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HomeHealthWahzhazhe Health Center invites community to 'Topping Off' ceremony

Wahzhazhe Health Center invites community to ‘Topping Off’ ceremony

The last beam on the new WHC is covered in signatures from the May 16 event, along with their hopes for the next seven generations

Osage Nation members added their signatures to the last beam to go up at the new Wahzhazhe Health Center in a “topping off” ceremony on May 16. 

The last beam to go up on the new clinic will be for the next seven generations, Si-Si A-Pe-Txa Board Chair Cindra Shangreau observed in opening remarks. “It is for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear reflected on the journey that led to the moment. “A lot of people have thought about going this far, but we could never get over the hump. Now we have this [Si-Si A-Pe-Txa] Board and [CEO] Mark Rogers, and Dr. Little and your whole team … [and] everything just came together,” he said.

The chief recalled obstacles spanning from a redesign for Covid safety, to supply chain issues and high interest rates. “But we’re still here doing this. This is definitely an act of God,” he said. 

Signatures on the “topping off” beam for the new Wahzhazhe Health Center. The beam was signed at the old clinic location on May 16, 2024. CHELSEA T. HICKS/Osage News

Assistant Chief RJ Walker said the Wahzhazhe Health Clinic CEO, Mark Rogers, was a “rock star, for being able ‘to do what he said he would.’”

At first, Walker said jokingly of Rogers, he wondered “Is this guy a used car salesman, or what?” But the WZZ Clinic CEO delivered, he said. Walker also remembered the late Dr. Shaw, who helped redesign the building after COVID necessitated rethinking their approach. “He was the brain and me the brawn,” said Walker. 

“[Shaw] was in early design, too,” Si-Si A-Pe-Txa Board Vice Chairman Michael Bristow noted. The board is currently in discussions of ways to honor the late doctor, he said, and they have considered naming the super clinic after him, among other possibilities. 

With tears, Congresswoman Paula Stabler said she was thrilled they would all be standing in front of a new clinic in just a few months, “fulfilling the dreams of our past families.”

Congresswoman Jodie Revard acknowledged Chief Standing Bear and his successful push for the super clinic. “This is because of your leadership,” she said. 

Osage attendees, such as Juli Cote, signed the beam, chatted, and then headed back to work with a smile. Their names will top the new building, to provide care for generations. The new Wahzhazhe Health Center is set to be completed and open to the public in the fall of 2025.


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Chelsea T. Hicks
Chelsea T. Hicks
Title: Staff Reporter
Languages spoken: English
Chelsea T. Hicks’ past reporting includes work for Indian Country Today, SF Weekly, the DCist, the Alexandria Gazette-Packet, Connection Newspapers, Aviation Today, Runway Girl Network, and elsewhere. She has also written for literary outlets such as the Paris Review, Poetry, and World Literature Today. She is Wahzhazhe, of Pawhuska District, belonging to the Tsizho Washtake, and is a descendant of Ogeese Captain, Cyprian Tayrien, Rosalie Captain Chouteau, Chief Pawhuska I, and her iko Betty Elsey Hicks. Her first book, A Calm & Normal Heart, won the 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation. She holds an MA from the University of California, Davis, and an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts.


In an earlier version of this article, Michael Bristow was incorrectly titled as Vice President. He is the Vice Chairman. The Osage News regrets the error.

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