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Cultural Center Staff

Jessilyn “Addie” Hudgins | Director, Wahzhazhe Cultural Center

Addie Hudgins comes from the Pawhuska District where she was raised in a traditional Osage family and brought up with cultural teachings about Osage ways. Addie carries these teachings forward in her life and her work. She is a former Head Cook for the Pawhuska District, a crucial cultural role that is the foundation for almost all Osage ceremonies and cultural activities. She also holds the traditional knowledge of Osage fingerweaving, an art form that has been passed down through the generations.

Addie has worked with the Osage Nation for 14 years, starting with teaching Osage fingerweaving classes as an instructor with the WahZhaZhe Cultural Center. As a speaker of the Osage language, Addie also served the Nation as one of the first language teachers for youth in the Osage Nation Immersion School. Currently, as the Director of the WahZhaZhe Cultural Center, she oversees both the Cultural Center and the Visitor Center, curating and hosting cultural events, raising awareness for Osage artists and artisans, preserving traditional knowledge through educational courses and workshops, and helping Osages to connect more deeply with their heritage.

Herman A. Sleeper, Jr. | Administrative Assistant, Wahzhazhe Cultural Center

The son of Heman Sleeper Sr. and Elizabeth Hamilton nee McCarthy, Herman A. Sleeper Jr. descends by blood from the Black Bear and Puma Clans and is adopted into the Ponca Clan by Lottie and Steve Pratt. Herman grew up in the Zo/Zoly, Hominy, District where he spent much of his time surrounded by his elders who educated him in traditional Osage ways, explaining to him the importance behind our ceremonies and regalia. Both of his parents were Cooks, an esteemed and crucial role within the Osage culture, and he was raised with an understanding of the importance of community.

Herman participates in the InLonShka ceremonial dances which take place every summer across the three Districts of the Osage Nation and has been on the committee for multiple Drum Keepers. In his role as Administrative Assistant at the Wahzhazhe Cultural Center, he helps to teach classes on leather work, fan making, beadwork, and lodge building. He also works with and updates a Tribal Genealogy system, helping to track Clan lineage, trace Original Allottees, and reconnect Osages with the Nation.

Leah Bighorse | Cultural Specialist, Wahzhazhe Cultural Center

Raised in a traditional Osage family, Leah continues the practice of holding and passing knowledge as an Osage Culture Keeper. She is part of the Eagle Clan and comes from the Grayhorse District located in Fairfax, Oklahoma, where her brother was a Drum Keeper. She has served on both Pawhuska and Grayhorse committees as a Cook, holding a camp in both Districts and participating in the ceremonial dances of the Osage, the InLonShka, with her family.

Leah has brought her children up in Osage Ways, passing down intergenerational knowledge to them, sharing Osage oral histories, explaining why things are carried out in certain manners, and showing them how things are done. Her children have learned traditional artistry, such as beadwork, and assist Leah with finishing projects. They attend hand games and Native American Church, along with many other cultural gatherings that serve to unify and sustain the Osage People. She is proud to see her children grow within the Osage culture and has watched her son, who first served as a Waterboy for the InLonShka, come to sit on the committee.

Her expertise and immersion in the Osage way of life places her in the role of Cultural Specialist with the WahZhaZhe Cultural Center, where she shares her cultural knowledge with community members through workshops. In her workshops and teaching practice, Leah encourages folks to find their own special ways of making things, uplifting the value of unique expression which Leah says is the way “it’s supposed to be”. Through offering support and making space for everyone to be a continuous learner, Leah preserves and strengthens the Osage culture for many future generations.

Jennifer Tiger | Cultural Specialist, Wahzhazhe Cultural Center

Raised in the Pawhuska Village, Jen Tiger (Tho Xe Wi /Buffalo Clan) is an artist who grew up surrounded by Osage culture and art. As a child, she was fascinated by old family photographs and oil paintings found in her mother’s home. It is the recollection of these memories and her long-standing curiosity about Osage history which serves as the foundational inspiration for her artwork and research. 

She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987, obtaining her Bachelor of Arts from Mills College in 1991. After several years working in the Bay Area, she charted a new path and applied to art school. In 2015, Jen enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute with a focus in photography. While there, she began research on the Missions of California as a point of inquiry into Osage religious history. 

In 2018, Jen transferred to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe. It was there that she was exposed to a broad range of courses and materials, which led to a greater versatility in her artwork. Her artistic skills include jewelry making, photography, and digital collage. In 2021, she graduated Cum Laude with a BFA in Studio Arts and a minor in Museum Studies. 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Physical Address
Wahzhazhe Cultural Center
220 W. Main
Pawhuska, OK 74056

Office Phone
918-287-5632
918-287-5580

Office Fax Number
918-287-5569

Email
culturalcenter@osagenation-nsn.gov