Sep 292020

Photo courtesy of Osage Fire Protection District. They’re not only intrepid first responders but excellent photographers. Great picture!

News stories Sept 27 told of three people rescued by the Osage Fire Protection District when their pontoon boat got stuck in the fast current of Lock. Jefferson City firefighters “built a rope rescue system, lowered a rescuer to the boat, and brought the occupants up one at a time.” No one was injured but the KJLU online post by Lesley Taylor noted that in 2009 a man on a jet ski drowned trying to go through the ruined lock.

Other concrete blockages of the Osage River—Bagnell Dam, Truman Dam—have unsavory histories and underperform, but they do serve some contemporary needs like recreation. The ruined 1906 lock and dam on the lower reaches serves no purpose—and never did. It’s a menace to navigation, blocks migratory fish, and every few years kills someone.

In 2012 a long summer drought dropped the river level, exposing the crumbling concrete shell, rusting rebar, and rotten timbers that lurk below the surface and twist the currents of the Osage. We climbed down into the riverbed, walking over and along its ruins. Taking pictures and looking at “the decay of that colossal wreck,” we pondered at the folly of it still being there. We have an extensive post with pictures on the lock, its history and many problems.

We extensively covered it in Damming the Osage: The Conflicted Story of Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Reservoir. The $35, 304-page, all color book, incidentally, we are currently offering for half price, $17.50 postage paid. To purchase, click here.

Jan 022014


730Press Photo, August 1, 1928

Photograph is by Love Studio, Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The white lines were the outline for cropping for newspaper or magazine layout. The cutline for the photo states: “Fred Lookout, present chief of the Osage Indians and owner of one of the finest cattle ranches in northern Oklahoma.  Lookout has repeatedly urged his tribesmen to economize.”

Lookout was Principal Chief for three terms, serving a record twenty-eight years, much of it during the turbulent oil boom. He attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, but spoke only Osage while conducting tribal business.  His wife Julia was a descendent of PA-HIÚ-ÇKA (White Hair) whose grave on Blue Mound near the upper Osage River was desecrated after the tribe departed for Kansas.  Their resting place is on a high hill east of Pawhuska, Oklahoma with a panoramic view of Osage County.

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Inscription reads:

JULIA MOGRE LOOKOUT, MO-SE-CHE-HE, Born 1-1-1870; Died 2-28-1950. Great Grand-Daughter of Chief PA-HIÚ-ÇKA (White Hair). A true helpmate and devoted mother

CHIEF FRED LOOKOUT, WA-NŐ-SHE ZHIʺ-GA Born 11-17-1861; Died 8-28-1949. The last hereditary Chief of the Great and Little Osage served his tribe with wisdom, integrity and faithfulness.

May they rest in peace

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Nov 132012

Movie Lobby Card, 1952

Fort Osage, a 72 minute B movie from Monogram Studio,has Red Cameron guiding a wagon train through Indian Territory. The Osages are unhappy with the Anglo-Saxon immigrants because of the treating-violating proclivities of the white men.

Not that Hollywood was known for authenticity in their portrayal of Indian life, but their scripts of Osages are both particularly inauthentic and rare. The Osage tribe had two headline grabbing periods. The first came before they moved out of their homeland on the Osage River. Their military power was a great concern to President Thomas Jefferson. The second came when they became oil-rich in the 1920s. They were frequently covered by the media. Unlike western Plains tribes, they never fought the cavalry and have thus escaped cinematic treatment.

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Oct 032012

Real photo postcard, 1920s

Wah-she-hah was called Bacon Rind, but the real translation of his Osage name was Star-That-Travels. He was born in Kansas a decade before the Osage tribe bought their reservation in northeast Oklahoma. He was a superb politician and recognized early on the value of the enormous oil reserves that lay beneath their rocky reservation. Bacon Rind preferred speaking Osage; he is shown here wearing a Mexican blanket, beaded moccasins and otter skin bandeau – the only item of apparel that, as far as we know, is traditional

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