Library highlights Osage culture at March 24 fair

Coleman AmericanHorse (right), pictured with his brothers Gary AmericanHorse and Cory Spotted Bear, will be providing Osage dance demonstrations throughout the cultural fair being held at Stillwater Public Library on March 24.

Story and photo provided by Stillwater Public Library

The Stillwater Public Library is hosting a program focusing on Osage culture and history on Saturday, March 24, 1-5 p.m. The Cultural Fair is a come and go event with booths featuring food, art, children’s activities and singing and dancing demonstrations.

“Osage here in Stillwater and others near the Pawhuska area have graciously offered to share customs and traditions with our community,” said Lynda Reynolds, library director. “There will be something for people of all ages to see, learn, and do.”

While most of the One Book, One Community Stillwater Reads Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI series events have been moved to larger venues, the fair will remain at the library with booths and activities on multiple floors. Each booth will have a knowledgeable member of the Osage Nation who will be available to discuss booth topics and answer questions. Booths include:

  • Osage dance with Coleman AmericanHorse
  • Osage food samples with Josephine Willie
  • Indian dice game with Scott Lohah from Hominy
  • Osage language with Christopher Cote, children’s teacher at the Grayhorse Site
  • Men’s and women’s clothing and cradleboards with Herman Sleeper of Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center
  • Osage Art with Stillwater artist Curtis Jump, who will also have art pieces for sale

In addition to the booths, dance and singing demonstrations will take place each hour beginning at 1:45 p.m. A children’s storytime with Osage stories with librarian Amanda Bell will take place each hour beginning at 1:15 p.m.

One local family has multiple members who will be sharing their knowledge of Osage culture.

Coleman AmericanHorse began dancing at a very young age and his mother Trish jokes that he began dancing in the womb. He was five years old when he attended his first In-Lon-Schka, an Osage ceremony with singing and dancing that takes place each June in the three Osage districts: Grayhorse, Hominy, and Pawhuska.

“In-Lon-Schka was where I learned the traditional ‘ways’ of the Osage,” said AmericanHorse. “I knew I was part of something sacred and important.”

AmericanHorse’s grandmother, Josephine Willie, will also attend the fair and is preparing meat pies, grape dumplings, fry bread and corn soup for attendees to sample. According to Willie, she learned her skills from a long line of Osage women.

“As a little girl, I was always around the women cooking outside,” said Willie. “Always bothering them to let me help. They would usually just give me some dough to play with.”

Willie says the cook in Osage culture is a very important position. Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother held this position and now her daughter Trish is following the tradition.

“It is very fitting to having food at this fair,” said Trish. “We can’t do anything without feeding people.”

Willie agrees.

“The Osage really like to eat,” said Willie. “Marian Cass, our ‘godmother of cooks,’ used to say that if you can feed four regular people with a pound of meat, then you can only feed three Osage with the same.”

The fair is the sixth program in the library’s series, “One Book, One Community: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” Remaining programs include:

  • Monday, March 26, 7 p.m. at the Stillwater Community Center – “Osage Art” with Addie Roanhorse, artist, photographer, and senior graphic design specialist for the Osage Nation, who will discuss Osage art, both past and present, and how David Grann’s book is related to her personal life and the influences on her art.
  • Thursday, April 5, 7 p.m. at the Stillwater Community Center – “Wahzhazhe- An Osage Ballet” includes a dance performance by the Osage Student Ballet and commentary from director Randy Tinker Smith.
  • Thursday, April 12, 7 p.m. at Gallagher Iba Arena – Author David Grann will discuss writing the book “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Descendants of Osage named in the book will share the effect these events still have on their families. Book signing to follow. No ticket is necessary.

All programs in the series are free and open to the public.

The program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities, Osage Nation Foundation, Friends of Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater Public Library Trust, and OSU Library. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed during the series do not necessarily represent those of the sponsors.

For more information, visit the series website at http://library.stillwater.org/flowermoon.php or contact the Help Desk at (405) 372-3633 x8106.