Five generations back the last of my Osage ancestors were born and raised in Missouri until the removal act in 1830 where they were forced to leave our homelands for thousands of years, the place where we founded cities and civilizations. Until earlier this year, I had never set foot in Missouri. As my cousin and I drove from Pawhuska to Belle I felt trepidation and grief. I also felt like the ancestors wanted us there, to find something that had been lost.
My three times great-grandfather Augustus (Ogeese) Captain had been a leader amongst the Osage during this removal period. One of his daughters, my great-great grandmother was born in Kansas and then lived and died in Osage County, Oklahoma. These two generations in particular bore the brunt of the trauma and grief of removal. The Missouri state law where Osages and other Native people were banned from residing in the state was not repealed until 1909. Interestingly, my grandfather was born in Missouri in 1921 when his father left Osage County. When he was young his father took the family to California and this is where both my mother, me, and my sister were born and raised.
Despite removal, assimilation, disconnection, the pull to identify and be a part of Osage community remains strong. It remains a mystery to me exactly why but I think of it as a promise. Somewhere along the line, our ancestors promised each other to take care of one another. Even when we are divided by town, by state, by politics, by who mixed with settlers and when and where, there is more effort than I’ve seen in any other community to help each other. Our homelands are where we made that promise.
In the past several years I’ve cultivated a practice to intentionally learn about and listen to the land, wherever I’ve found myself. In short, I am going to Missouri in a few weeks to visit our sacred sites to hear what the land and the ancestors have to say. My ways of doing this includes mediation, art, writing, working with water (i.e. flower essences), and tarot. I would like to share what I learn and that may happen while I’m there in the form of informal reports/blog posts, or later as I take the time to sift through the information. Some of it may only be shared with fellow Osage people, especially as it relates to how we can continue to renew our promise to each other. However topics like how to repair our relationship with the land relate to everyone here. I realized my reflections on this trip aren’t meant to be kept to myself, so if you would like to keep up with these posts you can subscribe here: