September 28, 2012
On August 20-22, 2012 the ONHPO hosted the First Annual Heritage Sites Visit and took 16 Osage Tribal members to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to visit heritage sites that are related to the Osage people. Fort Leonard Wood is a United States Army post, located in Pulaski County, Missouri, which is located between Roubidoux Creek and the Big Piney River. Fort Leonard Wood's 61,895 acres contains 595 pre-Columbian and historical archaeological sites.
The visit started with welcomes and introductions by Fort Leonard Wood staff, followed by a presentation on the archaeological sites given by archaeologists Dr. Richard Edging. The presentation prepared the group for the archaeological sites they visited. Here the group learned characteristics of the various sites such as time periods, climate, population, flora and fauna, and artifacts.
Over the course of two days the group hiked into five archaeological sites, which included caves, mounds, and petroglyphs. These sites dated as far back as 8000-6000 BC, Early Archaic period, to AD 400-1450, Late Woodland period. At this time and location in Missouri the Osage people still belonged to the Dhegihan group, which consisted of Ponca, Omaha, Osage, and Kaw. Anthropologists propose that migration myths, archaeological, linguistic, and ethnographic data link the Dhegiha with the late pre-Columbian past.
Osage Nation member Miya McKim describes her experience; "The anthropologists/archaeologists shed light on the distant past. Being able to assimilate all of these events into an accurate timeline was by far one of the most exciting history lessons I have ever experienced. Knowing that our people traveled and lived as they did so very long ago is a treasure I will pass on to my children."
Exchanges of farewells and impressions from the Fort Leonard Wood staff and the Osage Nation ended our visit at Fort Leonard Wood, but it won't be our last. We have established a strong and meaningful relationship with the Fort. We left knowing that our heritage sites are in good hands and will be protected and preserved for future visits. As Osage Nation member Tracey Moore states, "I enjoyed the heritage sites and look forward to visiting more sites in the future", the ONHPO also looks forward to providing yet another opportunity for Osage Nation members to visit their ancestral territories and learn about their cultural past.
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