Pawhuska is an Osage
word meaning Pawhu-hair, Ska-White, or literally White Hair. The name came
from a legendary tale of an Osage warrior getting close enough to an army
officer to jerk his white wig off. The Chief-warrior then was given the
name, Pawhuska, White Hair.
This town we
were entering from the back, or east side was Pawhuska. I drove slowly
through the fashionable, elegant, large brick homes so my friend could
enjoy them. I pointed to a large, older brick home owned by a descendant of
an older Osage family. The house was large, and was the same sharp, hard,
clean brick as that in the bunkhouse. It was older and of a different style
than the newer homes but, nevertheless, attractive. I mentioned this to my
friend because the old house we had left up on the prairie was built for
Bertha (Metza-He, First Daughter) Big Eagle. The man living in this older
brick home had owned all this land. His grandmother, Papasonsa's last
husband was a Big Eagle. The book of the Osages written by John Mathews
speaks of the chief, Bloody Hands and this is in reference to Big Eagle.
This is a description of an eagle who kills its prey with its talons.
On the right side of the
road was a gathering at one of the homes. There was the traditional tee-pee
outside the house. There were cars entering through the drive way and it was
obvious some sort of event was in progress.
“Wonder what is going on
there?” My friend asked.
“It is a gathering of
the Native American Church people. You can recognize that because of the
tee-pee. It is only put up at this time. They have been up all night,
praying, drinking their Mon-Kahn (medicine) tea which allows them to see
visions. I've never seen the ceremonies first hand but I've been told by
some who have been there about the ritual. Also, the book of The Osages goes
into it in quite some detail.
“Oh for Heaven's Sake!
I would have never known that!” This was the day for my friend to learn new
I felt obligated to go
to the place where the volunteer at the bunk house had directed me. When the
offices were closed I was relieved.
When we were driving
up and around the tall hill in order to get to the Osage museum was the only
time my friend was squeamish about my driving.
“Oh my, this is a scary
drive.” She was nervous.
“It is very short and
we will be there in one second.” This was indeed the truth because already
we were parking outside the heavy stone museum. “This museum was built by
the Osages sixty years ago. You will enjoy it.”
Sure enough when we
entered a woman was sitting to one side giving a lecture to a small group of
people. While I went to the guest shop to ask for a girl I knew my friend
sat down to listen to the lecture.
“Anytime you want to
go.” She told me. “I have enjoyed this.”
“I think we need to
start home because we do need to eat yet.
“That was interesting,
the things she was telling.” My friend had enjoyed the lecture. I didn't
open my mouth. The curator mentioned the Native American meeting at her
home and that she had to leave early. I knew the strong Christian teaching
of my friend would not have approved if she knew the total concept of it so
I kept quiet. The woman giving the lecture I remembered from an earlier
time when she wore double knit slacks, had brown, curled short hair and
looked totally different from this person who wore a soft Native American
dress style, had long, straight, dark hair streaked with gray and spoke
like a full blood Osage woman. But then, why should I burst the bubble of
creative tourism. It was getting late and we both were tired.
“Where do you want to
eat?” I asked my friend.
“Where else but Bad
Brads!” We both giggled like girls at the thought that no one who had ever
eaten there could drive past without pulling into the drive.
I for one was through
with my trip through the Osage Highlands but kept quiet so as not to spoil
my friends joy at having had such a great time.
“I've seen places I've
never been before! I've had such a wonderfully great time.” She was bubbly
with her conversation while we enjoyed the tender beef, great bar-b-q sauce,
salad with whole, big, chunks of blue cheese scattered over it and french
fries cut by hand so that they were nothing like the skimpy strings served
at fast food restaurants.
“We'll worry about our
diet tomorrow!” She said and we both laughed the giddy laugh of the damned
who are destined to suffer the consequences of their sins.