For eight years, the Waterbird Gallery has been one of the go-to spots in Pawhuska to score Osage and other Native American fine art, jewelry, clothing, blankets, books and other treasures.
But the tenancy of the shop owned by Danette Daniels on Sixth Street is coming to an end: Daniels, a mainstay of the Pawhuska retail scene for more than a decade, is moving the Waterbird to the old First National Bank Building in Fairfax, a magnificent building she owns a large piece of, and which she has spent 14 months renovating.
Daniels has long planned on using the space, where some of the upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon” film was shot, for the Fairfax Osage Reservation Museum chronicling local Osage history, plus a café, and an event center – and recently decided to add the shop into the mix, too.
Eventually, she intends to open up the upstairs of the building to visitors, as well: Above the 3,500 square feet she has on the ground floor are the offices of Drs. J.G. and D.A. Shoen, the local medics from Reign of Terror whose dark ethics are featured in the movie by Martin Scorsese that is set to hit the big screen in October.
Many of the movie props and signage remain in the building: An old commercial icebox, the Fairfax Post Office and other signs, the enormous bank vault, and much more, including a plaster mannequin head that Robert De Niro accidentally knocked over and broke during filming.
The Waterbird opened in 2014, but Daniels had her hand in a similar shop called The Cedar Chest that was located on Kihekah. Both stores predated the success of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, which launched in the fall of 2016.
That clearly changed Pawhuska, which had already made some steps toward shedding its seedy side thanks to early investors like Daniels.
“There’s more tourism in town of course with Ree Drummond’s empire,” Daniels said. “We get some of that foot traffic.
“Then with the filming of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ we had a lot of people come in for that. And we’re the only store with signed copies of Killers of the Flower Moon.”
That said, Daniels is from Fairfax, where she lives with her father, Tommy Daniels, 90, whom she says is the last living Grayhorse fullblood “without French.”
The town has struggled economically over the years, clawing to hold on to its grocery store and foster new businesses. Osages have been a key part of that battle for prosperity: The Osage Nation itself owned the grocery at one point, and Osages Kay Bills and Joe Conner – who died Sept. 12 – have led separate missions to boost business and preserve the Tall Chief Theater.
Daniels recalled that when she was growing up, Fairfax was a thriving town with several groceries, restaurants, a car dealership and even a jewelry store.
“There was a lot going on,” she said. “It was very vibrant. Now … it’s not so vibrant. We’re lucky to still have the hospital, a new pharmacy, Brandy’s, the Red Devil. But there’s not a lot going on but people will come to Fairfax after seeing the movie.
“The Osage Nation bought a block south of Brandy’s and has the train station prop from the movie, and that’s possibly going to be a visitor’s center.”
Daniels is aiming to have the Waterbird moved and reopened on Oct. 21, the day after “Killers of the Flower Moon” is released in theaters worldwide. And like many in Fairfax, she hopes the movie helps Fairfax become prosperous again.
“I really want to help with the revitalization of Fairfax,” she said. “I was born there.
“Not a lot of people believe in Fairfax, but I do. “And I hope others can.”