Osage Nation Master Language Teacher Pivotal in Osage Language and Orthography
Osage Nation congratulates Osage Nation Master Language Teacher Herman ‘Mogri’ Mongrain Lookout on receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Education from Kansas State University (KSU). He was nominated by the KSU College of Education for his incomparable contributions in reviving the Osage language and developing orthography.
“This is wonderful and well-deserved,” said Osage Nation Chief Standing Bear. “The Osage Nation thanks the University for this recognition.”
Lookout, one of the last remaining full-bloods of the Osage Nation, has spent his entire life immersed in Osage traditional cultural spaces. He has served as Head Committeeman for the Pawhuska District and Roadman in the Native American Church. Lookout has spent the last 40 years learning and teaching the Osage language, which includes developing an Osage orthography. His efforts laid the groundwork for the Osage people and other Native Nations to strengthen their culture and sovereignty.
“I studied a lot of things pertaining to the language,” said Master Osage Language Teacher Lookout. “I tried to find some avenues to try to figure it all out. It took a lot of people and a lot of help. People have been nice, especially my students. They accept everything I say, just about. I love the language. It has a lot of history in it.”
The Kansas Board of Regents unanimously approved the award. During the meeting approval, Kansas State President Myers summarized, “Herman Mongrain Lookout is a true leader, innovator and advocate for the Osage language. He has dedicated his adult life to the preservation and teaching of the Osage language, stories, songs and traditional knowledge of the Osage people. He has increased the number of people of all age groups learning the Osage language in their daily lives. All of this has created a renewed pride of Osage people of their history and way of life.”
Lookout continues to teach Osage Language Classes at the Osage Nation Language Department, which recently started their 2021-2022 academic year. “I have never been to a class with so much laughter,” he said. “Our class has the comradery Osages have. It has been fun. I look forward to more of it. There’s still a lot more to do.”
Lookout will receive the honorary doctorate during the fall 2021 Kansas State commencement ceremony on December 10, 2021 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. President Myers, a retired four-star general in the United States Air Force who served as the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will present the degree. Myers has been Kansas State University President for the past six years.
View a video by KOSU here to find more about Lookout's work.