At the Pawhuska Indian Camp between sun up and sun down a lot of things took place during my childhood. Nothing improper, you understand, just a group of people that had more in common than we had differences
Living and playing in Indian Camp as a child was a most memorable time in my life. The Cunningham kids who are descendants of Big Horse lived a short distance south of the Dance Arbor. And those descendants of Big Horse could keep a softball game going for hours.
Back then the arbor was covered with freshly cut branches of willow trees that gave shade to the dancers and the singers during the In-Lon-Schka that lasts four days and is most meaningful to Osages.
Between Chief Fred Lookout’s house and his son Uncle Henry Lookout’s home was the open lawn where we played many football games. With the other kids, there were always enough of us for a football game or a softball game or for some other game we made up.
This brings me to a most historic event in my life that I can remember at that time and I’m sure was also memorable for others. It was during the 1940s and I was about seven years old. The first lady Eleanor Roosevelt was traveling around the United States to raise bonds for World War II. One of her stops was to meet Chief Fred and Julia Lookout to ask the Osages to buy bonds to support the United States in its war with the evil axis.
Chief Lookout sent a man to my parents Harold and Emma Louise Red Corn’s house to properly invite the family to a dinner for the First Lady. Back in those days and even today Osages invite people to events personally. There were no phone calls, texting or emailing.
This was not the first time the First Lady visited the Osage Reservation. I understand she had visited the Osage Reservation in 1937. I once heard this described as Royalty meets Royalty. The First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt meets Chief Fred Lookout and his wife Julia Lookout.
My mom dressed my older brother C.R. and my younger brother Jim in our finest clothes. We then walked the distance of a football field to meet the First Lady.
The Chief had invited many prestigious visitors including the Osage Council and the leaders from Fairfax and Hominy with their families.
When we arrived, the cooks and servers had the food on the tables ready for the First Lady and the invited guests. Dinner was served outside on the east side of Chief Lookout’s home in the Village where tables were set up with traditional Osage dinnerware setting. I remember thinking this had to be the best food I had ever tasted.
A prayer was given by an Osage man before the meal and we commenced to eat. CR, my cousin Wakon Red Corn, Jim and I, along with our other cousins the Lookouts and the Stablers devoured the food quickly and then we began playing in the field just to the northwest side of Chief Lookout’s house.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay around because my little brother Jim Red Corn fell into a mudhole where a storm shelter was being built for the Chief. Because of that we had to leave and go home. My dad and mom were probably irritated because they would have liked to stay and visit more with the First Lady.
But even a First Lady’s visit to Indian Camp does not supersede playing with our cousins and friends.