OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Fellowship, laughter, discussion of Osage politics and the aroma of hot grease from cooking frybread set the stage for the United Osages of Southern California gathering earlier this month where the state’s Osage residents and their family members congregated.

Fran Clavier-Smith says she’s attended UOSC meetings since she was a teenager and says they keep her connected to the Nation culturally and politically. “(The meetings) help me understand the politics of the tribe,” she said while helping other volunteers at the Oct. 3 meeting.

More than 40 people came to the South Oceanside Elementary School for the event, which featured a meet-and-greet session with candidates planning to run in the Nation’s 2010 election. Six congressional seats, all eight seats on the Minerals Council and the principal chief and assistant principal chief’s offices are up for grabs in the election next June.

Seven Osages seeking office or reelection spoke to the attendees including incumbents Assistant Chief John Red Eagle and Congressman Raymond Red Corn who informed the constituents of current Osage events, politics and their intentions if elected.

“It helps to hear them speak instead of just reading their opinions,” said Clavier-Smith who lives in Vista.

C. Ann Norris, of La Mirada, came to the meeting prepared to discuss the Nation’s ongoings with a notebook and stack of papers and said: “I’m all into what’s going on this session.” She questioned the candidates about 2009 Tzi-Zho Session topics, which included selecting members for the election and foundation boards as well as the multi-purpose delegation trip to France this month and ongoing court matters.

Former Pawhuska resident Danielle Glenn-Rivera now works for the Los Angeles County Public Health Department in Alhambra. She’s lived out west for 22 years and believes the UOSC gatherings are crucial because “a lot of people don’t know the culture” nor travel back to Oklahoma for festivities like the In-Lon-Schka dances.

The UOSC meets about four times a year with an average of 50 members attending, said its chairman Bill Myers. The meetings focus on topics related to the tribe from politics to culture. For example, the UOSC previously held Osage language lessons conducted by instructors from the Nation’s Language Department.

Myers said the UOSC conducted a survey last year, which revealed when one member speaks to another Osage, that person is actually speaking to six others in communicating about the tribe. Several hundred Osages are believed to be living in Southern California, which includes the greater Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas, he said.

Oceanside, a city with a population of over 179,000, sits along the Interstate 5 corridor next to the Pacific. It is the southern neighbor of Camp Pendleton – the U.S. Marine Corps base and is 35 miles north of San Diego, 83 miles south of Los Angeles.

Galen Clavier, a former UOSC chairman who led for about 20 years, said the group dates back to the World War II era in the 1940s and recalls his parents bringing him to meetings as a child. One event the UOSC has held in the past is a picnic featuring traditional Osage dishes, said Clavier, a retired educator who lives in Carlsbad.

Myers’s son, Teddy Myers, treated the congregation by making frybread that was served with lunch that day. Several people complimented his cooking, which was his second effort ever at making frybread.

Teddy Myers said he got the recipe and help from his aunt Cynthia Boone, an incumbent Minerals Council member and her son Daniel Boone who is seeking a congressional seat. He said he is interested in learning to make more Osage dishes and will again seek the Boones’ help to cook for the next UOSC meeting scheduled April 24.

Bill Myers said election candidates are invited again to speak at the spring meeting. He expects about 100 people to attend, as was the case at a similar meeting held just before the 2006 tribal election.