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Canku Ota
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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Keeping Tradition Alive: An Osage Naming Ceremony
by A. M. Jefferson, Osage Nation Communications
Loren Pahsetopah
(photo courtesty of
William St. John)
Saturday, July 11th, at the home of Osage Native and Osage Nation employee, William St. John, a naming ceremony was held. The planning of the event took just over six months as Buffalo clan relatives visited back and forth via social media, making the final arrangements. Dana Sellers was a key driving force behind the event.

William’s father, the late Pierce St. John, had permission to perform the naming ceremony along with John Henry Mashunkashey and Loren Pahsetopah. Pierce gave his young son William, an Osage name whose meaning was Buffalo in the Shadows.

In an old suitcase belonging to the late Pierce St. John were scores of papers and among them was a list of names. As William explained, the names have to have some connection to the buffalo. Loren Pahsetopah took the list and did some “homework” before conducting the ceremony. Pahsetopah had to consider which names were appropriate for each individual.

Twenty-three people received names and the ages ranged from small children to young adults. Due to the amount of individuals participating in the ceremony, Pahsetopah could not spend much time on explaining why names were chosen or go in depth on the meanings. William said it had been long overdue that names had been given.

St. John and his family hosted the event, and served biscuits and gravy that morning.

William resides on his great-grandfather, original Osage Allottee Pierce St. John’s allotment. Earlier this year he finalized the plans his great-grandparents had by expanding the small cemetery designated for Native American military veterans to a full acre with new fencing and gates. Many in attendance at the naming ceremony were unaware of the expansion and a tour of the cemetery was an added bonus to the morning’s occasion.

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