Daniels planning new museum of Osage history and culture

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The filming in Osage County of Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of David Grann’s book “Killers of the Flower Moon” is expected to draw a lot of visitors to Fairfax during the coming years, and businesswoman Danette Daniels says it will be important to offer them something appropriate to do when they arrive.

Daniels, who owns the Water Bird Gallery on 6th Street in Pawhuska, grew up in Fairfax and is planning to help address the need for new visitor attractions there. To that end, she has purchased the portion of the old bank building at 301 N. Main St. in Fairfax that faces the primary thoroughfare and is planning to use the space for a museum that will offer visitors information about the Osage people and their culture.

Daniels is provisionally calling her museum in development “The Fairfax, Grayhorse, Osage History Center and Museum.” The museum will offer visitors information about the “Osage Reign of Terror,” which is the 1920s event with which Scorsese’s movie is concerned, but it will also offer information and visual documentation regarding Osage history and culture as a whole.

She would also like for her project to help stimulate business growth of all types in Fairfax.

“Fairfax needs a lot of help,” Daniels said. “It’s almost become a ghost town.”

Daniels, whose family has been in Fairfax for generations, was born there in 1963 and recalls it as a bustling small town in her youth.

“It was vibrant. There was a jewelry store. There were all kinds of things,” Daniels said, adding there were multiple grocery stores in the community at the time.

Daniels has been working on infrastructure issues at the bank building. She had the drop ceiling torn out to reveal the old ceiling tiles. She has also been looking at the building’s heating and air needs.

After the movie has been filmed, Daniels anticipates escalating the pace of her work on the bank building.

“I can’t be in the movie’s way right now. In the fall I can really get after it,” Daniels said. Some filming is expected to take place on the second floor of the old building, where medical offices were once located.

Her preliminary hope is to be able to get the museum into operation by early 2022. She envisions a place where visitors can get their questions answered without intruding at Osage sacred sites. She also anticipates offering a gift shop and refreshments at her new establishment.

Daniels expressed hope for both community projects and business ventures in Fairfax.

“I would like to see other businesses develop in Fairfax,” she said, mentioning ongoing community discussions of possible business prospects. She is also hopeful for the success of efforts by the Fairfax Community Foundation to encourage investment in repairing and saving the Tall Chief Theatre downtown.

 “It would be nice to have art shows in there and use it as a venue for different events,” Daniels said. “Fairfax has suffered. Wouldn’t it be great to see it rebound from all of that? I would like to see a bustling community once again. I am very enthusiastic about it. I hope other people get excited about it with me.”

Another thing she would like to do is offer encouragement about the future of Fairfax to her aging father, Tommy Daniels, who is one of just seven full-blooded Osages left. Tommy Daniels will be 88 later this year.