Constitutional sovereignty celebration

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
Drummers and singers and dancers participate in an element of the gourd dance during Osage Nation Sovereignty Day, held last Saturday at the Tulsa Casino.

The Osage Nation celebrated its 13th annual Sovereignty Day on Saturday at the Nation’s Tulsa Casino, honoring the Constitution ratified in March 2006.

The ON marked the observance with ceremonial dances, a community meal and prayers of thanks. The 2006 Osage Constitution is expressly based on reverence for the values of justice, fairness, compassion, and respect for and protection of children, elders, all fellow beings and the self. The constitution also pays tribute to the efforts of Osage people in ages past to develop and maintain self-government.

“Acknowledging our ancient tribal order as the foundation of our present government, first reformed in the 1881 Constitution of the Osage Nation, we continue our legacy by again reorganizing our government,” the Preamble of the 2006 Constitution says.

Osage elder John Henry Mashunkashey noted the Native American presence in North America is small in this age, but he insisted the indigenous population retains a profound spiritual passion for its role in the world.

“We’re just a little bitty people, but our hearts are bigger than the world,” Mashunkashey said, as he offered comments on behalf of the Osage Gourd Group. He also noted the place of the Osage Nation among the ranks of a larger “Indian people,” comprised of all Native American peoples.

In a pre-meal prayer said before the community meal Saturday, former Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle said he prays daily for God to care for the Osage people. Showing care to put their elders first, the attendees at Sovereignty Day then joined in the annual community meal that is an important element of the process of honoring the meaning of the constitution.

At the beginning of the grand entry for the ceremonial dancing that followed the meal, Mashunkashey made special note of the role of Osage veterans in the life of the Nation. He participated in and called attention to the color guard that led the grand entry, commenting that he wanted “to show you that we do exist and we are Osage and we are veterans.”