A ceremonial smoke bowl blessing was held on Saturday, September 9 at the Osage Trail Legacy monument, as well as at the city’s new Osage mural site in the historic business district. Members of the visiting Osage Tribe led the traditional Native American ceremony in celebration of the completion of both projects, and members of the Cuba community were invited to participate, many of which did.
A crowd of over 200 people gathered at the monument site, located in an open green space behind the Cuba Visitors Center, to hear words from Mayor Ray Mortimeyer and Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. The Osage gave tribute to several Cubans who were deeply involved in sculpture project, including the mayor, project coordinator Dennis Roedemeier, and sculptor Glen Tutterrow. All three received Osage blankets in recognition of their dedication to the project.
A smoke bowl blessing then took place at the monument site. The smoke bowl blessing is a traditional Native American ritual used for cleansing or removing negative energies from an object or a place, as well as the spirit, mind, and body. The smoke is believed to attach itself to the negative energy and carry it away through the air. Cedar embers placed in a small ritual bowl produced the smoke, which is then wafted over the body. One by one, a long line of Osage and Cuba residents participated in the smoke ritual, with an Osage holy man using eagle feathers to move the smoke around.
Fire is considered by the Osage as one of the greatest gifts that Wakonda, their Great Spirit, gave to man, and the smoke bowl ceremony was seen as a way for all those present to be in harmony with each other and for the monument to become a blessing for all those who see it for years to come.
“This community paid for this structure,” said Chief Standing Bear, referring to the sculpture of an Osage warrior and his family that towered over the procession. “This community reached out to us, and we have responded. This project belongs to this community now, and we are proud to be part of it.”
Later on Saturday morning, a similar smoke ceremony was held at the “Meeting in Missouri” Osage mural on Buchanan Street, which was painted by Osage artist Norman Akers in July. Guests gathered to hear how the mural had come to be and what it represents.
“Between the monument and the mural, we have a lot to share with the community, our students, and our visitors to Cuba,” said Jill Barnett of the Viva Cuba Murals Committee. “We now have an Osage story to tell.”
A reception was held at Recklein Auditorium following the mural cleansing ceremony, with citizens invited to partake in refreshments and conversation with the visiting Osage delegation.
On Friday night, the Osage Ballet performed at Leach Theatre in Rolla to a sold-out audience.