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WahZhaZhe in writing

Chelsea Hicks, Osage, is a recipient of the 2021-2023 Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Courtesy Photo

From a pool of more than 1,200 submissions, Osage Creative Writer Chelsea Hicks was one of the 13 artists selected as a recipient of the 2021-2023 Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

The fellowship is an initiative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation that supports independent artists living and working in Tulsa. The two-year award program includes a $40,000 art-making stipend, as well as fully subsidized living, studio space and resources for community programming. After applying twice, winning the fellowship was a surprise and a life-changing moment for Hicks.

“It’s a huge honor—I’m grateful and it’s a dream come true,” Hicks said. She ecstatically awaits her move back home to Oklahoma where she can be closer to family and dive further into the inspirational roots of her work.

During the pandemic Hicks moved to San Francisco to be closer to her boyfriend and Santa Fe, N.M., where she does a lot of her work, virtually teaching Indigenous support courses. Now that she will have the opportunity to live in Tulsa, Hicks is excited to focus on her Osage language skills. She is excited to teach creative writing courses for Indigenous learners, in fact, she has a whole agenda of accomplishments just waiting to unfold.

“Now I’ll be able to publish, workshop, and I am also hoping to fund a whole conference for different poets and writers who use their Indigenous languages,” she said. “I want to pull together a platform to utilize Native languages in creative writing.”

Hicks further described how the spiritual support under her writing is Osage and any time spent in Pawhuska has had a huge impact from the Inlonshka dances to traditional learning in the Wahzhazhe Cultural Center.

“I’ve been learning how to make traditional styled moccasins, and all of this inspires my writing. It means a lot to be home and makes me so happy I just want to run through the prairie,” Hicks laughed.

Follow Hicks on her journey with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship and stay tuned for Hicks’ first book coming out May 3, 2022, with a title yet to be determined.