Osage Nation announces Sesquicentennial Celebration activities for Oct. 22

Activities will commence at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony and there will be vendor and ON department booths available, as well as food booths at lunchtime with items available for purchase.

Kansas Reservation
A photo with the Osage Agency Superintendent, employees and Osages, circa 1875. Courtesy Photo/Oklahoma Historical Society website

The Osage Nation Sesquicentennial Committee is announcing the Sesquicentennial Commemoration event activities and performances which will take place for the Oct. 22 day-long event in Pawhuska at the Nation’s government campus.

“The Osage Sesquicentennial Celebration convenes the great 𐓷𐓘𐓻𐓘𐓻𐓟 𐓩𐓣𐓤𐓘𐓯𐓣 together to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Osage Reservation established in 1872,” according to the Nation’s website. “The event celebrates Osage resilience and recognizes major accomplishments that have sustained us as a Nation on this land. It is appropriate to recognize this historical marker to acknowledge where we came from, where we are today and where we are going in the future.”

According to the lineup, the activities will commence at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony and there will be vendor and ON department booths available, as well as food booths at lunchtime with items available for purchase. There will be afternoon and evening dances, as well as a traditional Osage meal.

“Osage tribal members and their families are invited to enjoy a day filled with an incredible line-up of activities, art and food vendors, dances, a shared meal, and a fireworks display,” the website states. Former Osage Congressman Archie Mason and Bruce Cass, a former Pawhuska District Drumkeeper, will serve as co-masters of ceremony. Norris Bighorse will serve as head singer, Heather Little as head cook and Tim Lookout will be arena director for the afternoon and evening dances.

Attendees are also welcome to view an afternoon performance of “Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet,” which is a contemporary ballet that tells the history of the Osage people from pre-contact years to present day.

Lineup for the Osage Sesquicentennial Celebration:

9:30 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies & Veterans’ Coffee

10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.: Visit Vendors, Department Booths & Enjoy Readings/Performances including:

  • “Coyote & the Bear” Book Reading and Giveaway by the ON Language Department
  • Community Art Project led by Osage artist Anita Fields
  • Poetry Reading by Osage poet Elise Paschen
  • Special Performance by the Wahzhazhe Puppet Theater

Noon: Visit on-site food vendors to purchase your own lunch. Food vendors include:

  • Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery (Osage-owned)
  • Ah-Tha-Tse ”We Eat” Catering (Osage-owned)
  • Burn Co. Barbeque (Tulsa area-based)

1 p.m.: Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet performance

2:30-4:30 p.m.: Afternoon Dance

5-7 p.m.: Traditional Osage meal (provided)

7:30-9:30 p.m.: Evening Dance

9:30-10:30 p.m.: Closing remarks and fireworks provided by Osage Casino & Hotel

Additional activities information

“Coyote & the Bear” Book Reading, Signing and Giveaway: Join the Osage Nation Language Department for a “Coyote and the Bear” book giveaway and reading. The ONLD staff is excited to share a Wahzhazhe story that has been circulated for generations. The retelling is based on the version given by full blood Wahzhazhe speaker Jo Ann Shunkamolah and retold by Master Language teacher Herman “Mogri” Lookout. The beautiful illustrations are by Osage artist Joe Don Brave who will be available to sign the books at the event. In addition to the print edition, the book is available for download wherever you get your apps.

Community Art Project led by artist Anita Fields: National Endowment of the Arts Heritage Fellow Anita Fields will lead a community art project for all ages. With an art practice heavily based in clay, Fields will support the shaping of clay figures to replicate a community meal. The clay figures take a seat at the table, the place where we share the joys and experiences of life, giving us the dynamic presence of something larger than ourselves.

Poetry Reading by Elise Paschen: Poet Elise Paschen is the author of “The Nightlife,” “Bestiary,” “Infidelities” (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), and “Houses: Coasts.” Her poems have appeared in “Poetry,” “Best American Poetry,” and “A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry,” among other anthologies and magazines. Paschen is the daughter of Osage prima ballerina Maria Tallchief. She teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During the event, Paschen will read poems inspired by her mother and by Oklahoma from previous books, as well as a current manuscript in-progress.

Wahzhazhe Puppet Theater Intergenerational Performance: This is a call for community members to work with Osage Nation Museum visiting Osage artists Welana Queton, Russ Tallchief and Candice Byrd on a Puppet Theater Workshop. These artists will be collaborating with puppet designer Chris Lutter from Big Animal Production. This community project invites community members of all ages to get creative and help build the puppets during the building workshop(s), as well as join the performance cast. For more activity information, Queton can be reached at (505) 377-6222.

Visit the Nation’s Sesquicentennial Celebration for updates and additional event details at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/150


  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.