Community , Culture

Elders Series: Belle Hill Wilson

Belle Hill Wilson, 63, was born on Sept. 16, 1953 in Tucson, Ariz., to Raymond Hill and Marguerite Matin Waller. She is the granddaughter of Walter and Helen Pratt Matin and Rose Neal Hill. She was raised with six siblings, Rita Sykes (deceased), Rosa-Raye Pledger (deceased), Regina Hill, Everett Waller, Jake Waller (deceased) and Joe Freeman. She grew up in Hominy, Okla., and attended school in Hominy “Go Bucks!” She graduated from Hominy in 1971 and attended two years of college at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

She has been happily married to John Wilson for 44 years. They have one daughter, Heather Wilson Little, and two grandsons, John Tyler Little and Wyatt Little.

The family moved around a lot due to her husband’s Air Force career. They have lived in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Great Falls, Mont.; Tucson; Upper-Heyford, England; Mildenhal, England; Oklahoma City; Great Lakes, Ill.; Keflavik, Iceland; and Washington D.C.

She raised their daughter and took care of their home. She spent many years volunteering with the Air Force Family Services and Red Cross. She has also worked with the Osage Casinos and is currently a board member for the Osage Nation Election Board.

She is of the Hominy District and her Osage name is Monce Tse-Xe. Her name was given to her by Alfred Oberly. She belongs to the Tzi-Zho Clan.

Osage News: When did you start dancing at In-Lon-Schka?

Belle Wilson: Probably around five years old or so. My mother would line us up and tie our skirts on so tight we could barely breathe. It didn’t take us long to dress ourselves.

ON: What are the differences in the In-Lon-Schka today from when you were young?

BW: The committees are larger, more dancers.

ON: What is your favorite thing about the In-Lon-Schka and why?

BW: I love the dances, always have. I get a sense of belonging and contentment. Grandpa Matin always said, “We’re drum people,” I get that.

ON: How has the Osage Nation evolved in your lifetime?

BW: Health, Education, cultural programs, jobs, all good things. All Osages should take advantage of what’s available. I hope all eligible Osages will use their right to vote.

ON: What is your favorite Osage food?

BW:  Pork Steam Fry.

ON: Who are your heroes?

BW:  My mother. Not only was she a living book of Osage history, but she was a wonderful mom. She taught me family, loyalty, faith in God and love of family. She had a great sense of style. She said to buy good shoes, because you will need your feet your whole life and cheap shoes will cause problems. Also, my husband John, he loves God, his family and Texas! He gave 33 years to his country in the Air Force and he is still helping veterans. My mother said he is her only kid who minded her. John is good to not only his family but mine. Mom asked Everett and Jake Waller to adopt him into their Elk Clan.

ON: What was the happiest moment of your life?

BW: Other than my marriage and birth of our daughter and grandsons, I am happy when I think back to the dances and can remember my mom out there. As she got older she would stand in place and dance.

ON: What is your earliest memory?

BW: I remember jumping on a bed with Rosa when my dad was laying down and it broke. I was three or so. I have a vivid memory of my dad’s funeral soon after that.

ON: Who, or what, did you love the most?

BW:  My family, all of them. We have a great time when we get together with a lot of laughter. Heather says we all throw our heads back and laugh in unison.

ON: What is your favorite thing to do for fun?

BW:  John and I love to look for antiques, we’ve also started visiting Presidential libraries. I like going to Las Vegas. Anytime we are with family is great! I love to read.

ON: What was your favorite decade and why?

BW:  I really can’t say one in particular; they have all been good. Maybe the 80’s; we were overseas most of that time. Lots of traveling.

ON: What world events had the most impact on you?

BW: In April of 1986 we lived in Upper-Heyford, England. The United States flew a bombing mission over Libya. We had friends who were involved, worrying about their safety was hard on all of us. We learned how to check for bombs, etc. Heather’s school bus had armed guards for a while.

ON: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

BW:  Never stop learning, enjoy the ride and for heaven’s sake get some sleep.

ON: Is there anything else you would like to add?

BW: I laughed when asked to do this Elder Series, until I realized I was the elder of my mother’s children. My elders in my family are Stanlee Ann Mattingly and Janis Carpenter, but on both sides of my family we are cousins.