feet tall and could have as many as eight or nine ears to the hill.”

After planting, the focus shifted to bison hunting.

The month of May was referred to by the Osage as “Little Flower-Killer Moon,” because this is when “little flowers that poked up from the forest floor and brightened the prairies disappeared as the trees leafed out and the grasses grew,” Liebert wrote.

This Osage reference to the month of May became the inspiration for the title of David Grann’s bestselling book about the Osage Murders entitled “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Next week’s column will focus on Osage courting and arranged marriage customs.

A Rare Look at Osage Before First Contact

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Nicholas with an elder at Archie Mason’s camp during In’Lonshka at Grayhorse Village. Photo by Roseanne McKee

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Before Europeans arrived in North America, the Osage people were organized into a complex society with well-formed traditions. However, the Osage elders decided not to speak of the time before first contact and that is why little is known about it.

The former Osage Nation Museum Director, Hallie Winter, told me during an interview that the journey of the Osage to Oklahoma greatly diminished their numbers, and the Osage elders decided it was best not to speak of the way things had been because they could no longer be.

Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, who consulted with elders when creating her ballet about the Osage people, said in traditional Osage society every clan had a specific role, but once the once the population diminished, there were not enough people to maintain their previous way of life.

The population decreased when the Osage left Kansas to move to the Oklahoma territory. There were about 8,000 Osage at the start of their journey, said former Osage Nation Museum Interim Director Lou Brock.

In the 1850s “sickness hit the Osage and everybody that was in the area and probably scattered throughout [with] scrofula, black measles, and just everything under the sun,” Brock explained. When the Osage finalized the deal to purchase land from the Cherokee, their population had dwindled to just 2,229.

A book once sold at the Osage County Historical Society Museum, “Osage Life and Legends,” written by Robert Liebert, published by Naturegraph Publishers (1987) provides a window into the little-known world before first contact. In the next few columns, I will share some of what the book said about Osage life before first contact.

The Osage refer to themselves as “the Little Ones” to show humility toward the Great Spirit, Wah-Kon-Dah. They also have a name for Mother Earth, the Sacred One, HunKah, according to Liebert.

The tribe is organized into two groups the sky people, called Tzizho, and the earth people, called HunKah.

Having interviewed several Osages, I have been told that traditionally Osages only married into the other group, not their own group, and marriages were arranged.

There were grand chiefs for both groups, Liebert said, and the Osage lived in one main village with smaller villages nearby.
In the layout of the main village, the Osage sought to echo the natural order of the universe, as they did in all aspects of their lives, he said. The Tzizho occupied the north part and the HunKah lived in the south part of the village.

Dwellings were in groups of seven with broad streets between them. At the center of the village were the homes of the Tzizho chief and the HunKah chief. Their doors opened to the east and west and a fire always burned inside each home.

The Osage homes, called lodges, were “built by setting center poles in the ground with a ridge pole laid across and long hickory poles bent over. Wall posts were set along the sides, and cross-poles attached to the framework,” Liebert wrote.

The homes were covered in woven rush mats overlapped to prevent water leaks. The slender rush (probably horsetail or spikerush) were a vital part of Osage homes. The mats were also used as beds, which were covered in bison hides. These sleeping mats were arranged around the fireplace in cold weather and along the walls in warmer weather.

“The fireplace was always at the center of the lodge, the symbolic center of the universe of which the lodge was a microcosm. The fireplace served as light, warmth, and was used to cook their meals,” Liebert said. “The fire was symbolic of the divine spark of life and the power that resided within the Sun. At any important council and in all ceremonies the sacred fire was lit. … Before every meal, the Little Ones spoke a prayer of thanksgiving and a portion of food was placed in the fire as an offering.”

Inside the homes there were small fire pits, covered with deer and bison hides to dry and smoke food.

Storage places were dug into the floor of the homes to store food and hides.

The walls had mats, utensils, bows, quivers, strings of dried roots, ears of corn and medicine bags.

Each person had one wooden bowl from which to eat. Hands and a knife were used to eat food.

Wooden spoons were used to serve the food. Cooking pots “were made of clay tempered with shell and fired in pits.”

During the winter, the Osage visited and feasted, Liebert said. A crier would invite guests to someone’s home. When guests arrived, they would smoke, eat and play guessing gambling games. “Sometimes the betting would be quite heavy, and spectators would place robes and other valuables beside their favorite player,” Liebert wrote.

The way the author described the game, it sounded similar what I know as Osage Hand Games, which involve guessing the location of a small object.

There is an article on the Osage News website dated Feb. 18, 2015, by the late Charles Red Corn, which describes Hand Games in detail.

According to Liebert, sometimes the host would have an elder storyteller attend to entertain the guests. Storytelling happened in winter when snakes were asleep. It was considered unwise to tell stories in the warmer seasons because snakes were considered by the Osage as guardians of the truth — taking revenge if an untrue tale were told, the author said. Kathryn Red Corn, retired former Osage Nation Museum director, and her daughter have also told me this. There is actually a word in Osage for women to tell tales out of season —something considered very unwise.

At these gatherings in old times guests, invited or not, were given the seat of honor and given food, a smoke and could remain as long as they wished, Liebert said.

My son and I were invited to visit the camp of Osage Congressman Archie Mason at Grayhorse Village, near Fairfax, during the InLonshka Dances in June 2012, and we were indeed honored.
We dressed in church attire for the occasion as had been recommended to us because the InLonshka Dances are not like a powwow, rather they are more spiritual in nature.

Following the prayer, we were instructed to go through the food line first. We were welcomed and had a great day at their camp watching the women cook over an open fire in the traditional way and visiting with Moira Red Corn as she did meticulous beadwork for an eagle fan.

My son, Nicholas, who was about seven at the time, played at the feet of one female elder in the kitchen and got to know the children at the camp. I was very humbled by the experience, and it is a cherished memory.

The Osage Nation, based in Pawhuska, Okla., continues the traditions by having two regular sessions of the Osage Congress — Hunkah Session in the spring (late March) and Tzizho Session in early September, as per the 2006 Osage Constitution. And, every Congressional session, committee meeting and every meal still begins with a prayer spoken in Osage, if an Osage speaker is present, and in English.

16th Annual Battle of the Plains Powwow

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

DEWEY — The 16th annual Battle of the Plains was held at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Jan. 19. Programs compete for best dancer bragging rights at the all-youth powwow. Photos from the event are at the end of this article.

The powwow is co-sponsored by Operation Eagle, a program for Native American youth, and the Royal Valley Boys & Girls Club of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, from Mayetta, Kan. Royal Valley was not able to attend this year due to the weather.

Some of the other programs competing were Johnson-O’Malley in Osage County and Indian Intertribal Club of Tulsa, which is known by the acronym IICOT.

The head singer was Geramey Cable; head man was Kwowee Potts; head lady was Jewell McDonald, the master of ceremonies was Kilan Jacobs, the arena director was Dude Blalock and the coordinators were Dennis LittleAxe and Anita Evans.
Before the powwow began, several of those involved spoke to the EE about the event and Operation Eagle.

At other powwows, the youth dancers are grouped into juniors, age 6 to 12. At this powwow ages are broken down into smaller age groups, said Quannah LittleAxe, an adviser and one of the dance instructors.

“I teach the girls [to dance],” LittleAxe said. “We meet monthly for about an hour to practice during the academic year.”

“This is a dance that’s just geared solely on the children for them to get together, meet new people, have a good time and dance,” LittleAxe said.

Each youth receives a participation ribbon and then points are accrued by each dancer in each category. Winners in each category receive ribbons. At the end of the day, the program whose students have amassed the most points, wins the Battle of the Plains Powwow.

Other activities at Operation Eagle are crafts, regalia making classes and educational field trips, LittleAxe said.

“Our students and their families identify as Native American/indigenous, President of the Operation Eagle Parents Jessie Haase said.

Every year there is an Operation Eagle Princess and this year it is her daughter, Kele Haase. There are responsibilities for the role, including greeting people at events and being introduced at powwows. At every powwow the princesses sign in so they can be recognized. At Saturday’s powwow, three other 2018-19 princesses were in attendance — Delaware Powwow Princess Skye Scimeca, Delaware War Mothers Princess Hailey Griffith and IICOT Princess Alexis Madden.
“We have upwards of 1,000 carded students in Bartlesville Public School system and so they probably are from tribes from all over the country. I can name several kids who belong to five different tribes so I think we have a pretty good representation in this one little group,” Haase said.

According to its website, Operation Eagle Indian Education Program oversees two federal programs for American Indian/Alaska Native students in the Bartlesville Public School system. Johnson O’Malley is funded through the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and provides services for students who have a CDIB
card or tribal membership card from any federally-recognized tribe. Title VII services are available to students who have a 506 (Indian Eligiblity) form on file with the Indian Education Office of Bartlesville Public Schools, and have a parent or grandparent who has a CDIB or is a member of a federally-recognized tribe.

The powwow began with a grand entry in which all of the dancers entered the dance area single file.

After Grand Entry, there was a memorial song during which all the dancers stood in place in the circular dance area around the drum and singers in the center and did not dance.

This was followed by a song in which the boys danced in a circle around the drum and singers while the girls formed an outer circle moving more slowly.
Then the competition began with tiny tots dancing first — some with their parents and some took the courageous step of dancing on their own.

Haase said she enjoys seeing the different generations of participants as the youth grow up and have children of their own in Operation Eagle.
The next event sponsored by Operation Eagle is a powwow in April at the Washington County Fairgrounds on a date to be announced.

“That is open to everyone, but it is sponsored by Operation Eagle. That is more of a traditional dance. We will crown our princess. We will have gourd dancing,” Haase said. “We will have a children and adults contest and in that contest they will get a payout like they do at other powwows. If you win your category, you will get a cash prize.”

To learn more about Operation Eagle, call 918-337-0130 or visit its Facebook page called Operation Eagle Title VII Indian Education.

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Can you identify the symbols on this quilt? It’s a mystery.

MysteryQuilt-Edited
By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

A few months ago while at the Nowata County Historical Society Museum I noticed an exhibit about a mystery quilt. Dated Monday, Dec. 18, 1915, the quilt’s mystery lies in the cryptic symbols on each square. As the photo shows some quilt squares contain letters and numbers, while others contain flowers, stars and even a cube. The mystery quilt was the catalyst for this column.

I had the Nowata County Historical Society President
Although I don’t possess the requisite patience, or skill, to construct a quilt, I do appreciate them for the warmth they provide and their artistic beauty.

Recently I had the flu and was grateful for my quilt, heated by my husband in the dryer, to warm me when I had the chills. The quilt’s weight provides its own comfort. I love the rare moments when my teen son joins me on the sofa with quilt covering us or the cat decides to perch precariously on my side to nap while I’m under the quilt.

Quilts have provided much more than comfort in the past, however.

“Quilts served many purposes during the Civil War. From acting as a medium for patriotic statements to serving as a way to keep soldiers warm in the field, these historic textiles had an important place in the conflict between North and South,” according to the website https://antiques.lovetoknow.com/Civil_War_Quilt_Patterns.

Although not everyone believes them, some historians claim slaves used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. The book “Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad” suggests that quiltmakers would display the quilts letting slaves know when to prepare for and make their escape. A wrench patterned quilt indicated that they should gather tools for the escape. The wagon wheel pattern meant slaves should pack what they planned to take with them.

In doing my research for this column, I learned the names of popular quilt patterns. Here are a few of them — the log cabin, pinwheel, nine patch, double wedding ring, churn dash, eight-pointed star, friendship star, grandmother’s garden, corn and beans, liberty wheel, God’s eye and drunkard’s path.

Each quilt pattern had meaning and purpose. For example, the log cabin symbolized home, warmth, love and security to pioneers. The center square of log cabin quilts are red to representing the hearth, the focal point of life in a cabin or home. The name, Log Cabin, comes from the narrow strips of fabric, or “logs” arranged around the center square, according to the http://www.nps.gov website.

The nine patch quilt served as an introduction to quilting in pioneer days. It is one of the simplest and quickest quilts to sew and was a way to use up every small scrap of fabric available. On the prairie, sewing was an essential skill. Girls learned to sew blocks before they learned to read. At an early age, often as young as three or four, girls were taught to piece simple blocks. Many were very skilled at piecing a block by age five. Edith White, who grew up in the mid-1800s remembered, ‘Before I was five years old, I had pieced one side of a quilt, setting at my mother‟s knee half an hour a day.’ This training was called ‘fireside training.’”

As pioneers traveled West quilts were used as burial shrouds. Information from the website for http://www.nps.gov states, “wood was often scarce for coffins, so families used what was available and appropriate. Wrapping a loved one in a quilt was a way of not only preparing the body for burial, but of giving reassurance to the living that the decreased person was still linked to his or her family.”

More recently Quilts of Valor has sought to honor veterans by giving them quilts. According to their website, the first QOV was awarded by founder Catherine Roberts in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq. The Quilts of Valor movement spread from Catherine Robert’s home in Seaford, Del., across the country. The organization’s original mission statement was “to cover all those service members and veterans wounded physically or psychologically with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” Quilts of Valor has given 200,000 quilts to veterans in all 50 states.

A few months ago while at the Nowata County Historical Society Museum I noticed an exhibit about a mystery quilt. Dated Monday, Dec. 18, 1915, the quilt’s mystery lies in the cryptic symbols on each square. As the photo shows some quilt squares contain letters and numbers, while others contain flowers, stars and even a cube. Could the symbols be brands? I’d love to hear from anyone who recognizes a brand. Could they be Native American orthography? I shared the photo with a number of quilters, but no one was sure what the symbols might mean.

“The quilt appears to be a random group of squares and rectangles, fabric could be from military uniforms, olive green navy, black, brown and a tweed strip. It was found in a dog pen in the city of Delaware, by the family of J. J. Adams,” said Nowata Historical Society President Carroll Craun.
If any of the readers have an idea, please email me at rmckee@examiner-enterprise.com.