Editorials , Columns

John Joseph Mathews, one of the most interesting men I ever met

Those Osages of the past, our ancestors, who over the centuries have handed down to our generation an interesting and worthwhile history. It is a history all Osages can be proud of, a history of creation and of families and clans as well as a tales of conflict and war. It is a history of economic and human enterprise. There are many ways to appreciate and learn from that history.

One interesting aspect of that history is that it tells of generations of people who are descendants of those ancients who walked that part of the Earth that Osages have historically controlled and walked. There are many of those People still around who enjoy that history and are interested in that keeping that history. Still, for those Osages who enjoy such things there remains a great deal of history to be recorded, preserved, discussed and written about.

The Osages who fall into that group are joined by a great number of scholars and learned individuals who make up a capable and interesting collection of individuals with a common interest.

John Joseph Mathews, an Osage, was a gifted writer and historian. John Joseph made a great contribution to the preservation of Osage literature as well as being the writer of much of what makes up a great deal of what we generally call Osage Literature. He was also a descendant of French Fur Traders. He was born and raised in the middle of the Osage Reservation and was a graduate of Oxford University, Cambridge, England.

John Joseph Mathews was an interesting individual in his own right. He played football for the University of Oklahoma when the sport as we now know was being formed. He was an allotted Osage Indian who possessed a keen interest in nature and all things Osage.

I have read and heard him called a naturalist and that seemed to me to be an accurate comment. As an allotted Osage he received a 160-acre piece of land to be used as a homestead, and another property to be used for farming and for raising livestock. 

He also received one Osage Headright. That Osage Headright has entitled him to one share in the proceeds from the Osage Mineral Estate. At that time there were 2,229 individuals who were recognized as Osages. During conversations I had with him he often was the most interesting individual I ever sat down and listened to. 

John Joseph spent his life tied to his land. He built a cabin made of stone and lived in there, spending his time writing about Osages and Osage history.

He spent his lifetime dedicated to all things related to the Osage People.

He often traveled to places where he would represent the interest of Osages and he always represented Osages with understanding and integrity.