December is a great time to visit regional historic homes

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

December is a wonderful time to see area historic homes, and we have three impressive ones having special open houses and tour times for the Christmas season.

The Frank Phillips Home at 1107 Cherokee Ave. in Bartlesville will offer special evening tours of the home at the reduced admission rate of $5 on Dec. 11 and 13 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

“There are seven decorated trees in the house — living room, library, sun room, Frank’s bedroom, the girls’ room and the two guest bedrooms,” said Rhonda Starr, a staff docent.

“We have some of their ornaments, but they’re not on the trees because they’re too fragile.

“In the dining room Jane Phillips’ original centerpiece will be on the table. It’s a sleigh with reindeer and Santa and packages and ribbons that go to the place settings. At the end of the meal guests could pull the ribbon and open a package,” she explained.

Another special event hosted by Frank and Jane Phillips was a Christmas party for the community held at the Community Center, Starr said.

“At the end of the party Jane would give the children a bag with fruit and nuts and Frank would give them a silver dollar,” she said.

“On the third floor we have a play size log home and stable with animals that belonged to the girls,” Starr added. For information call 918 336-2491.

The Drummond Home at 305 N. Price Ave. in Hominy will hold its annual Scottish Christmas Open House from 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 8 with live music by guitarist Jim Garling and violinist Susanne Woolley, the great granddaughter of Fred Drummond and granddaughter of Gentner Drummond.

Santa Claus will be present to greet the children and hear their wish lists.
Diane Fallis of Bartlesville will be there to tell stories and tours will be offered.

Authentic Scottish shortbread, cookies and punch will be served.

For the open house two special photos of Fred and Addie Drummond will be on display in the parlor, said Drummond Home Manager Beverly Whitcomb. In the photos Addie is about 20 and Fred, who was six years older, was about 26, Whitcomb said.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (62+), children under six are admitted free. Veterans and active duty military are admitted free with an I.D. Children 6-17 are admitted for $4. There is a special rate for families of up to six, $18. Call 918-885-2374 for more information.

The Glass Mansion at 324 W. Delaware in Nowata is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and from 1 – 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. The home is decorated for Christmas with Hallmark Keepsake ornaments donated from the extensive collection of the late Jan Edwards. There are seven trees, said Carroll Craun president of the Nowata County Historical Society. The living room tree has ornaments from the Maxine cartoon collection. Matriarch Eva Glass’s bedroom tree has ornaments of homes. The tree in daughter Earnest Frances’s room has a movie theme. The foyer and upstairs hallway trees feature miniature ornaments.

“We have a little holiday shop in the sun room with Christmas wreaths, table centerpieces, handwork, baked goods and gift items by historical society members,” Craun said.

The Glass Mansion does not have regular hours of operation, so this is a special opportunity to see this stately, well-appointed home.
Cookies and cider will be served in the dining room. Call 918-273-1191 for information.

Drummond Home holds Style Show

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

HOMINY — Martha Ray is a woman with a passion to preserve and share a window into the fashion past.

Ray, who is retired from the Oklahoma Historical Society, brought a group of volunteers from Pawnee who modeled clothing from the American Civil War era through the 1950s at the Drummond Home’s style show fundraiser Saturday, held at the Osage Interlocal Co-op.

Ray shared a story about Britain’s legendary Queen Victoria.

“In the 1840s and 50s it was not typical to wear drawers. … At a fox hunt Queen Victoria stood on a rail to get a better view, and one of her friends fell over the fence and her hoop skirt went up. She had on plaid flannel drawers and everyone saw them. People thought, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. From that point on, it was the norm to wear drawers.

“In the 1850s a lady would have had eight layers on,” she said. “There was a chemise, or a slip that fell to below the knee, then a corset measuring eighteen inches with a four-inch gap in the back, so the actual waist size would have been about 22 inches. Then there was an under petticoat; there were eight to ten layers before the hoop ever went on — a hoop, and two layers over the hoop. Sitting on a horse hair sofa — that hurts — so the layers helped.”

Although the actual dress would not have been washed much, the many layers of undergarments were washed after each use.

“In the Civil War period, there was hem tape sewn around the bottom of dresses which would be replaced if it got dirty,” Ray explained.

“A typical woman in the 1880s had four outfits — three she wore every day and one for formal occasions — church, parties, to marry and to be buried,” she said.

“In the U.S. practicality dictated fashion, but we had everything available in Paris. It just took six months to arrive,” Ray said. “Seamstresses were worth their weight in gold because they made the dresses without patterns for any size lady.”
Dress lengths and styles varied widely throughout the years highlighted in the style show. There was pigeon breast fashion in the 1910s, flapper dresses in the 1920s, ballgowns, bustles, hoop skirts, A-line designs, sequins, beads, gloves, hats with seasonal embellishments, picture hats that framed the face, the walking suit, dresses with trains that had skirt lifters built into them and split skirts worn with riding habit accessories, to name a few.

In the 1880s girls were sent away to finishing school and wore shorter skirts. When they wore dresses to the ankle, that signaled to society that they were of marriageable age, Ray said.

Ray provided a window into the Victorian era’s polite society by sharing about the custom of visiting neighbors each week.

“Everybody had a day they received visitors,” she said, and each household had a designated day and window of time to receive visitors. Others took note of that time and did not receive visitors at that time — “usually 2-4 p.m. or 4-6 p.m. only one day per week.

“Even if you were middle class, you’d have a butler that day to receive guests. He’d bring calling cards on a tray from those who wished to visit and ask if you wanted to receive them, ” Ray explained.
If the lady of the house agreed to receive the guest, they would stay for only a short time — about 15 minutes. It would have been considered rude to stay longer.

“Then the next week, you’d return the visit. It was rude not to do so,” she said.

The dress style dictated glove length, Ray said. Short sleeves were worn with longer gloves and short gloves were paired with long sleeves.

The dresses Ray presented were meticulously reproduced.

“When we do a reproduction dress, we try to find fabric that’s as close to the original as possible. For reenactments, we find fabrics of the same fabric content,” Ray said. “If it is a style show, fabric is more about the appearance of the original matching. We try to use glass beads rather than plastic.”

Speaking of one garden dress in the show Ray said, “we’ve reproduced it down to the number of buttons.”

With each outfit, the models carried a handbag, which was called a reticule. Inside would have been three important items — a hanky, powder and smelling salts,” Ray said.

“People had a problem with bathing, so if people around her smelled bad, she would smell the salts to revive her,” Ray said. While deodorant was readily available over the counter starting in the 1930s, it didn’t become popular until later, she said.

“You can tell if a reenactment event is authentic by the way they smell,” Ray said.

The style show guest tables had a fairy theme.

“Fairies were quite popular in the Victorian era and in literature,” Martha Ray, who narrated the style show, said.

The style show concluded with door prizes and refreshments.

To learn about upcoming events at the Drummond Home, visit their Facebook page, Frederick Drummond Home of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The next event will be their annual Scottish Christmas Open House, Saturday Dec. 8 from 1-4 p.m., with live music, storytelling, homemade Scottish shortbread, cookies and punch at the Drummond Home at 305 N. Price Ave. in Hominy, Okla. Call for information at 918-885-2374.

Veterans Memorial dedicated on Osage Nation Campus


By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, ON Communications

Pawhuska, Okla., Osage Nation Reservation (Friday, November 9, 2018) – The first-ever memorial recognizing Osage US military veterans and pre-military scouts is scheduled for a public dedication on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. The momentous dedication will take place on the lawn by the Osage Nation Museum in Pawhuska at 873 Grandview Avenue. The memorial features a twenty-foot eagle feather and a place for recognition of each branch of the military with the name of those Osages who served in those branches.

Recognizing Osage Veterans
“This memorial, like all other memorials is a bridge to the past for the people in the present to have some understanding of the great cost of war,” said Franklin McKinley (Osage), a veteran and the chair of the Osage Veterans Memorial Commission (OVM) in a speech to the Osage Nation Congress. “Loss is just not on the battlefield alone, but back at home as well. Memorials are a compassionate way of respectfully reminding all of the sacrifices that are made by our veterans.”

“This memorial is bringing back the native tradition of honoring our warriors. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice, and this memorial will celebrate the lives of women and men that believed in something greater than themselves,” said Maria DeRoin, the Communications Consultant for the Osage Veterans Memorial Commission (OVM). She has been working with the OVM, architects, construction companies, and Osage Nation Tribal Development to finalize the details of the memorial long-awaited completion.

DeRoin (Osage citizen) is a twenty-year US Navy veteran. In early December 2017, she was contracted by the Osage Nation to spearhead the completion of the memorial project to meet the target date of Veterans Day 2018. Initial legislation for the concept began in 2011 when legislation was passed to fund the “Osage War Memorial” sponsored by, then Osage Congressman, Principal Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. The memorial fund and title of the monument were changed to “Osage Veterans Memorial” by legislation introduced by Congresswoman Angela Pratt in 2017 to include all Osage veterans, like herself, whether they are combat veterans or not. Both Standing Bear and Pratt remained actively involved in the planning stages of the memorial’s construction with the OVM.

The Osage Veterans Memorial
“This structure is a perfect circle that is 66-feet across and extends four-feet below the surface. In the center of the memorial is a water feature on the north side and there is seating on the south side. Pavers cover the walking surface in and around the centerpiece structure that leads to three large beautiful gazebos,” said Talee RedCorn (Osage) who is a veteran and the project lead for the construction of the memorial.

The highlight feature is a uniquely crafted twenty-foot eagle feather situated upright like the eagle feathers worn by Osage men under the Ilonshka Dance Arbor, or ceremonial Osage dances. Mary Frances West Williams, the president of the Hominy War Mothers Chapter and president of the Oklahoma War Mothers Association, requested the memorial have water features. She felt water was calming and that Osage warriors coming home could find a tranquil and peaceful place to reflect on their experiences. The designer, Wallace Engineering, included a granite waterfall structure and a waterfall as the centerpiece holding the eagle feather. Five granite plinths suround the large eagle feather and each granite plinth is decorated with a Department of Defense Seal (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard) and has the names of Osage veterans inscribed on the granite face.

“So many military veterans (Osage and non-Osage) have worked on the memorial. Each have expressed a sense of pride since all veterans agree they are a unique brother- and sisterhood,” said RedCorn about the number of veterans involved in the completion of the Osage Veterans Memorial.

“I would like to thank the Chief and Congresswomen Pratt for sponsoring the OVM bills, Tribal Development, the Roads Dept., Builders unlimited, Inc., Pryse Monument, Wallace Engineering, and R+K Studio,” said DeRoin.

Osage Veterans Memorial Commission
The Osage Veterans Memorial Commission, formally the War Memorial Commission, was established by the Osage Nation Congress in 2011. 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.”

Life is like a tapestry

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Winnie Guess Perdue, Cherokee elder

Cherokee elder Winnie Guess Perdue grew up memorizing poetry, and although she would not characterize her speech at the Bartlesville Area History Museum on Friday as lyrical, there were moments when it was.

“Our lives come together like beads on a loom — ordinary people … coming together to make the tapestry of our lives,” Perdue said. “I’m a little girl from Muskogee, Okla. How did all this happen. My life happened, and it will never happen again because it’s all changed.”

She considers herself an ordinary person who has been afforded the chance to do extraordinary things.

Coming from the Cherokee tribe, a matriarchal society, her clan affiliation was determined by who her mother was. Perhaps this influenced her to reach beyond traditional gender roles.

There are seven clans in the Cherokee tribe. Perdue is a member of the Paint Clan, she said.

When asked the clan’s meaning, Perdue said, ”[p]aint is a color — creative,”
Growing up, she wanted to do everything the boys did — only better. This mindset led her to take it upon herself to learn several Cherokee dances that had been previously reserved for men only.

Perdue identifies with her tribe’s strength.

“See, there is a resolve with Indian people there is a tenacious courage,” she said.

Perdue channeled this courage into learning the traditionally male-only ceremonial dancing. She mastered the eagle dance and the hoop dance among others. She is recognized as one of the earliest female fancy dancers.

“The fancy dances are exhibition dances, different from the eagle dancing,” she said.

“They’re plains ceremonial dances … the dances go back into time immemorial. Backing up and twirling was my signature move,” she said.

“Every dance has its own song. You have to learn all those songs and when the drum stops, you have to stop. If you don’t, you’re ostracized,” Perdue said.
Perdue said the eagle dance, which is spiritual in nature.

“The eagle dance is in a circle as the eagle is in flight — depicting when we’re getting messages from Creator. … It depicts our prayers. … Eagle dances are usually done with two dancers in two circles,” she said.

“There’s somehow a spiritual current that runs through this and we needed it to survive. It goes without saying. Trials come to all of us, and life is not feathers and fun … the eagle dance helps us get through it.”

Perdue spoke of the harshness of the Trail of Tears that the Cherokee tribe had traveled.
“Most were told they had to gather, and they couldn’t bring worldly possessions. Every family got about $45 worth of goods, muskets and a bag. When they were gathering people, they were in internment camps. There were five Cherokee routes, some across water. Transportation was provided but supplies, food and wood were not provided,” she said.

Despite this harsh journey, upon being resettled in Oklahoma territory, most of her family decided they needed to adapt.

She had one uncle named Willy who decided to run away, at the age of 16 or 17, the night his parents died before the Indian Agent arrived. “He never spoke English,” she said.

“The rest of the family was educated and realized they needed to become a part of what the United States was becoming. Most people don’t realize that our leaders graduated from Princeton in the 1840s. … The Cherokee tribe is like a machine that just continues to have successes,” Perdue said.

Bartlesville Indian Women’ Club Suite at Dewey Hotel and Museum

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Mary Kirk painted the mural in one of two rooms dedicated to displaying clothing and artifacts of the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club — a service organization formed in 1932 with membership from all federally recognized tribes.

Mary Kirk painted the mural in one of two rooms dedicated to displaying clothing and artifacts of the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club — a service organization formed in 1932 with membership from all federally recognized tribes.

If you have not visited the Dewey Hotel and toured the rooms on the second and third floors, you are missing out. In this week’s column, I will introduce you to the contents of the rooms done by the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club, a service organization with about 70 members from 18 tribes.

Club members donated regalia clothing, beadwork, art, dolls and other items for the rooms. On Sept. 17, 1969, the Indian Rooms, numbers 18 and 19, in the Dewey Hotel were first established. The rooms were again renovated in 1986.

Then, from 2011 to 2012 over a year and a half period, one of the club members, artist Mary Kirk, began painting a mural on all four walls of room 18 using acrylics and oils. The mural depicts prairie, a small stream and a log cabin.

“Between the logs, I put glue on there and wrinkled tissue paper and kind of antiqued it. I put real sand in the paint,” Mary Kirk said.

The work is signed using her Delaware art name Pachis Pakayo, which means patches many things.

In the mural room, are mannequins from the three most prevalent tribes in Washington County — Cherokee, Delaware also known as Lenni-Lenape, and Osage, wearing day dresses from those three tribes.

“This is the first mural that I did. I’ve also done a logo on a building in Coffeyville. It’s a 60-inch circle, and I designed it for the NAFI building (Native American Fellowship, Inc. South Coffeyville), Kirk said. She is also a seamstress who makes Indian clothing for the style shows as needed.

Also in room 18 is a case containing four clay dolls made by Lynette Perry of Chelsea, Okla. One of the dolls was made in the likeness of her great grandmother, Mah Wa Tise Wahoney, roll number 155, an early day resident of the Dewey area.

Clay doll display in the Indian Rooms, 18 and 19, in the Dewey Hotel presented by the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club.

The exhibit also provides information about Mah Wa Daise, the last Indian to hold the distinguished title of “Keeper of the Dolls” by the Delaware Tribe. As such permission was granted to allow Daise to have her dolls buried with her. Daise died in 1909 at the age of 108 and is buried in the Beck Indian Cemetery in Bartlesville.

In the adjoining room, 19, there are three cases and several paintings on the wall. The smallest case holds a collection of Delaware tribal artifacts donated by club member Mary Lou Burks, including, a handmade basket, shell necklace, ribbonwork, feather fan, leather bag, leather moccasins, necklaces and hair combs with colorful beadwork. A second case has mannequins wearing regalia, the more formal style of ceremonial clothing, of the Osage, Delaware and Cherokee tribes.

Handmade beaded moccasins on display in the Indian Rooms, 18 and 19, containing exhibits donated by the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club on the second floor of the Dewey Hotel.

Handmade beaded moccasins on display in the Indian Rooms, 18 and 19, containing exhibits donated by the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club on the second floor of the Dewey Hotel.

A third case holds many interesting items from various tribes, such as, a Seminole doll and an authentic Osage seal. Outside the suites is a photo of Anna Anderson, a Delaware tribal member, who owned the land where the first well that struck oil was drilled in Washington County by Frank Phillips. The late Anna Anderson is an ancestor of Anita Anderson Davis and sister, Paula Pechonick and Annette Ketchum. Kirk is also distantly related to Anna Anderson, she said.

Like many members of the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club, Mary Kirk’s own family has several tribal affiliations.

Kirk is related to Chief Red Bird Smith who is Natchez on both sides of her family she said.

“He married a Lucy Fields and that was in my dad’s family,” Kirk said.
The Natchez people are enrolled in the federally recognized Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations in Oklahoma.

Kirk is also a member of the Keetoowah band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma and is a member of the Delaware Tribe.

“My great-great grandma came from the [Delaware] reservation in Kansas and her name was Rachel Ketchum. She was of the Ketchums you see at the library — John Ketchum — he was my great-great grandma’s grandpa,” Kirk said.

Kirk, who enjoys helping others with genealogy.

“Many people haven’t gotten their numbers and I don’t charge anything. I just try to help them with whatever I can research for them,” Kirk said. “You back to the roll number in the books and from the roll number in the book every descendant you have to have a birth or death certificate for the living ones to prove all that to get your number.

For Kirk’s help with genealogy, call her at 913-538-7483.

The Dewey Hotel Museum, located at 801 Delaware Ave. in Dewey, is open seasonally, April – November, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults. Children 12 and under are admitted free with paying adult.

Students 13 and over, military, and seniors, $4. Donations always welcome. The Dewey Hotel Museum is wheelchair accessible on the first floor only. There are three floors to tour — the second and third by staircase.

The Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club meets the second Thursday of the month. For additional information about joining, contact Membership Chair Connie Edwards at 918-440-6877.

Comanche Warrior shares his story

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
A warrior from the Comanche Nation is traveling all across Oklahoma to keep Native American culture alive and well in modern times.

Dr. Jay Craig of Bristow spoke to the Bartlesville Rotary Club Monday about the importance of the state’s Native heritage and traditions. During the meeting at the Bartlesville Community Center, Craig wore traditional Comanche regalia and began with a prayer in the Comanche language.

“Natives are some of the most spiritual people in the world. We pray to Creator for everything. Most prayers are in the form of songs,” Craig said after the prayer. “We ask Creator to give strength to a warrior in battle.”

During such prayers and songs, the drum is used and is struck in a manner that resembles a heart beat or waves, he said.

Speaking about his clothing, Craig said, “I made everything you see here except the shirt.”

The moccasins were made from deer leather, the breast plate was made from bison bone and he wore an Otter skin down his back decorated with military service pieces he had earned. Craig wore a roach headpiece, carried a painted bison jawbone, which he uses as dance stick when he straight dances, and an Eagle feather fan.

“We don’t wear costumes. … We wear regalia to celebrate who we are. This straight dance outfit is the equivalent of our tuxedo. Normally, I’d wear bells on my ankles,” Craig said. Although Comanche people don’t use music in their dances, they utilize the drum and some have bells or turtle shells to add to the sound of the drum, Craig explained.

The bison bone on his breastplate is just one part of the animal used. “We used the buffalo for everything — rugs, cloths, blankets, teepees,” he said.

His belt, which has strands that reach below the knee, was made using finger weaving that took five months for the women who made it to construct, Craig said.

He wore a real scalping knife at his waist, which he had an audience member remove from its leather sheath.

Eagle feathers are an important part of their regalia.

“Traditionally, we believe the Creator used the eagle to bring man to earth. They’re great hunters and they fly the highest. If you drop an eagle feather, only a warrior or an elder can pick it up and then you say a prayer to Creator asking for forgiveness for dropping it,” Craig said.

Originally from Washington state, Oregon and northern Idaho, the Comanche tribe broke off from the Shoshone people and migrated east following a dispute about who had killed a bear, Craig said. After their departure, the Comanche began to tame and ride horses.

“One of the things that made us such warriors of the plains was our mastery of horses. We fought on horseback, which gave us an advantage,” he said. A Comanche warrior might have as many as 300 horses and Comanche chiefs would have up to 1,500, he said.

“We’re nomads who followed the buffalo herd. In Utah the Ute had a word they called us meaning ‘for those who make war on us,’” he said. This word began to be used to refer to the tribe. Later the Spanish and then those in the Oklahoma territory changed the pronunciation until it became what it is today — Comanche. Their real name is Numinu, Craig said.

Craig described the tribe as patriarchal. The women sit around the outside of the drum circle behind the men in the inner circle, he said. “Men did just four things, made weapons, hunted, fought and made babies. Women did everything else — cleaned the game, skinned it and kept the camp.”

The Comanche refer their top leader as the chairman. They no longer use the term chief as a way of showing honor to the last great Comanche Chief, Quanaw Parker, Craig said.

Craig taught the Comanche words for yes, no and thank you — ha, ke and gura, respectively, to Bartlesville School Superintendent Chuck McCauley and the rest of the Rotarians.

There are different dialects of the Comanche language, which is only spoken by about 450 Comanches and the Shoshone people. Every year the Comanche and the Shoshone meet to speak the language, he said.

Today, the Comanche tribe has become a sovereign nation with its own constitution headquartered in Lawton with approximately 14,000 members, Craig said.

Because one-quarter blood quantum is required for membership, their numbers will continue to dwindle — something Craig said he is working to change. Other tribes, such as the Cherokee, don’t use blood quantum to determine membership, he said.

Osage Murders — Author David Grann speaks at Grayhorse Village

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise


Osage member, Joe Conner, gave a slide presentation at a book signing held in Fairfax, Okla., at the Tallchief Theatre by author David Grann, who was promoting his new book “Killers of the Flower Moon.” This is a look back at the book signing and the dinner that followed in September 2016.

“The story of the Osage murders was made into a partially fictionalized movie “The FBI Story” about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation came into being,” Conner explained.

“Osage Chief Fred Lookout understood that the oil was both a blessing and a curse,” Dr. Joe Conner said.

“A generation later, we have descendants of both the perpetrators and the victims. To further complicate this, some of them have married. What do we do with this? … There has to be a way forward. We shouldn’t deny it. So, we have to recognize this and co-exist. Many young people have never heard the story. Osages have all heard about it,” Conner said.

After the book signing the Osage hosted a dinner for Grann at the Grayhorse Village Community Center, one of the three Osage villages located on trust land, this one near Fairfax.

I was there to learn more about what took place and to take a video on behalf of the Osage County Tourism Board which employed me at the time as tourism coordinator. Two videos of Grann speaking are available on the Osage County Tourism YouTube channel. What follows are some details of that evening, including excerpts from Grann’s speech. Other than Grann and his publicist, there were very few non-Osages in the room. I was one of them. Because I had worked for the Osage Nation from 2011 to 2014, I was familiar to many of those present.

The day had been stormy and the rain continued that evening — matching the solemn atmosphere.

After a prayer, everyone filled their plates with traditional Osage food, meat gravy, fry bread and corn soup, served buffet style by a group of Osage ladies who did not eat themselves until everyone else had — an Osage tradition among the cooks they told me.

After the meal, Osage Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn spoke and gave the author a traditional Indian blanket, a symbol of thanks.

“We’re proud of what David has accomplished in terms of telling the story and doing so with respect,” Red Corn said of Grann’s book documenting the murder of Osages for their headrights. “On behalf of the Osage Nation, welcome, and we’re happy to have you here.”

Grann said in researching the Osage murders, he spent weeks, starting in 2011, going through the guardianship records at the National Archives in Fort Worth, Texas. Grann started his research on this book as a David S. Ferriero Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Libraries according to a blog published Nov. 20, 2017, available online at

“It was like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where they tuck the covenant in the back. … You get there about 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m. and you do what’s called a pull. You fill out your little piece of paper and request some documents and some machine goes and takes your box down and they roll it out. … Occasionally, you’ll find something very revealing — something very helpful,” Grann said.

“When I pulled records on the guardians, the guardianships, and I was at that point just trying to identify the name of the guardian and what Osage person’s finances this person had overseen. When I pulled this book, it was just a little ledger, it had a fabric cover. It covered a few years, and I was looking through it.

“I started to notice that it would have the name of the guardian and then several Osage underneath them. And, I looked at one person, who had five Osages that this person had been in charge of, and someone had written next to the Osage’s name simply one word often just in pencil; they had scribbled the word ‘dead.’ … Then I noticed another guardian and another Osage, and it said ‘dead.’

“One person had five Osages whose finances they had been in charge of and the word ‘dead’ was written next to all five. … I had this unsettled feeling trying to figure out what I was looking at. I began then to look at some of the other guardians. I started to notice that somebody might have 11 Osage individuals whose finances they had overseen and half of them had the word ‘dead’ written next to them.

“And, we’re talking [about] a span of a few years. You’re looking at a 50 percent or 100 percent death rate. And what you start to realize when you’re looking is that some of these deaths could be from natural causes, but you know that this death rate is defying any natural death rate. The Osage have lots of money. They have great doctors. There’s no way that they have a death rate that much higher than the regular populous,” Grann said.

“And then what I tried to do was to look into some of these individual cases and you start to find little trails of evidence in many of them, not all of them, but many of them — because you have a complaint of a witness saying ‘suspicion of poisoning,’ or you trail the money and you find out that the headright or the wealth ended up in the guardian’s hands. And what you realize in this ledger, this old fabric-covered booklet, [is that] you’re looking at hints of systematic murder happening. And it was a bureaucratic document — nothing else in it — just the names where some bureaucrat had written the word ‘dead.’ You have to wonder about that person who just kept writing the word ‘dead’ next to so many Osage names.”

Grann thanked the descendants of the Osages murdered who had shared their stories, which became part of the book.

“Mary Jo Webb and Marvin Stepson and Raymond [Red Corn] and Joe and Carol [Conner] welcomed me into their homes. This book is everybody’s book in this room. The story has been told as if it’s a singular evil figure. The FBI portrays this often, but when you look into the Osage history, you begin to realize another truth. There were a lot of seemingly ordinary people that perpetrated this crime. There was a culture of complicity and a culture of silence. Lawmen were paid off. That’s one of the things that contributed to the reign of terror. My own hope is that this book will make this history known.”
Grann spoke about Molly Burkhart from Grayhorse Village: “I wanted to, hopefully, tell her story. She crusaded for justice even though it put a bullseye on her back.”

“Mary Jo Webb, a retired teacher, her grandfather, Paul Pierce, didn’t show up in the files, and the FBI didn’t list him as part of the Osage murders,” Grann said.

“He went to see Attorney Comstock about getting a divorce because he thought his white wife was poisoning him. There were two doctors who gave the dope to poison people,” Grann said. “In 1927 [Pierce] was hit in a hit-and-run and left to bleed out.”

After Grann spoke, he allowed members of the audience to share.

Margo Gray, who was in the audience, through tears, shared that her life’s work in law enforcement had come from her learning about the Osage murders.

“My parents told me the story of my great-grandfather. So, I’ve spent 18 years in law enforcement, and I’ve dedicated my life to this.” She also shared that in her opinion, “the amount of headrights that were lost is unquantifiable.”

She went on to say, “this is how this county was formed. This is a microcosm of that. At Fairfax Library there’s a CD that has many or all of the FBI files.”

Grann also answered a question about how he came up with the title for the book. “The months are named from the names for the moon. May is known as the flower killing moon when taller plants come and steal the light from the shorter plants.”

While two men, William Hale and an accomplice John Ramsey were eventually put on trial and convicted for killing one Osage headright owner, Henry Roan, many more Osage headright owners died mysteriously. Digital copies of the Hale and Roan cases are available on the National Archive’s online catalog.

Copies of “Killers of the Flower Moon” are available at area shops such as Moxie on Second, 118 E. Second St., Bartlesville, and The Water Bird Gallery, 134 E. Sixth Street, Pawhuska, and The Rustic Touch, 320 E. Don Tyler Ave., Dewey.