I walked into the museum and was greeted by her. She sat at the desk, surrounded by busts of ancient Osage warriors, maps, artifacts and tribal dress displayed in glass cases. “Do you have any questions?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “Not yet.” I made my way to the corner case and began mentally walking through Osage history. The voices of other visitors began to seep through my mental fog and I adjusted my angle to take on a better view. I gathered that stories were being told and wanted to hear them.
I glanced at her again as she sat behind her desk. She watched quietly as two aging white men seated on benches in the middle of the room leaned in to hear stories from the middle-aged Osage they had met in the museum. The Osage was seated on a second bench near them and was carrying two pieces of lumber. One of the white men clutched a knotted piece of Cyprus wood that had been polished by man or by Time, while the other held two books on his lap. The Osage was saying, “In order for children to properly speak the language, their pallets have to be broken. I remember my grandmother reaching her thumb up into my mouth. It hurt, but the pressure of her grip helped me bear the pain.” Continue reading Red Dirt Rambler: Eighty Years of Osage Wisdom in a Thirty Minute Encounter