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Students experience culture first hand

November is a flurry of activity for the Native American students in Osage County
Pawhuska JOM Native American Heritage Dance. Courtesy Photo/Avis Ballard

November is a flurry of activity for the Native American students in Osage County. The Osage Nation Johnson O’Malley (JOM) parent committees of Skiatook, Hominy and Pawhuska hosted their cultural events in November to celebrate Native American Heritage month. These annual events are planned to promote cultural awareness and pride within the communities.

The Skiatook JOM committee held their seventh annual contest powwow on Nov. 6, 2010. Young dancers came from many areas to participate in the event that featured youth and adult contest dancing and an Indian taco dinner. The parent committee also crowned a new princess, Jessica Cryder. She is Osage and a junior at Skiatook High School. Her family felt proud of this honor and gave out Pendleton blankets and gifts to the head staff and committee. This powwow is now a tradition for the Skiatook community and the JOM parents are pleased to host this annual event.

Pawhuska JOM parent committee hosted their Native American Heritage dance the following Saturday at the Wakon Iron Hall in Pawhuska. It began with a gourd dance and the crowning of their new princesses: Autumn Williams, Denver Wahwassuck and AydDan McCartney. Anthony Kemble, an Osage student from Hominy, agreed to be their head singer and brought his family along with their drum.

“It was a proud mama moment,” said Andrea Kemble, Anthony’s mother. “Every time he started a song I held my breath.” This was his first time to be head singer although he’s been singing at the drum for many years.

The following afternoon several Osage students and their families traveled to the elementary school in Pawnee for a handgame challenge. Andrea Kemble, Hominy JOM chairperson, was asked to start the game by guessing which hand held the bead.

“Do you have a stick or something I can use to guess with,” she asked the Pawnee host.

“No, we aren’t fancy like that. Just use your hands,” he replied with a laugh.

The Pawnees won the game; however, the Osage students enjoyed themselves and felt pleased to visit their neighboring tribal community.

During the last week of November the Hominy JOM parent committee held their annual Heritage Day Handgame demonstration at the public school. They began at the elementary in the morning and ended at the high school in the afternoon. This Osage handgame featured traditional singing, handgames and fun activities for the kids to enjoy. The parent committee likes to host a handgame as their cultural event because it allows everyone a chance to participate and doesn’t require traditional clothes to dance or enjoy the fun.

The students at Skiatook, Hominy and Pawhuska enjoyed these cultural events and the parent committees look forward to hosting more in the future. At each event the students experienced Native American culture first-hand and this helps to keep those traditions strong. Please call Avis Ballard at (918) 287-5545 or email for more information about this program.


Wakon Iron Hall
181 Wakon Iron Blvd
Pawhuska, OK
United States