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Osage dance ceremonies to conclude this week at Pawhuska

In-Lon-Schka — the ceremonial dances of the Osage Indian tribe — resumes this week for its final sessions of 2013.

Dances will be held beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 27, through Sunday, June 30, at the Pawhuska Indian Village.

The annual tribal celebration began earlier this month with four evenings of dances in a newly-constructed arbor at Grayhorse Indian Village near Fairfax. Hominy Indian Village hosted the second In-Lon-Schka dances from June 13-16. The third session held at Pawhuska will conclude the month-long summer dances.

Photos and videos of the actual dances are not allowed. Non-tribal members are strongly discouraged from bringing cell phones or cameras into the dance arbor areas.

Osages were introduced to the dances in the 1880s as a way of celebrating the tribe’s survival from its unrecorded past, according to the late Louis Burns, a noted scholar of Osage traditions. A translation of the name In-Lon-Schka means “playground of the eldest son.”

The dances serve to reinforce cultural and spiritual beliefs. They have been passed along to successive generations primarily through oral tradition. In the early 20th century, the ceremonies incorporated elements of the Native American Church.

In-Lon-Schka takes place in the summer, which is considered by the Osages to be the most spiritual of the seasons. It is held at the three locations in recognition of the three ancient divisions of the tribe.

Grayhorse is represented by bands of the Osage that have been referred to as the Hilltop Dwellers. Osages in the Hominy district are called the Upland Forest People. Members of the tribal bands who settled in the Pawhuska area were Dwellers of the Thorny Thicket.

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