Osage Nation to break ground on new chapel

Osage Nation

The Osage Nation is scheduled to break ground on a new chapel on Wednesday, June 30, .

The Osage Nation has invited the public to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wakon Iron Chapel at 1 p.m.

The construction location is at the Pawhuska Indian Village, between East 21st Street and John Dahl Avenue.

“The three Chapels at Grayhorse, Pawhuska and Hominy serve as the places where we conduct the last rites of many of our people,” said Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. “They are places we make sacred through the prayers made within them. This new chapel at Pawhuska will replace one that is dear to many of us because of the memories that occurred within it. The new chapel will be large enough to accommodate our larger population. It will be built and maintained as a place of prayer.”

The Osage Nation Congress authorized Wakon Iron Chapel construction funds totaling $1,720,000 on April 21, and Standing Bear signed them into law April 23. The bill was sponsored by Congresswoman Paula Stabler, who has also served as the Chairwoman of the Pawhuska Indian Village for over 10 years.

“These villages are our cultural homes,” Stabler said. “They are the most important properties we own; the place where we are tribal. When I think of the old building and the memories of all of the events that took place, what I remember are the people, their faces, the laughter and tears. But it's the activities they bring to our community that are most important -- the namings, the handgames, the funerals, feasts, the songs and dances.

"These new buildings will be the evolution of our time, we have made it through grass arbors, round barns, old school houses and now to new commercial buildings and they will hold the future memories for our children and their children,” Stabler said.

“It’s these traditions and cultural relationships that allow us to exist, so I can think of no greater reason to build these buildings but give us another 50 years or more of memories.”

Osage Nation Director of Operations Casey Johnson will oversee construction management team Builders Unlimited throughout the project.

“Builders Unlimited went through the bidding process with several other excellent builders and were awarded the job based on price, quality of work and an outstanding working relationship with the Osage Nation,” Johnson said.

The project will be done in two phases, Johnson said. The first will be the new chapel this year, and the second phase for Wakon Iron Hall will begin next June after the Inlonshka.

"Builders Unlimited is very familiar with these time constraints, as they built the Hominy arbor and community building and the Grayhorse community building,” Johnson said.

The Wakon Iron Chapel is expected to be completed May 2022.