Community , Culture

Osage Elder: Franklin McKinley

Franklin Alfred McKinley was born Oct. 7, 1947 in Pawnee, Okla., to Alfred Franklin McKinley Jr. (Full Blood Osage) and Prudence Marie Haskell McKinley. He is the grandson of Agnes Haskell and Bryan “Brownie” Haskell (Full Blood Osage) and grandson to Alfred Franklin McKinley Sr. (Full Blood Osage) and Angela Hanna McKinley (Full Blood Osage). His great-grandfather was Dudley Haskell (Full Blood Osage) and he spoke only Osage. His great-great grandfather was Ka-Wa-Ho-Tse, also known as Roan Horse, or Sassamoie Roan Horse (Trots as He Travels); he was also a Full Blood Osage and a medicine man.

He has two sisters, Sharon McKinley Long and Linda Jackson. He has been married to Teena Marie Perrier McKinley for 41 years and together they have three children, Peaches Hail, Crystal Standing Bear, and Alfred. They have 13 grandchildren, nine granddaughters and four grandsons.  

He attended the Sacred Heart Catholic School in Fairfax till the eighth grade and then attended Fairfax High School. He attended Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Okla., Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwill, Okla., Oklahoma Tech in Okmulgee and a semester at Bacone College in Muskogee. He earned two associate degrees for his schooling in Law Enforcement, Plumbing and Pipefitting. He has worked for Halliburton, Tri AM Acid & Fracturing Services and a few small oil companies as a roustabout. He worked for the Fairfax Police Department as a dispatcher and drove an ambulance for Pawhuska.

McKinley retired from working for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT). He served two tours in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Navy. He was in the Navy from 1969 to 1975. He has been a Whipman for the Grayhorse District for nine years and is in his fifth year as Drum Warmer. He is currently the chair for the Osage War Memorial Commission.

Osage News: What are some of the most important lessons you have learned in your life?

Franklin McKinley: To respect other people. If you want respect you have to give it first, you can’t buy that. Friendship and love, you have to earn it.

ON: What would you say are the major values or principles that you live by?

FM:            Honesty, not so being self centered and always taking into account advice other people give you; need to listen to what they have to say because sometimes it is helpful and can help you. And, Love. Love one another, love your family.  

ON: How has the Osage Nation evolved in your lifetime?

FM:            It’s an ongoing process. I don’t believe it is through with its evolution. As a child I didn’t really pay attention to it, I was just wanting to play with my friends.

ON: Do you like the new government? What do you think the Osages of your youth would think about the new government?

FM:            It’s coming along up there with the committees and things. They should put an end to the in-house fighting because they aren’t pulling together to help the tribe. That is what we need to help us along and move forward, not looking back, and hopefully they wont make the same mistakes in the future. I think they are coming along pretty good.

ON: What are the differences in the In-Lon-Schka today from when you were young? Do you like the changes?

FM:            The committees are bigger, a lot bigger. I remember the old round house at Grayhorse; I miss that old round house.

ON: What district are you from, what is your Osage name?

FM:            Grayhorse District, Tah-tse-Hu. It means “The Coming North Wind.”

ON: Who roached you for the In-Lon-Schka?

FM:            Jerry Shaw

ON: What is your favorite thing about the In-Lon-Schka and why?

FM:  Everything, I love it all. I love the drum, it has a spirit all of its own. I have been out there dancing and felt it. I don’t feel it every song but I have felt it. It feels so good – I would love to feel it every song.

ON: What is your favorite Osage food?

FM:            Grape Dumplings

ON: Who are your heroes?

FM:            Jesus Christ and Roger Staubach, he went to the Naval Academy. He did a tour in Vietnam and got drafted by the Dallas Cowboys while still in the Naval Academy and finished his responsibilities there and went to be the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and helped them win five Super Bowls. He was someone I looked up to.

ON: What was the happiest moment of your life?

FM:            When my wife said I will, because I was scared that she wouldn’t; and the births of my grandchildren, those were special to me.

ON: What are you most proud of?

FM:            41 years of marriage.

ON: What is your earliest memory?

FM:            I was four years old and my grandfather bought me my first train set for Christmas, that was one of my fondest memories. When I was five or six we went to visit my great-grandfather who also lived in Fairfax and I was sent to the backyard to play and I seen the tulips and thought my grandmother would like to have them. I went back into the house and found scissors in the kitchen and went back out and cut my great-grandfather’s prize tulips to give to my grandmother. My aunts came out and told my grandfather that the newspaper was coming later that day to photograph the tulips because my great-grandfather was the only one that was able to get the tulips to grow in Fairfax. My great-grandfather stepped out, saw what I had done and walked back in, never saying a word but they watched me after that to make sure I didn’t do anything else.

ON: Who or what did you love the most?

FM:            My wife, Teena.

ON: What was your favorite thing to do for fun as a child.

FM:            Sledding in the snow. I played with everyone. My cousins, we went swimming, rode our bikes to the lake, fishing, and camped out in the park.

ON: What was your favorite decade and why?

FM:            1960s, all my heroes in college football were there.

ON: How would you like to be remembered?

FM:     As a good husband, a good grandfather and good father.