Women of the Osage have a cultural offering for you

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Interested in making a trip to Pawhuska this spring, but not sure what you want to do? The Women of the Osage have the answer.

The Women of the Osage — Dannette Daniels, Billie Ponca and Kathryn Red Corn — will be teaming up with author David Grann to offer an afternoon of dining and cultural education from noon until 4 p.m. on Friday, March 27, at the First United Methodist Church Family Life Center, 620 Leahy Ave., Pawhuska.

For $40, you can have a meal featuring Indian tacos, listen to a lecture by Grann, who is the author of the book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the birth of the FBI,” and listen some more as the Women of the Osage tell their own Osage cultural and historical stories. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.com, and through the Facebook page for Daniels' business, The Water Bird Gallery.

Before the event, a tour will be available at 10 a.m. from The Pawhuska Guide, a local tour company owned and operated by Scott Trotter, that will offer insights about the history of the town. This is not covered by your $40 ticket for the David Grann event, but anyone choosing to go on the tour — capacity is 16 people — will be dropped off at the Methodist Family Life Center by noon. The two-hour tour by The Pawhuska Guide requires a separate $40 ticket, which is also available through The Water Bird Gallery's Facebook page. The tour is to begin at the Pawhuska Guide Playhouse Theater, 719 Kihekah Ave.

The purpose of the David Grann/Women of the Osage event, and the two-hour tour preceding it, is ultimately cultural and charitable. Proceeds from both activities will go toward a fund for a new historical museum on Main Street in Fairfax. The museum is to offer historical and cultural background on Fairfax and on Gray Horse, an Osage ceremonial town named for Ka-wa-ko-dsa, or Gray Horse, who donated the land for the construction of a trading post.

Daniels said the museum is to be located on the ground floor of the former First State Bank building. The Women of the Osage are receiving help with their plans for the museum from businessman Scott Trotter, who is CEO of The Pawhuska Guide.

“Fairfax needs help,” Daniels said, “and tourists are starting to come there to figure things out.”

The reason tourists are showing up in Fairfax, Oklahoma, aside from the bookish types who've read “Killers of the Flower Moon,” is that the town is central to the action in the book, and the word is out that famed movie director Martin Scorsese's next big film project will be an effort, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro Jr., to bring the story to the silver screen.

“We already have tourists coming in,” Daniels said.”They're driving pretty nice cars and looking around.”

People are stopping at Fairfax businesses and asking questions, but no one with a thorough grounding in the local history is immediately available to offer them information and guidance.

“We're just trying to give them an appropriate place to see things and ask questions,” Daniels said.

The museum has been in talking stage since about December.

“We're in the beginnings,” Daniels said.

As for the Women of the Osage, she remarks with a smile, “Oh, that's just Billie and Kathryn and I. We share our stories a lot here at the Water Bird. David (Grann) has become our friend.”

Billie formerly worked at the White Hair Memorial and Osage Learning Resource Center, along the Blackburn Road southwest of Hominy, which Daniels characterized as a “well-hidden secret,” meaning that most people — even those who know about Pawhuska and “Killers of the Flower Moon” — have never heard of it. The term “White Hair” is the English rendering of “Pawhuska,” as in Chief Pawhuska. The original Chief Pawhuska, for whom the town is named, reportedly intended to scalp a fallen officer in battle, but ended up with the man's white wig instead of his scalp.

Kathryn is a former director of the Osage Nation Museum. Daniels' store on Sixth Street is a gathering place in Pawhuska for people interested in Native American culture and goods. If you're preparing for a ceremonial dance and want something special, she's a go-to merchant.

Trotter is helping with details, but said he prefers to stay in the background. It's the Women of the Osage and their stories of Osage culture and history that he would like to see getting the attention.

This museum project is entirely separate, Daniels said, from an effort being made to turn the old Big Hill Store property in Fairfax into an engine of economic development.