Addie Roanhorse speaks about the importance of family, her connection to Osage murders, her art and work for the Osage Nation

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

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Addie Roanhorse at Bartlesville Art Association’s ArtNight, February 2019.

Artist Addie Roanhorse spoke for the first ArtNight of 2019 in February at the Bartlesville Art Association’s design center.

Roanhorse, who works for the Osage Nation as a graphic designer and photographer, gave a slide presentation highlighting the breadth of her work in graphic design, painting, photography and mixed media.

She covered too much ground to be written in one article, so in the E-E, the articles were split into several columns. Here, three are combined into one. However, there will be one more to be published next week.

Roanhorse began with the importance of family.

“My family is obviously number one for me. My family is why I’m an artist. The Killers of the Flower Moon book — I have a relation in the book,” said Roanhorse.

Slides provided examples of her work in progress and completed pieces.

“Family is the most important thing as an Osage. We’re always taught that our elders and our children are the most coveted thing. They’re precious and we can learn from both. So, of course I would start out with my family.

“My mom, her name was Gina Gray. She went to the Institute of the American Indian Arts, and she also went to CalArts,” she said.

Roanhorse grew up mainly in Santa Fe but traveled back to Pawhuska to see grandparents.

She moved back to Oklahoma to finish her degree at Rogers State University in Claremore. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Roanhorse moved in with her to care for her. Gina Gray died three months later.

“I believe everything happens for a reason. … I would never in a million years think oh, I live in Pawhuska, but here I am living in my mom’s house.

“It was kind of therapeutic in a way because I got to work on the last projects in college. It was bittersweet. …”

Upon graduating she went to the Osage Chief and pointed out that the tribe had no artistic position — no graphic artist. Chief Standing Bear agreed that there was a need.

“He said, ‘when do you graduate?’ I said, ‘on Saturday.’ He said, ok, be here Monday and I started work on Tuesday. They literally created the position for me, and I’ve been there ever since,” she said with a smile.

She showed slides of her mother’s art. “She did watercolors,” Roanhorse said. “She did a lot of warriors. … Now I actually do a lot of strong women. … She always represented parts of our culture — different bands and clans and just kind of brought our people into our artwork. That’s a huge indicator of my artwork too. It’s who I am. If I were a writer, I’d be writing about the Osage people and our culture.”

She described her daughter, Anya, age 11, as the Tiny Indian. “That’s her nickname.”

She showed her work at the SantaFe art market. She got a ribbon and sold out and this was at age 10. Anya has also taken up photography.

“The local newspaper pays her $40 per print so any big event she’s always out there being the on the beat person.”

“This is [Anya’s] latest venture. She’s doing embroidery on canvas. She put a little bit of black paint on the canvas and said, ‘it’s mixed media.’ So, she’s learning, but I’m super proud of her.

“My brother Danté, he’s an artist as well. He’s an oil painter. It’s almost like if you took my mom’s artwork and split it in two. I took one side, and my brother took the other. His artwork is very — it’s dreams.

“He’s a combat vet from Afghanistan, and we’ve had him home now for four years so it’s really nice that he’s started to paint again. I believe Pendleton Blanket has picked up this piece. …”

Her grandfather, who passed away when she was about 10, was a full-blood Osage.

“Everything I remember about him is just so vivid. Everything he taught us about Pawhuska, our culture and being a small business owner. He was a really great guy.”

She showed a photo of him in regalia during the In Lon Shka dances held each June in Pawhuska.

Her grandmother was mostly Osage but a little bit French, she said.

“Her mother was Grace Roan and Grace’s father was Henry Roan. … that’s the connection to Henry.”

He was one of the Osages written about in the book “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann.

“We went to the book signing of David Grann in Pawhuska … he looked up at me and said ‘…I just want you know there are going to be things in this book you probably have never heard’ and he was absolutely right. It took me several months just to get through the first section of it. I’m glad the story is finally out there.

She saw a friend in who had read the book and said, “I’m sorry. … Being just in Bartlesville, this close, and nobody’s ever talked about this. No one knew about this. …”

Recently, while acting as the Osage Museum’s acting director, museum she received questions about her great-great grandfather.

“It’s uncomfortable sometimes … because people want to know uncomfortable things about what happened. … I want to educate them, but it’s gone a little too far sometimes with the questioning. I just try to be polite, and do the best I can.”

She shifted topics to her paintings.

Roanhorse has integrated oil lease maps into her art.

She showed a painting of an Osage woman and said, “There’s nothing more of an indicator that connects Osage people to their land then oil. I’m also a seamstress so I decided to cut the maps up … I’m making a shirt out of it.”

The forehead of the woman’s face was red. Roanhorse used red tissue paper to create this effect. She used molding paste and acrylic paint applied in beads from a cake-decorating bag to give the art more dimension.

Roanhorse showed a slide of another piece that she said was reminiscent of screen printing.

She showed another portrait of a woman with Prismacolor on canvas with ledger paper from 1897 utilized for clothing.

“It’s pretty delicate but when I get it down, it’s nice.”

She showed another portrait containing actual Pawhuska phone book strips.

She explained, “in Pawhuska the first three digits are always 287. Growing up visiting Pawhuska, I just thought it was the funniest thing when somebody gave their phone number — they’d just give the last four digits.”

She showed a painting of her grandfather, which included Osage orthography.

“I created stencils and spray paint to kind of give it a different effect. And then that’s an actual photograph. …”

On the next slide, she showed a painting of her grandmother, which she described as “more calm” than the one of her grandfather. At the bottom of the painting were red hand prints in a row.

“Those are my daughter’s handprints from when she was five. “The red hand represents friendship on our blankets that we make,” she said.

She showed a painting of her great-great grandfather, Henry Roan.

“Now that you get access to everything on the internet, I stumbled upon the FBI files. You can literally pore through documents and so I started printing off documents … there are actual pieces of the story. Western Union communication back and forth with Hoover. So, I thought that was an interesting way to present it, and you have to get up close to it to see it — to read it.”

For another of her paintings she went to her elders committee to ask for permission to depict tattoos.

“My biggest fear is that someone will see it and be like, ‘oh yeah, I’m going to go get tattoos,’ but these are warrior tattoos. I got the clearance from them. … It’s another opportunity for me to talk about my people and get firsthand information. … With the internet people just assume they know what they want to know about us but if you open a dialogue with people that ask questions about it — I think that’s the best way you can.”

In another painting she uses stippling to create the look of a lazy stitch used in Osage beadwork.

“I just liked the effect … when we were in Santa Fe there were people who thought it was real and they came up and tried to touch it — like real beadwork.”

Regarding her graphic design, she said she does a lot of logos.

“There’s a lot that I have access to so I started to incorporate the photography in and again this is a flyer but if you look closely it’s actually the back of a girl’s shirt. There’s the stitching. It’s a ribbon that goes down and there’s the button that holds the ribbon together. So, it’s just kind of always trying to weave my culture into it.

She said that when Osages see it they recognize what is being depicted.
“It makes me feel good.”

For the Osage Attorney General’s logo she incorporated the scales of justice into the Osage orthography.

For the Oil and Gas Summit she included Osage ribbonwork.

“I get access to moments that most people don’t get to see. When the Killers of the Flower Moon production company came they were cedaring off everybody. She photographed a moment when Chief Standing Bear was being cedared off.

Another photo she had taken was of an eldest son, phonetically “ee-low-mpa” in the Osage language, going to the arbor to dance at In Lon shka for the first time.

“He had a little skip in his walk, and he was proud.”

One day she accompanied the Wildland Fire Department as they fought spring wildfires in the Osage.

She was in a fire truck between Hominy and Skiatook.

“There were fires all around, and it was quite the scene. It was exciting. This was kind of the aftermath.” Fire Chief Ross Walker was in the photo and through the landscape and smoke there was an oil rig in the background.”

Finally, she showed a photo from behind of Chief Standing Bear with his grandson talking to him about getting ready to enter the arbor and be roached, a ceremony in which an eagle feather is placed on the headdress. His uncle Joe Don Brave’s hands are shown assisting with the placement of the headdress.
Another photo she showed was of the first time they brought in the bison on Bluestem Ranch, which is owned by the Osage Nation, and prayed over them, she said.

“The sun was setting and the natural light worked with it.”

“This was at our dance as well. This is one of our elders about to lead all the men into the arbor into our dances — every June.”

Another photo was of the drum being brought to the arbor.

“Each district had their own drum and so it’s very poignant moment to see all the men coming with the drum.”

Crystal Bridges is building a new performing and visual arts complex. Closer to the town square is an old Kraft cheese plant. They’re keeping the structure … but they are completely gutting it.

The director contacted her.

“I was asked if I could design a pattern to be etched on glass that would go on the façade of this building. … I’m honored to do it,” Roanhorse said.

She went to Bentonville, Ark., and the director said, “I just want to honor the people who were here pre-colonial. … It felt really good that they wanted to honor Osage people. That was our hunting territory way before any of this.”
She named the design “sway” explaining her intention that the design would suggest movement and be based on the finger-woven belt worn in Osage women’s regalia.

The belt that is fixed at the waist of Osage women’s regalia, and flows down the back.

“Women wear it, and when you dance, it starts swaying. And when I was a little girl, I used to think that was the coolest thing. I’d be with my aunties, and we’d be dancing … it’s just this moment and this feeling that, again, only Osages would truly understand.

She simplified the design in the belt and created the suggestion of movement in the design.

“The entryway of the design will actually go up and over in a very large scale. Then there’s the façade on this side and it goes up five stories. So, it will have the design, really tiny, going all the way up. … At night they’ll shoot movies on it.

“It’s way bigger than I could ever … and when I went and saw it, it was amazing what they’ve done. I got to work with architects in Chicago. … It’s just been a great experience. … They plan on opening February 2020.

The Dewey Hotel Built by Bartlesville’s Namesake

By: Roseanne McKee

Re-published with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

The Dewey Hotel, built by Jacob “Jake” Bartles, for whom the city of Bartlesville is named, provides a glimpse into Oklahoma’s pioneering days. This part one of two articles based on an interview with members of the Washington County Historical Society.

To tell the story of the Dewey Hotel, one must first know the story of Jake Bartles, who built the hotel. According to Sarah Thompson, a Washington County Historical Society Archivist, Bartles, who lived from 1842 to 1908, first lived in the East. His father ran the first telegraph line in New York.

The family moved to Kansas when Jake was ten. He grew up and got married in Kansas before moving to Oklahoma Territory, where he established a trading post at Silver Lake, southwest of what is now Bartlesville. There was a settlement there and so he had ready customers.

“To be a white man in Oklahoma, you had to be married to an Indian to do business,” explained Washington County Historical Society Archivist, Sarah Thompson. Bartles was already married to a member of the Delaware Tribe, Nannie, but the couple had not had a Delaware wedding, and so their marriage was not recognized by the tribe.

“They had a second Delaware ceremony, so that he could do business here,” Thompson explained.

Nannie Journeycake Bartles had been married once before, but her farmer husband died at the age of 24, leaving Nannie a widow with three young daughters.

Jake Bartles then married Nannie and brought her back to Oklahoma territory, where she had 60 acres from the Delaware Tribe, Thompson said. The couple had two sons together, Charles, who died as an infant, and Joseph, who lived to be 81.

The story is that Jake Bartles, who initially settled in what is now Bartlesville, left and moved to Dewey when the railroad was built too far from his trading post for him to benefit from its construction. He had wanted it to be built on the north side of the river, but it was built on the south side. This prompted Bartles to move.

Once in Dewey, Bartles moved his general store from Bartlesville to Dewey to the location where the Tom Mix Museum now stands. Across the street from the store, he built the first modern bank building in the territory in 1903, Thompson explained.

“He sold the bank building in 1908 before he passed away,” Thompson said. “I think it’s older than any of the buildings in Bartlesville.”

He also had general stores in Bartlesville, Pawhuska and Nowata, Thompson said.

“Farmers could get clothes, groceries, farm equipment, tools, carriage parts, furniture, lumber; it was the Walmart of its time.

“We have one of the cash registers and receipt books,” she added. “He even had coupon books.”

Thompson continued: “Jake was a wonderful entrepreneur but the legacy of the son was that he took care of the Fourth of July Rodeo, said to be the third largest in the United States. He ran it and promoted it. It became such a well-known rodeo, that the participants had to reserve an invitation.

Joe Bartles organized the rodeo to please his father, Jake. Initially, the rodeo was held to honor the remaining living soldiers from Jake’s civil war regiment.

“He fought on the Union side. He went in as a private and came out a colonel,” Thompson said.

The arena was at the Washington County Fairgrounds on 60 acres of land given to the city by Jake Bartles. Later, the Dewey Schools were built there, Dewey Hotel Manager Jack Fleharty said.

“He had the first Rodeo in 1908 for his regiment and the last one was held in 1950, the year the bleachers fell down during the event.

“A local gentleman who was there said there were horses tied to the [support] poles and when the kids set off fireworks, they pulled the poles and the bleachers fell injuring several.

“Twenty to thirty thousand people came for the rodeos,” Thompson said.

Jake Bartles built the Dewey Hotel in 1900, when his son, Joe, was 25 years old.

The hotel, which had living quarters for Jake and Nannie Bartles, was sort of a retirement place for them, Thompson explained.

Unfortunately, Jake Bartles died in 1908 at the age of 66.

“That is when the trouble started – when Jake passed away,” Thompson said. “They went to probate court and they gave one-half to Joseph and one-half to Nannie. Joe later borrowed against his half and put the property in jeopardy. There were several court cases with two banks that resulted.

“After Nannie passed away in 1925, the hotel was sold at a sheriff’s sale.”

To learn what happened next, read my column in next week’s Sunday Bartlesville E-E.

Two in Pawhuska follow National Tiny House Building Trend

20140813_130522 (L-R): Rick Geisler and Hank Benson speak to Pawhuska Kiwanis Club

By: Roseanne McKee

Hank Benson and Rick Geisler spoke to the Pawhuska Kiwanis Club about the tiny houses they are building in their spare time.
Benson said that Geisler has built two tiny houses on permanent structures at the Settle Inn RV Park in Pawhuska, which have been popular rentals since they were built.

Benson, who owns Benson Lumber in Pawhuska, said he drew inspiration from The Small House Book, published in 2012 by Jay Shafer, who is a leader in the tiny house movement.

“He got tired of living the American dream of having a bigger house and more space to take care of, more things to go wrong,” Benson said. “He built this first house of his, and left Iowa and went to California.”

Once in California, Shafer met a woman who had many acres of Redwoods and she asked him to be the caretaker of the site, Benson explained.

“Right now, he is developing a tiny home village in the San Francisco area. They now have their regulations gathered up and it will be interesting to see how that works out this year,” Benson explained.

“I bought the book for the plans, but as I read the book, he’s really sharing a philosophy of living,” Benson said.

Shafer’s philosophy is to focus on relationships rather than possessions, modeling his lifestyle after European traditions of communities with houses built closer together, narrower streets and more interaction with neighbors.
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Initially, Benson and Geisler began with leftover lumber and materials.

“We thought well, we’ll be good stewards and we’ll turn these under-utilized or non-utilized materials into what we think will be an attractive small space for a hunting cabin or a fishing lodge, oil field waiting shack, office, guest house,” Benson said.

“Rick processes a lot of cedar for his cottages,” Benson said. “He got into milling, sawing of boards. His sons got involved. Both of them live in Colorado and went to a tiny home seminar.”

Geisler said people compliment him on the cedar scent of the tiny homes he constructs, which feature locally-harvested cedar on the interior and exterior with metal standing-seam roofs. He saw an opportunity to utilize the abundance of cedar in this region and to rid farmers and ranchers of the unwanted trees, which soak up ground water.
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Geisler: “We’ve got more cedar than we need. I’ve got a place up in Kansas that I cut cedar down and bring it to the mill and make siding, we build bathroom lavatories out of logs and we build a little bit of everything out of them – Murphy beds.”

Building tiny houses is something Geisler, who manages the park at Hulah Lake for the Osage Nation, and Benson, who owns Benson Lumber in Pawhuska, do in their spare time. As a result, construction takes about four weeks start to finish, Benson said.

After the meeting adjourned, Kiwanians were able to go to the parking lot and tour a tiny house Benson had recently finished.

The tiny house, which Benson pulled behind his truck, had a standing-seam metal roof, measured 8 ft. by 20 ft., and was for sale for $15,500.00.
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Ben Allen, manager of the First National Bank of Sedan’s loan production office, opening soon in downtown Pawhuska, weighed in on loans to purchase the tiny houses.

“If at some point in time they are deemed real property and are the primary residence, that could benefit the borrower with lower interest rates,” Allen said.

“It’s kind of unclear yet until the city and the state decide how they will characterize these structures. I’m not sure that’s our call but we’ll abide by what they decide. For now, we plan to have a security agreement and a UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) financing statement and to make fixed rate, five-year loans,” Allen said.

Regarding plumbing, the homes are set up to connect directly to the city water and sewer system, Benson said.

The exterior of the house is made of yellow pine with a spar varnish, which is used for exterior structures, Benson explained.

The interior is finished in several types of wood.

“We tried to mix it up,” Benson said.

The house has yellow pine flooring. Mahogany plywood and knotty pine trim were also used.

“The cabinet doors show some of the knots, which improves the aesthetic,” Benson said.
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In choosing materials, Benson said: “When you have such a small space, you don’t have to do things cheaply. You can spend more on doors because you’ll only have one and on windows because you’ll only have two. We used a fancier door, a craftsman style and we had an arched window at the top of the loft. We used solid surface materials for the counter tops.”

The upstairs loft has a rounded wood ceiling reminiscent of a ship’s cabin. The loft can accommodate a queen-sized bed, and has storage along the walls.

“That is reclaimed oak flooring on the [loft] ceiling. It took a bit of extra labor but it adds architectural style in the loft area,” Benson said.

There are requirements for moving these structures across highways, Benson said. In order for a structure to be transported over public highways, it needs to be no more than eight ft. by six ft. wide on a trailer and 13 by 6 ft. tall.

Some questions about home identification still need to be determined Benson said. These structures can be placed on permanent foundations as they have been in the Settle Inn RV Park. In such case, the home might be characterized as real property and be subject to ad valorem taxes.

“We don’t know yet. RVs have serial numbers, but we’re treading on new turf and we don’t’ know what the county assessor will say. I can say that it will be very interesting to see.”

If the home is not on a permanent foundation, it may be deemed by the state to be in the same category of mobile homes, which are issued state tags.

“Rick and I went to Hernandez one evening recently. We had rubber-necking and one person was interested in getting one as a hunting lodge and so she asked the state tag office how the home would be identified – by tag or serial number.”

The state tag office has not yet answered this question, Benson said.

Benson was asked how small a home could be and still be allowed on a lot within the Pawhuska city limits. He does not yet have the answer, but is aware of certain housing space requirements.
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“Your kitchen has to be fifty square feet, your bathroom has to be about 30 sq. ft because you need 36” of space in front of the shower. If you have a habitable area, it has to be a min. of seven ft. ceilings and has to be 70 sq. ft. to be a habitable room,” Benson said.

“Now I’ve seen in some of the building books that people are coming up with buildings in the 400 sq. ft. range – two bedroom, sometimes three bedrooms,” Benson said.

“To keep them out of HUD requirements, we keep them under 400 sq. ft.,” Geisler.
Benson’s children attended Oklahoma State University (OSU) and this gave him an idea.

“There are a lot of parents are tired of paying housing costs for their children at universities. My mission for them is to contact the architectural engineering department, the construction management department, take Rick down there, and say what about all the property you have left over where all those houses were north of the stadium, wouldn’t it be beneficial short-term use until it gets more fully developed.”

Benson said he even envisioned a friendly competition. “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a little competition between universities to see who would have the best style, function, energy costs and just like they’re doing with the racing teams and aviation flight school at OSU, we could see if they could do that in this industry and see what they could come up with.

Another project Benson has planned is a fifth wheel home.

“We’re going to a fifth wheel house which will have its own elevated bedroom area at the top, an eight-by-eight living area, kitchen and bathroom separated between the two spaces.”

To learn more about obtaining your own tiny house, visit Hank Benson at Benson Lumber in Pawhuska located at 1020 Lynn Ave, Pawhuska, OK 74056 or call him at
(918) 287-3788.

A Group of Concerned Citizens meets with BKL, Inc. and County Commissioner Bob Jackson to discuss issues surrounding study of courthouse renovation or new construction

Bill Knowles of BKL, Inc. and Carol Crews


Top Photo: Retired Architect Frank Lorenzo with District One County Commissioner Bob Jackson
Middle Photo: Bill Knowles of BKL, Inc. and Carol Crews
Bottom Photo: Kim Reeve of BKL, Inc., Frederick Ford Drummond and Kathy Swan

Photos and Story by Roseanne Sutton

Recently, a group of concerned citizens met at the Pawhuska Library with BKL, Inc., the company that completed the courthouse feasibility study, in order to get a better understanding of the issues in anticipation of the public hearing set for 6 p.m. on April 26 at the Osage County Fairgrounds Ag Building.

The citizens attending the meeting, who did not represent any organization in an official capacity, included some who were members of the Osage County Historical Society. In attendance were: Hank Benson, Carol Crews, David Crews, Lu King, Kathy Swan, Frederick Ford Drummond, Frank Lorenzo, Roger Lloyd, Terry Loftis, Lloyd Smith, Nancy Woodyard and Shirley Roberts.

County Commissioner Bob Jackson attended the meeting as did representatives from BKL, Inc.: AIA and President Kim Reeve and Bill Knowles, AIA, NCARB, and Preservation Consultant Cathy Ambler, Ph.D., invited by BKL, Inc.

Bill Knowles and Kim Reeve both have ownership interests in BKL, Inc., a civil engineering and architectural firm founded in 1946, which the Osage County Commissioners had employed to complete a study regarding the feasibility of either renovation of the courthouse or construction of a new one. BKL, Inc. has an impressive record of having done courthouse renovation plans and courthouse construction plans in this region. For more information about their work, visit their website at http://www.BKLINC.com.

At the meeting, the tone of citizens was respectful but concerned as each person had an opportunity to speak with BKL, Inc. representatives and Commissioner Jackson. Once everyone had been heard and BKL, Inc. had responded, it became clear that these citizens, who supported the idea of preserving the courthouse, felt troubled that the County Commissioners had not instructed BKL, Inc. to do the feasibility study from the perspective of the District Ten Courthouse being preserved — an historical structure which attracts tourism to Pawhuska.

Situated on the highest hill, the courthouse, constructed in 1914 for $80,000, can be seen for miles around and is beautifully constructed – reminiscent of an earlier time in Pawhuska.

County Commissioner Bob Jackson pointed out that some county employees and Osage County residents who come to Pawhuska to do various kinds of county business, taxpaying, visiting the zoning and planning department or the district attorney’s office, find it more convenient to go to one centralized location. Out-of-towners come to Pawhuska and have a hard time navigating around town to find out where county offices are located, Jackson said.

However, the concerned citizens at the meeting, challenged the premise that all of the offices needed to be in one location. Lu King brought up the problem of parking on the hill if the courthouse were renovated or rebuilt. The new construction would decrease what is already limited parking. King and others wanted a study which would evaluate the idea of having the county offices in a downtown location, such as the Whiting Building along Kihekah Ave. “There’s a huge parking lot behind it,” King added.

“Let’s take a look at some of these things that can help preserve the downtown and meet the needs of the community offices,” said Frederick Ford Drummond.

“The Whiting Building could be renovated to be lovely and meet the needs of the county office and preserve the historic character of the downtown community,” said Lu King.

County Commissioner Bob Jackson who had voiced concerns about abandoning the downtown at public county commissioner meetings previously, appeared to see both sides of the argument. However, Jackson said that security was a concern in determining the best solution.

Kim Reeve said, “Security is one reason to separate the public from the criminals, to separate the traffic patterns.” He told of judges expressing the awkwardness of having to share restroom facilities with the public which came before them in court. Summing up the dilemma Reeve said, “Courthouses are space inefficient.”

Frank Lorenzo, a retired architect, asked, “The planning commission has a strong connection to the assessor. Could those be moved downtown?” Lorenzo added, “City planning for growth needs to be considered.”

BKL, Inc. representative Bill Knowles said that his company was well acquainted with, and sensitive to the concept of architectural historic preservation. However, BKL, Inc. had not been instructed to focus on this in the feasibility study, he said. After the meeting adjourned, Knowles told Pawhuska Community News, that he had begun the feasibility study process with County Commissioner Clarence Brantley, who had told Knowles he would personally speak to the Osage County Historical Society. However, Brantley became ill and died unexpectedly. As a result, Brantley’s intentions could not be carried out.

Instead, the study evolved into a very analytical approach to the most efficient method of bringing all of the Osage County offices under one roof.

The challenges of bringing the courthouse up to current building codes, while making room for the departments currently scattered in offices on Kihekah Ave., were emphasized by Bill Knowles in public meetings with the county commissioners in the last quarter of 2010.

Reeve introduced Dr. Cathy Ambler. “She’s very valuable to us. She has a very strong body of knowledge. We would use her consulting services in this instance. We didn’t discuss this with her because we didn’t want to spend money unless it was going to happen,” Reeve said.

Overall, the meeting was an opportunity to examine the validity of the premise that all of the county offices should be either put under one roof or in a renovated courthouse/annex.

Instead, the citizens at the meeting wanted to consider a third option – updating the courthouse and moving other related county offices to a renovated location downtown.

“The county commissioners need to give the architects the latitude to really look at it and come back with what really makes sense,” said Kathy Swan.

With the feasibility study complete and BKL, Inc. already paid in full, this raised another question, voiced by Terry Loftis. If a third option were considered, who would pay for it? “You’re not doing this out of the kindness of your heart. What will this cost?” Loftis inquired of BKL, Inc.

Reeve responded, “We don’t make money on every project … We are under contract … We set a dollar amount because clients need to be committed to it – otherwise they’re not invested in the project.
“We’re committed, although maybe not contractually, to talk to groups … Obviously, it’s in our best interest long term …

“We have some responsibility long-term because we did not educate the owners to other possibilities … and we didn’t address the historic preservation …

“Maybe we have not done all the professional services we should have.”

Pawhuska, a town originally build with oil money, which is the home of the Osage Nation, is currently in the process of redefining itself.

The Osage Principal Chief John Red Eagle elected in 2010 has publicly, and repeatedly, expressed his commitment to partner with the city of Pawhuska on projects to showcase Pawhuska’s historical significance.

He has already demonstrated this commitment by partnering with the city in the Pawhuska Business Center project, the city’s splash pad for children, and in the joint application between the city and the Osage Nation for an Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) grant application. If awarded, the ODOT grant would facilitate the first phase of renovation of downtown Pawhuska for pocket parks and/or plazas containing bronze statues of people such as: Osage Chief Pawhuska and Actor Ben Johnson.

Local leadership in Pawhuska and the Osage Nation’s Principal Chief have expressed their desire to preserve the uniqueness of Pawhuska while improving its infrastructure.

With the issues now in focus, the stage is set for Tuesday night’s meeting to really discuss these issues and, rather than pointing fingers, commit to finding the answers.

Plan to have your voice heard by attending the meeting at the Ag Building of the Osage County Fairgrounds on April 26 at 6 p.m.