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


Osage mark months with moon references

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Calendar months for the Osage were marked by references to the moon. For example, the month of February was “Light of Day Returns Moon,” according to the book “Osage Life & Legends” by Robert Liebert.

After the winter, in February Osage people resumed food gathering. The men when to hunt deer, elk and bear, whose fur was sleeker at this time, Liebert said.
March was the “Whimsical Moon,” when women gathered new greens to add to soups and stews, he said. Wild onions are still gathered in the spring and are served with scrambled eggs and ham at wild onion dinners held by the Osage and other tribes.

April, when the Osage began their new year, was referred to as “Deer Giving Birth Moon” and “Planting Moon,” said Liebert.

Sweat baths were taken at the year’s start — to purify the mind and body, he said. Also at this time the two grand chiefs would go to “the lodge of a man who owned a shrine” to pray for peace and health in the tribe.

April was a time of planting seeds. Corn, a staple crop, was planted in a very particular way.

Liebert wrote, “it was the planting of corn that kept them anchored to their villages rather than being continual nomads, as were some of their relatives out in the plains.”

The planting was done by women, but men could help under their direction, because it was the women who were considered wise to the ways of earth and in tune with Grandmother Earth, Liebert said.

“There was a class of men who, usually in response to a potent dream or vision, … excelled at gardening. … They were called mi-xu-ga, which translates “instructed by the moon,” said Liebert.

Family gardens were located in bottomlands along rivers and were about one-half acre in size, he said.

When they planted, the women would paint the part of their hair red, something the women did when they came of age, and painted blue lines down their faces to signify the sun and the rain, Liebert explained.

Corn, saved from special, sacred ears of corn, was planted in seven hills. As the women planted they sang and kept time with their planting sticks. The song told of the sacred act of planting and the significance of her tamping the soil.
“Poking a hole into the south side of the hill, she planted a seed and tamped the earth with her foot. She then placed two kernels in the second hill, three in the third and so on,” Liebert wrote.

After the sacred corn was planted, the women went on to plant the rest of the field with hills for squash between the corn hills. They also planted beans, which climbed the corn stalks. Later, pumpkins, gourds, sunflowers and melons were planted, Liebert said.

This planting method reminds me of the method being used by Osage tribal member Scott Lohah who grows Osage corn specially for the In Lonshka Dances held each June in all three Osage Villages — Hominy, Grayhorse and Pawhuska. Lohah is from Hominy.

Lohah plants more than one seed in one hole. This is called clump farming. He shared an article with me from the Sept. 2011 issue of Progressive Farmer Magazine, which bears out the advantages of this planting method.

Although the article doesn’t credit the Osage, this is the way they have planted the corn for generations, Lohah said. The article states that experiments conducted in 2003 at the USDA ARS conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas, showed that the grain yields for both corn and sorghum were 70 percent, to more than 100 percent greater, when clump-seeding was used compared to the single-seed planting method.

Liebert’s account seems to agree — “Osage corn was famous among many tribes, for it often grew ten feet tall and could have as many as eight or nine ears to the hill.”

After planting, the focus shifted to bison hunting.

The month of May was referred to by the Osage as “Little Flower-Killer Moon,” because this is when “little flowers that poked up from the forest floor and brightened the prairies disappeared as the trees leafed out and the grasses grew,” Liebert wrote.

This Osage reference to the month of May became the inspiration for the title of David Grann’s bestselling book about the Osage Murders entitled “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Next week’s column will focus on Osage courting and arranged marriage customs.

A Rare Look at Osage Before First Contact


Nicholas with an elder at Archie Mason’s camp during In’Lonshka at Grayhorse Village. Photo by Roseanne McKee

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Before Europeans arrived in North America, the Osage people were organized into a complex society with well-formed traditions. However, the Osage elders decided not to speak of the time before first contact and that is why little is known about it.

The former Osage Nation Museum Director, Hallie Winter, told me during an interview that the journey of the Osage to Oklahoma greatly diminished their numbers, and the Osage elders decided it was best not to speak of the way things had been because they could no longer be.

Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, who consulted with elders when creating her ballet about the Osage people, said in traditional Osage society every clan had a specific role, but once the once the population diminished, there were not enough people to maintain their previous way of life.

The population decreased when the Osage left Kansas to move to the Oklahoma territory. There were about 8,000 Osage at the start of their journey, said former Osage Nation Museum Interim Director Lou Brock.

In the 1850s “sickness hit the Osage and everybody that was in the area and probably scattered throughout [with] scrofula, black measles, and just everything under the sun,” Brock explained. When the Osage finalized the deal to purchase land from the Cherokee, their population had dwindled to just 2,229.

A book once sold at the Osage County Historical Society Museum, “Osage Life and Legends,” written by Robert Liebert, published by Naturegraph Publishers (1987) provides a window into the little-known world before first contact. In the next few columns, I will share some of what the book said about Osage life before first contact.

The Osage refer to themselves as “the Little Ones” to show humility toward the Great Spirit, Wah-Kon-Dah. They also have a name for Mother Earth, the Sacred One, HunKah, according to Liebert.

The tribe is organized into two groups the sky people, called Tzizho, and the earth people, called HunKah.

Having interviewed several Osages, I have been told that traditionally Osages only married into the other group, not their own group, and marriages were arranged.

There were grand chiefs for both groups, Liebert said, and the Osage lived in one main village with smaller villages nearby.
In the layout of the main village, the Osage sought to echo the natural order of the universe, as they did in all aspects of their lives, he said. The Tzizho occupied the north part and the HunKah lived in the south part of the village.

Dwellings were in groups of seven with broad streets between them. At the center of the village were the homes of the Tzizho chief and the HunKah chief. Their doors opened to the east and west and a fire always burned inside each home.

The Osage homes, called lodges, were “built by setting center poles in the ground with a ridge pole laid across and long hickory poles bent over. Wall posts were set along the sides, and cross-poles attached to the framework,” Liebert wrote.

The homes were covered in woven rush mats overlapped to prevent water leaks. The slender rush (probably horsetail or spikerush) were a vital part of Osage homes. The mats were also used as beds, which were covered in bison hides. These sleeping mats were arranged around the fireplace in cold weather and along the walls in warmer weather.

“The fireplace was always at the center of the lodge, the symbolic center of the universe of which the lodge was a microcosm. The fireplace served as light, warmth, and was used to cook their meals,” Liebert said. “The fire was symbolic of the divine spark of life and the power that resided within the Sun. At any important council and in all ceremonies the sacred fire was lit. … Before every meal, the Little Ones spoke a prayer of thanksgiving and a portion of food was placed in the fire as an offering.”

Inside the homes there were small fire pits, covered with deer and bison hides to dry and smoke food.

Storage places were dug into the floor of the homes to store food and hides.

The walls had mats, utensils, bows, quivers, strings of dried roots, ears of corn and medicine bags.

Each person had one wooden bowl from which to eat. Hands and a knife were used to eat food.

Wooden spoons were used to serve the food. Cooking pots “were made of clay tempered with shell and fired in pits.”

During the winter, the Osage visited and feasted, Liebert said. A crier would invite guests to someone’s home. When guests arrived, they would smoke, eat and play guessing gambling games. “Sometimes the betting would be quite heavy, and spectators would place robes and other valuables beside their favorite player,” Liebert wrote.

The way the author described the game, it sounded similar what I know as Osage Hand Games, which involve guessing the location of a small object.

There is an article on the Osage News website dated Feb. 18, 2015, by the late Charles Red Corn, which describes Hand Games in detail.

According to Liebert, sometimes the host would have an elder storyteller attend to entertain the guests. Storytelling happened in winter when snakes were asleep. It was considered unwise to tell stories in the warmer seasons because snakes were considered by the Osage as guardians of the truth — taking revenge if an untrue tale were told, the author said. Kathryn Red Corn, retired former Osage Nation Museum director, and her daughter have also told me this. There is actually a word in Osage for women to tell tales out of season —something considered very unwise.

At these gatherings in old times guests, invited or not, were given the seat of honor and given food, a smoke and could remain as long as they wished, Liebert said.

My son and I were invited to visit the camp of Osage Congressman Archie Mason at Grayhorse Village, near Fairfax, during the InLonshka Dances in June 2012, and we were indeed honored.
We dressed in church attire for the occasion as had been recommended to us because the InLonshka Dances are not like a powwow, rather they are more spiritual in nature.

Following the prayer, we were instructed to go through the food line first. We were welcomed and had a great day at their camp watching the women cook over an open fire in the traditional way and visiting with Moira Red Corn as she did meticulous beadwork for an eagle fan.

My son, Nicholas, who was about seven at the time, played at the feet of one female elder in the kitchen and got to know the children at the camp. I was very humbled by the experience, and it is a cherished memory.

The Osage Nation, based in Pawhuska, Okla., continues the traditions by having two regular sessions of the Osage Congress — Hunkah Session in the spring (late March) and Tzizho Session in early September, as per the 2006 Osage Constitution. And, every Congressional session, committee meeting and every meal still begins with a prayer spoken in Osage, if an Osage speaker is present, and in English.

16th Annual Battle of the Plains Powwow

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

DEWEY — The 16th annual Battle of the Plains was held at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Jan. 19. Programs compete for best dancer bragging rights at the all-youth powwow. Photos from the event are at the end of this article.

The powwow is co-sponsored by Operation Eagle, a program for Native American youth, and the Royal Valley Boys & Girls Club of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, from Mayetta, Kan. Royal Valley was not able to attend this year due to the weather.

Some of the other programs competing were Johnson-O’Malley in Osage County and Indian Intertribal Club of Tulsa, which is known by the acronym IICOT.

The head singer was Geramey Cable; head man was Kwowee Potts; head lady was Jewell McDonald, the master of ceremonies was Kilan Jacobs, the arena director was Dude Blalock and the coordinators were Dennis LittleAxe and Anita Evans.
Before the powwow began, several of those involved spoke to the EE about the event and Operation Eagle.

At other powwows, the youth dancers are grouped into juniors, age 6 to 12. At this powwow ages are broken down into smaller age groups, said Quannah LittleAxe, an adviser and one of the dance instructors.

“I teach the girls [to dance],” LittleAxe said. “We meet monthly for about an hour to practice during the academic year.”

“This is a dance that’s just geared solely on the children for them to get together, meet new people, have a good time and dance,” LittleAxe said.

Each youth receives a participation ribbon and then points are accrued by each dancer in each category. Winners in each category receive ribbons. At the end of the day, the program whose students have amassed the most points, wins the Battle of the Plains Powwow.

Other activities at Operation Eagle are crafts, regalia making classes and educational field trips, LittleAxe said.

“Our students and their families identify as Native American/indigenous, President of the Operation Eagle Parents Jessie Haase said.

Every year there is an Operation Eagle Princess and this year it is her daughter, Kele Haase. There are responsibilities for the role, including greeting people at events and being introduced at powwows. At every powwow the princesses sign in so they can be recognized. At Saturday’s powwow, three other 2018-19 princesses were in attendance — Delaware Powwow Princess Skye Scimeca, Delaware War Mothers Princess Hailey Griffith and IICOT Princess Alexis Madden.
“We have upwards of 1,000 carded students in Bartlesville Public School system and so they probably are from tribes from all over the country. I can name several kids who belong to five different tribes so I think we have a pretty good representation in this one little group,” Haase said.

According to its website, Operation Eagle Indian Education Program oversees two federal programs for American Indian/Alaska Native students in the Bartlesville Public School system. Johnson O’Malley is funded through the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and provides services for students who have a CDIB
card or tribal membership card from any federally-recognized tribe. Title VII services are available to students who have a 506 (Indian Eligiblity) form on file with the Indian Education Office of Bartlesville Public Schools, and have a parent or grandparent who has a CDIB or is a member of a federally-recognized tribe.

The powwow began with a grand entry in which all of the dancers entered the dance area single file.

After Grand Entry, there was a memorial song during which all the dancers stood in place in the circular dance area around the drum and singers in the center and did not dance.

This was followed by a song in which the boys danced in a circle around the drum and singers while the girls formed an outer circle moving more slowly.
Then the competition began with tiny tots dancing first — some with their parents and some took the courageous step of dancing on their own.

Haase said she enjoys seeing the different generations of participants as the youth grow up and have children of their own in Operation Eagle.
The next event sponsored by Operation Eagle is a powwow in April at the Washington County Fairgrounds on a date to be announced.

“That is open to everyone, but it is sponsored by Operation Eagle. That is more of a traditional dance. We will crown our princess. We will have gourd dancing,” Haase said. “We will have a children and adults contest and in that contest they will get a payout like they do at other powwows. If you win your category, you will get a cash prize.”

To learn more about Operation Eagle, call 918-337-0130 or visit its Facebook page called Operation Eagle Title VII Indian Education.


Can you identify the symbols on this quilt? It’s a mystery.

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

A few months ago while at the Nowata County Historical Society Museum I noticed an exhibit about a mystery quilt. Dated Monday, Dec. 18, 1915, the quilt’s mystery lies in the cryptic symbols on each square. As the photo shows some quilt squares contain letters and numbers, while others contain flowers, stars and even a cube. The mystery quilt was the catalyst for this column.

I had the Nowata County Historical Society President
Although I don’t possess the requisite patience, or skill, to construct a quilt, I do appreciate them for the warmth they provide and their artistic beauty.

Recently I had the flu and was grateful for my quilt, heated by my husband in the dryer, to warm me when I had the chills. The quilt’s weight provides its own comfort. I love the rare moments when my teen son joins me on the sofa with quilt covering us or the cat decides to perch precariously on my side to nap while I’m under the quilt.

Quilts have provided much more than comfort in the past, however.

“Quilts served many purposes during the Civil War. From acting as a medium for patriotic statements to serving as a way to keep soldiers warm in the field, these historic textiles had an important place in the conflict between North and South,” according to the website https://antiques.lovetoknow.com/Civil_War_Quilt_Patterns.

Although not everyone believes them, some historians claim slaves used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. The book “Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad” suggests that quiltmakers would display the quilts letting slaves know when to prepare for and make their escape. A wrench patterned quilt indicated that they should gather tools for the escape. The wagon wheel pattern meant slaves should pack what they planned to take with them.

In doing my research for this column, I learned the names of popular quilt patterns. Here are a few of them — the log cabin, pinwheel, nine patch, double wedding ring, churn dash, eight-pointed star, friendship star, grandmother’s garden, corn and beans, liberty wheel, God’s eye and drunkard’s path.

Each quilt pattern had meaning and purpose. For example, the log cabin symbolized home, warmth, love and security to pioneers. The center square of log cabin quilts are red to representing the hearth, the focal point of life in a cabin or home. The name, Log Cabin, comes from the narrow strips of fabric, or “logs” arranged around the center square, according to the http://www.nps.gov website.

The nine patch quilt served as an introduction to quilting in pioneer days. It is one of the simplest and quickest quilts to sew and was a way to use up every small scrap of fabric available. On the prairie, sewing was an essential skill. Girls learned to sew blocks before they learned to read. At an early age, often as young as three or four, girls were taught to piece simple blocks. Many were very skilled at piecing a block by age five. Edith White, who grew up in the mid-1800s remembered, ‘Before I was five years old, I had pieced one side of a quilt, setting at my mother‟s knee half an hour a day.’ This training was called ‘fireside training.’”

As pioneers traveled West quilts were used as burial shrouds. Information from the website for http://www.nps.gov states, “wood was often scarce for coffins, so families used what was available and appropriate. Wrapping a loved one in a quilt was a way of not only preparing the body for burial, but of giving reassurance to the living that the decreased person was still linked to his or her family.”

More recently Quilts of Valor has sought to honor veterans by giving them quilts. According to their website, the first QOV was awarded by founder Catherine Roberts in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq. The Quilts of Valor movement spread from Catherine Robert’s home in Seaford, Del., across the country. The organization’s original mission statement was “to cover all those service members and veterans wounded physically or psychologically with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” Quilts of Valor has given 200,000 quilts to veterans in all 50 states.

A few months ago while at the Nowata County Historical Society Museum I noticed an exhibit about a mystery quilt. Dated Monday, Dec. 18, 1915, the quilt’s mystery lies in the cryptic symbols on each square. As the photo shows some quilt squares contain letters and numbers, while others contain flowers, stars and even a cube. Could the symbols be brands? I’d love to hear from anyone who recognizes a brand. Could they be Native American orthography? I shared the photo with a number of quilters, but no one was sure what the symbols might mean.

“The quilt appears to be a random group of squares and rectangles, fabric could be from military uniforms, olive green navy, black, brown and a tweed strip. It was found in a dog pen in the city of Delaware, by the family of J. J. Adams,” said Nowata Historical Society President Carroll Craun.
If any of the readers have an idea, please email me at rmckee@examiner-enterprise.com.

Osage artist creates façade for Crystal Bridges arts complex

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Osage artist Addie Roanhorse took inspiration for the design for the facade of the Crystal Bridges Museum’s new performing and visual arts complex from a finger-woven belt, which is part of Osage women’s regalia.

Roanhorse was the guest speaker at the first ArtNight of 2019 Tuesday at the Bartlesville Art Association Design Center, 500 S. Dewey Ave.

The complex, Roanhorse said, is located between the Crystal Bridges Museum and the town square in Bentonville, Ark.

“Closer to the town square is an old Kraft cheese plant. They’re keeping the structure … but they are completely gutting it,” she said. “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.”

She went to Bentonville, 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 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. 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,” Roanhorse explained.

In creating the design, Roanhorse used graphic art principles, simplified the design in the belt and created the suggestion of movement.

“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,” Roanhorse said. “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.”


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

Roanhorse is a graphic designer and photographer for the Osage Nation.

Roanhorse delivers on gallery experience

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise


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

A few months before the P.W. Mercantile opened, Osage artist Addie Roanhorse purchased a two-story, 105 year-old building in downtown Pawhuska with a business partner.

Roanhorse converted the first floor into event space called “Partake,” which she used to create a youth art event in 2018. The second floor is an Airbnb called “The Little Rainsong Loft.”

Roanhorse decided to use the space to have an exhibit featuring the work of children and on the second night an art auction of work by her artist friends to raise money for teachers.

Roanhorse delivered 100 12-by-12 canvases to the elementary and high school students and said, “get these back to me in the next four weeks, and we’re going to have a gallery showing with every one of you.

“We called it the gallery experience,” Roanhorse said.

Because so many wanted to participate in the elementary school, the teachers suggested having the students write paragraphs about why they would like to participate. She received 68 paragraphs from fourth- to sixth-graders.

On the second night they held the art auction. The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce director, who is also an auctioneer, auctioned the pieces. “It lasted 18 minutes, and we raised $1,875,” she said.

With the funds raised, Roanhorse gave Amazon gift cards to the 57 teachers at the public schools in the area.

“We don’t have art in our schools, and I think that’s a big reason why kids have anxiety. They have stresses in those paragraphs. I started crying when I read them. … you have football and then, you have basketball. But, what about the kids that don’t get that stress reliever out of that or are not very good at it. I know I was terrible. I think it’s important for our kids. Our society is producing very one-sided kids. We can’t send them out into the world and say ‘be successful’ with one-side of your brains.

“But, again, I grew up in this environment where I just, I don’t want to say I took it for granted, but I just didn’t realize. When I had a kid say, ‘well, where do you paint?’ At my studio. ‘Well, what’s a studio?’ ‘What’s this?’ ‘It’s a paint brush.’ ‘Well, where do you get this?’ They really didn’t know. So, just slowly kind of trying to spread the event where we can.

“We’re definitely doing the event again this year,” Roanhorse said with a smile.

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


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.

Barbie Turns 60: Fun Facts and Memories


Sunflower Barbie in her Country Living Home


Barbie in business attire in her Country Living Home living room

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

My favorite childhood toy, Barbie, turns 60 on March 9. To celebrate this milestone, I wanted to share some of my memories and some fun Barbie facts.

The first Barbie I received, at the age of four, was a hand-me-down Barbie with the eyelashes that were part of the mold. She always looked angry to me and her hair was curly and matted from years of use. I did not bond with her.
My second Barbie was much better in my opinion. She was Malibu Barbie. She was tan and had painted on eyelashes, bright blue eyes and she arrived in a one-piece light blue bathing suit with a yellow terrycloth towel. I have a vague memory that she also had round tinted sunglasses, which were soon lost. Malibu Barbie was my first, and forever favorite, Barbie. She was a reflection of what I wanted to be.

Soon I began accumulating other Barbie dolls and accessories. One that I recall being a favorite was Barbie Sweet 16, which came with a compact filled with real blush in tawny and rose colors, a brush, a comb, barrette and stickers. I also received Mod hair Ken, who had real black hair instead of molded hair and several stick-on mustaches and sideburns. So fun!

Life got even more exciting when my Uncle Bill departed from his usual robot Christmas gifts and gave my sister and me each our own Barbie campers when I was in 3rd grade. The just-out-of-the-box new plastic smell represented the scent of happy times ahead.

Opening that camper is still one of my best-ever memories. The orange camper had a fold out tent on one side, a folding camp-style chair and stickers to put on the camper.

My sister and I also got the Barbie Airship to share. When we found it recently going through my mother’s possessions, she claimed it, and I let her.

However, I proudly brought home the Barbie Country Living Home. The campers were nowhere to be found, I am sad to report.

When I was in 4th grade, a friend was moving to California and her mom put her Barbie Surprise House in their moving sale. Mom wouldn’t buy it for me but in the end the mother gave it to me. I was over the moon!

It was my first Barbie house, but I don’t recall much about it except that it had two rooms on the first floor and one on the second.

The next home I acquired was The Country  Living Home (or Country Livin’ Home) consisting of three rooms, which folded up and had a handle for easy carrying. This house had furniture for a living room, eat-in kitchen and living room.

During my childhood, I also acquired the Barbie Townhouse, which had three floors and an elevator, a Barbie pool and a Barbie bicycle.

Now, here are some fun Barbie factoids I found.

Barbie’s official birthday represents her public debut at the 1959 American International Toy Fair in New York.

However, many may not know that Barbie was based on a racy, grownup German doll, marketed to adults.

According to the website http://mentalfloss.com/article/21036/facts-about-barbie-doll, the concept for an adult doll came from Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler. While in Europe with her children, Handler came across the German Bild Lilli doll, a high-class call girl who began her life as a comic strip and was sold in smoke shops and adult toy stores.

Handler had pitched the idea of an adult doll to her Mattel exec husband before and although her husband had initially rejected at the idea, seeing the Lilli dolls changed his mind.

Bild Lilli’s manufacturer sued Mattel for patent infringement, and the case was eventually dismissed. Thereafter, Mattel officially bought the rights to the doll for $21,600.

The first Barbie retailed for $3. Today, the same Barbie, in mint condition, is worth $27,450, according to the mentalfloss website. The website also states that Barbie was created by an engineer who had previously worked for the Pentagon.

The engineer, Jack Ryan, is the so-called “Father of Barbie”—also helped design the Chatty Cathy doll, which my husband got as a Christmas gift — not his favorite but he adapted by making Chatty Cathy go fast in his fleet of toy trucks.

Here are some Barbie facts from the website the historyofdolls.com.

• One Barbie is sold somewhere in the world every three seconds.
• Barbie has three sisters Skipper, Stacie and Chelsea.
• The first clothing that Barbie had when she appeared on the market was a black-and-white striped swimsuit.
• Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and both Barbie and Ken were named after the son and the daughter of Ruth Handler — Barbara and Kenneth.
• Barbie’s parents are apparently George and Margaret Roberts from Willows, Wis. Other family members include her siblings: Skipper, Tutti, Todd, Stacie, Kelly, and Krissy. Tutti and Todd are twins — but so are Todd and Stacie, apparently (at least according to Todd’s box). She also has cousins named Francie and Jazzie.
• Only adding to that whole twin sibling mystery: Tutti mysteriously disappeared in 1971, so we can only assume that Stacie (introduced in 1992) is Tutti reincarnated.
• Mattel, manufacturer of Barbie, sued MCA Records, for whom band “Aqua” recorded song “Barbie Girl” because they allegedly violated the Barbie trademark. Mattel lost.
Over the years, there have been some Barbie missteps. Here are two.
• In 1963, Barbie came with an accessory book titled “How to Lose Weight” on the back of which was printed “Don’t eat.” In 1965, same book came together with accessory scales which were permanently set to 110 pounds.
• A doll that arrived on the scene in 1975, when I was 10, was Growing Up Skipper. Skipper, Barbie’s kid sister, had been introduced in 1964 by Mattel. This Skipper grew taller and sprouted breasts with the twist of her arm. Yikes!

When I was a child, Barbie’s focus was personal style and fashion and while it is true that her first career was as a teen model, in years since Barbie has pursued many loftier careers for which I am proud.

Here are a few of them — flight attendant, ballerina, tennis pro, executive, candy striper, astronaut, surgeon, Miss America, gold medal gymnast, actress, aerobics instructor, reporter, a rock star, a UNICEF ambassador, an army officer, a journalist, chef, police officer, baseball player, U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Squadron Leader, a paleontologist, a NASCAR driver, a pilot, a sign language teacher, a presidential candidate, an American Idol winner, a zoologist, a Space Camp instructor, teacher and Canadian Mountie. This list is by no means exhaustive. Barbie has had more than 100 careers so far.