Osage Nation requests community input for Outdoor Health Complex

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and his administration held a public meeting on Aug. 19 outside the Dave Landrum Center to request community input about an outdoor health complex. CODY HAMMER/Osage News

The Osage Nation is requesting community input for an Outdoor Health Complex planned for the south side of Pawhuska.

The Nation has already accumulated $7 million from various sources, including the Nation’s Roads Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. However, to build the quality of facilities they feel the community needs to improve health on the reservation, they would like to raise about $5 million more, said Casey Johnson, the Nation’s Director of Operations.

“According to a health study the Nation conducted [in 2020], the further away you get from Osage County, the longer you live,” Johnson said. “We want to build something that’s a place where everyone can go to get healthy and enjoy it, safely.”

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and his administration held a public meeting on Aug. 19 outside the Dave Landrum Center to request community input. Standing Bear said when Oklahomans visit cities such as Broken Arrow, Owasso and Tulsa, there are outdoor sports complexes with soccer fields, swimming pools, basketball courts, batting cages, driving ranges, outdoor amphitheaters, running and walking trails – all encouraging healthy recreation for the young and old.

The Nation’s outdoor health complex will be located on the old railroad depot property on the south side of Pawhuska.

“We want to share it with everyone, all of Osage County,” he said.

The Nation is applying for a grant through the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation. As part of the grant requirements, the community is required to fill out a health survey.  To fill out the survey, visit

‘Epidemic within a Pandemic’

In November of 2020, Joe and Carol Conner published their findings from a health survey of 2,192 Osage tribal members from across the country. Their findings can be viewed in the 56-page, “The Osage Nation 2020 Comprehensive Health Survey.”

“In that survey we found significant differences in the health of Osages living in Oklahoma, outside Osage County and Osages living outside of Oklahoma,” according to the report. “The health status of Osages living on the Reservation was markedly worse than that of Osages living elsewhere.”

According to the survey, the findings should “set off an alarm”

“Our findings point to a decade long health risk epidemic. Osages living on the reservation are at a singular risk for serious health problems. Of particular concern is the growing and widespread vulnerability of our elders on the reservation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the survey.

Putting Osages at risk on the reservation include poverty, obesity, smoking, binge drinking, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, physical disability, high cholesterol and psychological distress such as depression. It was also noted that most (65%) Osages living on the reservation use the WahZhaZhe Health Center as their primary care provider.

According to the survey findings, the socioeconomic conditions of Osages living on the reservation compared to that of Osages living outside the reservation have worsened over the past 10 years.

To provide your input of what you would like to see at the Osage Nation’s new Outdoor Health Complex, fill out the following survey before Sept. 1 at