The first thought that went through my mind when I found out the Grayhorse arbor would be torn down Monday was: I need to see it one last time.
So that’s what I did. My husband and I loaded up our six children (one is six weeks old), and we set off for Grayhorse.
The pilgrimage to Grayhorse is one of my favorite journeys. Especially during dance time, when the grass is at its greenest and the breeze is cool with your car windows down. When you haven’t seen Grayhorse in a while, as some of us experience when we move away or live out of state, the arbor is a sight for sore eyes. It let’s us know we’re home, or at least it did for me anyway.
On the ride over I told stories of dancing under the arbor and putting loved ones away and the many blessings that took place underneath its roof. I even became choked up a time or two remembering loved ones who have gone on that played an integral part of In-Lon-Schka.
I glanced in my rearview mirror and I think only one child was listening; two of them were asleep. My children are all under the age of 8. Kids …
As my family approached Grayhorse from the west, I could see the arbor. Once we arrived at our Grayhorse family home, we all filed out of the van and stood in the front yard to take a look at it. Most of my children went running for their bikes after two seconds but I caught my 5-year-old by the shirt and told him to stand with me. He’ll be roached under the new roundhouse this summer and will probably only remember the roundhouse during his lifetime – just as my father only remembers the arbor during his.
I tried to explain the importance of the transition but I could tell he was itching to race his brother, so I turned him loose.
The current arbor has been deemed inadequate, and dangerous, and anyone that dances at Grayhorse in June knows this to be true. On Saturday night various dancers can be seen inching along because there is no room to dance. In fact, the arbor has been extended before to accommodate the growing dance population but it wasn’t enough. Which is a good thing, it means the dance will continue.
I wish I could have seen the original roundhouse that burned down in 1962. I hear it was a sight to see and the largest roundhouse of the three districts. Now, Grayhorse has the smallest arbor of the three districts, but that’s about to change.
I couldn’t find any written proof of where Osages got the design for an arbor but many tribes dance under arbors all over Indian Country.
For the record, those who designed the new roundhouse are Chuck Tillman, Tim Tall Chief (of Wichita, Kans., not to be confused with Tim Tall Chief who ran for chief in 2010), and Scott Heskett, all Grayhorse committeemen.
Growing up in Fairfax, Grayhorse’s neighboring community, located 5 miles west of the Indian Village (now famous for not having a grocery store), I spent a lot of time in Grayhorse – a lot of time.
Our family home in Grayhorse has a clear view of the dance arbor, and it’s close enough so that when you sit on the front porch during In-Lon-Schka you can hear the men’s bells. The arbor has been in my landscape since I walked to it holding my mother’s hand.
The arbor will be torn down on Monday and a new era will begin.
It will be good. We will still dance in June. It will be exciting and a new beginning for the Pah.Sue.Li’n Ni.Ka.Zhi and I can tell my children we used to dance under an arbor.
[Disclaimer: I am from all three districts and this blog is not meant to lessen the importance of the Hominy or Pawhuska Districts. I love them all.]