A Giving Heritage: Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community
Sept. 14 – Dec. 8, 2019
“A Giving Heritage” explores the history of bridal attire among the Osage, a Native American community centered in northeastern Oklahoma. The exhibition features the beautiful wedding coats and hats that have a special place among the Osage people. Military jackets and top hats, originally used as gifts from the U.S. Government for Osage chiefs and leaders, were repurposed as the bridal attire worn in a traditional Osage wedding.
As traditional Osage weddings ceased to be held in the 1930s, these special wedding clothes were incorporated into the Ilonshka—the Osage form of the Plains Grass Dance. Bridal coats and hats were used in the “paying for the drum” ceremony of the Ilonshka. The wedding clothes symbolize the transfer of leadership in the dance and celebrate the virtues of hospitality and generosity.