Carlsbad Amanda Best
Osage Nation
Amanda Best, United Osages of Southern California member, talks about needing more access to online Osage culture and language.

California Osages Want More Culture

Osage Nation

In a large senior citizen center in Carlsbad, California, the sound of people laughing and visiting fills a dining hall. Three sisters sit at a table greeting members of the United Osages of Southern California and their visitors, mostly from the Osage Reservation. This is the first large gathering in a few years for the Osage tribal member organization for Osages living in the southern California area.

“It’s been a while since we all came together like this,” said Greg Clavier, the new UOSC Chairman who helped organize the UOSC Spring Gathering 2015. His daughters Carly Clavier, Adrian Grasso, and Lizzy Clavier are the three sisters greeting people.

Clavier said at some point there will be more opportunities to gather and connect with each other in the same way as when the organization was most active. He said there was a time when the group would meet a few times during the year for holidays and family gatherings and 30 to 40 people would show up. That’s what he wants for the organization’s future.

Connecting and especially connection to being Osage is the driving force behind the organization’s purpose. Amanda Best straightforwardly addressed her greatest need from the Nation as a California Osage, “What I want is the cultural information because that’s what I can’t get anywhere else.” Best said she wants more access to cultural information, an easier way to access cultural information on the Internet and to learn as much Osage language as she can. She said travelling back and forth to the Osage Reservation to learn Osage culture first-hand wasn’t an option and neither was relocation. She likes California and is proud of her heritage, but wants more.

Teddy Myers also talked about more web-based Osage language access. He said that would be his greatest interest for the Nation’s services for out of state constituents.

Teddy Myers, United Osages of Southern California member, talks about wanting to learn more Osage language. (Osage Nation)

New co-chair Jake Heflen, Clavier, and volunteers, provided lunch and filled the agenda with visiting tribal members who provided updates on the Nation from their elected position or department. Principal Chief Geoffrey Stand Bear was the invited guest speaker.

The Chief spoke about his administration’s ongoing projects, specifically language immersion and culture and the reorganization of the Nation’s large number of service-based and governmental operations with more than 400 employees.

About language and culture he said, “a hundred years from now we’re still going to have Osage people and a hundred years from now we’re going to have better Osage speakers.”

Standing Bear agreed on the need for more cultural involvement and focus. He said language and culture were crucial to the plans for the Nation’s long-term goals and that the Nation needed to focus more efforts on Osage youth, who are the future. “Our language and culture go together and we are concentrating on our children.”

He also said the Osage Congress is crucial to the success of the Nation’s goals and that the legislation needed to promote language and cultural advancements are being supported by Congress.

Visiting members of the Osage Congress provided committee reports and included Maria WhiteHorn, Alice Buffalohead, Archie Mason, Angela Pratt, John Maker and Shannon Edwards. Chief of Staff, Jason Zaun, spoke about Constituent Services and Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, Communications, discussed the Nation’s social media and web updates.

Vann Bighorse, Wah.Zha.Zhi Cultural Center Director, and Congressman Otto Hamilton provided a cultural presentation on the I-loᴺ-shka dances. Hamilton talked about the aspects of the dances that all three districts, Hominy or Zonzohlee, Pawhuska or Wahakoli, and Grayhorse or Pahsoolee, have in common and some of the logic behind why there may be differences. Bighorse presented a series of photos and representations of the basic principles of the dances and other commonalities among the districts. Hamilton chairs the Congressional Culture Committee and Bighorse is an advisor. Both are committee members for the Pawhuska I-loᴺ-shka Committee.

Vann Bighorse, Wah.Zha.Zhi Cultural Center Director, provided a comprehensive presentation about Osage ceremonial dances. (Osage Nation)

Bill Myers and Charlene Myers, former UOSC organizers were recognized for their service to the group and there was a special remembrance for Shelly Sloane.

The gathering ended the way it started, with laughter and happy chatter—the only difference was the explosive laughter from a table of individuals who won over and over during the raffle at the end of the meeting. Clavier smiled and said he was pleased with the turn out and all the visiting guests and it felt reminiscent of the meetings he missed. He said he was excited about organization’s future and purpose.

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