A celebration of Osage Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief’s image placed on the U.S. quarter and statue unveiling honoring her sister, Marjorie Tallchief, is planned for Oct. 29 in Tulsa with funding coming from the Osage Nation toward planning costs.
On Sept. 27, Congress voted 11-0 to appropriate $109,700 toward costs for the event, which will be held at the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, 2445 S. Peoria Ave., on that Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The appropriation bill for the event funding is ONCA 23-109 with Congresswoman Brandy Lemon as its sponsor and Congressman Scott BigHorse as co-sponsor.
Also during the event, there will be an unveiling of a new bronze statue of Marjorie Tallchief, also a trained ballerina whose original statue, created by Monte England and Gary Henson and unveiled in 2007, was stolen last year from the Five Moons sculpture garden, located on the front lawn of the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
Lemon, who comes from the Tallchief family, discussed the bill with the Congressional Appropriations Committee during the Tzi-Sho Session when it was considered. The committee also heard from Lemon’s cousin, Russ Tallchief, of Wahzhazhe Communications, who is involved with the planning along with other Nation officials who asked Lemon to sponsor the event appropriation legislation.
As part of the festivities, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum will proclaim Oct. 29, 2023, as Maria and Marjorie Tallchief Day, Lemon told the committee. She also noted the appropriation request is seeking tribal funding from the 2023 fiscal year, which would not count toward FY 2024 spending.
BigHorse said the coin commemoration is historic considering the quarter – with Tallchief’s image and her Osage name written in the orthography – will be distributed worldwide in circulation. “I am certainly 1,000% behind it,” he said of the event and appropriation bill.
Wahzhazhe Communications Director Abigail Mashunkashey told the committee an event planner is hired on contract for the Tallchief celebration. She said New Mexico-based planner Felicia Ponca Kenner (Osage) is working on the event. Kenner was also hired to plan the historic Osage Sesquicentennial (150th) Celebration held in Pawhuska in October 2022.
For background information, Vann Bighorse, Secretary of Language/Culture/Education, told the committee the U.S. Mint contacted his office in 2021 when he was Language Department Director which proposed putting Maria Tallchief’s image on the coin and “they asked us to be involved in putting our orthography on the quarter and the dollar,” which started the design plans.
“That’s going to be momentous too – Having our orthography throughout the world,” Vann Bighorse said.
Russ Tallchief noted the celebration occurs just days after the Oct. 20 film release for “Killers of the Flower Moon” and so “it elevates our profile that much further as a Nation and we are in a historic moment as a people on the world stage – just as Maria and Marjorie took us to the world stage.”
Tallchief noted the event agenda is continuing to evolve with speakers and a news release on the event notes: “The festivities include performances by the Wahzhazhe Ballet and students from Daposka Ahnkodapi, the Osage Nation’s immersion school. Children’s book readings and activities will be provided by staff from the United States Mint and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.”
ONCA 23-109 passed with 11 Congressional “yes” votes and one absence from Lemon on Sept. 26 and the next day, Assistant Principal Chief RJ Walker signed the bill on behalf of Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear who was in New York for the KOTFM film premiere that week.
For more information on the Tallchief celebration event, contact the Osage Nation Communications Department at email@example.com or call (918) 770-3931.