Community , Culture

Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center receives $19K for Osage culture traveling trunks

The Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center received $19K for Osage culture traveling trunks. Courtesy Photo/ON Communications

The Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center is the recipient of a $19,706 grant from a Colorado-based nonprofit to support the Osage Culture Traveling Trunk Project used for educating the public.

The Cultural Center currently has eight separate trunks with art and cultural items used to discuss different aspects of Osage culture with the public. Plans call for using the funding to buy more items for two more trunks for the trunk collection, according to an Osage Nation news release.

Longmount, Colo.-based First Nations Development Institute awarded the $19,706 grant to the Nation, which is among 21 grant applicants selected out of 130 entities who applied for grant funding, the release said. The Fifth ON Congress unanimously passed an appropriation bill for the grant money (ONCA 17-80 sponsored by Congressman Ron Shaw) during the June 8 special session.

According to the bill, the $19,706 is appropriated to the Nation’s Language and Cultural Resources Division, which contains the WCC operations budget. Shaw said the money will be used to help with project and storage expenses and described the trunks as “excellent examples of Osage culture to be shared with the youth.”

Jessilyn “Addie” Hudgins, WCC director, met with the Congressional governmental operations committee during the special session and said the current trunk collection includes a men’s Osage clothing trunk, a woman’s clothing trunk, a boy’s clothing trunk, a girl’s clothing trunk, an Osage cradleboard trunk, a game trunk, a drum trunk, and a cook's trunk. She said plans call for collecting items two more trunks that display Osage art and a traditional wedding.

Hudgins said WCC staff took the trunks to the Nation’s language immersion school, as well as the Wah-Zha-Zhi Early Learning Academy to educate the students. She also noted the trunks cannot be checked out by outside entities.

Debra Atterberry, an analyst with the Nation’s Strategic Planning and Self-Governance Office, said the trunks were purchased with TransCanada funding, which comes from a 2015 agreement the energy giant signed with the Executive Branch that included $150,000 to be used toward education initiatives. That agreement between the Nation and TransCanada states the company would notify the Nation if it decides to build a project in Osage ancestral territory, which includes states north and east of Oklahoma and the Ohio River Valley.

According to its website, the First Nations Development Institute was founded in 1980 and launched its grant making program in 1993. The institute provides technical assistance and training, advocacy and grant funding in key areas including investments in Native youth, achieving financial empowerment, strengthening tribal/ community institutions, nourishing Native foods/ health and advancing household and community asset building strategies.