Last week, the Journal-Capital visited with three young Osage tribal members — Matthew Gray, Chadwick Toehay, and Hanna Gray — about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a trade and what impact it is making on their lives. Each student was asked what the training program for the Flanagan South Pipeline Project means to them and their family.
"I moved to Pawhuska eleven months ago. This program could not have come at a better time and is a tremendous boost to my family. I am a certified welder and received my training through the Osage scholarship program. My ultimate goal is to become a full-fledged welder with my own rig.
"I am honored to participate in this program and can already feel the affect it is having on my life. I would like to publicly thank the Chief and the Education Department for this wonderful opportunity. The Chief’s actions reflect the love he has for our people and makes me very proud to be Osage. I’ve visited with other several tribes and they recognize we are the first tribe to do something of this magnitude. We are becoming a part of history."
"This program is a good testament as to how Chief Red Eagle supports the Education Department in providing tools for us to basically pull ourselves up by our boot straps and putting us on a good path that will enable us to succeed. It is a great opportunity to provide for my family and has given me a sense of self-worth.
"Like Chadwick said, we are the first tribe to be awarded this opportunity. It is a very great honor. Months of preparation by the Chief, the Educational Department and all those involved in developing this program are a true testament to how much faith they have in our lives. Economically, they are giving us a chance to build careers.
Gray also expressed gratitude to the ON Education Department for their scholarship program. That, coupled with scholastic scholarships from Oklahoma State, enabled him to obtain a degree in Business Management. However, like so many recent graduates, he has been unable to find employment.
"As a woman and a first time user of the Nation’s educational resources, this training gives me hope for my future. I’m 21 and having this opportunity fall into my lap is awesome. Right now I am looking at the oiler training. The information I am receiving has given me hope in what I can be doing and that it’s an open field.
"My family is so proud. My elders are looking up to me. I anticipate my family will be talking about this for a long time. I am one of seven women participating in this inaugural program. We are setting the bar high with good standards for other women to come."
Anyone interested in learning more about this program and the next round of training may contact Louise Cheshewalla at the Osage Nation Education Department, Jana Scimeca or Delary Walters in the Osage Nation Human Resources at 918-287-5555.