In the many years that I have been privileged to live in this world, I have come to embrace every day with a feeling of gratitude. Osages of the not so distant past would face the east at sunrise just as my grandparents and their grandparents have done in previous centuries all the way back to our ancestors who came down from the stars.
In recent times, I find myself in thoughts of my childhood and the times I spent with my family. I’m sure I’m not the only Osage who reminisces about their childhood but I wanted to share a memory.
My fond memory in the month of December focuses on the holiday season and the vision of my family convening in times past celebrating with gratitude to Wah-Kon-Tah where we share great food with others. In my youth, our food sometime would come from a bountiful hunt.
The vision transforms me to a time I when I was about eight years old and my brother CR who was about 10 went hunting for geese with my father Harold. I remember the hunt east of Pawhuska near our house that we called “The Big House,” originally my grandmother Jenny Gray’s Osage Allotment. It was a big house with a guest house, stables, and a large summer house for special dinners and a Native American Church Roundhouse.
We hiked for what my 8-year-old mind thought was 100 miles. I’m sure it was less than a mile to a pond where Dad knew the geese would rest. During our trek my father pointed out the buffalo wallows where many buffalo roamed centuries before and where our ancestors had many bountiful hunts for their own families to share Wah-Kon-Tah’s blessings.
My father had us huddled down and I remember when the geese rose from the pond. My father had a 12-gauge double barrel shotgun and my brother a 22-single shot rifle. There were six geese. Dad got two of the geese that never got off the water, he shot two more with the second shot, and the other got away. The other two were on land so the retrieving was easier for me.
On the walk back I remember my father carrying two geese as my brother and I carried one apiece. The goose I carried was length-wise taller than me so the goose’s head laid over my shoulder the rest of his body dragged far behind me. My older brother CR made it look easier than I carrying his goose and of course my father carried his two with ease. I again struggled dragging that large goose back to the “Big House”.
My mother and father invited several friends to a great dinner. They and several friends that helped prepare the geese as well as the side dishes of acorn squash, grape dumplings, dressing, and other dishes. Then our dinner was ready and I heard someone say Wah-Nom-Bre, Osage for time to eat.
Sitting down for our holiday feast my father said a prayer and thanked Wah-Kon-Tah for our blessings of food just as our ancestors centuries ago shared a goose or buffalo around their bark lodge with their families. As I reminisced I can only think all Wah-Zha-Zhi should be blessed as we share food with our families during this holiday background of good and positive thoughts of the Holiday Season.