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Former Osage Nation chief dies

Newly elected chief of the Osage Nation, George Tall Chief, is photographed in 1982.
Newly elected chief of the Osage Nation, George Tall Chief, is photographed in 1982.
This 1982 newspaper clipping from the Journal-Capital announces George Tall Cheif’s election as chief of the Osage Nation.
This 1982 newspaper clipping from the Journal-Capital announces George Tall Cheif’s election as chief of the Osage Nation.

A memorial service for former Osage Nation Chief George Tall Chief is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Gray Horse Chapel in Fairfax.

Tall Chief, a long-time educator and athletic coach, served two terms as leader of the Pawhuska-based tribe from 1982 to 1990.

He died Aug. 11 in Fairfax at the age of 96. He was the oldest known member of the Osage Nation.

“We are saddened by the passing of former principal chief George Tallchief,” John D. Red Eagle, the current Osage principal chief, said in a statement issued this week. “We are very grateful for his contributions to the Osage Tribe of Indians.”

According to published biographical information, George Eves Tall Chief was born Nov. 21, 1916 in Arkansas City, Kan.to Eves and Rose Tall Chief.

At age 9, he survived the murder of his father during Osage County’s infamous “Reign of Terror” in which numerous tribal members were slain for access to their land and mineral rights. As a result, he and his four younger brothers were placed in boarding and military schools.

Tall Chief, an accomplished athlete, earned a football scholarship to Northeastern A&M in Miami, Okla. and was a Golden Glove boxing champion two years in a row during college. He transferred to Central State University (now University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond, Okla.

Tall Chief spent a half century in education, teaching and coaching sports in Oklahoma, Oregon and Idaho.

He received his bachelors degree from University of Central Oklahoma and his masters from Pacific University. Tall Chief taught history, nutrition and physical education.He also coached wrestling, football, and baseball. At one time, he served as a scout for the Baltimore Colts and liaison representative between Pacific University and the Dallas Cowboys.

After serving eight years as chief, Tall Chief became president of the first Osage National Council and was a proponent of the three-branch form of government and its subsequent adoption by the Osage Nation.

Tall Chief was also inducted into the National Native American Hall of Fame.

“I was always lucky and at the right place at the right time,” Tall Cheif is quoted in an article from Edmond Life & Leisure. Several times, he played as an extra in movies because of his rodeo experience. In the 1960s movie “Paint Your Wagon,” he played a miner and an Indian.

Look for the full obituary published elswhere in this edition.

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