I’n-Lon-Schka dances to begin

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

On Thursday, tribal members will begin gathering at the Pawhuska Indian Village dance arbor for the final three days of the Osage Nation’s I’n-Lon-schka ceremonial dances.

The three-part event — which translates as “Playground of the Eldest Son” — started June 2 with dancing at Gray Horse Village near Fairfax. A week ago, dances were held Thursday through Saturday at the Indian village in Hominy.

I’n-Lon-Schka has been an annual rite of the Osages since shortly after their arrival in Osage County (the former Osage Reservation) in the mid-1880s.

Reportedly, the sacred drum used for the Pawhuska ceremonies was given to tribal members by members of the neighboring Kaw (Kansa) tribe, while the Gray Horse drum came to the Osages through the Poncas.

It has been written that the I’n-Lon-Schka tradition is “celebrating the tribe’s survival from the unrecorded past.” The dancing is said to have “helped them through a time of great stress and spiritual confusion then, and it continues to serve as a cultural and spiritual reinforcement” in the present. These spring-into-summer dances also are considered to be a way of renewing hamonious relations with nature.

As many as 300 dancers are expected to attend the event, which continues Friday and culminates Saturday night. Photographs are not allowed inside the arbor.