Culture

Osage Nation Museum exhibit honoring Osage veterans opens Nov. 14

The Osage Nation Museum in Pawhuska is opening its latest exhibit on Nov. 14 honoring Osages who served in the military.

To Honor and Remember: Osage Veterans and the U.S. Military features a history of Osage involvement in the armed forces with photos, historical artifacts, uniform clothing, dance clothes and art, according to a news release.

Veteran information featured in the exhibit is the result of a museum call for stories, photos and biographies earlier this year.

On Nov. 14, the museum will host an opening of the exhibit starting at 5 p.m., which includes a lowering of the U.S. flag by the Harold Bigheart Smalley Post 198 followed by guest speakers including Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Osage Veterans Memorial Commission members John Henry Mashunkashey and Franklin McKinley. Other scheduled speakers include Congressman Archie Mason, Dr. Steve Pratt and George Stabler. The event will also feature an exhibit viewing and reception.

In a statement, ON Museum Director Marla Redcorn-Miller said the exhibit idea came from public discussions at the museum as visitors also viewed the nearby Osage Veterans Memorial, which opened on Veterans Day 2018.

“Since the dedication of the Osage Veterans Memorial only a year ago, the ONM staff has witnessed scores of Osage veterans, family members and tourists who have visited the monument,” Redcorn-Miller said. “Through conversations with these visitors we’ve gained a deeper understanding of how each name represents an individual story, a life, an understanding of service, honor and sacrifice that we will never fully know. While it is impossible to shed light on every single individual, it is important to bring into focus the diversity of experiences and the depth and magnitude of their contribution to our nation.”

According to the release, more than 1,360 Osages are documented as having served in the U.S. Military or as pre-military scouts and these are only the names recorded when tribal affiliation has been tracked. It is no doubt significantly greater. A 1942 Selective Service survey noted that 99 percent of Native Americans who were eligible for the draft enlisted. A fact that is just coming to light to the general public is that more Native Americans per capita have served in the U.S. armed forces than any other ethnic group.

The release also states: “For many Osage families an enduring set of cultural and ceremonial practices help prepare soldiers for combat; sustain them during deployment; return them home to family and community; and finally, ensure that their contributions and sacrifices for the country will not be forgotten. The exhibit will consider the ways in which honoring songs of the Grayhorse, Hominy and Pawhuska Districts play in memorializing heroic figures such as that of Major General Clarence L. Tinker. Tinker was the highest-ranking Native American at the onset of World War II during which time he lost his life while engaged in a combat mission in midway island in the Pacific. Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City is named after Major General Tinker.”

Founded in 1938, the ON Museum is the oldest tribally-owned museum in the United States. The museum can be reached at (918) 287-5441 and its website is: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/museum/