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Nancy Bellzona's Picture Book
The Osages - Louis Shonelah


Blind LouisThis Osage man, nicknamed Blind Louis, lived at Hominy, Oklahoma around 1920. Wood ashes blinded him when he was a youth. He was an uncle of Metza Bertha Big Eagle Jones. He possessed great wealth from his oil royalties. When Bertha, his niece, committed suicide, he changed his will, thus leaving her children and today her grandchildren out of his estate. His grand nieces, children of Ura May and Jack Holt are: Linda Carole, Sherry and Kathy. His grand nephews, children of Ura May Jones Holt Finn and her second husband, John Finn, are: John, Gary, Arthur, and Richard Finn. At the date of 2000 two of the sons have passed away. One Author, an attorney, and John Anthony who died in Colorado where he returned to his brother Gary Wayne Finn.

Typical of the dress of the Osage men during this time are his clothes. This is an expensive Beaver State Pendleton blanket. His shirt is handmade to the liking of their style, without a collar. This shirt was probably sewn by Nancy Bellzona Collins Jones, of Scottish descent and Native American. This is the reason for the choice of the plaid fabric.

Barely visible are his leggins, which look to be what was called broadcloth. Broadcloth is an expensive, dark navy blue woven wool with a color stripe of red and yellow woven along the edge. His moccasins are severely plain by today's standards with only a single bead trim around the sides.

When the book was started it seemed to be Bellzona's sewing for these people to preserve these old photographs. However, as documents of wills and marriage records became available the distant kinships became apparent. One of the poems she saved spoke of "Bell Brandon," a maid of the mountains whose blood was tinged with the blood of the redman. The poem goes, "she came to the prairie to live and died there." Bell's grave is unmarked at the Foraker, Oklahoma cemetery, but one day, I hope to have this poem put on a marker for her.

The Osages would have their picture taken with the clothes she had made for them and share a copy with her. Knowing of her history, I can see why she treasured the pictures of her distant relatives just as we save our families photographs. Her son Lee Otis Jones, jealously guarded them during his life time. This was no easy task amid the often tumultuous trials and times of early day Oklahoma.

No one person can be credited with bringing these heirlooms to the public. It has been a joint effort with a generous giving and sharing of information from these people's descendants. Also, one has to remember, these all are the root of great numbers of descendants.

Note the cut on the man's ear. Mention must be made of these marks. Those elders having these are no longer living. There may be elders living now who remember the cut out places on the ears of older family members. The making of these people into Christians discouraged this custom as one of self mutilation. This would have happened along about the same time as the last recorded Sun dance that was also considered pagan by the Christians. The stories of the sun is woven through their culture and named affectionately as Grandfather Sun in their legends. Many similarities between Aztec culture and these plains people can often be recognized.


 

 


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