New Pawhuska casino/hotel closer to completion

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Despite facing the same supply chain woes that have waylaid the national economy, the Osage Nation has pressed ahead with the development of its new casino/hotel at Pawhuska. The new facility is expected to bring 47 hotel rooms to a tourist destination community constantly in need of another place for an overnight visitor to stay.

The new casino also is expected to provide more jobs. Mason Shackelford, general manager for the Pawhuska property, said the casino and hotel will probably employ 120-to-130 people, nearly a hundred more than the 39 persons now employed at the small, existing Pawhuska casino.

Yet another plus for the local community will be that the new Osage Casino and Hotel will have banquet rooms, expanding the options for local organizations and families looking for places to hold celebrations.

Shackelford said during a Feb. 23 tour of the building for representatives of media organizations that the new casino and hotel is hoped to be completed and ready for operations before the end of 2023.

“I think they are very excited,” Kimberly Pearson, CEO of Osage Casinos, said, answering a media question about the response of Pawhuska and Osage County residents to the project. “Especially our Osage Casino employees.”

Pearson said the process of planning the casino/hotel and getting it built has been lengthy – more than a decade.

Assistant Principal Chief R.J. Walker, who served in the Osage Nation Congress before becoming a member of the tribal executive team, said the casino/hotel will offer opportunities to showcase Osage language and culture. He noted that Pawhuska is already a national tourist attraction, and expressed hope that both more gamers and more tourists will visit the city when the construction project is complete.

People from across the nation and the world visit Pawhuska because it is the capital of the Osage Nation, because it is the home of “Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond, and because it was one of the shooting locations of a major motion picture set to be released later this year.

“It’s going to be a major benefit to the community, to the city of Pawhuska,” Walker said of the casino/hotel.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear did not participate in the media event, but he stopped by at the end of it to have a look at the latest progress with the building.

The Osage Nation broke ground on the Pawhuska project and a similar one in Bartlesville in June 2021, with plans to finish up by the fall of 2022. Rising costs and supply chain problems were already an issue, but the project has not proceeded as quickly as hoped.