Osage chief directs language training

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear wants to lead by example in his recent push to have tribal members gain a working knowledge of their native Wahzhazhi language.

A directive issued last month by the Osage Chief emphasized the language training as part of a new cultural-education initiative. Standing Bear called on members of his executive staff to show the way by signing up for classes at the Osage Nation Language Department.

Although he does not expect participants in the classes to become fluent speakers, Standing Bear hopes to have some tribal employees become conversant in the Osage language. The language training is viewed as a way for Osage tribal members to regain an important part of the native identity, officials said.

Language Department officials have pointed out that few comparisons can be made between Wahzhazhi and English. They said the Osage native language, as part of the Dhegiha group, shares characteristics with languages of the Ponca, Kaw, Quapaw and Omaha tribes.