Photo Caption: Osage Nation delegation stands in front of the Hominy Community Building for the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 5. CHALENE TOEHAY-TARTSAH/Osage New
HOMINY VILLAGE, Okla. – This month, the Hominy In-Lon-Schka dances will be held under the newly-built arbor for the first time and the nearby community building is also completed as part of the Hominy Village Square project launched by village and Osage Nation officials last year.
More than 80 people, including Hominy community members and ON officials gathered for a June 5 ribbon-cutting commemoration in the community building featuring congratulatory greetings from elected officials and village committee members. Afterward, the people gathered under the arbor for a blessing by Hominy District Head Committeeman Dr. Steve Pratt.
Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said “it’s been an honor to participate” in the village square project with the community. “We look forward to the enjoyment by this great community that has always given us great hospitality to all our people.”
Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt (Hominy District) acknowledged the attendance of other Congress members from Hominy including Maria Whitehorn, John Maker, Alice Goodfox and William “Kugee” Supernaw and said the event is a special moment for the community. “It’s hard to not become emotional, I was raised just up that hill where our chapel stands now and it’s very special to me – my grandfather’s name, Jerome Barnes, is written on this village constitution and other family members as well and I’m really happy to see you all here… I feel the spirit of my elders who have home places here in this village, it’s a good day though… And as they say, we keep moving forward. On behalf of the Congress, I say congratulations to our Zon-Zo-Li people and it’s a new time and it’s very nice in here, and everyone was involved in the planning and it’s good.”
According to an ON news release, the new arbor “has a 60 percent increase in capacity from the previous dance arbor and is 29,903 square feet. The architects and engineers for the arbor and the new building are Blue River Architects, Wallace Engineering and MPW Engineering, LLC.” Two visitor arbors for the Pawhuska and Grayhorse district committees “were increased in size by more than a third of their previous size.”
For the new community building, “The building is 3,600 square feet larger than the previous community building – almost a 65 percent increase in space… The entire site was raised by one foot and all the water coming through the building is filtered. There is now a public entrance to the restrooms on the east side with double doors,” the release stated. New parking lots and spaces and streets with a gutter system also surround the village structures with the project involvement of ON entities including the Roads Department and the Tribal Development and Land Acquisition Department.
In a statement, Silas Satepauhoodle, field superintendent for TDLA, said: “They always say just take care of this dance and that’s what we’re doing, the future of our dances depends on this… [TDLA] is emphasizing the dance first and that’s why we focused on [the arbor] and then we looked at the community building and what needs to happen there for our dinners and meetings. When we went around and gathered opinions and views about whether or not we should do this our biggest concern was always, will this work for our kids, because this is for them and their children.”
Satepauhoodle also noted: “We are putting pavers down and under the pavers it’s designed to drain water and all the drainage goes off-site so there isn’t going to be any more standing water, it’s a feature that hasn’t been done at a lot of traditional dance grounds but it’s been such a problem that we said let’s do it. That’s one of the problem-solving things we took on right away.”
The Fourth ON Congress approved a $4.1 million appropriation bill (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) in 2016 for the village square project. The former arbor and community building were both demolished after the 2017 In-Lon-Schka dances and the new structures are built where the old ones once stood.
“I did this because I was aware that the Zon-Zo-Li District had patiently waited their turn to have the improvements that you see here today,” Edwards said. “The time was right to make it possible for this district to have the same facilities that the other districts have previously prepared. These facilities represent an important gathering place for the community and guests and are a testament to the government’s commitment to provide financial support to enhance our culture.”
Everett Waller, a member of the Hominy Village Committee, also spoke at the event and acknowledged his fellow five-member board members and past board and family members noting it’s a legacy board. “Our mothers were on this, our fathers were on this, our grandparents were on this, I am so proud of you all… Everything’s in order, you being here is in order. We wanted to stay here, we could’ve went down on the other end (that was an option), but we wanted to keep our footprint here because this is not just the only location, this is our last location… There’s no place like home, there’s no place like Osage, we are going to have the largest crowd here this year we’ve ever had.”
The 2018 Hominy In-Lon-Schka dances run June 14-17 at the village square.