language students attend language immersion trip
Osage Nation Language Department took 70 Osages to Colorado Springs
for four days to retrace the footsteps of their ancestors.
"Colorado has been quite a familiar place to go during vacation
time for our people and I thought it would be a pretty good touch
to go back there," said Herman "Mogri" Lookout, Osage Nation Language
The group traveled 630 miles on a charter bus to Colorado Springs
on July 10 and the immersion workshops began on July 11.
This year, ONLD and the Osage Nation Cultural Center teamed
up to teach the workshops. The workshop topics included history
of Osages traveling to Colorado Springs, In-Lon-Schka dances, Osage
clothing and how to score a hand game.
Lookout and Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center Director, Vann Bighorse,
have been trying to partner the Osage language and culture together.
"We've been trying to weave them together because without language
you don't have culture, if you don't have culture you don't have
language they intertwine," Bighorse said.
On July 12, ON Education Division Leader, Joe Tillman organized
a unique roundtable conversation in Osage with nine people. The
nine individuals were Lookout, Tracey Moore, Cherie Leach, Scott
Lohah, Cameron Pratt, Mary Bighorse, Vann Bighorse, Bill Lynn and
"I thought of the idea on a whim and I felt it would be good
for other Osages to see," Tillman said. "I remember my great-grandparents
speaking Osage and there was a lot of laughter at the roundtable
they began laughing which was good to see."
For Mary Brown, ON Archive Department director, she was touched
by the roundtable conversation.
"It was truly amazing and I hope to engage in Osage-only conversations
in the near future," she said.
The ONLD first made the trip to Colorado Spring in 2005 and
took 32 Osages.
"We didn't have very much of a curriculum, " Lookout said. "We
just wanted to break the ice, get together and acquaint ourselves
with where our ancestors use to go."
The ONLD took four trips with the last being in 2009. Lookout
said ONLD stopped going because they were having a lot of difficulty
with the Osage Nation Government.
"It was beginning to be a hassle to go out there and keep explaining,"
he said. "They (ON Government) couldn't grasp it because it looked
like a vacation to them
to me we had people in an environment
of togetherness for four days."
After three years, Lookout decided to organize a trip to Colorado
Springs with help from other ON departments and the ON Congress.
think the trip went better than I thought because in the years past
it was always language immersion but this year since they have combined
six programs into a division, the different programs helped us because
we were short on funds," Lookout said.
For some Osages, it was their first time to Colorado while others
enjoyed feeling the cool mountain breeze again. The diverse group
included Osage Language students, ON employees and a group of 20
On top of the workshops, the group was able to visit Garden
Of The Gods, Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Manitou Springs.
In the evening, the ON Cultural Center provided cultural games
and activities such as Indian dice. The children played various
games in Osage like, "Duck, Duck, Goose" and "Red Light, Green Light."
The ON Cultural Center also provided shawl material and mini-lessons
on how to make a shawl.
"We wanted to give people the opportunity to forget about what
is going on here in Oklahoma and let them focus on the language
and culture up there (Colorado Springs)," said Bighorse.
For Brown, this was her first time attending the immersion workshop
and she is glad she took the opportunity to attend.
"During this trip several people helped me better understand
the Orthography symbols for Osage words and pronounce words, as
I am still in the early stages of learning the Osage language which
is not an easy language to learn," she said.
Brown also enjoyed all the knowledge she gained from the workshops
and even learned that Lookout is her relative.
"Overall, without this opportunity I would not have gained this
wonderful, spiritual and educational experience," Brown said. "I
look forward to the next trip."
Through the Colorado Immersion Workshop and the Osage language
classes, Lookout's goal is to start producing fluent Osage speakers
as well as educate Osages about the Osage culture.
"We are trying to make a good understanding of what we do in
our In-Lon-Schka, what we do in our meetings, how we do our hand
games, and be more closer to activates we do as culture-minded people,"
The ONLD plans to go to Colorado Springs next year and has already
put it in their budget.