Cahokia Mounds reflect ancient Osage life

A Birger figurine (shown left) was found in the Cahokia area near St. Louis, carved from Missouri flintclay depicting a kneeling woman hoeing into a snake, symbolic of fertility, life forces and the lower world. Photo by Roseanne McKee

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Recently, I visited the Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis, the largest earthen monument in the Americas, with links to the Osage people, whose sovereign nation is headquartered in Pawhuska.

According to an article “Osage Cultural History” by Dr. Andrea Hunter, published on the Osage Nation website, “[d]uring the latter part of the Late Woodland (A.D. 900) and Emergent Mississippian, (A.D. 1000) periods, larger groups of the Dhegiha Siouan tribes focused their settlement strategy in the Cahokia/St. Louis area. … Those who would later become the Osage were the last remaining Dhegiha Siouan tribe in the Cahokia/St. Louis area.”

A panel about the late Charles Arthur Pratt (1944-2015) was on display at the Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center and Museum. The panel included a photo of Charles Pratt, an Osage Elder, wearing regalia. The panel stated that Pratt had been the Hominy Drum Keeper in the Osage Hominy Village during the 1960s, and he never forgot his obligations to his people. Pratt was a college graduate and scholar of both Dhegihan language and culture.

“Charles epitomized the Hominy community. After all, they were the full bloods. … they were always eager to save their great heritage as well as being generous in sharing with others,” the panel said.

I was fortunate to have met Pratt at a traditional Osage dinner at his own camp, during the Hominy In-Lonshka dances in 2014, a year before he passed. My friend Mark Simms, a retired Osage congressman, and his wife, Linda Simms, took me to the dinner.

What I learned at the museum in St. Louis was that up to 20,000 people lived at the more than 2,200-acre Cahokia settlement.

While the settlement originally began more than 12,000 years ago — 1,000 years ago the culture evolved into what is known as the Mississippians. At that time, residents built various types of mounds, plazas and a unique wooden sundial, now called Woodhenge. Regarding the mounds themselves, some were flat-top — where temples and other structures were built. Others, called ridge-top mounds, marked the community’s boundaries. There were also burial mounds.

However, the tallest, most prominent mound was the location of the chief’s home, where a sacred fire was kept burning, the narrator said.

It is interesting to note that the practice of keeping a sacred fire burning was continued by the Osage.

In the book “Osage Life & Legends” by Robert Liebert, he wrote, “the fireplace served as light, warmth, and … any time that the People were gathered around the fireplace was a time of communion; for the fire was symbolic of the divine spark of life and the power that resided within the Sun. In the lodges of the Grand Chiefs [sacred fires] burned eternally, as they had in the temples of the Ancient Ones that erected the great earthen mounds.”

According to the video presentation at the center in St. Louis, the chief was said to have ruled the earth and spoke to the sky.

The chief’s “wealth was immeasurable, his wisdom profound, his authority unquestionable. The chief was responsible for maintaining balance between the spiritual forces of the upper world and the low world. … and for maintaining order and harmony among the people,” the video narrator said.

“Service rendered to him was as to the gods. With his wisest advisors, the chief directed construction of the great mound, the site of his temple. For the thousands of laborers, building the mound was an act of loyalty on faith. Building it in stages, they dug the earth with stone hoes and carried [the earth] in woven baskets 50-60 pounds at a time, 15 million times over a 300-year period,” the narrator said.

The community was “the seat of power, vitality, wealth and security. It prevailed for several hundred years. … Each area had a function. There were enormous plazas for games, ceremonies and great gatherings. There were miles of stockade wall protecting the central ceremonial area,” the narrator said.

The community was so large that individuals specialized in tasks such as toolmaking, farming and basket weaving. Goods and services were exchanged and the population became interdependent.

The people were able to grow a surplus of corn so it could be saved for years when crops were poor, the narrator explained. “With a steady food supply, great numbers of people could make Cahokia their permanent home.”

This surplus in crops allowed the chief to engage in trade with other tribes.

“The leader of the community could trade corn for rare goods such as copper or sea shells. Mississippian communities traded in this way over a network that spanned thousands of miles from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico — from the Atlantic ocean to the Ozarks,” the narrator said.

History: Oklahoma takes shape

By Roseanne McKee

Reprinted with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

A month ago today, May 2, was a significant day in Oklahoma history. It was the day that an Act took effect that provided the initial framework for the land in Oklahoma to be governed.

In the book “Oklahoma’s Governors, 1890-1907” guest editor LeRoy H. Fischer wrote that “on May 2, 1890, Congress passed the Oklahoma Territory Organic Act, which provided for the organization of Oklahoma Territory; from it the present state government of Oklahoma evolved.”

The Organic Act authorized the appointment by President Harrison of a governor, a supreme court consisting of three judges (who also served as district court judges), a legislature with a 26-member House of Representatives, a 13-member Council and a voter-elected delegate to Congress, Fischer said. The laws of Nebraska applied until laws were enacted.

The Act provided that all reservations in Oklahoma territory, when opened to settlement, became part of Oklahoma Territory.

The Act named Guthrie as the territorial capital, Fischer said.

The first election in the territory was held Aug. 5, 1890. Fourteen Republicans, eight Democrats and four People’s Party Alliance members were elected to serve in the House of Representatives. The Council had six Republicans, five Democrats and two People’s Party Alliance members.

Then, on Nov. 4, 1890, an election was held to choose the first territorial delegate to Congress — David A. Harvey.

The Act also “authorized President Harrison to appoint a commission to negotiate with the tribes of western Indian Territory to open their surplus lands for settlement,” Fischer wrote.

The Jerome Commission, as it was called, consisted of David H. Jerome, chair (also the former Michigan governor) Warren G. Sayre of Indiana and Alfred M. Wilson of Arkansas.

Over the next five years, the Commission negotiated with each tribe such that an individual allotment became privately owned by each man, woman and child on the official tribal rolls.

Once that had been accomplished, the surplus land was purchased by the U.S. government to be homesteaded.

A series of land runs followed — Sept. 22, 1891, creating Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties, April 19, 1892, creating six counties (Blaine, Dewey, Day, Roger Mills, Custer and Washita, but Dewey was later abolished by Constitutional Convention) and the largest land run Sept. 16, 1893 of what was known as the Cherokee Outlet, creating seven counties Kay, Pawnee, Noble, Grant, Garfield, Woods and Woodward (with others added later by Constitutional Convention).
Additionally, land was reserved for higher education institutions, and public buildings in section 13.

“In 1895, the surplus Kickapoo lands were opened to homeseekers, but so little land was available that the Kickapoos received allotments of only eighty acres each,” Fischer said.

Sooners were becoming an increasingly big problem and so an alternate lottery method was used when Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Wichita and Caddo surplus lands of more than 2,000,000 acres were opened in August 1901. A one-half section of land in each township was reserved to provide income for public purposes with additional sections in each township set aside for special purposes, Fisher said.

Land located between two rivers was given to Oklahoma Territory by the 1906 Constitutional Convention that had been part of Texas. This added 1,400,000 acres which became Greer, Harmon, Jackson and part of Beckham counties.

Smaller pieces of land became available when Congress dissolved the Ponca, Otoe, Missouria and Kaw reservations.

“The Big Pasture Reserve, made up of land in both Comanche and Tillman counties, was finally sold at auction by sealed bids in 1906,” Fischer wrote. “That same year the Osage Nation was dissolved by Congress, with each tribal member receiving over 500 acres of land.”
At that point, “all reservations west of Indian Territory — the home of the Five Civilized Tribes — became part of Oklahoma Territory by the eve of Oklahoma statehood,” said Fischer.
Those settling in Oklahoma Territory had to find ways to make a living and find enough food, and it wasn’t always easy.
Settlers bartered for basics and sold cut cedar posts to ranchers or followed the wheat harvest north.
Sod homes were common, Fischer explained.
An article by Eric Standridge on the website entitled “Oklahoma History: Pioneer Life in Early Oklahoma” stated that the “settlers’ first homes were very crude one-room houses build out of raw timber.” Later, they build two-story log homes, but most homes had no screens at the door. he said.
“Windows were square places left in the logs and covered with greased paper,” Standridge said, or settlers chose not to have windows at all.

The wild game settlers hunted were — wild turkey, quail and prairie chicken; wild sand plums were plentiful and so became popular for canning and drying, Fischer said.

Standridge added that settlers usually brought enough grain with them to plant crops and at wild turkeys, geese, deer and elk. Prairie chickens were also abundant, Standridge said.

According to the book “Taste of the States: A Food History of America,” pioneer women in Oklahoma invented a stew of rabbit, turnips, and flour gravy, and something called Oklahoma stew made from hard Spanish wheat and beef.

“Wild pecans were used in pie fillings, and Pioneer Pecan Pie became famous all over the states.

“Pickles and preserves were made from watermelon rinds. Watermelons originally grew on Indian farms and were later raised by settlers.”

Smoking and salting meats was essential in those days and cooking was done over an open fire in iron kettles, Standridge said. The kettles were set on tri-cornered iron holders.

“Skillets, pots and tin pans were also used and every family had a huge brass kettle in which they made their soap, apple butter, maple syrup, and rendered out the lard,” Standridge wrote.

Tallow candles made by the family provided light and garments were handmade, he said.

Oklahomans have come a long way since those early days. They stand on the shoulders of their ancestors.

The Oklahoma motto translated from Latin means “labor conquers all things” and as I reflect on Oklahoma’s past, I think it has.

Children’s Author Dianna Hutts Aston, author of “An Egg is Quiet” and “A Rock is Lively” shares about the moments that have inspired her

By Roseanne McKee with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Children’s author Dianna Hutts Aston has a tattoo on her left wrist of a heart with wings and above it the words “epiphania” — what her friends in Mexico call her.

Aston earned that nickname because her writing is inspired by epiphanies she has “for things we all know or things that are hidden in plain sight,” she said.

For example, one of her books is “An Egg is Quiet.” This phrase was first spoken by a 3 year old, Dusty Dunn, who was asked one day in Montessori School to tell the class something about an egg.
“An egg is quiet,” was his reply.

Aston’s mother, Candy Shelts, was amused by the boy’s keen observation and relayed the incident to Aston.

One day Aston was picking up eggshells while holding her daughter Lizzie and the memory came back to her and the book “An Egg is Quiet” was the result.

“So, it is because of my mom that these books are going all over the world … to restore the earth,” Aston said. “I can’t take the credit. I’m just the hand.”

One of her favorite literary awards was given by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Award for her book “An Egg is Quiet.”

“This was my first breakout book on what they began to call lyrical science,” Aston said. “… I didn’t even know I was writing science books until AAAS called and said, ‘you won. Let’s do a podcast and come to San Francisco and get your award.’”

Some of her other titles are: “A Seed is Sleepy,” “A Butterfly is Patient,” “A Beetle is Shy,” “A Nest is Noisy” and “A Rock is Lively.”

A friend of hers came up with the description of a rock as “lively.”

The book is “about the evolution of rocks. It tells the whole story,” she said “That’s why a rock is lively — it starts out liquid.”

Among her 15 books, “Not So Tall for Six,” was the result of a conversation with a six-year-old about her height. In the book a girl is bullied but by following her family’s motto — takes the high road.

The favorite book she has authored is “Dream Something Big” about the story of Watts Towers about an Italian immigrant’s dream to ‘do something big.’ Simon Rodia, known as ‘Uncle Sam’ began with something tiny—a single chip of tile that he found on the street, which became the first building block to an astonishing feat of architecture and a national landmark in Watts, Calif. Aston describes him on her website as “a visionary, a pioneer in the art of recycling, reusing and repurposing found objects. He dug through trash piles for things people no longer wanted or overlooked: broken teapots and plates. Shattered bottles and mirrors. Rocks and shells. On the backs of ice cream parlor chairs he saw hearts. In water spigots he saw flowers.”

Rodia’s story is told from the perspective of a girl named Marguerite.

Aston said she hopes through her books she is able to improve the lives of young people, especially those who have disabilities or other life challenges, and teach them how to be good stewards of the earth. Aston began writing in 1996, and a few years later said a prayer to have a meaningful life.

“That’s when things started happening,” she said.

Aston sent a manuscript to a publisher with a no unsolicited manuscript policy and got published. That book was “When You Were Born” with illustrations by E.B. Lewis. The illustrations took longer since the artist the publisher chose, E.B. Lewis, was in high demand, and so another book, “Loony Little” was actually published first. “Loony Little” about the polar ice caps, will be re-released next year on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

“It’s completely updated with information on the back and activities,” Aston said.

Aston’s book, “The Moon Over Star” about the first manned mission to the moon, gained recognition when it was read to children, first by President Obama, and then by a NASA astronaut.

To learn more about Aston, visit her website


By Roseanne McKee

Reprinted with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Part of history from the beginning of mankind is using cooking techniques enabling food to be kept so that none of it will be wasted and food reserves can be established. Ways of preserving meat — confit, pate, sausage, bacon, ham, smoked salmon, smoked trout, lox and salmon cured with salt and seasoning are all part of the specialty called charcuterie — salting, smoking and cooking meat.

The word charcuterie combines two French words — chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked). The term was originally limited to pork but over time these techniques have been used on other meats and foods.

In the cookbook “Charcuterie: the craft of salting, smoking and curing” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, Ruhlman writes, “[y]ou can confit many cuts of meat. Goose, in addition to duck, of course, chicken or turkey — or a pork loin. It’s a remarkable thing: you can buy a supermarket pork loin, unnaturally lean now and flavorful as cardboard, and, with the basic confit method, turn it into something so tasty you’d swear voodoo were involved.”

The word confit literally means preserved. This was a French technique in which duck, for example, was salted for a period of time and then poached in its own fat, then immersed in that fat and kept until needed, Ruhlman said.

Charcutiers were esteemed French tradesmen, who belonged to guilds, and who played an essential role in maintaining the food supply in their communities, said Ruhlman.

Co-author Brian Polcyn, an accomplished chef who teaches charcuterie, refers to charcuterie as a practice because it is a technique “you’re always learning, always practicing, never perfecting, because the conditions are always changing. …”

While charcuterie is an ever-present part of the European culinary scene, it is less prevalent in Oklahoma.

Nonetheless, there are places that offer it — Ludivine in Oklahoma City being one of them. Ludivine, located at 805 N. Hudson in OKC, has a charcuterie platter on the menu offering country pate, rabbit liver mousse, rabbit rillettes, house cured salmon, Berkshire Lardo, foie gras mousse and a daily cheese selection.

Another establishment gaining a reputation for curing meat on site is Fassler Hall, which makes all of its sausage in house with Oklahoma-sourced pork. A few of the sausages offered at the two locations (Tulsa and OKC) are — bratwurst, lamb sausage, hot Italian sausage and the hunter, a sausage made from venison, buffalo and pork. Duck fat fries come free with each order.

In Oklahoma salting and smoking may have been the preferred method to preserve meats.

Salt not only flavors meat, it preserves it by disabling the microbes that feed on food. Salt pulls water out of the meat and thereby dehydrates it.

Sauerkraut, a tasty addition to a sausage meal, is basically salted cabbage. Olives, a staple of charcuterie platters, when soaked in saltwater are transformed from a bitter fruit into a delicious one.

The Egyptians were possibly the first to brine olives. According to the authors of “Charcuterie,” the Egyptians “were possibly the first people to preserve food with salt on a large scale,” which they used for their own food supply and for trade.

The authors said, because the Egyptians did not consume swine, the Celts were said to have invented ham during the Iron Age, around 1,000 B.C. The Celts shared ham with the Romans. A favorite ham of the Romans was Westphalia, which endures as one of the world’s finest hams. Westpahalia is a region in today’s northwestern Germany.

Viking, who preserved cod, were sustained by this cured fish as they traveled to distant shores.

Ruhlman wrote, “The Vikings also secretly fished for cod in the New World, (keeping the discovery of Nova Scotia to themselves, centuries before Columbus crossed the Atlantic), then salting it to sell throughout Catholic Europe, no doubt a thriving trade on meatless Fridays and during Lent, when pork was off limits.”

Long journeys became possible only when cultures learned to preserve large amounts of food, Ruhlman said.

“Curing with salt and smoking go hand in hand,” Ruhlman stated. Smoking inhibits microbes that would spoil meat and impart flavor. That flavor changes depending on the wood used.

“It’s critical to use only hardwoods in smoking foods,” Ruhlman said. He recommends, hickory, maple and fruitwoods while soft woods should be avoided because they contain unpalatable sap, or resin.

Ruhlman recommends using fruitwoods for a mild sweet smoked flavor and pear for smoking fish. Cherry is popular in Michigan to create smoked duck, he said.

“The pairing of applewood smoke and bacon is so felicitous it’s become almost commonplace,” Ruhlman wrote.

Home cooks can easily hot smoke, or cook meats at a temperature at or above 150 degrees, in a smoker. Ruhlman recommends 180 degrees as optimal for hot smoking sausages and 200 degrees for smoking whole cuts of meat.

Home cooks should take note that most recipes involving smoking require pink salt, or sodium nitrite, as a preservative against botulism poisoning, Ruhlman said. However, food that goes from the refrigerator to the hot smoker doesn’t require pink salt, he added.

Whether you smoke some meat yourself this summer, or go to one of the restaurants in Oklahoma that serve charcuterie, here’s wishing you some delicious charcuterie experiences!

P.E.O. celebrates 150 years!

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

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, 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