By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, ON Communications
Pawhuska, Okla., Osage Nation Reservation (Friday, November 9, 2018) – The first-ever memorial recognizing Osage US military veterans and pre-military scouts is scheduled for a public dedication on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. The momentous dedication will take place on the lawn by the Osage Nation Museum in Pawhuska at 873 Grandview Avenue. The memorial features a twenty-foot eagle feather and a place for recognition of each branch of the military with the name of those Osages who served in those branches.
Recognizing Osage Veterans
“This memorial, like all other memorials is a bridge to the past for the people in the present to have some understanding of the great cost of war,” said Franklin McKinley (Osage), a veteran and the chair of the Osage Veterans Memorial Commission (OVM) in a speech to the Osage Nation Congress. “Loss is just not on the battlefield alone, but back at home as well. Memorials are a compassionate way of respectfully reminding all of the sacrifices that are made by our veterans.”
“This memorial is bringing back the native tradition of honoring our warriors. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice, and this memorial will celebrate the lives of women and men that believed in something greater than themselves,” said Maria DeRoin, the Communications Consultant for the Osage Veterans Memorial Commission (OVM). She has been working with the OVM, architects, construction companies, and Osage Nation Tribal Development to finalize the details of the memorial long-awaited completion.
DeRoin (Osage citizen) is a twenty-year US Navy veteran. In early December 2017, she was contracted by the Osage Nation to spearhead the completion of the memorial project to meet the target date of Veterans Day 2018. Initial legislation for the concept began in 2011 when legislation was passed to fund the “Osage War Memorial” sponsored by, then Osage Congressman, Principal Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. The memorial fund and title of the monument were changed to “Osage Veterans Memorial” by legislation introduced by Congresswoman Angela Pratt in 2017 to include all Osage veterans, like herself, whether they are combat veterans or not. Both Standing Bear and Pratt remained actively involved in the planning stages of the memorial’s construction with the OVM.
The Osage Veterans Memorial
“This structure is a perfect circle that is 66-feet across and extends four-feet below the surface. In the center of the memorial is a water feature on the north side and there is seating on the south side. Pavers cover the walking surface in and around the centerpiece structure that leads to three large beautiful gazebos,” said Talee RedCorn (Osage) who is a veteran and the project lead for the construction of the memorial.
The highlight feature is a uniquely crafted twenty-foot eagle feather situated upright like the eagle feathers worn by Osage men under the Ilonshka Dance Arbor, or ceremonial Osage dances. Mary Frances West Williams, the president of the Hominy War Mothers Chapter and president of the Oklahoma War Mothers Association, requested the memorial have water features. She felt water was calming and that Osage warriors coming home could find a tranquil and peaceful place to reflect on their experiences. The designer, Wallace Engineering, included a granite waterfall structure and a waterfall as the centerpiece holding the eagle feather. Five granite plinths suround the large eagle feather and each granite plinth is decorated with a Department of Defense Seal (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard) and has the names of Osage veterans inscribed on the granite face.
“So many military veterans (Osage and non-Osage) have worked on the memorial. Each have expressed a sense of pride since all veterans agree they are a unique brother- and sisterhood,” said RedCorn about the number of veterans involved in the completion of the Osage Veterans Memorial.
“I would like to thank the Chief and Congresswomen Pratt for sponsoring the OVM bills, Tribal Development, the Roads Dept., Builders unlimited, Inc., Pryse Monument, Wallace Engineering, and R+K Studio,” said DeRoin.
Osage Veterans Memorial Commission
The Osage Veterans Memorial Commission, formally the War Memorial Commission, was established by the Osage Nation Congress in 2011. The purpose of the Commission is to follow the Osage Nation tradition of honoring Osage veterans…[and] to provide a physical reminder for present and future generations of the contributions and sacrifices of Osage veterans and their families.”