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 WhaZhaZhe 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.
Jacqueline McCann | Cultural Specialist, Wahzhazhe Cultural Center
Jacqueline McCann is half Osage. She is descended from Louis Bighorse, her paternal great-grandfather, and Lillie Bighorse Cunningham, her paternal grandmother. Her father, Jack Cunningham, comes from the Wa Xo Ko Li District, while her mother, Rose Anne Boone Cunningham, comes from the Grayhorse District along with her maternal grandmother, Cynthia Daniels, and her maternal great-grandfather, Joe Daniels. She has five children, as well as two nephews which she raised like her own, and three grandchildren.
Since she was a child, Jacqueline has participated in the InLonShka ceremonial dances, always helping with cooking and setting tables at her Grandmother Lillie’s home. Jacqueline has served as a Cook for several Drum Keepers for the Wa Xo Ko Li District, an important cultural role within the Osage Nation. She has also served as Head Cook for Osage funeral ceremonies, providing sustenance and support to the community as they mourn the passing of Osage loved ones.
Jacqueline received her Associate’s Degree in Applied Science before going on to work as an Avionics Technician. She then worked on the management team with Wal-Mart for 20 years until she retired. Currently, Jacqueline works as a Cultural Specialist with the WahZhaZhe Cultural Center, where she aids in the teaching of workshops and classes such as fingerweaving, beaded necklaces, banderols, fringe shawls, and beadwork. Jacqueline loves her Osage culture and heritage.
Wahzhazhe Cultural Center
220 W. Main
Pawhuska, OK 74056
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