Heritage Site Visit
The 2023 Osage Heritage Sites Visit took place April 17 - 21, 2023. The 30 participants of the 2023 Heritage Sites Visit journey into Miller Cave, a sacred cave in what is today Ft. Leonard Wood, a US Army training installation in central Missouri. Wahzhazhe members from around the country descended into the cool cave entrance once used by our ancestors for various cultural practices. Petroglyphs and burials were found by Archaeologist Gerard Fowke in this area in the late 1910s during a search for artifacts to return to museums. Sadly these burials were then disturbed and looted, a practice common at the time for indigenous sites. Even today, the site shows many signs of defacement, graffiti, and damage. Still, the Osage Nation Historic Preservation Office has worked hard alongside the military and civilian entities of Fort Leonard Wood to protect, analyze, and even cherish these sacred locations in unison. In one more emotional and somber moment, Dr. Hunter and her team noted the fertility symbols carved into a fallen boulder to the group. This boulder lay just above a small cave further down the cliffside, now gated after the recent discovery of untouched child burials within. Many of the fertility symbols had been destroyed, chipped away, and stolen. Many in the group ruminated on the relationships between the young age of the burials and the symbols of motherhood. Sharing and protecting these connections between our ancestors, the land, and our shared story through the Heritage Trips means everything to the Historic Preservation Office and is an important part of remembering how we are #WahzhazheAlways.
Interested in joining the next trip? Announcements for the 2024 and 2025 trips to St. Louis and Hannibal will be announced on official Osage Nation social media accounts and OsageNation-nsn.gov once applications open.