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 https://delawaretribe.org.

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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.

Posted in Dewey Hotel by Bartlesville's Namesake, Jake Bartles

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.

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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: http://osagenews.org/.

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Hominy American Indian Festival Highlights

Photos by Roseanne McKee/Pawhuska People

Article below republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee

At the first Hominy American Indian Festival held May 19 at Peh-Tse-Moie Park in the city of Hominy, guests and relatives of Peh-Tse-Moie gathered to remember the man and his generous gift to the city. Although there were storms before and afterwards, no rain fell during the festival.

With help from retired Congressman Mark Simms, a photo of Peh-Tse-Moie was provided, which will be placed in the park.

Osage Congressman John Maker, who is a relative of Peh-Tse-Moie, addressed the festival guests.

“Hominy was a great place to grow up,” and the park was a big part of this, John Maker said.

“When I was a little boy, we’d all come to this park and play and go down exploring in the creek. Sometimes we only had fifty cents but that was enough to go swimming and go to the movies all in one day, so at that time, fifty cents would go a long way,” Maker said.

Scott Lohah, the great-great grandson of Peh-Tse-Moie, also addressed the crowd, and explained that his name means “fire walker” in Osage.

“I want to thank my mother the oldest living descendant of Peh-Tse-Moie, Marilyn Hopper Dailey. She provided all of the information today,” Scott Lohah said. “He died before my mother was born, but her grandmother told her stories.”

Marilyn Hopper Dailey is Peh-Tse-Moie’s great granddaughter. Sarah and John Oberly were her grandparents, Lohah explained.

“He was called Bob Peh-Tse-Moie, or Grandpa Bob. He was on the Tribal Council and his son-in-law was, John Oberly, who was Chief,” Lohah said.

Lohah shared the family names in Osage going back five generations.

“Grandpa Bob Peh-Tse-Moie’s name in Osage was Ah-She-Gah-Re. His wife, our grandmother’s name in Osage, was Gro-To-Me-Tsa-He. Bob’s dad’s Osage name was Ne-Kah-Keh-Pah-Na. Grandpa Bob’s grandfather was Ha-Moie.”

The city of Hominy was named after someone named Ha-Moie, but Lohah and his family were not sure if that referred to his grandfather since several people shared that name.

“There are relatives from the following families still living in the Hominy area: Oberly, Davis, Satepauhoodle, Abbott, Hopper, Dailey and Lohah. Peh-Tse-Moie also has many descendants living in various places all over the country,” Marilyn Hopper Dailey said.

“There’s nothing better in the world than children playing and laughing and having a good time. Grandpa Bob was advised that if he left this property for a park, then the children would play here forever and always have a place to play,” Lohah said.

“Speaking for myself and the descendants of Grandpa Bob Peh-Tse-Moie, we are very proud of what he did for this community,” Lohah said.

Lohah spoke to the audience in Osage: “zhi-kah^ zhi shka-dse sho-sho-weh,” which translates in English to: “the children would always have a place to play.”

Lohah concluded by saying: “Thanks to all and to the kids. You’ll always have a place to play at Peh-Tse-Moie Park!”

After Lohah spoke, Congressman Maker offered a prayer and then 200 free Osage meat pies were handed out to hungry guests. The two caterers were: Ah tha tse Catering, which means “we eat” in Osage and MaryGrace Dailey.

The city of Hominy’s tourism department sponsored the festival, which also featured a style show by the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club, an intertribal-service club formed in 1937. The club provides scholarships to Native American students. Clothing from the following tribes were worn and explained by the ladies: Lenape (Delaware) regalia and traditional clothing of the: Apache, Navajo, Cheyenne and Cherokee tribes. The ladies also brought traditional items to share such as dolls made from blankets and the double-walled reed basket.

Storyteller, Nagi Whiteowl shared oral history from the Lenape tribe and North American plains flute player, David Inda, serenaded the guests.

Several vendors sold Native American art, hand-made jewelry and other items.

To learn more about the history and culture of Hominy, visit their website at: https://hominytourism.wordpress.com and follow the Hominy Tourism page on Facebook.

Posted in Bartlesville Indian Women's Club, Hominy American Indian Festival, Native American Plains and River Cane Flute | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dance Maker Announces OKC Ballet Dancers to Instruct at their Summer Intensive Ballet Camp

Re-published with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee

Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy has announced that principal dancer, Miki Kawamura, and soloist, Walker Martin, from the Oklahoma City Ballet are among the instructors at their summer intensive ballet camp sponsored by the Osage Nation Foundation to be held July 23 – Aug. 3 from 12 – 6:15 p.m.

Both dancers were lead performers in past a production of Wahzhazhe: an Osage Ballet, in Santa Fe, N.M. and they have generously agreed to give their time to elevate ballet in the rural town of Pawhuska.

I recall the first time I met Randy Tinker Smith in 2011 at the Osage Nation Museum. She told me that she had a vision for telling the story of the Osage through a ballet. I was impressed when just a year later, her dream became a reality!

I’d like to share a bit about the two organizations that foster dance in the Osage, both of which she directs.

Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy, located in Pawhuska, was established in 2014 by Jenna Smith, the studio’s Director of Dance, and Randy Tinker Smith, the Administrative Director.

Jenna Smith’s decision to establish Dance Maker stemmed from her desire to continue the legacy of ballet among the Osage begun by America’s first prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief, who hailed from Fairfax, Okla.

“Many young people have dreamed of following in the footsteps of famous Osage ballerinas, Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, by becoming ballet dancers themselves. The Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy will help them achieve that dream,” Jenna Smith explained.

Like the Tallchief sisters, Jenna is Osage. Jenna is descended from Clarence Leonard Tinker, the first American Indian in U.S. Army history to attain the rank of major general, for whom Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City is named.

Jenna Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University, and after graduation, joined the Osage Ballet, founded by her mother, Randy Tinker Smith, in 2012 to share the story of the Osage people through the artistic medium of ballet.

Randy Tinker Smith already had the storyline and the musical score for the ballet, but she had not chosen a choreographer because of budget constraints.

“The truth is I didn’t have money to pay the person who was supposed to choreograph it,” she confided.

Randy Smith met with dozens of Osage elders to ask permission to tell our story and then find out what I was allowed to use.

“Over the course of that year, I would relate to Jenna everything that I was learning from these particular elders and began weaving the final storyline together. Jenna’s plans were to stay involved in classical ballet at the time and she did not have time to help me with the Osage Ballet. But she couldn’t help but begin to picture the stories I was telling her and seeing them in a ballet. We are happy that even if it was by accident, we ended up having an Osage choreographer,” Randy Smith explained.

Audiences have embraced their efforts, and Wahzhazhe: an Osage Ballet, has been performed most notably at: the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, N.M., the International Festival of Families in Philadelphia, Pa., and the Leach Theatre in Rolla, Mo.

Wahzhazhe is the actual name of the Osage people, which was mispronounced by Europeans when they saw the French spelling of a “W” which is “Ou”.

Wahzhazhe: an Osage Ballet, traces the history of the Osage people, beginning at a time before they encountered Spanish, French and other European explorers.

“The ballet depicts the Osage people as what some early diaries described as the happiest people in the world. Everything they did had order and everyone contributed in their daily living by way of a clan system,” Randy Smith said.

“When Europeans began to arrive, the Osage began trading with the French. But the Osage were in the way of economic drive of the Europeans to accumulate land, metal and fur. Treaties were made and broken as the Osages were moved westward numerous times until they finally bought their own reservation which is now Osage County.”

The ballet also features a “roaring 20’s scene” when after striking it rich as Osage Minerals Estate shareholders, the Osage people became the richest people on earth per capita.

“The local population swelled to the tens of thousands as people moved in to grab a part of the wealth. Greed ran rampant among the invasion as the Osages were once again pushed aside and murders were committed in an attempt to collect insurance money or to gain control of the valuable oil properties,” Randy Smith said.

“Osages honor our soldiers. An entire scene in the ballet is dedicated to these courageous warriors,” she added.

The ballet concludes with an Osage dressed in a business suit wearing moccasins. As he walks across the stage he hears an Osage drum and begins dancing in the traditional Osage style, to convey that today the Osage “walk in two worlds.”

Maria Tallchief became the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet (NYCB) in 1947, a title which she held for the next 13 years. In 1947 Tallchief also became the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet.
Maria’s sister, Marjorie Tallchief, also left her mark in ballet history, becoming the first American to assume the role of principal dancer of the Paris Opera.

In 1946 Tallchief married the famed choreographer George Balanchine. Although they separated in 1951, Balanchine created a ballet entitled Firebird to showcase Tallchief’s talent at the New York City Ballet.

One Osage elder has said, “Elizabeth Maria Tallchief, who was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma, in 1925, will always have a special place in Osage history and in the hearts of the Osage people. Her great talent as a prima ballerina transformed and elevated in stature the ballets in which she performed and touched audiences throughout the United States and Europe. Her life will always stand as a shining beacon for Osage young people of how dedication to one’s God-given talents can be translated into great artistic achievement.”

Maria Tallchief’s performance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker is credited by many as having established the ballet as a Christmas classic.

In December 2017, Dance Maker held its first performance of The Nutcracker to a sold-out audience at the Constantine Theater in Pawhuska, a ballet which they endeavor to produce annually Jenna Smith said.

Dance Maker’s ballet camp at 400 Palmer Ave. in Pawhuska, will include instruction by two Oklahoma City Ballet dancers. Principal dancer Miki Kawamura and Soloist Walker Martin, will teach: ballet, pointe and partnering on July 30 – Aug. 3.

According to Randy Tinker Smith, tuition is $290 and many scholarships are available through the Osage Nation Foundation. All students wishing to learn are encouraged to attend. Dance Maker serves the whole community – not just Osage students!

For students seeking other dance instruction, the Dance Maker Summer Camp will also provide instruction in: jazz, hip hop and tap.

Contact Dance Maker to learn more at: 918-704-4668, at their website: http://wwwdancemaker.net or via e-mail at dancemakeracademy@gmail.com.

Photo Courtesy of Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton

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Groundbreaking for Osage Veterans Park set for 9 a.m. on June 6th


Pawhuska, Okla., (Friday, June 1, 2018)

By: Geneva Horsechief-Hamilton, ON Communications

The Osage Nation has been developing plans for a memorial to honor Osage U.S. military veterans since 2011. Those plans will be another huge step closer to becoming a reality when builders break ground for the memorial on Tuesday, June 6, at 9 am in Pawhuska, beautifully situated on the lawn near the Osage Nation Museum.

“The Commission has been working diligently on the design, the process, and the execution of the final phases for this very important recognition and honoring of our Osage veterans,” said Maria DeRoin (Osage), Osage Nation Veterans Memorial Commission (OVMC) Consultant and Central Communications Coordinator and a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran.

The OVMC is responsible for the development and construction of the memorial. OVMC members are Franklin McKinley, Commission Chair; Richard Luttrell, Member; Francis West-Williams, Member; John Henry Mashunkashey, Member; and Richard Perrier, Member.
According to the OVMC’s webpage, “The purpose of the Commission is to follow the Osage Nation tradition of honoring Osage veterans…[and] to provide a physical reminder for present and future generations of the contributions and sacrifices of Osage veterans and their families.”

This event is free and open to the public.

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