Tallgrass Art Gallery Welcomes Resident Sculpture Artist Denise Ford


Press Release by: Bruce Carter, Tallgrass Art Gallery

Tallgrass Art Gallery in Pawhuska has a new artist in residence. Denise Ford will be working in gallery on a life size bronze of an Osage warrior for several weeks. The monument portrays a warrior of the Osage Nation at the time of contact. He wears a bison robe and holds an eagle wing fan. Titled ‘Greeting the Dawn’, Ms. Ford was inspired by paintings by Catlin and a trip to the Osage Nation Museum to research traditional Osage costumes and attire.
Denise is available to visit with guests to the gallery and explain the process of creating a sculpture of this size, as well as allow visitors to ‘touch’ the in process piece. Her work in featured in the north window of the gallery, allowing passersby to watch her at work and see the development of the piece while she is here. She will continue to work in the gallery until the molds are made.
Denise has been commissioned to produce works throughout Texas and Oklahoma, as well as Atlanta Georgia. Her most recent commission was the ‘James Bigheart’ bronze for the Osage Nation. The monument to James Bigheart sits on their campus in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
‘As a sculptor, I will always be a work in progress. I’ve learned the rules, and the joy that lies before me now is expanding upon them in ways I’ve yet to discover. One way I’ve found is, I’ve developed a keen ‘eye’ for listening as I work’ comments Denise.
Denise can be seen working in gallery most days they are open. Currently the gallery is open from 9 to 6 Tuesday to Sunday and by appointment. She joins our other resident artist Sharlette White. In mid-September, the gallery hopes to add yet another resident artist to rotate with Denise and Sharlette, so there is always a working artist in the gallery. Denise, Sharlette and the gallery look forward to visitors seeing, enjoying and becoming a part of the creative process.
Currently Preserving Arts in the Osage is also working on a monumental bronze of Ben ‘Son’ Johnson in Old #1 Firehouse Art Center in downtown Pawhuska. The art center is open Thursday to Saturday from 10 to 3.

On the eve of their Departure for Santa Fe, Osage Ballet Principal Dancers Gather at The Mabelle B&B in Pawhuska

(L-R) Richard Walters (seated), OKC Ballet, Zoe Marnello-Kohn, San Fransisco Ballet (seated), Milena Garcia, OKC Ballet, Walter Gutierrez, Miki Kawamura, OKC Ballet (seated), Kayla Banks, Cathy Ross, Osage Ballet Choreographer Jenna Smith, Katherine Boatwright, Ballet Nebraska, Toleu Mukanov (seated), Walter Martin and Randy Crespo.
(L-R) Richard Walters (seated), OKC Ballet, Zoe Marnello-Kohn, San Fransisco Ballet (seated), Milena Garcia, OKC Ballet, Walter Gutierrez, Miki Kawamura, OKC Ballet (seated), Kayla Banks, Cathy Ross, Osage Ballet Choreographer Jenna Smith, Katherine Boatwright, Ballet Nebraska, Toleu Mukanov (seated), Walter Martin and Randy Crespo.

Photos and Article by: Roseanne McKee

On Aug. 2, the evening before departing for Santa Fe for their Aug. 6 performances at the Lensic Performing Arts Center via tour bus, Osage Ballet Director, Randy Tinker Smith, and her lead ballet dancers gathered at Cathy Ross’s home for dinner and a chance to meet some members of the community.

Debbie Reed, Pawhuska City Councilman Steve Holcombe, his wife Susie Holcombe, Osage Tribal Museum Curator Hallie Winter and Emily Haran were among those who attended.

(L-R) Susie Holcombe, Osage Ballet dancer Walter Gutierrez, Cathy Ross, owner of The Mabelle B&B, Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, Debbie Reed, Emily Holcombe, tap instructor at Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy.
(L-R) Susie Holcombe, Osage Ballet dancer Walter Gutierrez, hostess Cathy Ross, Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, Debbie Reed, Emily Haran, tap instructor at Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy.

When Director Randy Tinker Smith approached Cathy Ross with the idea of hosting a dinner for the Osage Ballet professional dancers, Ross answered with a resounding, “yes!”

Ross, who owns a bed and breakfast in Pawhuska called The Mabelle, said, “I’m a promoter of the arts and tourism and I entertain a lot here.” Ross is also a member of Preserving Arts in the Osage.

The evening provided an opportunity to hear from the dancers their emotional reactions to being a part of Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, which tells the story of the Osage people through ballet. “Wahzhazhe” is the pronunciation of the word for the Osage people in their language.

Stage Manager Kayla Banks shared that during a run-through earlier that day, “I was crying today during the scene ‘Walking in Two Worlds,’ where the kids and the professionals dance together. That’s my favorite scene, because it reminds me of my younger self. I think people can relate to it regardless of if you’re Osage. I think people can relate to it looking back at their own heritage.”

Banks, who lives in Denver Colo., is a performing artist trained in ballet, modern dance and stage work. She is dating ballet choreographer Jenna Smith’s cousin and on their first date he mentioned the Osage Ballet. Later, he sent her a YouTube clip of the ballet dancing.

Banks described her reaction: “This is so cool! I’m Native American. I’m Comanche; my family lives down in Lawton, Okla., — that’s where our reservation and National Museum are. I had just learned about Maria Tallchief. You don’t hear about Native American ballerinas because ballet started in Europe. I’m also African American, so what Misty Copeland, an African American ballet dancer, is doing at ABT (American Ballet Theatre) is inspiring and what Maria Tallchief did. You realize that ballet’s not just for one skin color. It’s really universal – it’s everybody’s.

“Once I saw the ballet, the first thing I did was to send the clip to the Native American Cultural Center at Colorado State University and suggested that they place it in their archives and spread the word about the Osage Ballet.”

“Then we went to the family reunion in New Mexico and that’s where I met Randy,” Banks said. After learning of her stage management background, Smith, who needed a stage manager, asked Banks to fill that important position. She accepted and even recruited a friend of hers, Andrew McIntyre, to be on the lighting crew. “He’s already in Santa Fe, waiting for us,” she said.

Regarding her own dance career, Banks said, she is still in training, but she hopes to dance in the Osage Ballet one day herself.

Referring to Osage Ballet Choreographer Jenna Smith’s Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy in Pawhuska, Banks said, the school’s goal is to raise dancers to perform the ballet.

“I hope this will be a staple piece like the Nutcracker with other artistic pieces to follow,” Banks added.

“There have been so many ballets created but Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, can be a staple because you bring it to communities that really appreciate it. Knowledge of it will continue to spread throughout the United States and the world. It will have a name for sure.”

Lead dancer Miki Kawamura, originally from Sapporo in the northern region of Japan shared how she became involved in the Osage Ballet. She danced for the Osage Ballet in Santa Fe with permission from the Oklahoma City Ballet.

“My best friend was going to do the ballet, and so I decided to join her for the opportunity to stay in shape over the summer and travel to Santa Fe; but then when it got closer to the time of rehearsal, my best friend decided she couldn’t do it. At that point, I’d already signed the contract….If I say I will do it, I will do it.”

Soon a DVD of the ballet arrived and Kawamura began learning the choreography, but at that point, she still did not fully grasp the emotional impact of her participation in the ballet.

“Then I came here and I met them, and saw how proud they are about the tribe and the ballet. Before I came here I had no idea. The tribe and the city have a lot of feelings toward this ballet. I’m really honored to be here.

“How many Japanese get to do this? I’m sure I’m the only one getting to do Native American ballet, so I’m glad I said yes.

“I’m glad I prepared and learned the ballet before I came. It’s not just a job or a gig. I want to give more….I want to express what it means to them.”

Describing the significance of her participation in the Osage Ballet, she said, “God moves people for His purposes. It shows me He is with me. He shows me why things happen.”

According to Director, Randy Smith, the Santa Fe performances on Aug. 6 at the Lensic PAC went well and were well attended.

Smith said: “We hope this will be the first of many trips to New Mexico and other regions to share Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet with a wider audience.”

To learn of upcoming performances of the Osage Ballet, visit their website at http://www.osageballet,com and visit their Facebook page.

The Osage Ballet operates under Art Maker. Donations may be sent to P. O. Box 1141, Skiatook, OK 74070.

Osage Ballet to Perform in Santa Fe

Photo by Bill Riley
Photo by Bill Riley

By: Roseanne McKee

“Wahzhazhe” an Osage Ballet will be travelling to the New Mexico stage. The Osage Ballet will hold two performances on Aug. 6, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.

The director, Randy Tinker Smith, who grew up in Las Vegas, New Mexico, made the decision to hold these summer performances following the ballet’s warm reception by audiences in Tulsa at the Performing Arts Center, Bartlesville at the Community Center, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. at the National Museum of the American Indian, and most recently in Sept. 2015, at the International Festival of Families in Philadelphia for the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis.

Wahzhazhe is the proper pronunciation of the name for the Osage people.

“Wahzhazhe” an Osage Ballet, tells the story of the Osage people from their first encounters with European visitors to the present day. The Osage, known as the “Masters of the Battlefield” and sometimes referred to as the happiest people in the world, monopolized trade because of their organizational gifts, Smith explained. Highlights of
“Wahzhazhe” include: the Osage’s journey to Oklahoma territory, the discovery of oil and their resulting wealth through the minerals estate, and the manner in which the Osage now walk in two cultures, Smith said.

The choreographer is classically trained ballerina, Jenna Smith. Jenna Smith and the ballet’s director, Randy Tinker Smith, are members of the Osage Nation and live in Osage County, Okla.

Jenna Smith owns and operates a performing arts academy in Osage County to train future generations of Osages in ballet.

“Teaching ballet as an art form in Osage County is my way of continuing the legacy begun by the late ballerina, Maria Tallchief, who was Osage,” Choreographer Jenna Smith said.

“We appreciate the donations from the Osage Nation, the Osage Nation Foundation, and many private donors,” Smith said. “These donations help us continue to bring the story of
the Osage people to the stage.”

The ballet features, Miki Kawamura, Principal Dancer for the Oklahoma City Ballet, performing by permission.

Tickets for the Aug. 6 performances at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., are available at the door at a cost of $10 for children and students and $25 for adults.

Visit the Lensic PAC website at: http://www.lensic.org to purchase advance tickets.
The Osage Ballet operates under Art Maker. Donations may be sent to P. O. Box 1141, Skiatook, OK 74070.

For photos and updates, follow them on Facebook and via their website at: http://www.osageballet.com.

Statue of Osage Principal Chief James Bigheart Unveiled

Based on a Press Release provided by the Bigheart Family

A statue of Osage Principal Chief James Bigheart, who served from 1875 to 1906, is scheduled to be unveiled on June 22 at 10 a.m. at 11th and Grandview. Additional details about the artist will be provided following the unveiling.

James Bigheart, also known as “Jim,” was born in 1835 at St. Paul, Kan., then called Osage Village. His father was Nun-tsa-tum-kah and his mother was Wah-hiu-shah; both were full- blooded Osages, who named him Pun-kah-wi-tah-An-kah.

He was a Catholic convert, educated at the Old Osage Mission in Kan., established among the Osage in 1847 by Catholic Father Schoenmakers. He learned to speak many languages fluently – Osage, Ponca, Creek, Sioux, Cherokee, French, English and Latin.

Bigheart Served in the Civil War, Company I, 9th Kansas Cavalry. He entered the service in 1862 at Iola, Kan. At the end of the Civil War, he was mustered out on March 22, 1865 at DeVall’s Bluff, Ark.

Bigheart had a vision and foresight for his people, serving his people in many capacities as: Agency Clerk, Interpreter, Councilman, Delegate, Chief and Principal Chief.

Old Chief Pawhuska, appointed Beaver to take his place as Principal Chief. Upon Beaver’s death, his sons being too young, the Band appointed James Bigheart as Principal Chief in 1875.

The 1881 Constitution which is attributed to Bigheart, united the Great and Little Osage. The Chief was no longer appointed, but elected by the people. There were two political parties, basically the full bloods which Bigheart represented, and the mixed bloods.

Bigheart, was the first chief to sanction appropriations for schools and championed education.

James Bigheart was the first to recognize the possibilities for grazing and fattening stock on the lush bluestem grass found on the Reservation. He purchased Texas cattle and brought them up to the Osage Reservation.

Bigheart fought the Quakers who wanted to remove Osage children from the local Catholic Schools and send them to the government schools.

In 1875, in his first year as Chief, he signed the first blanket oil lease with Edwin Foster, on behalf of the Osage people, for the exploration of oil and gas. Because of the leadership of James Bigheart retaining the mineral estate, the Osage people become the wealthiest tribe in America during the 1920’s.

Even though many honors were bestowed on Chief Bigheart, he showed no tendency toward pompous display of wealth or power. Bigheart wore modest white men’s clothing and spent his life in the interest of matters concerning the Osage Tribe.

James Bigheart was the only Indian at the time granted a license to bring whiskey into the reservation. This privilege was granted to him by the Secretary of Interior Hitchcock. Prior to that, he was said to have been arrested for serving alcohol to Washington officials in his home.

Chief Bigheart at one time had more influence in the Interior Department than any other Indian. This was stated in a newspaper article on Bigheart.

Married several times, but he lost the wives and children to diseases over the years. In 1884, Bigheart married Alice Grass McIntosh a Cherokee. They had four girls, Mary Jane, Rose, Sarah Lillian and Belle who survived to adulthood.

Bigheart is credited with delaying the Osage Allotment Bill, while he conducted an investigation of the Osage citizenship rolls. Chief Bigheart bitterly opposed the allotment of the Osage lands, and many say that he delayed that event for at least ten years. Bigheart’s biggest argument was, the white men would come in and take the land. Around 1904, when a final vote was taken on the Allotment Bill, Bigheart failed to show up. They later found him beaten and left for dead. The beating caused a stoke. Bigheart spent the last two years remaining conducting business from his bed.

Bigheart spearheaded the 1906 Act. He made sure the Act said the Osage Tribe owned the mineral rights and that the Shareholders would be the beneficiaries. This was done so that lawyers could not get a few shareholders together to break the Trust. Thus, the Trust has lasted over 107 years.

He was also known as the “Osage Moses” because took care of many people. Bigheart never turned anyone in need away. He was known for his generosity.

He became a mentor to many, like Fred Lookout. Several newspapers quoted Fred Lookout, who said “James Bigheart was the most brilliant politician and leader the Osage have ever known.”

The Bigheart home was on top of the a hill overlooking Bird Creek. The house was a two-story, frame house built in a L shape with a breezeway on the lower porch. There were many visitors and there were two dining rooms. The house burned down in the early 1920s.

Bigheart spent his life working for his people. He accomplished his life-long dream of providing security for his Tribe and their children. He died just before the first payment was received by the Osage Shareholders resulting from the 1906 Act. He was truly one of the first champions of sovereignty.


Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club Works to Fund Scholarship Program

Amanda Hagebush and son Ford Gilliland work on the serving line as Carmen Ketcher makes fry bread at the BIWC's Indian Taco Fundraiser at Sunfest June 3-5.
Amanda Hagebush and son Ford Gilliland work on the serving line as Carmen Ketcher makes fry bread at the BIWC’s Indian Taco Fundraiser at Sunfest June 3-5.

Press Release by Roseanne McKee prepared on behalf of BIWC

The Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club (IWC) held their annual Indian Taco fundraiser at SunFest at Sooner Park in Bartlesville June 3-5.

The event is very important to the club’s goal of helping educate Native American young people, said Sharon Armstrong, who chairs the Roberta Sanders Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee.

“Every function that we have that we make money, we give a third of that to our scholarships,” she explained.

Treasurer Connie Edwards and President Sandra Jamison were among those who ran the cash register. According to Edwards, this year they hope to serve more than 1,000 tacos.

“This year has been much better because the weather has been better. Friday night we didn’t have rain. The past two years we had lots of rain. [This year] we’ve had more people come out,” Armstrong said.

Edwards said, “[w]e’ve been selling Indian Tacos at SunFest since before our time; we’ve been doing this about 30 years.”

Carmen Ketcher said, “They used to have SunFest at Johnstone Park but then they moved it over here [to Sooner Park]. We looked in the minutes and it said, ‘no cutting onions on your lap,’” she said, laughing.

Ketcher has been volunteering at the Indian Taco Fundraiser from the beginning – for 30 years.

When she began she said, “I was just a young kid. I was a flunky and I did anything they wanted us to do. Let me tell you though, those ladies, if you didn’t make good fry bread, it’d come flying back to you. They’d throw it back at you.

“I knew how to make fry bread already from my mom, but only in small batches. We didn’t make it for thousands, so it was a new experience.”

Ketcher was a quick study, and has been one of the primary fry bread makers at the fundraiser for the past 16 years. When not making fry bread, “I’d be at the line, or chopping onions. We used to do all that at one time.”

Armstrong, who has been volunteering for many years, said “I’ve been doing the chili for probably the last six years. As the older people left, new people took up the duties. I don’t do fry bread, so I do the chili. We cook the beef ahead of time, add the chili powder and then freeze it.”

The fundraiser requires a lot of planning ahead. For volunteers, the Indian Taco fundraiser is a five-day commitment, Edwards said. “On Thursday, we go to storage and get everything, which takes about six hours.”

Edwards continued, “We have two refrigerators loaned to us free by Aaron’s rental center in Bartlesville. A third refrigerator was provided by Carmen Ketcher. We have five large electric roasters to hold the chili. We purchase lettuce and cheddar cheese already shredded, and tomatoes and onions, already diced, from Fresh Point of Oklahoma in Tulsa. Then we all just shop on the side. We go to Sam’s Club and haul it around.”

This year, 200 pounds of 80/20 ground beef were prepared for the meat portion of the Indian Taco. At this year’s event, “we’ve used 20 gallons of pinto beans and 250 pounds of self-rising flour for the fry bread. We purchase the ground beef from United Grocery. They are really good to us,” Edwards said. The pinto beans, tomato paste and flour are purchased locally from Watts Distribution.

“We have cans of evaporated skim milk on hand to make the fry bread because recipes vary. Carmen and I use water, but some of the members use milk,” Edwards explained.

In making the fry bread the consistency is important. “You can’t make the dough too thin or they won’t puff up right,” Edwards added.

Edwards has personally been volunteering at the event for 15 years. Her motivation is to fund the scholarships for Native American students.

This year the students who volunteered at the fundraiser were: Kolton Kittering, Michael McKee, Duel Brown, Brook True, Jaclyn True, Heather and Hailey True. These are past, present or future scholarship recipients, Edwards said. Her grandson, Ford Gilliland, and her daughter, Amanda Gilliland, worked on the serving line assembling the Indian Tacos.

Looking to the future, Ketcher said, “[w]e need young people to take over this responsibility. Participating in this event and being a member is an opportunity to learn something about their culture.”

To learn more about joining the Indian Women’s Club, contact Club President Sandra Jamison at 505-264-5411.

Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club Installs new Officers

Press Release by Roseanne McKee on behalf of Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club

Bartlesville, Okla.

Courtesy Photo by Roseanne McKee. Bartlesville Indian Women's Club held its Installation of Officers luncheon at Montana Mike's on May 14. The club members shown are: back row (L-R):  Rose Carrier, Geraldine Wright, Sharon Armstrong, Sandra Jamison, Paula Pechonick, Annette Ketchum and Mary Kirk; second row (L-R):  Jenny  Hague, Missy Miller, Connie Edwards and Carmen Ketcher; front row:  Joy White.
Courtesy Photo by Roseanne McKee. Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club held its Installation of Officers luncheon at Montana Mike’s on May 14. The club members shown are: back row (L-R): Rose Carrier, Geraldine Wright, Sharon Armstrong, Sandra Jamison, Paula Pechonick, Annette Ketchum and Mary Kirk; second row (L-R): Jenny Hague, Missy Miller, Connie Edwards and Carmen Ketcher; front row: Joy White.

On May 14, 2016, the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club, the second oldest Indian women’s club in Oklahoma, held its installation of officers’ luncheon at Montana Mike’s. Carmen Ketcher, who has just completed a two-year term as club president, announced the newly elected Indian Women’s Club officers and committee chairs.

The new President is Sandra Jamison, who is Osage and Seneca-Cayuga. The First Vice President is Liz Nelson, who is Kickapoo; the Second Vice President is Paula Pechonick, former Chief of the Delaware Tribe; the Secretary is Mary Kirk, who is Delaware and Cherokee; the Treasurer is Connie Edwards, who is Potawatomi and Cherokee; and Historian is Jenifer Pechonick, who is Delaware.

Ketcher announced standing committee chairs: Annette Ketchum, Publicity Chair, Rose Carrier, Patriotism Chair, Sharon Armstrong, Auditing Chair, Joanne Littleaxe, Cultural Preservation Chair, Sharon Armstrong, Roberta Sanders Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee Chair. Members of this scholarship fund committee are: Phyllis Walker, Connie Edwards, Sharon Fouts and Carmen Ketcher.

Also, the following Style Show Committee members were announced: Joanne Littleaxe, Annette Ketchum, Carmen Ketcher and Cyndee Fuller, and style show advisors: Gerry Wright and Dee Theis.

After these announcements, each club member was given a candle. Ketcher lit her candle first and then shared her candle’s flame with Sandra Jamison. This process continued until all of the candles were lit.

Then Ketcher told Jamison: “We’re all different tribes, we’re different people but we’re all united under you. Good luck — two years of fun and good times!”

The luncheon was attended by several women who had been members for 30 or more years. Geraldine Wright, who is Kickapoo, has been a member for 58 years and Jenny Hague, who is Delaware and Cherokee, has been a member for 50 years. Joy White, who is Pawnee, estimates she has been a member for 45 years. Sisters, Paula Pechonick and Annette Ketchum, have been members for 32 years.

Founded in May 1935, membership in Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club is an opportunity for women from every tribe to come together to share their culture. One of the objectives of the club is to raise money for a college scholarship program to assist Native American students. This luncheon is an opportunity to celebrate all of the hard work the club does throughout the year.

“Some people may think it’s just a cultural club, but really it’s a service/cultural club,” Publicity Chairman Annette Ketchum said.

Treasurer Connie Edwards, a member for 25 years, who is Potawatomi and Cherokee, said, “the [educational] scholarships are awarded at $500 – $800 per year for four consecutive years. Students fill out a renewal form each year to continue the scholarship. On the renewal application, we require a passing grade and at least 15 college hours per semester. Right now we have 16 on scholarship, some of whom will graduate this year.”

To raise funds for their service projects, the club holds several fundraisers annually.

First, the sixty-fifth Wild Onion fundraiser dinner will be held in the spring at a location to be decided and date to be advertised.

Second, the club holds an Indian Taco Fundraiser at SunFest in Bartlesville, which requires a three-day commitment from club members.

Each year the Indian Women’s Club provides a meal at the Washington County Free Fair, which is held in September at the Dewey Fairgrounds.

The club also offers two types of style shows to groups for a fee. The style shows not only raise funds for service projects, the shows are ways of preserving tribal traditions, promoting continued growth, and awareness of Indian heritage, which are among the club’s written goals.

Outgoing President, Carmen Ketcher announced that this year the club will have a style show in early August for the Marine Corps Convention in Tulsa at the Osage Nation Casino.

“The club also offers a shorter format style show lasting 30 minutes. At this type of style show the models describe their clothing. This is a high-energy, fun show, mostly for bus tours and locals,” Ketcher said.

To book a style show for your group or event, contact the Indian Women’s Club Style Show Chairman Joanne Littleaxe at 918-336-3498.

The club also uses fundraiser proceeds to make contributions to various historical groups and community projects.

Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club membership dues are $20 annually and a CDIB card is required.

The club meets the second Thursday of the month at 11:30 a.m. The club does not have meetings during the summer. The club shares the building with several other clubs in Bartlesville known as the Women’s Club Building, located at 601 Shawnee Ave. in Bartlesville. Anyone needing a meeting place can call 918-335-1361 for rental of the building or other information.

To learn more about joining the Indian Women’s Club, contact Club President Sandra Jamison at 505-264-5411.

Pawhuska People interviews Oklahoma’s CattleWoman of the Year

Oklahoma's CattleWoman of the Year Moni Adcock Heinrich
Oklahoma’s CattleWoman of the Year Moni Adcock Heinrich

By: Roseanne McKee

Past President of the Washington County CattleWomen, Moni Adcock Heinrich, is Oklahoma’s 2015-16 CattleWoman of the Year. She sat down recently, to share how a desire to expand her circle of friends, led her on a path toward leadership in the CattleWomen’s Association on the county and state level.

Heinrich, who lives near Ramona, was out of state when the Oklahoma CattleWomen’s (OCW) Convention got underway in Oklahoma City last July.

“I was in Arizona. My son was getting ready to leave for Afghanistan, so I missed the OCW Convention. They had called me the day before and told me they were going to do Facetime and introduce me as Secretary to the group. Instead, they awarded me CattleWoman of the year!”

Ddee Haynes, an OCW member and past OCW President and past CattleWoman of the Year, gave Heinrich the good news.

Heinrich was surprised to say the least. “I was in shock. I was so honored to be put in a category of women that I admire, who had mentored me,” she said.

Heinrich explained how her membership in the CattleWomen organization began. She was single when she returned to Oklahoma after living in Arizona, Wyoming, Texas and Utah for three decades, and was looking to expand her circle of friends.

“I joined CattleWomen because my mother and some of my sisters had belonged and I wanted to socialize with these ladies.”

The Washington County CattleWomen, which meets monthly for lunch at various locations around Bartlesville, is much more than a social gathering.

“All of the work of the CattleWomen is volunteer. CattleWomen support the Cattlemen and the beef industry through education and promotion.”

In 2008, Heinrich became the Washington County CattleWomen’s President for a four-year term.

“It was a great learning experience and we had a great board and team to work with. We held an FFA (Future Farmers of America) speech contests, an annual Beef for Father’s day essay contest in the Caney Valley, Copan and Dewey school districts.

“The CattleWomen hold beef recipe demonstrations at the grocery store, Marvin’s, in Dewey at which they hand out beef samples, recipes and cattle industry literature.

“We also have a booth at the Washington County Free Fair with beef industry educational and promotional materials. At the fair, we hold a pie auction fundraiser annually, which local residents look forward each year because the CattleWomen can make pies! I usually make a lemon meringue or a coconut cream.”

After completing her four-year term as President at the county level, Heinrich expanded her volunteerism at the state level. She is currently serving as Secretary of the OCW.

“Some of the OCW projects are the Oklahoma Beef Ambassador Contest for ages nine through undergraduate, which has novice, a junior and senior divisions. This competition includes a media interview and consumer demonstrations,” she explained.

OCW has academic scholarships as well, Heinrich said.

“All of our monies go back to our youth in one way or another. Our monies are geared to support our youth and collegiate CattleWomen.

“One of our biggest fundraisers is the beef tent at the Tulsa State Fair, where the Oklahoma CattleWomen in conjunction with the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, sell ribeye sandwiches.

“The Oklahoma CattleWomen usually have a ‘Beef for Heroes’ cook-off and beef cooking demonstration at the annual Home and Garden Show in Oklahoma City.

“The Oklahoma CattleWomen also serve a free beef luncheon in Oklahoma City for Agriculture Day at the Capitol. The luncheon is on the rotunda floor and everything there is ‘Made in Oklahoma,’” Heinrich said.

Heinrich talked about her childhood growing up on a ranch.

“I grew up on the Roy E. Cobbs Ranch east of Ramona. We moved there when I was in the third grade. My dad was a foreman and I’m number nine of 12 children of Elwood and Helen Adcock.

“It was a working ranch and everyone did their part. We all rode and it was a privilege when we helped work cattle and did ranch work. Youngsters helped by pushing cattle through the chutes. Later, when I was old enough, I rode my own horse and gathered cattle,” she said.

Life was simpler then. There were no game systems or cell phones for the Adcock children. “Our playground was the creeks and the woods,” she said.

“My mother always had extras to feed: cowboys and friends. Our house was always a gathering place. My mother has fed more people than the rest of us can imagine and no one ever complained about her cooking. She was known for her homemade bread. She could have a beef lunch for 20 or more on any given day by noon. Growing up, our mainstays were beef, potatoes, biscuits and gravy.”

“We always a big garden of potatoes, green beans, corn, peas, and I have not-fond memories of shelling peas or snapping beans, but I’d give anything to do it with her now,” she said wistfully.

In their later years, they had one of the best strawberry gardens around.

“We were a very close-knit family and the generations to follow are still involved in the cattle and ranching industry.”

In Arizona, Heinrich was a member of Superstition Wilderness Search and Rescue, which responded to requests from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department’s to aid in finding lost and injured hikers. She is also a certified presenter of Hug-a-Tree and Survive, which teaches children how to not get lost and how to stay safe if they become safe in the wilderness. She has educated hundreds of school children over the years in Arizona and Oklahoma.

Heinrich has three children: “Jay Adcock is a ranch manager is Sedan, Kansas, Amber and her husband own a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona and Blake is currently serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces and just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.”

She is married to Richard Heinrich, who is a retired government and history teacher and trick roper. “I performed with him in Wild West Shows and Western entertainment.”

Heinrich said, “I myself am not a cattle producer, but it is an industry that I have a passion for and anyone with that passion is welcome and encouraged to join CattleWomen at the county or state level.”

The Washington County CattleWomen meet on the fourth Monday of the month in Bartlesville. Locations and times may be found on the Washington County CattleWomen’s Facebook page.

The Oklahoma CattleWomen meet quarterly. Locations and times are on the Oklahoma CattleWomen’s Facebook page and at http://www.okcattlewomen.org.