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Nancy Bellzona's Picture Book
Osage Wedding - Osage Wedding Party 1920


Osage Wedding Party 1920The one woman who appeared had a "small stature', and her face was full of sweetness." The observer noted her black hair parted down the center with the red line down the parting, representing the dawn road of Grandfather the Sun. She wore everything that had been given to her. This military coat was worn by the Osage women as their wedding dress. The coat was a gift from an officer of standing to a chief and the chief's daughter wore the broadcloth coat on her wedding day. It was considered an honor to wear it.

When the horses were collected, a donor, as if in after thought, might bring forth a beautiful trade blanket and throw it on the horses back, another would take off the old rawhide bridle and replace it with one made of horsehair or buffalo hair. Another might fasten little hawkbells to the headstall, and others fasten an eagle feather, not a sacred one, to the tail of his gift.

When they reached the line of Bear relatives, the horses were handed over to them and tied to a specially prepared hitching rail. The horses were tied with just ordinary rawhide lariats now. These replaced the precious, ceremonial eight strand lariats made from the neck hair of the buffalo bull. They used the ceremonial lariats only to lead the horses to the Bear relatives and back to the Eagle with the bride, and for other ceremonial. They were very highly valued, since there were only a few men and women in the whole tribe who could make them. *

Look closely to the upper right of the photo to the woman standing behind the man leading the horse. She is grasping to her head the traditional wedding hat, a tall most ornate hat decorated always lavishly. The Ponca City Indian Museum has a most interesting display and there is one to be seen there. Close scrutiny show at least three brides in the picture, and according to this curator there could be as many as five since group weddings were common.

The above was taken from "The Osages," by John Joseph Mathews.

The question arises: This coat worn by Bertha was the honor coat given to a chief. It was a custom for the chief's daughter to wear it. Harry Big Eagle, Bertha's father, was not a chief. However, her mother, Elsie Loho was descendant from O-loha-walla, who was a chief. As a descendant, Charles Loho (Loho, shortened form of O-loha-walla), who is a dignified and honorable retired judge, noted: "The oldest daughter could have inherited the coat."