Osages experienced another month of June, and it was beautiful.
It began at Grayhorse and the arbor is still new, with up-to-date engineering and materials and has the round form of the dance ground that follows an outer circle of the Drum. Seeing the structure feels like a step forward into the past.
The month moved on to Hominy where the feeling was good and positive. When the first bell sounds, telling the People that it is time to get ready to dance, it was a good feeling.
This year the third In-Lon-Schka was Pawhuska. The arbor is perfect in every way. There is adequate seating for all those who attended. The acoustics for such a large structure were good.
Before 1969 the order of the three In-Lon-Schka Dances began with Grayhorse, Pawhuska and Hominy. In 1969 Pawhuska was building a new arbor and the Pawhuska Committee asked the Hominy Committee to switch weekends with Pawhuska to give the Pawhuska Committee more time to complete the new arbor. Hominy agreed and that is how it has been ever since.
One of my memories of In-Lon-Schka is as a child, dancing under and playing around the Pawhuska Arbor. That is the arbor where we would stop our play and watch when the workers came driving up with loads of willow branches and began placing those branches on the top of the basic structure. Those willow branches gave shade to the People and the Drum.
As best as I can remember, the three arbors that have been taken down have served their purpose for approximately 44 to 47 years, and it is too late into the evening to start calling people to confirm those figures.
Everyone has memories of the three arbors. A memory of entering the dance for the first time, or memories of a particular Elder that you respected and gave you respect in return and is no longer with us. Or, memories of just friends you had and danced alongside of.
Or, memories of some of the outstanding Cooks who had a way of making frybread, or hominy that was truly good.
Then there are memories of an Aunt or an Uncle or a cousin who helped out when you were getting ready to enter the dance.
There are memories of some great Tail Dancers who never missed a beat, or Singers who were always there to put feeling into those meaningful words and songs, old and new. Also, there are the Lady Singers who add a beautiful dimension to every song.
Then there was a former Water Boy who told me that you can tell how long the Drumkeeper has had the Drum by how tall the Water Boys are.
There are the Head Committeemen who make a demanding job seem natural.
For whatever reason we have for remembering the arbors of the past we are lucky to have those memories, and the memories that we are beginning to make will be just as important to have as those memories of the distant and recent past.