Gold prospecting for profit and fun

By Roseanne McKee

Reprinted with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

When Mike Grim retired, he had no idea what adventures lay ahead for him. One small decision changed the course of his retirement — he joined the GPAA (Gold Prospectors Association of America).

“They had a big dig in Montana in 2011. That was the first year I went prospecting and I’ve been going there ever since.”

This spring he brought back 16 buckets of concentrate, each weighing 80 to 100 pounds. The concentrate consists of dirt, rocks and gold. “I bring it home and go through it later in the year, but we’ve had a really nice August,” Grim said. “So, I’ve started working it just for the heck of it.”

He demonstrated the process with his Omni Fox brand gold machine. Water flows over the concentrate he feeds into the machine one trowel at a time.

“What I’m gonna do with this is run it through the [machine]. This will allow me to separate the gold from the rock. As the water carries it down, these rubber riffles will stop the gold from flowing out. Gold is heavy, so it stays. Rocks and water run by. A gallon of gold weight 160 pounds. Water weighs about eight pounds. Rocks weigh less than gold, so they and the water will run out of the sluice box,” he said.

He also said he has “eight, five-gallon buckets of concentrate that came out of an open pit sapphire mine outside of Helena, Montana,” and he’s excited to see what he will find.

If he gets tired of processing concentrate, he will go on another kind of adventure.

“This fall I plan on going to Arizona, and I’ll metal detect in the desert. My most expensive investment has been a metal detector. If I had to get rid of everything, I’d keep my metal detector,” Grim said.

“I find things every time I go out with it. I’ve found old silver dollars, some rings that I sold to Treasures Jewelry in Bartlesville. It was a diamond ring set in platinum,” Grim explained.

He’s dug a foot deep when he metal detector went off indicating there was something there. He also uses the metal detector in Montana.

“When you’re in gold country, you want to dig everything you find,” Grim said.
With a gleam in his eye Grim provided some Montana history. In the early gold prospecting days, Chinese immigrants, who worked in the mines, were known to bury gold in glass jars. Then, later they would come back and dig it up. Today, with a metal detector, one might find gold left behind a Mason jar somewhere, he said.

The first year prospecting, Grim had a bit of beginners luck. He found a gold nugget. Grim didn’t have to wait long to find a buyer. Back at this camp, the first person he showed it to asked to buy it for several thousand dollars.
Along the way Grim has also found sapphires, garnets — even a diamond. Grim acknowledges that gold prospecting is a time-consuming, meticulous pastime. Each bucket of concentrate must be processed several times before the gold is fully separated out in tiny flecks, but at $1,200 per ounce, Grim says his search for gold is well worth it.

“I’ve been a member of the GPAA for roughly nine years and they’ve opened doors for me. They have thousands of claims throughout the U.S.
— that’s worth the cost of membership and more,” Grim said.

For $84.50 the first year, GPAA members receive the GPAA Claims Club Membership Mining Guide, the bi-monthly publications the Pick and Shovel Gazette and Gold Prospectors Magazine. Members are also able to network by posting and conversing at the GPAA on-line forum with special members-only area.

For those interesting in prospecting, Grim recommends, “watch, look and learn before you begin. On the metal detector don’t cut corners — get a good one.
“I could do this from now on. I don’t drink, don’t smoke. It just fascinates me when I find a nugget.”

Boys State an inspiring experience

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

The Chris Gailey American Legion Post 450 in Ochelata chose Weston Moses, 17,
to attend the American Legion Oklahoma Boys State, a weeklong camp, hosted annually by the American Legion.
Moses, a senior at Caney Valley High School, described this year’s Boys State as a life-changing experience. The camp, in its 79th year, took place starting the last Saturday in May at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami.
The week began with marching exercises and concluded with learning to run a government.
“We learned how to get into formation like someone in the military would do. We did trust exercises and learned how to properly carry the flag,” Moses said.
Moses described some of the other things they did at the camp.
“One thing that I thought was real neat was we learned how to salute higher ranks in the military — the way a sergeant would salute a colonel,” Moses said.
He demonstrated the salute as he spoke: “You stand with your feet heels touching at a 45 degree angle and hold your hands at your side like you’re holding a roll of quarters with thumbs down, shoulders back; then with your hand perfectly straight, keeping your chin and eyes forward, you salute. After the colonel salutes, you don’t put your hand down until they do.”
“To me there’s no better way to highlight what we do as the world’s largest veteran’s organization. … I know that when these several hundred boys leave here every year, they know what American Legion is, they’re going to tell others about it and, hopefully, like me someday they’ll go on to serve and join themselves and carry on the tradition,” said Director of Oklahoma Boys State Clay Ballenger.
Speaking of is experience, Moses said, “I think a lot of it was about citizenship and Americanism — how to be a good role model in your community. Everybody has a role or a job in his community whether you realize it or not.”
The camp staff of about 30 demonstrated this by having the attendees learn about how to run a government. Students were separated into groups of 20, called cities, Moses said. The students remained in these groups for lodging. There were nine cities total, he said. The students elected boys within their groups to hold positions within each city and learn how to govern.
Moses also enjoyed meeting everyone at the camp.
“The sergeants and the colonels I met … you make a lot of connections,” Moses said.
Speaking of his peers, Moses said: “Those are friendships that will last for a while. They chose a group of boys who showed responsibility, respect and what they thought it was to be a true citizen. … Everybody I met at Boys State were people who put others before themselves.
“Attending was a big responsibility but I was very, very pleased to have been chosen — just the responsibility and the happiness it gives you to know you were selected as one of the most respected kids in northeast Oklahoma — every day showing your committed to respecting and putting others before yourself and your community,” Moses said.
Corey Brooks, the assistant director of Oklahoma Boys State said the camp was an opportunity to “get to know who you are as a team … as an individual … and who you’re going to be in the future as part of this great fabric of society.”
In fact, the experience influenced Moses’ thoughts about the future. “After graduation, I plan to join the Air Force and go into healthcare to get an EMT license. That would put me on the front lines in helping others during a disaster.”
Then, Moses plans to pursue a nursing degree at Oklahoma State University or the University of Oklahoma, he said.
The Chris Gailey American Legion Post 450 meets the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Caney Valley Senior Center in Ochelata. To join this post, or to nominate a student for next year’s Boys State, call the Post Commander Ray Raley at (951) 218-2708.

Osage Nation Museum Curator takes position at American Indian Cultural Center and Museum

Osage Nation Museum Curator, Hallie Winter
Photo by Roseanne McKee

By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, ON Communications

It has been a few short, and very busy, years filled with more than Hallie Winter (Osage) imagined when she left Buffalo, N.Y., in early 2015 to become the new director at the Osage Nation Museum (ONM). In that time, she has organized several successful events and amazing exhibitions, received honors and awards, and completed a museum renovation.
Her successes at ONM have earned her recognition in the museum community and now a position at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) in Oklahoma City scheduled to open in Spring 2021. At the end of the month she will join the AICCM team where she will be the new collections manager.
“It’s really very bittersweet,” said Winter about her departure from ONM at the end of this month. “I really put my heart and soul into the museum and I would like to thank my Osage community for welcoming and supporting me. It has been a wonderful experience to be back home again and to be involved with my culture.”
She said her first mission at ONM when she arrived was to begin renovating the museum and to update preservation and storage resources and methods. Winter’s second mission was connecting a now updated Osage Museum with the community it served, the Osage people and anyone wanting to learn about the Osage.
It took less than a year to get the museum ready for its first new exhibition and from there the museum took off. Winter said she remembers feeling overwhelmed with the incredible responsibility of these efforts but also feeling so thankful to be given the opportunity to help her people through history preservation and education.
“We are extremely proud that one of our own will represent us at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. [Winter] has done a lot of hard work and brought our small museum into the 21st century making it an excellent destination spot. Her work has been recognized nationally by the American Alliance of Museums and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise (NCAIE) ‘40 Under 40’ 2018 awards. I am proud of Hallie, excited for her new opportunity, but sad that we are losing such an impressive young lady to another museum,” said the Osage Nation Director of Operations Casey Johnson.
Working at the AICCM is an amazing opportunity and will put an Osage perspective and Osage voice at an international destination that is being shaped to redefine Native American history and contributions. The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum mission is to generate awareness and understanding of the history of tribes and their relationship to Oklahoma today.
“We are humbled to bring aboard Hallie Winter to the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum team. She is a highly qualified American Indian museum professional who has accomplished much throughout her career, most recently at the Osage Nation Museum. The Osage people can be assured that one of their own has an important role in developing and sharing the collective American Indian experience in Oklahoma today. We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with the Osage Nation and the other Native nations across the state of Oklahoma and around the country,” said Jim Pepper Henry (Kaw citizen and Muscogee Creek), AICCM CEO & Director.
Winter said it was hard to find the words to express how much she has learned and how humbled she feels to have been the director at ONM. She said the opportunity brought insight to her life that could only have been gained by living and working with her people. “Being the director of ONM has allowed me to delve deep into Osage history and to be an active member in our community. This position has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally and I will be forever grateful to the Nation for giving me this opportunity. I’m very proud of the work I have completed here and I am confident that the ONM is set up to succeed in the future and to grow.”
About the Osage Nation Museum
The premiere destination to experience Osage history, art, and culture
Visit the Osage Nation Museum (ONM) in historic Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Our continuously changing exhibits convey the story of the Osage people throughout history and celebrate Osage culture today. Highlights include an extensive photograph collection, historical artifacts, and traditional and contemporary art. Founded in 1938, the ONM is the oldest tribally owned museum in the United States.
Admission and parking is free.
Contact Information
Phone: 918-287-5441
Location: 819 Grandview Ave., Pawhuska, Okla. 74056.

Ribbonwork a dying art

Republished by permission of the Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee

Painting of Red Corn doing ribbonwork. The original and cards of the print are available at The Water Bird Gallery in Pawhuska.

In June, while visiting the Water Bird Gallery, I ran into Kathryn Red Corn, who served as director of the Osage Museum for many years, was a member of the Osage Minerals Council and who provides step-on tours about the Osage murders. But there is another side to Red Corn — her skill at ribbonwork, which she calls “a dying art.”
“I started out in ribbonwork when I was really young,” Red Corn said. “My mom, her sisters and her cousins went in together and opened the Red Man Store, and all the spouses participated.
“They didn’t really know how to do all that stuff, but they learned it together. They learned how to cut the otter hides. Some of the men in the group learned to do moccasins,” she said.
Eventually, Georgeanne Robinson was the only one remaining who ran the store, Red Corn said.
“She lived in Bartlesville, and she’d drive over every day; that business stayed open 20-some years. I still have the business cards from it. The store had about four different locations. The last one was on Kihekah.
“But it was a one-stop shop where you could get everything you needed — the only such place,” she said.

These days, The Water Bird Gallery, owned by Danette Daniels, has taken on that responsibility.

“If Danette doesn’t have it, she can order it for you,” Red Corn said.

Ribbonwork is part of the regalia worn by the Osage during their ceremonial dances and on other items.

“Ribbonwork is layered,” she said. “You put your design in and then you put another ribbon, you put your design in that and some designs are just really difficult.
Red Corn described seeing one particularly complex design at a museum in Chicago, which she admired and wanted to re-create.

“I studied and studied and I couldn’t figure it out. John Red Corn gave me a copy of one to look at and I said, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’”

The traditional ways of constructing ribbonwork are going away, she said.
“It’s kind of becoming a dying art because people don’t want to take the time to cut each one, fold it under, press it, stitch it down and then go to the next little piece, so what they do is use Stitch Witchery with that glue on the back of it, cut it and go on to the next one and so it’s turning into a lost art,” Red Corn explained.

Ribbonwork is something that Red Corn learned from her mother, whose skill was highly sought after and respected.

“My mother [Emma Louise Red Corn] was the first person to go to the Smithsonian and demonstrate the ribbonwork. She and Georgeanne were sisters. When my mother died, they got my aunt Georgeanne Robinson to do that, but my mother was the first one at the Smithsonian,” she said.

Red Corn has a treasured cradleboard made by her family for her daughter, Julie, which is a family heirloom.

“My mother did the ribbonwork for the cradleboard, and my dad did the bow — because that’s an art too. Making the bow is from Bodark, that’s tough wood, and you have bend that stuff.

I have my daughter’s cradleboard. My mother did the ribbonwork, my Uncle Wakon did the yarn work, and my dad did the bow and the board and did the carving.

There’s a whole new ceremony that goes with all that. Put the baby on the cradle board for the first time, and there’s food, of course, she said.

A watercolor artist from Fairfax, Okla., Robin Elliott, wanted to paint someone doing ribbonwork. She asked Danette Daniels and that is how she found Red Corn. However, the two never met. The artist actually worked from a photograph of Kathryn doing ribbonwork, she said.

The watercolor, which is for sale at The Water Bird Gallery in Pawhuska, shows Red Corn doing ribbonwork. With a note of sadness, Red Corn shared that the artist, Robin Elliott, had passed away before Red Corn could meet her.

However, a reception, attended by Red Corn, was held on June 29 at The Water Bird Gallery to show the painting.

Prints of the painting made into cards are also available for purchase at The Water Bird Gallery, which is located at 134 E. 6th St. in Pawhuska. The gallery is open 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For those interested in having Kathryn Red Corn do a step-on tour about the Osage murders, call Danette Daniels at the Water Bird Gallery at (918) 287-9129.

Buford Ranch on OCCA Ranch Tour


By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

The Osage County Cattlemen’s Association’s annual ranch tour, held each Father’s Day weekend, featured six ranches this year. This column provides highlights of the Buford Ranch, the fifth tour stop, which featured Hereford heifers and calves. Sam Buford was interviewed for this stop, which was broadcast on AM radio station 1500.“Originally, the Bufords purchased approximately 1,800 acres from the Craddock family, a neighboring Osage County ranching family,” Sam Buford said. “At the time of the original land purchase, the family also was able to lease approximately 9,000 acres from various other landowners. Over the past 77 years, we’ve been able to steadily grow the ranch to its present size of about 14,000 deeded acres and about 2,000 leased acres.

“Buford Ranches is the operating company that operates the ranches. It was formed by my brother, Stephen Buford, and my sister, Sharon Linsenmeyer and myself [Sam Buford] when our mother, D. J. Petit, and her brother, John R. Duncan, decided to retire from the ranching business.

“When we purchased the cow herd about 21 years ago … commercial cows made up the entirety of the ranch. Since that time, we’ve divided the ranch into about three different sections — one of which is still the commercial cow herd. And the commercial cow herd has always been the backbone of Buford Ranches.

“Since that time, we’ve added registered Hereford cattle, and they’re managed by the current manager of the ranch, Doug Branch. Doug grew up on a Hereford ranch south of Pawnee County.

“Then, in addition to that, we have part of the ranch reserved to take care of wild mustangs for the Bureau of Land Management.

“The registered Hereford cattle were actually started in Welch, Okla., at one of our other ranches. At that time we were partners with John Jones from Lexington, Ky. and we had registered Angus and registered Brangus cattle. After about four or five years into that partnership, Mr. Jones wanted to also try to acquire some Herefords, and we were able to find two cow herds in Cheyenne, Wyoming,” Buford said.

“At both of those ranches we were able to sort the cows we wanted, and, essentially, we got a big head start on our Hereford venture by being able to acquire the best genetics from two long-time, proven herds. Despite the genetic head start we got, … the Hereford program struggled for several years because, in all honesty, it took a back seat to our registered Angus cattle herd. In Welch we had always sold registered Angus cattle, and the people that ran the ranch up there — that’s where they had their experience.
“When we made the decision to move the registered Angus cows to Osage County on the Duncan Ranch and put Doug in charge of that program, we immediately saw improvements in weaning weights, yearling weights, cow confirmation, udder quality, disposition and just several other things that are hard to quantify. Over the past few years, as I steadily saw the registered Hereford herd steadily getting better and better, it made me want to do more for Doug. And so, we made a commitment to spend money on better genetics, and we’ve gone to the northern part of the U.S. in Montana and North Dakota, and we’ve revamped our herd bull battery. We’ve tried to buy the absolute best horn Hereford bulls that can be found anywhere. Those decisions have paid immediate dividends and the cow herd has improved the last two years than the previous five.
On the ranch the caravan of vehicles wound its way uphill to a red corral at the top where the tourists viewed a mature set of herd Hereford cows with spring bull calves born in late February or early March.

“We’ll pull them off their mothers in late October, and they’re going to average in the high sevens to low eights. We’ll have some bull calves that hit 850 to 900 lbs. The heifer calves are going to be about 50 to 75 lbs. back on those weights and we’re really not worried about pushing those heifers. We’re not having any Hereford-female sales right now. We’re just trying to slowly develop them in a manner that’s best for the Hereford females.

“After we wean those calves, they’re going to stay on the ranch for 60 to 90 days. We’ll get them good and straightened out. We’ll straighten the horns on up on the bull calves. We’ll sort which registered Hereford heifers we want to keep and put back in the herd. At that that point the Hereford heifers will stay in Hominy, and we’ll send the Hereford bull calves up to Welch, and they’ll go on feed with our registered Angus bull calves,” Buford explained.

Buford described their sale program.

“We’ve always sold 18- to -20 month bulls, so once the bulls leave Hominy, and the Angus bull calves come off the Angus mothers in Welch, we’ll develop those calves for ten to 12 months; then we’ll sell them as an 18- to 20-month bull calf either in the fall or the spring.

The grass in the pastures is important for optimizing the cattle’s heath and weight.
“As you drive through the ranch you’re going to be driving through native grass pastures. You’re going to be looking at a four-grass mix: big blue, little blue, Indian grass and switch grass,” Buford said. “Due to the terrain on the ranch, we’re forced to spray the ranch with either an airplane or a helicopter. We do quite a bit of spot spraying with a ground rig, but 95 percent of the land we need to spray through aerial means.
There are certain weeds that they work continously to eradicate, being mindful of their neighbors.

“We go to great lengths to try to be good to our neighbors to make sure that we don’t spray them, and we’re constantly watching wind direction and what kind of chemicals we use and how warm it is when we spray. We like to spray most of our pastures about every other year.

“Along with good grass, we’ve also tried to keep our money in roads and water. The cattle need good water. … We’ve spent a lot of money cleaning out ponds, building new ponds.

“In addition to that we’ve spent quite a bit of money on corrals and fences, and we’ve tried to make it that a cowboy can take care of a greater number of cows, but do a better job of it, even though the number of cows he’s taking care of keeps increasing.
Buford named the ranch cowboys.

“We’ve been so fortunate that we haven’t had hardly any turnover in the last 21 years. The longest tenured employee would be Carol Ray. He worked for our family for many, many years before we took over in 1997. He was our foreman until just a couple of years ago. Carol still works for the ranch.

“We have Jackie Joe Donaldson and John Holloway, and they run the west ranch about ten miles west of the Duncan Ranch and that ranch used to be called the Bledsoe Ranch. We still refer to the original owners, so we still call that the Bledsoe Ranch. We have two cowboys that work over there.

“We also have George Henry and Riley Holloway. “We have asked a lot out of all these cowboys,” Buford said. “They go to all of the other ranches in Adair and Vinita or Welch to help on projects up there or cattle working up there as well. And we also farm near the Arkansas River. We have a wheat pasture where we put our replacement heifers on wheat every year.

“We could not be in business without quality of the people that we have that work for us,” he said with admiration.

Tour attendees saw a set of black, baldy-bred heifers to be calved in the fall.

“There is a bull on them … we put a bull on them early summer to catch anything that didn’t bred to be a fall calver. These black, white face heifers are a cross between a Hereford and Angus genetics, and we believe that the baldy heifers make the best cows,” Buford explained.

“The ranch tour also showed a set of black-white baldy heifers, a set of mature Hereford cows with calves at their side and a set of yearling Hereford replacement heifers.

“These heifers are about 14-mos. old, and they should calve about the middle of next February. Buford’s sister, Sharon’s children, held cattle at one of the stops,” he said.IMG_9338

Buford is looking to the fourth generation of Bufords to continue the ranch.

“I also have two children, Audrey and Jacob. We think that among the six kids, there’s a great opportunity that the ranch can continue in the family in the future.”

Alred Ranch, Bluestem Ranch and Turkey Trak Ranch on OCCA 2018 Ranch Tour

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee

The Osage County Cattlemen’s Association annual ranch tour is a treasured tradition in Osage County. It’s an opportunity for ranchers to showcase their cattle operations. Interviews with the ranchers or ranch representatives are broadcast by the local AM 1500 radio station. The interviews are played at each stop. For the 2018 OCCA Ranch Tour, the following ranches were visited in this order: Thatcher Drummond, Alred Ranch, Lazy K Cattle, Bluestem LLC, Buford Ranch and Turkey Trak Ranch. In my previous column, I wrote about Thatcher Drummond’s Wagyu beef cattle operation. This week’s column focuses on three of the other ranches on the tour. Next week’s column will highlight Buford Ranch.
Melissa Alred spoke for the Alred Ranch, which featured two- and three-year olds.

“The Alred Ranch has always been a cow-calf operation. We breed and keep our own replacement heifers.

My husband’s grandfather came to the Osage in 1902 and established the Bar-6 Ranch in 1907. After his death, Ruth took over. She and her nephew, Charles, worked side-by-side,” Alred said.

“Ruth was inducted into the OCCA Hall of Fame. After Ruth’s passing, Charlie and the rest of the family continued on to operate the ranch with the help of our foreman, Brian Clark. The ranch will continue on for future generations.”
Jim Morris spoke for the Lazy K Cattle Ranch.

“I want to thank the Osage Tribe because they helped us on our lease with the Osage,” Morris said.

“We got into this business less than two years ago. We knew there would be ups and downs — probably didn’t know how much there would be. I mean we’ve dealt with everything from pasture fires, to contaminated water streams caused by leaking salt-water injection wells, to lower commodity prices … but like anything else, the thing that really ultimately makes the difference is people you work with.

“I wouldn’t say that cattle is our most profitable business, but I would absolutely say it is our most enjoyable business. Anybody that likes livestock, likes being outdoors, likes making a difference to improve the land, would have to like this business. We’ve been fortunate in many ways. We are certainly hoping that over the next several years, we’ll be able to continue to build the quality of our herd, and make sure that we truly have one of the highest quality herds of red Angus in this region.

“We have certainly found that the really good people in this business are willing to help each other. We’ve met a lot of great people, worked with a lot of great people and we really look forward to the future in this business,” Morris said.

The third stop on the ranch tour was at Bluestem LLC, which was purchased by the Osage Nation in 2016.

On the radio-broadcast interview, a Bluestem ranch representative shared that a board of directors had begun managing ranch operations in May 2017. Bluestem leases the grazing rights to approximately half of the ranch while utilizing the remaining acres for approximately 1,200 head of its own cattle.

In October 2017, the Osage Nation received its first herd of bison. In coordination with the Osage Nation, Bluestem Ranch has plans to establish a bison preserve on the ranch, the representative said.

“We have two cowboys working for us, Lee Chambers and Austin Holloway,” Ranch foreman Mike Alexander said. “We are a cow-calf operation” — spring and fall herd.

Alexander said that the cattle shown on the tour were a commercial Angus herd, purchased in Nebraska.

“This is their third [set of] calves. These calves are out of Buford bulls. The remaining herd is Angus and cross-bred cattle, and we are using Angus and Hereford bulls,” Alexander explained.

The last ranch tour stop was at Turkey Trak Ranch. Berry Keeler spoke for the ranch.

“My wife, Sharon and I would like to thank everybody for stopping by,” Keeler said. “We bought this place back in 1989. We originally bought a piece of land to kind of get away and we kept adding to it … here at the show barn we used to have a registered cattle operation. We did that for several years … [then] we converted to a commercial program, and we went with Angus cattle. We have about 1,200 cattle. About 800 are black Angus and about 400 are red Angus. Of course, people always ask why we got into red.

Their calving area, which has barns, was part of the tour.
“We calved 240 heifers. Both sons, Brandon and Matthew work there, and they both have their own cattle operations too. Brandon works full time and Matthew works part time. Brandon basically takes care of the farming and the south end of the ranch, and Matthew takes care of our ranch up at Burbank. … When they work cattle, they do it together. … I’m not allowed to do a whole lot, and I don’t think they need me anyway.

There is also a farming operation on Turkey Trak Ranch.

“I was raised on a farm and so I like it,” Keeler said. “It’s a tough business. You have to be about half mechanic to be a farmer. I think right now we’re farming about 1,300 acres, and we usually put in some crops to make us a little bit of money so we can survive from one season to the next — soybeans or wheat or something like that or wheat for winter pasture. The last several years, we’ve been converting some of it to Bermuda grass. We have 2,500 to 3,000 acres of Bermuda grass.

“We’re trying to farm for the cattle and not just farm per se. And so far that’s worked better for us. You know if you try to do everything, you can’t do nothin’ very good. … So, we’ve cut back on our farming. We have irrigation circles, that way the crops aren’t stressed. We have a lot of hay, alfalfa, millet for hay.

“It’s been an interesting 30 years, but I love the cattle,” he said.
On the tour were “some replacement heifers we’ve raised. We have them down here where we don’t have too many cattle — just enough not to have to mow it.”
Then on the second pasture: “some five-year olds and some babies … you’ll notice what you see is red Angus, but we have more black Angus than red.

“Hopefully, we can make a dollar or two and maybe we’ll all be rich,” he said jokingly at the conclusion of his narration.

Farm Credit provided the meal after the tour.

“Be sure to thank them,” Keeler said.

Next week’s column will focus on the Buford Ranch near Hominy, the fourth stop on the ranch tour.

Wagyu Beef Operation featured on OCCA Ranch Tour

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville-Examiner Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee

From 9 a.m. to noon June 16, the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association held its annual Ranch Tour. A caravan of trucks, a few SUVs and one sedan, mine, left from the Osage County Fairgrounds and headed to six ranches in Osage County, where cowboys held groups of cattle for us to see.

For the next several weeks, my column will highlight a different cattle ranch operation from the tour. I hope these columns will provide a window into the world of cattle ranching rarely explored by those outside the beef industry, which is a significant economic driver in Oklahoma.

The tour was broadcast on AM 1500 with introductions by the OCCA President Shane Stierwalt and interviews with ranch representatives.

Thatcher Drummond described his cattle ranch operation.

“The pasture is primarily fescue with some Bermuda in it. I fertilize this pasture every year and weed spray it when needed. On years when we have a lot of rain, I will mow to approximately a foot tall. … I stock this pasture one cow per acre. The only way I can achieve this is by fertilizing and weed spraying. When it does get hot and dry … I will rotate the pasture just west of here. The pasture I would rotate to is straight Bermuda. Here my stocking rate changes. I try to give them three acres per head and also weed spray and fertilize that pasture,” Thatcher Drummond said.

“Currently, we are using Wagyu bulls on 50 cows in the spring and then turn around and breed 250 cows in the fall. We currently put one Wagyu bull to every 30—35 cows. We leave the bulls on the cows for 30 days and then pull them off and switch back and forth 250 in the spring and 250 in the fall.

Drummond introduced Cade Nichols from Sherman, Texas, who provides the bulls used to breed Drummond’s Angus cows. “We in turn sell the calves back to him, which he feeds out for 24 months before they are ready to go to market.”

Cade Nichols, who manages a 7,000-acre cattle ranch in north Texas, said that Wagyu cattle “may not be pretty in the pasture, but they’re pretty on the plate.
“Contrary to what you may have heard about Wagyu cattle, they are not massaged and fed beer. Actually, they’re pretty tough animals that you can turn out, and they’ll make a living for you.

“This breed was first brought to the United States in 1976 to Texas A&M University to research meat quality. The trade between the United States and Japan was halted until 1992 at which time Japan sent over the first female. Japan continued to send cattle over until 1998 at which time they halted all exports. In the United States, Japanese cattle are known as full-blood Wagyu. The American Wagyu Association maintains a registry of the full-blood Wagyu, which requires a three-way DNA parent verification to ensure the integrity of each animal’s pedigree is traced back to its original Japanese roots. There are many benefits to using Wagyu bulls on cows like the ones you’re viewing. First, Wagyu bulls have an extremely high libido and service more cows than any other breed. We regularly use one bull per 35 head for a 70 to 90-day breeding period. Also, these breeds will live longer than any other breeds. We typically use a bull until it’s 10 to 12 years of age. What this means for a rancher is he doesn’t have to purchase as many bulls to breed his cows and he doesn’t have to purchase them as frequently, which in turn means more money back in his pocket.

“Next, these bulls have very low birth weights. What this does for a rancher is he can confidently use these bulls on heifers like the ones you’re viewing and not have to worry about them when it comes time for them to calve. The average birth weight is about 54 pounds, but the average weaning weight is 517 pounds. Yeah, that weaning weight may be a little less than what you’d get on a Hereford or a Charolais bull but when you add a per pound premium to the calf, the producer actually comes about better. And all the while, [he] doesn’t have to be up all night checking heifers and possibly pulling calves.

Nichols said that at his ranch “using these bulls, we are producing over 95 percent prime beef and a lot of that is prime plus, plus beef. These calves, once weaned, will be brought down to our grow yard until they’re 12- to 14-months of age. Then we ship them to the Texas Panhandle to finish them on grain. We harvest these animals and sell them as boxed beef, mainly to Dallas/Fort Worth area restaurants.

“Another great benefit to these animals, in addition to the fact that they will improve beef quality when crossed with any other breed is the health benefits. Wagyu beef has a tendency to be more tender than most breeds and have a better flavor because of its fatty-acid composition. Wagyu animals are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s.

“Most importantly to me is the fact that it tastes great and increases the value of the animal.”

Read my column next week about the cattle ranch operations of Alred Ranch and Lazy K Cattle Ranch.

Okla. CattleWoman of the Year Named

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

By Roseanne McKee

Norita Martin has been named Oklahoma CattleWoman of the Year by the Oklahoma CattleWomen’s Association. The award was announced on July 20 in Norman at the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s annual Convention and Trade Show.

The Oklahoma Cattlewoman of the Year was recognition for being a spokesperson for the beef industry through many forms of leadership in beef advocacy. As a member of the American National CattleWomen, Martin has participated in state, regional, and national meetings developing beef promotion programs.

“I strive to encourage adults and youth programs to take part in the Masters of Beef Advocacy Program and the Beef Quality Assurance Program, which are both excellent free education opportunities. To assist with a national beef promotion project, I organized members to participate in customer discussions at a large grocery store over a period of six sessions for one of two locations in Oklahoma. As well as developing beef education booths for county and state events , I encourage our local association to develop new programs to support youth education in various areas of agriculture,” said Martin.

Martin and her husband, Russell, own Double M Farms, a cow calf operation located between Copan and Wann with pastures in Nowata and Montgomery Counties.
“It is a true honor to receive the Oklahoma CattleWoman of the Year Award, but I feel this honor is shared with the members of our organization, especially the team in our county,” Martin said. “In Washington County we work together to promote beef, youth and agriculture. It’s a wonderful, supportive group of friends of which I feel so privileged to enjoy.”

Martin is also serving a two-year term as vice president of the Washington County CattleWomen, which she has been a member of for 20 years or more.

Martin’s family has been in cattle ranching for over 100 years.

“My siblings and I each own a part of the ranch that was started by my Lucas grandparents in about 1917,” she said. “My grandparents raised registered Hereford cattle, but my father was a commercial herd man when he took over the ranch. My parents also owned the Dewey Livestock Auction at two different locations.”

Martin grew up in Copan where she was active in 4-H Club. A recipient of the state 4-H Santa Fe Leadership Scholarship and the Oklahoma 4-H Danforth Award, Martin graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in Voc Home Economics. She earned a master’s degree in Home Economics from the University of Missouri.

During her career, she worked as a home economist for Texas Agriculture Extension, as a home economics teacher in Bixby and Broken Arrow and as a social worker for the Oklahoma Department of Health and Human Services.
“Since retiring [eight years ago] I have been a gate opener, cow counter, cattle sorter, and anything else you can do on foot. We have some part-time help for feeding, haying, and gathering cattle — so then my main job is camp cook and bookkeeper,” Martin said.

Martin and her husband moved to their ranch 25 years ago, where they first raised registered Simmental cattle.

“After the kids went to college, we gradually shifted to a commercial herd,” she said.

The Washington County CattleWomen meet the fourth Monday of at least ten months of the year and membership is five dollars.

Most meetings are at 11:30 a.m. at on of the area restaurants. Watch for meeting announcements in the news.

For more information on them, follow the Washington County CattleWomen on their Facebook page.

Celebrating the next generation coming of age: a Delaware naming ceremony

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee

Paula Pechonick invited me to attend her granddaughter’s naming ceremony May 25 at the Fred Fall-Leaf Memorial campgrounds near Caney, Kan.

Delaware elder, Dee Ketchum, conducted the naming ceremony of his niece, Anna Pechonick, who is 14.

“We’re going to smoke the pipe with Anna. She can have the name just for her or she can release it. We’re acknowledging Anna and giving her a new beginning to life. Anna’s gone through some tough times,” Dee Ketchum said with a catch in his voice. “I know what she’s going through.”

“She can be whatever she wants to be at this point. She’s strong enough that she’s going to make the best of her world,” Ketchum said.

Ketchum handed his niece a long tobacco pipe to smoke and directed her exhale in all four directions.

“We are acknowledging the directions of our ancestors,” Ketchum said. “East because our creator is coming from the East. South because of the warm southern breeze, West because of good music from the West and North is weather, which we hope we don’t get.”

The name he announced for her was: Shi’ki Wesao tawes, which means ‘pretty yellow flower’ in the Delaware language.

Ketchum directed Anna Pechonick: “When you get done, touch the ground and it will all be good.”

Then addressing the friends and family who had gathered to bear witness to this event, Ketchum said, “We’re going to smoke her off and have a healing, and so whoever wants to smoke her off can do so.”

Instructing the crowd, he said, “be sure you touch her heart, as I do.”

A small metal container with a fire in it stood on the ground between Ketchum and Anna.

Ketchum used an eagle feather fan to spread smoke around Anna. Periodically more cedar was added to keep the fire going.

When he had finished, Ketchum said, “now it’s your job to pass this on to your family and to the future … because it’s your generation that will be passing it on. Take this new beginning in your life and become the person you want to be … bless you. May God bless you and keep you and cause his face to shine upon you in Jesus name, amen.”

Ketchum then circled Anna in a clockwise direction and stood in a line with several others.

One-by-one family members and friends smoked off Anna with the eagle feather fan. As they did so, they offered her words of blessing and advise in hushed tones that only she could hear. Each person then circled Anna in a clockwise direction. If anyone started off in a different direction, they were quickly redirected to follow the clockwise path around Anna.

When the ceremony concluded, guests were invited to a late-afternoon meal of salad, fry bread, corn bread, corn soup with pork and red beans.

The covered camp area held prep and fry stations with cabinets, a refrigerator, and two picnic tables. Nearby was a hand-washing station, and an outdoor cooking area.

The weather was warm and sunny with a breeze. Paula Pechonick sat with me as I consumed two helpings of the delicious food and she spoke to me about her tribe’s traditions.

Pechonick, who served as Chief of the Delaware Tribe from 2010 to 2014, explained that the tribe was originally called Lenape.

“I love Lenape myself, but we’ve been called Delaware since we came from the east coast,” Pechonick said.

However, because the tribe lived in the Delaware Valley, in an area claimed by Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, the tribe began to be called the Delaware.

According to Pechonick, Delaware children are named twice.

“Traditionally, the grandmother names the babies when they’re born.… Then, when they get older, they get a grown-up name.

“Those being named wear regalia if they have it. Traditional Lenape clothing has ribbon work. Anna’s ribbon work has oak leaves, turtles and red, black and white, which are the traditional Lenape colors.”

She shifted the topic to the history of the camp. “I’m the last adult survivor of the original camp,” Pechonick said.

She explained that this camp had been established by the Anna Anderson Davis, her great aunt, who was the sister of Pechonick’s grandmother, Minnie Willitts.

Anna Anderson Davis had two girls and five boys.

“My granddaughter, Anna, was named after Anna Anderson Davis,” Pechonick said.

“We started the Pow-wow and Anna had her boys help. She liked an old brush arbor, but it rained so much that they later added a tin roof,” Pechonick explained. “In addition, there was retractable roof over the cooking fire in case of rain.”

Pointing to the outdoor cooking area, Pechonick said, “Anna’s sons built the cooking fireplace. Everything in the camp has a story.”

She continued: “a grate was later added to the fireplace. The camp has enlarged over the years.”

Pechonick said that the picnic table had young Anna’s grandparents’ initials carved in it on one of the corners.

“I think it’s real sweet,” Pechonick said with a smile.

After the ceremony, Anna, who is a rising ninth grader at Dewey High School, said she felt, “overjoyed” and “marvelous.”

Anna’s mother, Jenifer Pechonick, said she felt blessed and then added, “Anna comes from a long line of strong women and she is growing up to be a fine one.”

Paula Pechonick chimed in: “she’s stronger than the two of us put together.”

“In years past, it was traditional for the pow wow committee to give food rations to each camp, but they stopped this in 1988. When I was Delaware Chief, I decided revived the tradition, using my own money for food,” Paula Pechonick said. “We didn’t have notes for how to do it, so I just went to the grocery store and bought in bulk, providing things like: beef roast, potatoes, carrots, bread, oil and self-rising flour.

“My kids all pitched in and helped. They stayed up all night to divide it up. I just went to sleep and when I got up at 5 a.m., they were around the table working,” Pechonick said laughing.

Every evening after dinner during the Delaware Pow-wow everyone gathers at the arena to dance, and so the annual Delaware Powwow is not only a time for families to spend time together, but also for the tribe as a whole.

“Starting 25 – 30 years ago, they have traditional Lenape dancing on Thursday night, such as the ‘Go Get ‘Em’ woman’s dance and the stomp dance, which is danced last,” Paula Pechonick explained.

Just before this column was submitted, I learned from her mother, Jenifer Pechonick, that during the Delaware Pow-wow, Anna Pechonick was chosen to serve as the 2019 Delaware Pow-wow Princess.

“Since Anna was a little girl, she has aspired to be princess of the Delaware Pow-wow. She has worked hard to be chosen. We are so proud of her and she is most deserving. We are delighted and honored that the committee asked Anna to represent the Pow-wow in this way,” Jenifer Pechonick said.

To learn more about the Delaware Tribe, which is headquartered in Bartlesville, visit their website at

The Dewey Hotel: the real story

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee


Last week I began a two-part series about the Dewey Hotel, wherein I introduced readers to Jacob “Jake” Bartles, from the perspective of Washington County Historical Society Aarchivist Sarah Thompson and Dewey Hotel Manager Jack Fleharty.

Sarah Thompson said, “I think we’re telling you a different version of what has been told. This is more accurate.”

This week, our story continues from 1925 when Jacob Bartles’ wife, Nannie Bartles, passes away in her 80s, and the hotel is sold at sheriff’s sale.

Jacob Bartles had died 17 years earlier from a rare blood disorder called Bright’s disease, leaving Nannie a widow for many years.

Elizabeth Allen bought the Dewey Hotel, and her daughter-in-law owned it until 1967, Thompson said. Allen ran it as a hotel and boarding house. Meals were served daily in the large first-floor dining room.

When Bartles built the hotel, he didn’t yet trust electricity, so the overhead lights were both electric and gas.

“He also brought in the telephone,” Docent Virginia Chew said.

Behind the dining room was a prep kitchen and the main kitchen was in a separate building behind the hotel.

According to information provided by the Washington County Historical Society, the hotel served family-style meals in the large dining room, and at times three meals per day were also delivered to the oil fields.

The hotel staff worked hard, long hours. The hotel employed two women just to handle the hotel’s daily laundry.

Behind the house were a set of stairs used only by the hotel owners, which led directly to their private quarters on the second floor.

Thompson said that Nannie Bartles was aware that ladies of the evening visited the third floor of the hotel, but she did not want to interact with them. The private staircase allowed her to avoid them completely.

In 1967, the city was going to condemn the hotel but a local banker, O. A. Patridge, bought it for $13,000 and gave it to the Washington County Historical Society.

“We’ve owned it ever since 1967,” Thompson said with a note of pride.
Since the historical society took ownership, they have worked to restore the hotel through donations of period-piece furnishings.

There is furniture in one of the bedrooms which was built for Nannie’s parents by a carpenter employed by Bartles. The bedroom set is hand-made from black walnut.

The pieces which are original to the house are located in the study on the first floor. They include Jacob Bartles desk, chair, barrister book case, oak file cabinet and a cash register from one of Bartles’ general stores.

Bartles’ economic investment in Bartlesville and Dewey may have influenced others to invest there.

“I think he’s one of the ones who helped Oklahoma get started and become a state,” Thompson said. Bartles purchased an existing mill in Bartlesville, the Nelson Carr Mill, and converted it from a corn mill to a flour mill, Jack Fleharty said.

“We have a handwritten copy of the bill of sale from 1883 from when he bought half of the mill for $1,000,” Fleharty said.

Bartles later purchased the other half of the mill, but Fleharty did not have evidence to show when.

“He hooked up an electric generator to the mill,” Fleharty added.

Implementing an economies of scale approach to his business empire, Bartles sold the flour he milled in his general stores.

Dewey is noteworthy for several firsts.

Thompson shared that Bartles had brought the first doctor to Dewey, Dr. Tan.
Dewey had the first bank building in Oklahoma territory, the first registered pharmacist and the first airplane factory, Thompson said.

Nannie’s legacy to the community, in addition to the Dewey Hotel, was starting two churches, the Indian Church and the First Baptist Church of Dewey, the latter of which is still active.

Nannie’s father, Delaware Chief Charles Journeycake, was also a Baptist pastor and evangelist, so he likely influenced Nannie’s decision to establish these churches in Dewey.

Following a divorce, Joe Bartles, the son of Jacob and Nannie Bartles, lived in the Dewey Hotel after it was sold to Elizabeth Allen.

“He paid $10 per week for room and board according to the ledgers,” Thompson said. “A suitcase of Joe Bartles’ is located on the second floor inside his bedroom.

On the second floor, suites have been decorated by several organizations, each with a specific theme.

The Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club is one such service organization, which has created displays in one of the second-floor suites. The displays showcase traditional clothing from several Indian tribes and artifacts.

Another room, dedicated to the Dewey Portland Cement Company, has history panels and memorabilia from the plant. Among the items are: cement pigeons, a bright red and blue Dewey cement truck flag that hung behind the cement trucks, and a photo of the owner, Don Tyler for whom the main downtown thoroughfare is named.

There are also second floor rooms with dedicated to O.A. Patridge, John Kane and Joe Crow of the Little Ranch.

On the third floor of the hotel is a room with windows facing three directions where hotel guests played cards. Thompson said this was important because if law enforcement approached the hotel, the guests in that room could see them coming and cease any illegal activity — such as drinking alcohol during Prohibition.

Although Jacob Bartles died before his time at the age of just 66 of Bright’s disease, he did live to see statehood.

Bartles was an innovative business leader who saw the potential of northeast Oklahoma and made a lasting mark here. I think he would be proud to see what Bartlesville and Dewey have become.

The Dewey Hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday, 801 N. Delaware St., Dewey.

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.

Continuing the Tradition of Growing Osage Indian Corn

One Hominy Committee member revives an Osage Tradition

By: Roseanne McKee

Reprinted with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Corn soup is a staple of traditional Osage food. However, many may not know that traditionally a specific heirloom variety of corn, called Osage Indian corn, is preferred.

One Hominy Village Committee member, Scott Lohah, has taken it upon himself to revive the practice of growing, harvesting and sharing Osage Indian corn at the In-Lonshka Dances held in each Osage Village in June.

The corn, which is red in color, is grown, harvested, shucked, dried in the sun and stored. A year later, the dried corn is given to the Hominy Indian Village Committee as a gift from Scott Lohah and his family.

Lohah is dedicated to this task and to perpetuating this Osage tradition, which had nearly died out. I had to be persistent to get an interview with him because the first three times I called, his wife said, he was out tending his cornfield!

When we met, Lohah explained to me that for a time, farmers in Osage County, which he referred to as sharecroppers, planted and sold the Osage Indian corn to the Osage people for the In-Lonshka dances. For decades during the twentieth century, the corn was readily available for purchase, and so the Osage stopped growing it themselves.

However, when the number of sharecroppers dwindled, the Osage Indian corn nearly disappeared from Osage tables. For this reason, Lohah decided to begin planting the corn and sharing it.

“This is the traditional Osage way of planting the Osage Indian corn. My mother was told to put three in the hole. That’s just the way it’s done,” Lohah said.

He gave me an article from the Sept. 2011 issue of Progressive Farmer Magazine, which bears out the advantages of this planting method, called clump farming.

Although the article doesn’t credit the Osage, this is the way they have planted the corn for generations, Lohah explained.

Bobby Stewart, Director of the West Texas A&M Maryland Agriculture Institute at Canyon is quoted in the article: “With clump-seeding, we get fewer tillers, but each plant has access to more of the limited, available solid moisture and soil fertility. Leaves lap around each other and provide protection against the sun and wind to reduce transpiration.”

The article goes on to say that experiments conducted in 2003 at the USDA ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Tex., 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.

Lucas Haag, Assistant Superintendent of the Southwest Research Extension Center in Tribune, Kan., said in the article that clump farming helps farmers in a year of drought, but doesn’t reduce the crop yield in years with heavier rains — an advantage for farmers who can’t predict the rain levels in advance.

It is also interesting to note that according to the article, irrigation doesn’t seem to boost the clump-seeding yields.

The article suggests that three seeds per hole is the magic number by citing an example of a farmer who planted four seeds and didn’t see any advantage to clump-seeding.

Scott Lohah agrees. Three seeds are the number per hole that he, his mother and his ancestors were taught to plant.

“In the olden days, three seeds go into one hole. In a semi-arid environment, the corn stalks shade one another and share moisture by being planted one or two together,” Lohah said.

The Osage Indian corn is has a higher level of protein than other corn varieties, Lohah said, “supposedly nineteen percent.”

In growing and harvesting the corn, Lohah is following in the footsteps of his grandparents, his mother and his aunt, Francis Oberly Holding and her family, especially her son, Homer Joe Holding.

“About 28 to 30 years ago, the Hominy Friends (Quaker) Meeting wanted to do a youth project, and so I decided to do it because no one else was doing it or knew about it.”

His friend from work, Paul Clark, helped Lohah begin planting his own corn fields.

It is traditional for village committee members to give gifts to the committee for the annual community dinner held during the In-Lonshka Dances.

The In-Lonshka dances, which are spiritual in nature, are held every June in each of the three Osage Villages. The villages are on located on land held in trust by the federal government. Each village has its own written constitution and a governing five-person board. The three villages are located in Osage County in: Pawhuska, Hominy and Grayhorse, near Fairfax.

The In-Lonshka Dances are different from pow wows. They are by invitation only and no photographs of those in the dance arbor are allowed.

To learn more about the Osage tribe, visit the Osage News website at: