For Osages, there is one thing that brings us together every year; In.lon.shka. An oversimplified explanation of In.lon.shka is that it is a dance. No pictures are allowed. It is not something to be recorded, just experienced. In that spirit I wont share much about the dance. Instead, I’ll share another side of In.lon.schka, and that it is bringing people together….around food.
Osages, like most people, love to eat, but few others probably derive as much satisfaction out of feeding others. Before every dance is a meal, and before every meal is hours of preparation around open fires, outside in the middle of an Oklahoma June. Kitchens, mostly outdoor ones, are the first place people come together during the ceremonies and the last place before they part.
When it comes time to eat, there are anywhere from 20 to 300 people feed. When you arrive, the tables are set with a plate to eat from, a bowl to drink from, and a spoon to shovel with. The food is usually the traditional meatpies, steamfry, frybread and some fruit or vegetables, but what is cooked doesn’t matter as much as how it is eaten. Everyone sits down at the same time except for the cooks. While it would be more efficient, there is no buffet. All the food is placed on the table, there is a prayer, and then the clanking of spoons starts. If a dish runs out, a cook will usually be there to fill it. When your done, you can thank the cooks, but the greatest compliment you can give them is eating their food.
Raymond “Studie” Redcorn (Osage)