Christmas Traditions in the Osage and Beyond!

By: Roseanne McKee

It goes without saying that many decorate their homes inside and out with lights, Christmas trees, wreaths and pine garlands. Christmas parties and attendance at the Nutcracker Ballet and Handel’s Messiah choral performances are very enjoyable during the Christmas season. Donating to an angel tree is a lovely way of remembering those in need this time of year.

In this article, I’d like to highlight some less common traditions. If one resonates with you, I hope you’ll add it to your Christmas traditions this year!

A couple in Perkins, Okla., Darrin and Allison Harris, give their children new pajamas and a Christmas DVD on Christmas Eve. The children put on the pajamas, enjoy a movie on Christmas Eve, and are ready for photos on Christmas morning in the new pajamas.

Enjoying special foods is a delicious Christmas tradition!

My sister’s in-laws in Pennsylvania gather with the extended family on Christmas Eve, and serve homemade perrogies, which are dumplings filled with a savory filling and boiled. Perrogies have Eastern European origins, but made their way to the U.S. with immigrants who settled here.

Wisconsin residents enjoy kringle pastry, which became the state’s official pastry in 2013. Kringle was originally made in Denmark in a pretzel shape without any filling. However, a bakers’ strike in 1850 in Denmark changed that. Bakers from Vienna, Austria were brought to Denmark to fill the need for skilled bakers. The Austrian bakers used their knowledge of dough folding to create new types of pastries — kringle with fruits, nuts and other fillings was born! The O & H Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin, carries on that tradition with oval shaped kringle in flavors such as: almond filling with cherries, brandy, chocolate, cranberry, pecan, cream cheese and cinnamon.

I still recall fondly the Christmas stockings of my childhood, which traditionally held: an orange, an apple, whole walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, candy canes and other wrapped candies.

Reading Christmas short stories to groups is one of my new favorite traditions. Last year I read a story from one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas edition books at my son’s school Christmas party that I got from the library.

The story I chose was about prisoners creating ornaments out of the limited materials they had, and decorating a Christmas tree in the common area. The writer tells of how this effort brought him a measure of happiness during that difficult time in his life.

This year at their Christmas luncheon, I read to the members of the Alpha Delphians’ book club in Hominy. My short story selection was from the newly released Chicken Soup for the Soul book, A Book of Christmas Miracles. I recommend this book, the proceeds of which go to Toys for Tots.

My story selection was about a man who always gave up attendance at the church Candle Light Service on Christmas Eve, so that he could get the coffee and cookie time after the service prepared. One year he was unavailable and a young woman was asked to fill in for him. She was resentful at first, but found that giving in this way had several unexpected blessings.

After I read the short story, I tell my own experience of Christmas magic, which happened many years ago, while I was in college at the University of North Carolina, and working for a local family in Chapel Hill, N.C.; I met a sweet older gentleman at the family’s Christmas party.

The gentleman, who had a Dutch accent, told me of his family’s childhood tradition of Father Christmas knocking at the door after Christmas Eve supper and handing out candy and treats to the children. One year, during World War II, he said that the men were away at war and he wasn’t sure if the tradition would continue. After supper, there was a knock at the door and Father Christmas did appear. However, when he received his gift and candy, he thought he saw Tanta’s pearls under the Father Christmas’s beard.

Tanta means “aunt” in Dutch. Strangely enough, no one else at the party recalled seeing him and the family did not know who he might be. His identity remains a mystery, but nonetheless, telling this story (a story within a story) brightened my Christmas during a year when I would be unable to travel home to be with family, and retelling the story has become part of my own Christmas tradition.

I digress — back to Christmas traditions.

At the Dick Connors Correctional Facility in Hominy, Okla., the prisoners always create a float for the Hominy Christmas Parade, which often wins top prize.

I like the practice by one Hollywood couple, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, of doing puzzles at the dining room table while listening to books on audio. When I read this, I decided to add this to our family traditions at Christmas this year.

One of my neighborhood friends, Katrina Eash, does a Jesse Tree with her daughter to bring attention to the meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.

“A Jesse Tree is a decorative tree used during Advent to retell the stories of the Bible that lead to Jesus’s birth. Since Advent is a season of waiting, a Jesse Tree will help to build joy and anticipation as you wait for Christmas,” according to

“Jesse Trees have three main parts: A tree, symbolic ornaments, and passages or scripture readings to go along with them….They are designed to lead children through the entire story of the Bible during Advent in a simple and fun way. They also introduce important religious concepts to children and show how key Bible stories connect to Jesus. Each day during advent, you will hang a new ornament on the tree and read a passage (”

According to Wikipedia, “the word “tradition” itself derives from the Latin tradere literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping.

I hope that these examples inspire you to add to your existing Christmas traditions and I wish you blessings, peace, prosperity and health this Christmas season!

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Angel Tree Seeks Angels

By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, Osage Nation Communications

Pawhuska, Okla., (Wednesday, November 22, 2017) — The goal is for every child to receive a Christmas gift. Every year, the Osage Nation Financial Assistance Department (ONFAD) hosts the Annual Tree of Gifts to support the spirit of giving and provide children in need with a holiday that includes unwrapping presents that otherwise would not be there.

Helping is easy. There is a tree filled with ornaments with Christmas wish lists attached from local children. To donate, visit the Osage Nation Financial Assistance Department located at the new Welcome Center at 239 West 12th Street, Pawhuska, Okla., or contact the office at (918) 287-5325.

All gifts must be delivered to the ONFAD offices by December 18, 2017.

Financial Assistance is also requesting donations of gift bags, wrapping paper, bows, tape, and gift tags. There will also be an opportunity to help with gift wrapping and deliveries. Call (918) 287-5325 for more information.
To aid members of the Osage Nation, and other Native Americans residing in our service area, during times of limited resources and/or provide an opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency through individual employment plans.
Physical Address: 239 W 12th Street, Pawhuska, OK 74056
Mailing Address: 627 Grandview, Pawhuska, OK  74056
Phone: 918-287-5325
Fax: 918-287-5593

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Nutcracker Comes to the Osage

By: Roseanne McKee

Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy will bring “The Nutcracker” ballet to the historic Constantine Theatre at 110 W. Main St. in Pawhuska on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available in advance at Dance Maker’s Boutique at the Ole’ #1 Firehouse on Main St., located next door to the Constantine. The Boutique is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon. – Sat.

Advance tickets for adults are $15 each and $8 for students. A family ticket is available for $45, which includes two adults and three children.

“Bringing the Nutcracker to the Osage is especially meaningful because of its connection to the late prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief, who was Osage and hailed from Fairfax in Osage County,” said Dance Maker’s Artistic Director Jenna Smith.

In 1954, Tallchief, a member of the New York City Ballet, was cast in the lead role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

One ballet critic, Walter Terry, writing at the time said, “Maria Tallchief, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, is herself a creature of magic, dancing the seemingly impossible with effortless beauty of movement, electrifying us with her brilliance, enchanting us with her radiance of being.”

“Tallchief’s interpretation of the role paved the way for the ‘Nutcracker’ ballet to become an American ballet tradition during the Christmas season,” Smith said. “We are pleased that Osages are among those who will be performing in the Nutcracker, including lead dancer, Amity Bevard, from Hominy.”

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Local Artist Camille Minjarez Anthony


By: Roseanne McKee


Award-winning artist Camille Minjarez Anthony, began painting as a way of dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD), but what began as a coping mechanism, has become much more.

“I’ve always grown up painting as long as I could remember. To keep me focused, my parents bought me art supplies,” Anthony said.

“I was originally painting on canvases. I actually started to be able to paint with better supplies in high school in eighth grade. Because of my art high school teacher at Wesleyan Christian School, Ragon Steele, I was able to start to learn to paint properly. He was really a blessing. Whenever I had free time I was in there. He was by far my favorite teacher. He made me a lot better.

“I struggled with school. There were issues. I always took extra art classes. I learned more about life in art class by far than any other.

“I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be a surgeon for military Veterans. My art teacher, who is an Army Veteran, encouraged me. He was the one telling me I could actually do it.

“Mr. Ragon would tell me about everything that happened to him. He told me what I would need physically and spiritually to do that job. He encouraged me to keep my grades up so that I could pursue this path.”

Although she has chosen to pursue the medical profession, Anthony continues to excel as an artist.

“Two of my oil pastels in contests and got first in First in State in oil pastel for a painting of my dog, a blue leopard cadahoula, named Sadie Blue.

“My other one was a picture inspired by a song about overcoming depression, ‘Jeremy,’ by Pearl Jam. It’s about a child being abused at home and being picked on at school. For an oil pastel drawing, I did a drawing of a child with his whole story and painted him with a crown. It’s a kid draped in the American flag wearing a flag and the words ‘King Jeremy.’ I attached the song that the painting was based on and the suicide note the teenager, Jeremy, left at the age of 16.”

During high school, Anthony, who is both Kickapoo and Apache, also began painting on natural surfaces in a style reflecting her Native American heritage.

“I’ve always been very fascinated with anything different and Mr. Steele suggested I try painting on skulls using oil pastels. I started painting skulls my senior year, so it’s been about three years that I’ve been doing it.”

Describing her art, she said, “I use darker colors, dark blues, purple and red. Every painting I do has red and purple in it somewhere.”

“A lot of my drawings have to do with what I’m feeling at the moment. I paint anything and everything on them. I just use the skull as a canvas.”

Anthony has a Facebook page called “A Beautiful Mind’s Creations,” where her art pieces are available for purchase.

Anthony is also a full-time student at Oklahoma State University, Tulsa campus, majoring in pre-med with an emphasis in psychology, who lives in Barnsdall and works part-time at the Osage Square Mall in Pawhuska.

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Osage Nation Language Dept. Announces new Mobile App!

MogriLookout Shown in Photo on Left: Master Osage Language Instructor, Mongrain Lookout.

By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, Osage Nation Communications
& Melissa Cole, Office of the Director of Operations of the Osage Nation​
Pawhuska, Oklahoma (November 2, 2017)

Social Media is stirring with excitement regarding the Osage Nation Language Department’s newest development, the first Osage language mobile application, WahZhaZhe.

The development of the Osage Nation’s premier Osage Language App was a lengthy process. It took more than three years and a lot of technological hurdles including putting the Osage orthography (the Osage writing system) into Unicode, a digital coding system needed to include the orthography on the app. The app in its unreleased form is available for download by Android and Apple users and is proving to be worth the wait and well received by people of all ages and geographic locations. And, use of the app is already being implemented into the daily learning activities at the Osage Immersion School and WahZhaZhe Early Learning Academies.

The Office of the Director of Operations for the Osage Nation prepared the following how-to for immediate access to the language app.
How to download the app to Android and Apple devices:
Connect your Android or Apple device to Wifi

Search “WahZhaZhe” at the Play Store or the App Store on an Android or Apple device

Find the App option with the Osage seal icon and select

Select “Install” to download the App

The application is approximately 375 MB that requires a wifi connection. After it is downloaded to a device it will not require a data connection unless an update is required. The language app home screen contains buttons for Language, Culture Notes, Search, and Credits.
Language – (category options: Learn, Games, Quizzes) The Language tab contains approximately 526 words and phrases which are separated into 33 categories. Each category allows users to learn the language by listening to a word or phrase, reading the orthography, and self-recording for playback and audio learning. Games increase in intensity from easy to hard. After familiarizing with the words and phrases contained in each category there are corresponding quizzes to self-test. Quizzes test listening, speaking, and reading skills.
Culture Notes – (category options: Audio, Video, Images) The Culture Notes tab contains approximately 15 files. Users can listen to an Osage language only speech delivered in June 1965 by an Osage elder; learn the Counting Song, and view the most up-to-date map of Osage ancestral territories. Users can tap on the photos in the Images category to zoom-in on the maps and paintings for a closer view.
Search –Search for any entry via the Search tab. Simply tap “Search” and you will be directed to an alphabetized list of all entries contained within the app. Users can scroll through the list or type a specific word or phrase.
Credits – The Credits tab acknowledges the departments and individuals who were instrumental in the creation of the app. For tech support select the link to Thornton Media, Inc.
Next User Steps

Download WahZhaZhe to any Android or Apple device. Rate the app on your Android or Apple device!

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Nutcracker Ballet coming to Pawhuska this Christmas Season

By: Roseanne McKee

The Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy will host an elegant evening of hor d’oeuvres and dessert at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21, at the Elks Lodge in Pawhuska to preview plans to produce the Nutcracker Ballet at Pawhuska’s Constantine Theatre on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. For reservations to the catered event, at no charge, call 918-607-3044. After-five attire is requested.

“The evening will be an opportunity for the community to learn more about the Academy and its partnership with the Osage Ballet to train the next generation of dancers in the tradition of the late Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina, an Osage member, who was born in nearby Farifax, Okla.,” said Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith.

The evening will include a short presentation by award-winning journalist, author and former manager of the Tulsa Ballet Theater, Connie Cronley. Catering will be provided by highly-esteemed chef, Brian Lookout of Ah Tha Tse Catering.

Although the evening is at no cost, attendees are encouraged to make their best donations to help support the Nutcracker Ballet production by Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy at the evening’s conclusion.

Another opportunity to support the Academy will be attendance at the Nutcracker Tea Party to be held Dec. 3 at the Short Community Center in Pawhuska from 2 – 4 p.m. This is a ticketed event costing $10 each. For reservations to this elegant afternoon of high tea and an opportunity for photos with the Nutcracker characters, call 918-607-3044. Tea sandwiches, a selection of teas and sweet treats will be served. “This is a wonderful event for the children your family,” said Dance Maker Academy Director, Jenna Smith.

The community may also support the upcoming Nutcracker performance by shopping at the Nutcracker Boutique at the Old Firehouse #1 Art Center on Main St. in Pawhuska. The gift boutique will be open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon. – Sat. Nov. 1 – Dec. 23.

Tickets for the Nutcracker Ballet at the Constantine Dec. 9, will be $8 for students and $15 for adults.

“We thank our sponsors, Osage Casinos, Pawhuska Community Foundation, Osage Foundation, Blue Sky Bank, Jerry and Marlene Mosley, for helping us to continue the legacy of ballet in the Osage, and look forward to others joining our efforts,” Smith said.

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Osage Ballet Performs and Osage Family Sculpture Unveiled

By: Roseanne McKee

The Osage Ballet will hold a special, one-evening performance of Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, on Sept. 8 at the Leach Theatre in Rolla, Mo., at 7:30 p.m.

The Leach Theatre, where the Osage Ballet will perform on the evening of Sept. 8, is located at 400 W. 10th Street, 103 Castleman Hall in Rolla, Mo. For tickets, contact the box office at 573-341-4219 or

This ballet derives its name from the actual name of the Osage people in their language – Wahzhazhe. French explorers befriended the Osage and when writing about them in their language “w” is written as “ou.” However, when the English read French texts, they mispronounced Wahzhazhe as Osage, Director Randy Tinker Smith said.

Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet shares of the story of the Osage people through the artistic medium of ballet in the tradition of the late Osage prima ballerina Maria Tallchief, and her sister, ballerina Marjorie Tallchief.

The following day, Sept. 9, at 10:30 a.m., Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey StandingBear, members of the Osage Ballet company, and the greater community, will gather for the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of an Osage family, at the intersection of State Hwy. 19 and Interstate I-44, in Cuba, Mo.

The sculpture, a project of the City of Cuba, Mo., celebrates the history and legacy of the Osage Nation. The project was overseen by Cuba artist, Glen Tutterrow, and features an Osage warrior in period-specific dress followed on the trail by his family.

According to Osage Ballet Director, Randy Tinker Smith, this sculpture is the first monument to the Osage people in the state of Missouri. The sculpture depicts an Osage family traveling westward along the Osage Trail.

After numerous removals, the Osage people purchased land in Northeast Oklahoma, where many Osage still reside, known as the Osage Reservation, sharing the same geographical boundaries as Osage County, Smith said.

The bronze sculpture will stand 35 feet tall, 20 feet wide, and 80 feet in length. The sculpture is designed to work with the contours of the site. There are plans to include working water features, native plant landscaping and lighting for evening viewing opportunities. The 35-foot height will allow interstate drivers to see the sculpture from the city limit boundaries, from both east and west.

Since 2012, the Osage Ballet, organized as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, has performed Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, at prestigious venues such as the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian, the International Festival of Families in Philadelphia during the Pope’s visit to the U.S., the Coleman Theater in Miami, Okla., and most recently at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe.

To learn more about the Osage Ballet, or to make a donation, visit their website: and watch for posts on the Osage Ballet Facebook page.

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