The Osage Nation Johnson O’Malley program placed second at this year’s Battle of the Plains competition in Dewey.
The Osage JOM program has participated in Battle of the Plains since 2009 and has won second place five times and won first place in 2013 and 2014.
“The best reason for a youth powwow is to encourage young people to dance and show them how fun it is, in the hopes they will continue,” said Avis Ballard, Osage Nation JOM Coordinator. “The Osage JOM students came to the event with their families and spent the day in a positive atmosphere. Hopefully everyone will have good memories that will make him or her want to dance again.”
Battle of the Plains is a youth dance competition between JOM/Indian education students from different areas. The competition was formed in 2001 to be a dance competition between Operation Eagle dancers of Bartlesville, New Dawn Dancers of Lawrence, Kans., and the Royal Valley/Prairie Band of Pottawatomie dancers of Mayetta, Kans. After a great response of participants in initial years, other schools decided to join the competition and the Osage was one of them.
“I really liked Battle of the Plains because I got first place and I really like winning first place,” said seven-year-old straight dancer William Hamilton. He competed in the ages 5-7 straight dance contest.
The “Battle” is meant to showcase the Native youth in their prospective age groups with four groups to separate the older dancers from the younger ones. The groups were boys and girls ages 5-7, 8-10, 11-13 and 14-18. All kids danced their style of dance in contests to earn points for their dance group.
When a dancer places first, second or third, their dance group received points toward winning the competition. The school with the largest accumulated points is announced the winner. Each child that participated received $2 and a participation ribbon. The children who placed first, second or third received a ribbon. Each dance group either won a participation trophy or the trophy for one of the top three winning spots.
Ballard prepares for Battle of the Plains in advance and provides incentives to those who participate. She usually has gift cards to the Chili’s restaurant and Walmart and in past years provided Hoodies to the participants to their parents. She feels the kids deserve something for their effort and spending the day at the competition, which started at 1 p.m. and lasted till 7 p.m.
“We had a great time, we always look forward to this dance. All the kids really try their best. All the kids are great competitors. I don’t think they liked getting second place this year but they tried their best and that’s what is important,” said Dana Daylight. “Looking forward to next year and bringing that first place trophy home.”
This year John Star Bighorse Jr. was the head boy dancer at Battle of the Plains. John had knee surgery two weeks prior to the competition and Ballard said he did an excellent job as head boy and did not let his injury or recovery stop him from giving his best.
“John Bighorse did a really good job. During one of the contests, some of the younger boys didn’t know how to dance during a trot song and John tried to show them. I was proud of him for being a good role model that they can look for guidance,” Ballard said.
The Osage JOM is in constant battle against Royal Valley at the Battle of the Plains and this year was no different. The Osage lost by 6 points. Osage JOM consists of 43 students from the Osage Nation and Ballard hopes that number will grow.
This year there were eight dance groups participating with a total of 130 dancers from Owasso, Operation Eagle, Osage Nation, Iowa JOM, Royal Valley School (Mayetta, KS), Sand Springs, Oklahoma City Metro, All Nations Indian Youth (Tulsa).
To learn more about Battle of the Plains visit their official face book page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Battle-of-the-Plains-Youth-Competition/107781289283958 or call Operation Eagle Indian Education at (918) 337-0130
Contact Osage Nation JOM Coordinator Avis Ballard at (918) 287-5545 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.