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The Osage Indian ceremonial town of Gray Horse (Grayhorse, Greyhorse) is situated in Osage County (the former Osage Indian Reservation), eight miles south and fourteen miles west of Pawhuska on County Road E0320. The settlement's first trade store was constructed in 1884 and was used as a U.S. government subagency and for Osage tribal meetings.

Osage Dance at Gray Horse

The Big Hill band of Osage, who rarely traveled to Pawhuska, asked that a trading post be established near them. John Florer, a Pawhuska trader, sent his brother-in-law, Ed Finney, to select an appropriate site for the post. Finney chose a location near present Gray Horse Creek and was welcomed by the Big Hills. The land belonged to Ka-wa-ko-dsa (Gray Horse) and was given to Finney to build the trading post. The place was named in Ka-wa-ko-dsa's honor.

In the mid-1880s the Osage at Gray Horse received the i'n-lon-schka dance, traditions, and drum from the Ponca Indians. The Osage built a round house in 1908, where they could hold their ceremonial dances, and later constructed a Native American Church building. In February 1963 a prairie fire destroyed both structures. In spring 1964 a pavilion was built to replace the round house. Small arbors were erected for the clans and for visiting Indians who took part in the yearly celebrations.

There are presently few homes at Gray Horse. Some houses or camps are used only during special events, as when the i'n-lon-schka dance is held each June. Many noted Osage leaders are buried in the Gray Horse cemetery. Gray Horse had a U.S. Post Office from 1890 to 1932, several businesses, and a public school (with a Works Progress Administration-built schoolhouse) through 1963.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Alice Anne Callahan, The Osage Ceremonial Dance I'n-Lon-Schka (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). John W. Morris, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977).

Howardean Rhoads

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