Osages got a
rare glimpse of what an Osage wedding looked like in the early 1900s.
Daniel Swan, Associate Curator of Ethnology at the Sam Noble
Museum of Natural History, is the lead researcher for the
Osage Weddings Project that will culminate into a museum exhibition
and book, to be ready by 2017.
Dr. Daniel Swan, an associate professor at the University of
Oklahoma and Associate Curator of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Museum
of Natural History, showed black and white video footage of an Osage
wedding to more than 30 attendees at the Osage Tribal Museum on
He, along with researchers from the Sam Noble Museum, OU and
Osage museum, have been collaborating for the past three years on
the Osage Weddings Project, a project to produce a museum exhibition
and book by 2017.
Its amazing to me that we have all these wonderful
Osage voices to tell these stories, Swan said.
The groups have hosted community meetings in the past and most
recently an Evening of Photographs on Oct. 23 at the Osage museum.
More than 100 photographs were displayed and community members identified
individuals, places, events and dates. The wedding for Ruth Brave
and Russell Wagoshe was identified at the event.
From that evening of photographs a website was born: osageweddings.com.
Swan posted more photographs in need of identification on the
site and made it open for community comment.
You can see the faces [in the archival photos] really
clear from the way we built the site, Swan said. Over
6,000 people have looked at the site
makes us feel good about
what weve been able to accomplish.
Researchers have been working the past three years to gather
photographs, oral histories, film footage, scholarly papers and
newspaper accounts to develop the materials for the exhibition and
A race to the altar
Swan showed black and white video footage of a Coshehe family
wedding, which both delighted and surprised the event attendees.
The video began by showing about 30 children gathered in a field
and black automobiles driving slowly about 100 yards in the distance.
A shotgun was fired near the automobiles, the smoke billowing up
from the gun, and the children began racing toward the cars.
Swan said many Osage Wedding processions began this way, with
a race, and the winning child received a horse as their prize. The
procession of automobiles, decorated with Pendleton blankets, slowly
drove by the camera and sitting inside the vehicles were the wedding
party all the women wearing Osage wedding coats and wedding
hats. Decorated horses were walked down the road, with Pendleton
blankets on their backs and eagle feathers tied to their tails
gifts for the grooms family.
Once they arrived to meet the grooms family, they all
gathered under an arbor or a big tent, and the women took off the
wedding clothes and put them on the women in the grooms family
much the same as todays Paying for the Drum ceremony.
Once the clothes were exchanged, with the bride sitting on the floor
in the middle, both families sat down for a meal and the bride and
groom were married.
William Fletcher, a Hominy District elder and the oldest living
former Hominy Drumkeeper, answered a question as to why food is
always a central element in Osage ceremonies.
My grandmother and aunt told me that food was essential
to life and thats why it was so important, Fletcher
is a direct descendant of Black Dog. Thats why food
was always involved.
Swan said there were three interviews that were critical to
his research. They were interviews with Myrtle Unap, Rose Albert
Hill and Mr. and Mrs. Whitehorn.
Myrtle had never met the boy she was going to marry and it
was a very powerful and poignant story of how she felt when
she found out she was getting married, he said. All interviews will
be catalogued in his book and the exhibition.
Video footage of Osage Weddings can be found on the Oklahoma
History Society and the Tulsa Historical Society websites, he said.
Swan mentioned a newspaper article that featured an interview
with Marguerite Matin Waller. He said in the article, Waller reveals
in her sisters wedding they didnt give away horses,
they gave away new cars. She also drove her sister to the wedding.
This site is part of a larger research collaboration between the
Sam Noble Museum, University of Oklahoma and the Osage Tribal Museum,
Osage Nation. We are working to develop a museum exhibition and
book on Osage Weddings in the early nineteenth century and the incorporation
of certain elements from the material culture of these weddings
into the Paying for the Drum ceremonies of the modern
Elonshka Dances. We have been working for the past three years to
gather photographs, oral histories, film footage, scholarly papers
and newspaper accounts to develop the materials for the exhibition