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Osage Nation officials discuss culture updates during UOSC Zoom gathering

Approximately 30 individuals participated in the Zoom meeting hosted by UOSC organizers Greg Clavier and Aimee Inglis

The United Osages of Southern California hosted a virtual fall meeting on Dec. 10 featuring Osage Nation officials and out-of-state constituents participating.

That day, approximately 30 individuals participated in the Zoom meeting hosted by UOSC organizers Greg Clavier and Aimee Inglis. After Clavier welcomed the participants, Vann Bighorse, Secretary of Language/ Culture/ Education for the ON Executive Branch, delivered an Osage prayer then spoke on recent developments regarding departments under his purview.

“We’re building a new curriculum for our (language) community classes and so it’s taking a lot of time and what we’re going to do is build curriculum books, so we have a team that’s working together very diligently and by 2025 we will have a hardback curriculum book and we’re very proud of it,” Bighorse said.

As for the Wazhazhe Cultural Center, Bighorse said the staff was at the Hominy Village Community Center that day helping the new Hominy District Drumkeeper’s family build Osage wedding hats. “They’re showing and teaching them how to make the plumes that go in the wedding hats, to have a hands-on experience on how to build those hats,” he said.

“We are expanding the Visitors Center (in Pawhuska),” Bighorse said, noting the center is a place Osage employees can greet tourists “and we can give them the correct news on who we are and where we want them to go visit and we’ve got some Osage arts and crafts for them to purchase.”

Per Visitors Center and WCC Director Addie Hudgins, Bighorse also relayed “we are offering assistance with traditional clothing needs by appointment.” He said the WCC can be emailed at culturalcenter@osagenation-nsn.gov

Bighorse acknowledged the recent Sesquicentennial Commemoration event that took place Oct. 22 on the Nation’s campus featuring various performances that told stories of the Osage, including the children’s book “Coyote and the Bear,” which retells a traditional story. That day, ON Language Department Director Braxton Redeagle read the book aloud to children gathered on the special event stage.

In response to a question on the book, Bighorse said the Language Department is working on another book in wake of the children’s book popularity, which could take a year or two with work time permitting.

Bighorse highlighted the Osage culture and language’s presence in the forthcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which is still in post-production work with a release date yet to be announced. Film crews and actors came to the Osage Reservation in 2021 where filming took place for several months with Osages advising the crew and actors in addition to serving as actors and background cast.

“There’s a lot of Osage that’s spoken in that movie, the Language Department and the Cultural Department did a fantastic job on helping them with clothes design and the language and now, Braxton has been approached by a company that is wanting to have the whole movie done in Osage and that is a very, very large undertaking and they want to do their best to accomplish it, but it’s just in the primary stages trying to work out the contracts, things like that. It’s kind of like if you’re Hispanic and you get to listen to a movie in Spanish and this is kind of the same thing,” Bighorse said.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear also attended the meeting and praised the Nation’s progress in developing the Language Department from earlier concerns of the Osage language going extinct. He acknowledged work efforts by Osage language master teacher Dr. Herman “Mogri” Lookout who now holds an honorary doctorate degree from Kansas State University.

Today, Standing Bear noted several traffic signs around the Osage campus contain the Osage language orthography, as well as his business cards, which include “Kihekah” written on them, which receive comments from other tribal officials he meets and hands cards out to. He also referred to the Osage language presence today, which includes youth students singing songs and praying in the Osage language.

“We’re making it count, so when you hear all the noise, please go look at those three villages, go look at what we’re doing, go listen to our children during the holidays,” Standing Bear said. “Families are turning over the prayers sent to an elder and they’re turning to children to pray in Osage at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve seen it at a funeral and I’ve seen older people cry when they hear it. It’s so moving to see our 10-year-olds get up and pray for everyone in Osage.”

At the meeting’s closing, Clavier invited attendees to come to the UOSC’s Spring 2023 gathering, which is set for Saturday, April 29 at the Carlsbad Senior Center where prior year gathering events have been held. For more UOSC information, Osages can email socal.osages@gmail.com 

For more information on Osage Nation Cultural programs, visit www.osageculture.com

Author

  • 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.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

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.

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