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Christmas, 1896

Wa Ko’n Ti a’n, also known as Wakon Iron lived his life in the Pawhuska Village that we call Indian Camp. I knew him well and his passion in life was pretty much anything Osage.

Uncle Wakon was the younger brother of my Grandfather Tse Moi’n, who was born in 1886.  Both were the sons of Red Corn.

There were several years when I would stop by Uncle Wakon’s home and we would talk. He was interesting and enjoyed talking about Osages and other things. Those were always interesting and fascinating conversations. There were times when I would make a note or two when I got home after one of our conversations, but for the most part I seldom took notes. 

A few months before he died Uncle Wakon suggested that I start writing down the things we discussed. He thought we could put it in a book. It wasn’t that he wanted to publish what he told me; he just thought it was worth making a record for other Osages.   

One year, I forget which year; it was a few nights before Christmas when Uncle Wakon told me about the first Christmas he remembered. He was born in 1891, and that would mean this story probably took place during the middle of the 1890’s. I would guess the story took place in 1896 when he would have been five-years-old. He told me the story in a way that created a vivid mental picture for me.

He and several other Osage children were brought together for a Christmas party. He said none of the children had an idea of why they were there. There was a lot of singing and talking, and after a while a Man with a white beard came into the room. He was dressed in red. 

Uncle Wakon said the man in red was a happy man. Taking some slight liberty with the story, perhaps we could say he was a Jolly Ole Soul. They had never heard of Santa Claus, and did not know what to make of him. Uncle Wakon said, “We did not know who he was. We were happy to get the candy the Man dressed in red gave us. I remember putting the candy in my pockets.” 

He said all of the Osage children were happy with the candy and they all put the candy in their pockets.

I remember thinking about those Osage children, wondering if perhaps they were the same relatives and friends that were a part of many of his stories he told me. I thought of those little children and it occurred to me that I had known them only as elders. Elders such as Aunt Rose Hill of the Bear Clan whose name was Mi Na. 

Aunt Rose Hill asked Uncle Wakon to sit by her when she had accepted the I lo’n Shka Drum for her grandson R. E. Yarbrough. She was just a little older than Uncle Wakon.They had been friends their entire lives.

That was the first Christmas for those little Osages. Further along life’s journey Christmas would become an important cause for celebration for Uncle Wakon. 

Charles Red Corn