Efforts to expand the Hominy and Grayhorse village chapels will soon begin after the Eighth Osage Nation Congress approved two appropriation bills to fund those projects.
During the 2022 Tzi Sho Session, the Congress unanimously voted to approve bills ONCA 22-75 (sponsored by Congressional Speaker Alice Goodfox) and ONCA 22-81 (Congresswoman Pam Shaw) with both bills each requesting $1 million for the expansion projects. The bills also requested both projects be funded from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding distributed to the Nation.
Citing lack of space concerns in both chapels – especially for funerals held as the COVID-19 pandemic continued – both bill sponsors spoke during a Sept. 14 Congressional Culture Committee.
“We’ve had several services during COVID and the chapel in Hominy is small, we’re very thankful for it though, but we would like to expand it,” said Goodfox who comes from Hominy and has served as a district cook. Goodfox said she spoke to the Village Committee and they have ideas for a bigger space and she learned the chapels were both designed to be expanded at later times.
In response to a question from Congressman John Maker, Goodfox said she didn’t know if the $1 million would be enough to cover the project and added: “We need to get the scope of work done and from what I can gather from the five-man board, they would like a porte-cochere to pull under for when a hearse comes, so right now we don’t have anything like that, so they’re in the rain … They would like a full-kitchen which we also do not have, they would like to have a bigger space to have more seating area.”
James Weigant, the Nation’s Secretary of Administration, told the committee the U.S. Treasury’s Final Rule for ARPA spending does allow for funding to be used to expand existing public facilities for social distancing measures.
Shaw, who comes from the Grayhorse District, echoed Goodfox’s concerns on recent funeral crowds at Grayhorse during the pandemic. “There is a desire to renovate the building to make sure we have plenty of room to be able to hold our services comfortably,” she said.
The proposals to expand the two chapels come after the Pawhuska District’s new and larger Wakon Iron Chapel was completed in May. Both Hominy and Grayhorse villages have newer community buildings completed in recent years and construction work is underway on a new larger Wakon Iron community building to be completed by May 2023.
“These past couple of years have been really hard on our communities,” said Congressman Scott BigHorse. “I attended services at all three chapels and I’m in agreement. Pawhuska, I think, got to learn a lesson by watching Hominy and Grayhorse build theirs, so that’s why Pawhuska’s is the way it is, so I am in total agreement with both of these pieces of legislation for our loved ones.”
Both ONCA 22-75 and ONCA 22-81 passed unanimously during the 2022 Tzi Sho Session and were signed into law by Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.