Editorials , Columns

Getting ready for the dance

I remember clearly watching those older Osage men and women dressed in their traditional Osage clothing. There were not very many of the People who dressed that way at that time. They were exciting to watch, getting in or out of their cars at an Osage gathering or walking down the street and going into a store in Fairfax, Hominy or Pawhuska. They moved with such dignity.

I was just a child and I think that is a good time in life to remember things like watching those elderly Indians move, walk and knowing not to stare.

My parents taught us early in life not to stare at people and I am glad that they taught us that.  It is one of those useful things parents do.

Thinking about those Osages of at least two, or three, or even four generations earlier than mine led me to remembering the first time my mother prepared my brother C.R. and I to dance. 

The first thing she did was to drive out east of Pawhuska to the home my mother had inherited from her mother. There was a small one room house behind the main house. She opened the door to the little house and there were three large trunks. I do not remember any furniture other than that.

My mother opened one of the trunks. It was full of Indian clothes. Broad cloth and shirts and blankets. Beaded belts and hand woven belts. Just about everything one would need to dance.

She opened the other two trunks and both of the trunks were full of Osage clothing. She seemed to know where to look because we were not there for very long. At least that is the way I remember it these many years later.

Mom dug into one of the trunks and took some things out and set them aside and would return to look for some other items. It seemed that she would look at something and hold it for a moment and move on to another item.

We returned to the house in Indian Camp and she had my brother and I stand in front of her and she held the pieces of dance clothing up next to us. She told us the she had time to make us some new things that would not be too big for us.

So, during the week that followed mom studied the ribbon work that was attached to the broadcloth leggings, and the size of the shirts and we went to town and purchased the necessary material needed and years later when I asked her about that time period of getting us ready for the Dances she said that she knew she could do it.

I learned that my mother, Emma Louise Gray Redcorn was an accomplished ribbon work artist. I always admired and respected many things about her and Osage Ribbon Work was certainly one of those things.