Linking family with sepia images from the Osage American tribe

May 24, 2007

redcorn.jpgOn June 2 1907, the Osage American Indian tribe divided up the land on their reservation, an event that had held up Oklahomas bid for statehood for a decade. This June 2, the tribe will open an exhibition on those who received that land.

The allotment of 2,229 plots of land to divide up the reservation, which the Osage had bought in 1870, was eventually forced by an Act of U.S. Congress in 1906 to bring the tribe in line with the rest of the aspiring would-be state (Oklahoma became a state on November 16, 1907).

Kathryn Red Corn, director of the Osage Tribal Museum here, says she has spent eight years collecting photographs and information on as many of these people as possible. She describes the process here

I had hope to reach 1,500 people by the time the exhibition started, but we have so far only managed around 1,400, she said. She said that when locals come to see the exhibition that maybe some of them will be inspired to seek out other photographs.

Red Corn opens a book of black and white photographs and points to the very first entry, allotment No. 1, which shows Tom Big Chief plus his Indian name Pah-hu-ska, which means White Hair and which gave this town its name – in traditional dress with three members of his family.

Flipping through the book, she reaches a sepia-tone photograph allotment No. 660, Clarence Gray, and Red Corns face breaks into a bespectacled grin as she introduces the man who happens to have been her grandfather.

We want the tribe today to know who these people are and wherever possible to find out what happened to all of them, Red Corn said.

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