Now that Oklahoma’s warm, humid weather is giving way to autumn’s cooler temperatures it might be a good time to put on some comfortable shoes. Get out in the fresh air. Take a walk. Hike the Grandview Avenue sidewalk, which parallels Pawhuska’s historic downtown. It’s an enjoyable excursion through history and it could be good for your health. The Mayo Clinic states on their website, “physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated … a brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.” But walking isn’t for everyone, so perhaps a casual drive is in order.
The south end of Grandview Avenue begins at Main Street and stretches along an incline where the Osage County courthouse is situated, as well as, other county offices. Information from the Oklahoma Historical Society reports Pawhuska became the county seat at the time of statehood in 1907. The present courthouse looks very much the same as it did when construction began in 1912.
As one continues northward, you step into the 19th century. This is the Osage Nation government. The buildings begin with the superintendent’s home built circa 1874. Prior to statehood, this United States government employee was known as an Indian Agent. The two-story native-stone house currently sits empty. Across the lawn the 20th century for the Osage people begins with another two-story building made of native-stone. This is the executive offices for Osage governmental departments including the tribal headquarters.
This area is peaceful on the weekends when most of the offices are closed. But across these grounds, Osage chiefs and other leaders once strolled the surroundings conducting business.
When the auctioning of oil leases took place after allotment, fortunes were made beneath the tree famously known as the Million Dollar Elm. The atmosphere across these lawns must have been electrifying as crowds of bidders and curious onlookers were present. Newspaper reporters covered the events.
Today, the tree is gone. A rock monument with a plaque is the only indication of what took place a century ago. The tranquility felt by anyone standing there makes it almost unbelievable to imagine such a bustling commotion.
If the walk at this point is too demanding the steps opposite of these structures is the Seventh Street stairway. The steps are tiered with benches for relaxation. This leads into the heart of the historic downtown area of shops, galleries and food establishments.
But, if you are adventurous, continue northward passing two modern buildings, the Osage clinic and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Just north of the BIA building and to the west is a short sidewalk leading to another stone edifice where you will once again meet the 19th century.
The Osage Nation Museum was built in 1872 and has a varied history. The museum’s old webpage explained this structure was once a chapel and part of the Osage boarding school. Today, the former school only exists in photographs. The museum operates Tuesday through Saturday offering history, traditional art and culture of the Osage people, and changing exhibits of contemporary Native American art.
At the north end of this stretch of sidewalk is the statue of Chief James Bigheart. (In a 1908 Washington Post obituary it stated Bigheart had been elected chief three times.)
Eleventh and Grandview is one of the entrances to the Osage Nation’s newest governmental structures. Signage along Grandview for the Osage tribal buildings is done in English and the Osage language.
The hike up Grandview Avenue beginning on Main might be a strenuous walk for some, so again a leisurely drive may be more appropriate. Either way it’s a nice chance to see a few things Pawhuska and the Osage Nation offers visitors. Be sure to bring your camera!
For more information about the area and events visit www.pawhuskachamber.com or www.osagenation-nsn.gov.