Friday, June 12, 2009

Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This afternoon I drove about 25 miles to Pawhuska, Oklahoma so my friend Nikki could show me around her town. Pawhuska is the county seat of Osage County, home of the Osage Nation. We ate a delicious free lunch at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and arranged for a tour of the church a little later. In the meantime, Nikki introduced me to her chickens and her wonderful garden, above Bird Creek. We chased little tiny frogs that had just graduated from the tadpole stage, and I got to meet three cats. A few blocks away is a pedestrian suspension bridge that connects two residential areas on either side of Bird Creek. The bridge reminded me a little of Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, only a bit smaller. We walked about halfway across and looked down into the water. Three fairly large turtles swam near the edge of the creek, mostly underwater. We drove around more of the town and Nikki pointed out various Osage Nation buildings and businesses, the old high school, and some beautiful houses. We stopped by the pawn shop/quilt store and talked with the owner a bit about the quilting guild meetings this month. Back to the church. Although today began with a thunderstorm with very heavy rain, the afternoon had turned hot and muggy. So, stepping inside the church was a cool treat. I took many pictures of the beautiful stained glass windows. The church is known by many as "The Cathedral of the Osage." Here's a little history of the church and of the windows:

Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
1314 Lynn Avenue Pawhuska, OK 74056

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Pawhuska, Oklahoma is known by many as "The Cathedral of the Osage." Perhaps it has been given this title not only because of its large cathedral-like appearance, but also because of its importance in the life and history of the Osage. It was in 1673 that Father Jacques Marquette, the great French missionary and explorer, came unexpectedly upon a band of Osage Indians in what is now the state of Missouri. In the years that followed, many other Jesuit missionaries, known as "black robes," visited the Osage villages, introducing them to the Christian Faith. In 1847, Father John Shoenmakers established a permanent mission and schools for the Osage at what is now St. Paul's, Kansas. Known as the "Apostle to the Osage," Father Shoenmakers worked for some 36 years among the Osage until his death in 1883. By that time the Osage had been moved southward into Indian Territory or what is now Osage County in the State of Oklahoma. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was established in 1887 to serve the Osage Catholics of Pawhuska. The present Gothic-Style brick church is the third church built by the parish. Begun in 1910, it was not completed until 1915. The original plans for the church was to have large stained glass windows, but the First World War delayed those plans. It was not until after the war, or in 1919 that the windows were commissioned. Twenty-two windows made in Munich, Germany adorn the walls of the church today. Two large windows on opposite ends of the transept measure 9 feet across and soar 36 feet high. The north transept window is known as the "Osage Window." It depicts the early missionary Father Shonmakers with a band of Osage in authentic Osage dress. The window on the south transept depics Christopher Columbus and the Spaniards first encounter with the Native Americans. Other windows depict Biblical figures and scenes. The quality and beauty of these windows has been widely praised. Their artistry and detail is truly exceptional. Each year visitors of all faiths visit Immaculate Conception as a historical monument of the Osage, and to view its beautiful windows and interior. Today, Immaculate Conception continues as a living and active parish of 140 families, most of whom are Osage.

Nikki told me that the first Boy Scout Troop in the United States was started in Pawhuska.

Boy Scout Monument The first boy scout troop in America was organized in Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma, in May, 1909, by Reverend John F. Mitchell, a missionary priest from England sent to St. Thomas Episcopal Church, by the Church of England. Rev. Mitchell, who had been associated in scout work with Lord Baden-Powell in England, organized the troop of Boy Scouts under English charter, and equipped them with English uniforms and manuals. A life-sized bronze statue stands as a monument in front of the Osage County Historical Museum to honor Reverend Mitchell and the 19 charter members who were organized under English charter.

Pawhuska's troop had the honor of being Troop No. 1 in the Boys Scouts of America, and has the certificate on exhibit in the Historical Museum in the Scout Room. When the Cherokee Area Council of Boy Scouts was formed in Bartlesville, Pawhuska was numbered Troop 33. This Troop No. 33 is a continuance of the original first Boy Scout troop in America.

We drove through Osage Nation Headquarters, then stopped at a small storefront to buy freshly-made Indian Fry Bread Mix.

What a fun day! Back home in Bartlesville, it's time to walk a few blocks to the Bartlesville Community Center for the opening celebration of the OK Mozart Festival. I'm looking forward to the fireworks when it gets dark.

Here are many more pictures I took today. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to view them, either. Just click on the words "Pawhuska Photos" below.

Pawhuska Photos

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