Culture

I’n Lo’n Schka

Osages of the past kept an oral history as a way of passing down the story of our history and who we are from one generation to the next generation. That oral history included long and detailed accounts of ceremonies.

For some time now there has been an effort to translate that oral history into printed words.

One chapter of Osage Oral History tells of a Great Flood that forced the People to seek the safety of higher ground, and how the disorganization of fleeing the floodwaters caused the People to become divided into several villages.   

The creation of the Osage Clans tells of organization of the Osage People that Osages from long ago found in nature.                                                                          

One of the most important and enduring experiences of Osage life that remains alive and well in today’s world is the I’n Lo’n Schka Dance.

At this point in Osage history the three I’n Lo’n Schka Dances take place at the center of the three traditional Osage districts known as Grayhorse, Hominy and Pawhuska and last four days.

The I’n Lo’n Schka Drum came from the Sioux and was given to the Ponca Tribal and to the Kaw Nation. The Ponca and Kaw then gave an I’n Lo’n Schka Drum to each of the three Osage districts.

The sound of the three Osage I’n Lo’n Schka Drums have been heard for generations and those Drums have become an important part of the lives of Osage People. The songs danced to are from the distant past and some of the songs are from this century and the food served during the dance is traditional.

It has been called the Dance of the Oldest Son. The Oldest Son is joined by his family and the community.

The People set aside the month of June and many of the People travel great distances to be part of it.

In the distant past a Crier would walk through a village while calling out the information of the day. In today’s world the Crier, still holding an Eagle Fan, calls out the same information, that it is time to come to the I’n Lo’n Schka ground. It is time to dance.

In today’s world a young man who is the Drum Keeper is escorted with his Committee to the Dance Arbor. The Drum Keeper and his Committee are met by the Whip Man who leads the Drum Keeper and his Committee to their seats under the arbor. When the three Drum Keepers and their committees are seated the singers begin beating the drum.

Sometimes it is the singing of those songs from past generations of Indian People. The same songs that are as familiar today as they were to the People a century ago.      

There is a special feeling about this period, an emotion I have experienced nowhere else. Most Native and tribal groups, that I am familiar with have meaningful traditions and events and special times in their tribe’s history to acknowledge and celebrate. For Osages that time is the I’n Lo’n Schka.