News and Updates

Event at the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center

Chief’s Coats, Brides and Drum Keepers: The Evolution of Osage bridal attire

On Saturday, May 2, 2015 the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center sponsored an event in partnership with the Osage Weddings Project. Chief’s Coats, Brides and Drum Keepers provided the opportunity to discuss the history of Osage wedding regalia over the past 200 years. The program began with a slide show on the deployment of military coats, top hats and other European trade goods to the leaders and chiefs of Native Nations.  Such coats and hats were gifted to The Chiefs of the Big and Little Osage during the delegations visit to Washington D. C. in 1804.

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1803 Artillery Officers Coat. Robert J. Moore, Jr and Michael Haynes, Lewis and Clark: “Tailor Made, Trail Worn”, page 126. Far Country Press, 2003.

A community exhibit was organized through the efforts of the staff of the WahZhaZhi Cultural Center in which community members shared 18 wedding coats and 15 hats in addition to the sashes, jewelry and other accoutrements that comprise Osage brides attire.  This event provided the largest concentration of Osage bridal outfits since the last of the traditional weddings in the 1930s! The diversity of items on display  included items from the early 1900’s, band uniform coats from the 1930’s, and custom coats created by Osage and non-Osage artisans in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Osage wedding hats and coats from the early 20th century.

Osage wedding hats and coats from the early 20th century.

The event concluded with a “dressing of a bride” demonstration. Danielle Cass was dressed by Leah Big Horse, both sisters of past Drum Keepers in the Pawhuska District.  Renee Harris provided commentary and description of the items included in the bridal outfit. Among the topic discussed by the audience was the manner in which all of the attire and accessories were received by the individual gifted with a “bride.”

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Danielle Cass dressed in the bridal attire gifted to her brother, Bruce Cass, by William Shunkamolah, when he paid for the drum in the Hominy District.

Many community members have generously shared photographs from family collections over the course of the exhibit planning project.  Joe Cheshawalla brought this photo to share at the Cultural Center event.

Cheshawalla Sisters

Maudie Cheshawalla (left) and sisters at paying for the drum ceremony. Photo courtesy of Joe Cheshawalla.

We would like to thank all the individuals who brought items to share in the community exhibit and to those community members who attended the event. Exhibitors included Renee Brumley, Danielle Cass, Dannette Daniels, Lillie Harris, Renee Harris,  Jodie Revard, Jerry, Beth and John Shaw, Francis Williams, and Lacie Wynn. The staff of the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center- Vann Big Horse, Renee Harris, Rebecca Brave and Harrison Hudgins were fantastic hosts and we thank them for their hard work on behalf of the project.

Posted: January 1, 2015 by Dan Swan

Photos and History Event at Osage Tribal Museum

On October 23, 2014 the Osage Tribal Museum hosted an outstanding event to support community participation in the exhibition project.  More than 80 people attended the event to learn about the exhibition project and assist in the identification of the people, places and dates represented in the extensive set of photographs we have collected of Osage Weddings.  The event was sponsored by the Osage Tribal Museum and the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Oklahoma. All photographs by Jim Cooley, 2014.

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