Osage Tribal Museum to celebrate Diamond Jubilee on Friday, Saturday

Kathy SwainJ-C Correspondent
Osage Tribal Museum to celebrate Diamond Jubilee on Friday, Saturday

Pawhuska is about to experience history in the making when the Osage Tribal Museum celebrates its 75th anniversary this Friday and Saturday, May 3-4. The public is invited to participate in two fun-filled days of activities relating to the history of the Osage Nation and the birth of the world’s oldest tribally-owned museum.

“The Tribal Museum is also one of the oldest museums in Oklahoma,” according to museum Director Kathryn Red Corn.

Activities kick off at 10 a.m. Friday at the historic Constantine Theater. A two-part symposium will trace Osage ancestral paths. Titled, “Keepers of the Treasurer,” the symposium will feature a distinguished lineup of guest speakers who will discuss the Cahokia Mounds and Rock Art of Missouri. They will be joined by an impressive panel of Osage leaders.

Lunch, along with an open house, will be held at the Wakon Iron Hall in Pawhuska’s Indian Village. The Symposium will reconvene at 1:30 p.m.

The Bigheart Reception will be held at the Osage Cultural Center (next to Alco) from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday evening.

“Because of the Tribal Museum’s early influence in the making of Wahzhazhe, the original Osage ballet that debuted this past year,” said Red Corn, “We will be recognizing and honoring many of the behind-the-scenes contributors, such as the artists who created the incredible backdrops, the costume designers, sewers, makeup artists, and more. It would be virtually impossible to acknowledge everyone who had a hand in the ballet’s success. At this time we want to honor all the Osages who came together so beautifully to tell our story — this includes the small children who were part of the ballet.”

Following the reception, the historic Constantine Theater’s big screen will debut the Wahzhazhe ballet troop’s performance at the Smithsonian Natural Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington D.C. this past March. The one-hour screening will begin at 7 p.m.

“We are so grateful to the Smithsonian for sharing their filming of this event,” said Red Corn.

The celebration continues at 10 a.m. Saturday, with a reenactment of the museum’s 1938 grand-opening parade.

“We selected ‘To Beat the Drum’ as our parade theme,” said Parade Chair Florence Bigheart Tranum. “Assistant Principal Chief Scott Bighorse will be beating the drum during the parade. Congressman Archie Mason will be Parade Marshal.”

Red Corn added, “Florence Tranum is the granddaughter of Chief James Bigheart. The Tribal Museum selected the name of Friday’s reception as a tribute to the late chief. Following our jubilee celebration, our next big project is to honor Chief Bigheart with a life-sized statue. He was an exceptional leader and brilliant politician who served as our chief from 1875-1900. Under Bigheart’s leadership, Congress enacted the Act of 1906 which established the ‘headright’ method and guaranteed financial security for the Osage people. The city of Barnsdall carried his name until 1916.”

Saturday’s parade route will continue up Grandview to the museum, where floats will be on display for photo opportunities.

“The grand finale will be an Osage bride in a horse-drawn buggy. She will be preceded by a bagpipe-playing member of the Osage Tribe,” said Tranum.

From noon until 4 p.m., the Osage Nation campus will host the Diamond Jubilee picnic, with great American Indian food, Art Show & Sale and a flute making demonstration by James A. Reese Jr., along with tours, visiting and photo opportunities. An Osage Dance will be held from 2-4 p.m.

“On behalf of the Osage Tribal Museum, we invite the community to join us as we look back to the Museum’s beginnings and acknowledge how far it has come during these 75 years,” said Red Corn.