Who is Chuck Hoskin Jr.?

Who is Chuck Hoskin Jr.?

Meet the Unique Okla­homan run­ning for Chief of the Chero­kee Nation

Chuck Hoskin Jr. is a name that has been shared across nation­al air­ways con­cern­ing Chero­kee and Native Amer­i­can affairs and local­ly, in the state of Okla­homa, a name that has been asso­ci­at­ed with an excit­ing peri­od of growth with­in the Chero­kee Nation. More recent­ly, we are hear­ing a great deal of Hoskin Jr. as he is build­ing on a sto­ried career as Sec­re­tary of State for the Chero­kee Nation in run­ning an engag­ing cam­paign to become Prin­ci­pal Chief in the upcom­ing June 1 elec­tion. In look­ing back on the sto­ry of the man, it seems to be a jour­ney that was des­tined from the begin­ning.

Born at Clare­more Indi­an Hos­pi­tal, Hoskin Jr. was raised in Vini­ta by lov­ing par­ents with his sis­ter. Ini­tial­ly, his father was an iron work­er and his moth­er was a home­mak­er. How­ev­er, through the course of his child­hood, Hoskin Jr. was able to wit­ness progress by hard work through both of his par­ents. His father became a let­ter car­ri­er in order to work his way through col­lege to become a teacher. Like­wise, his moth­er worked hard through school while man­ag­ing a fam­i­ly to become a Reg­is­tered Nurse. These exam­ples undoubt­ed­ly nour­ished the work eth­ic that has become syn­ony­mous with Hoskin Jr. through­out his career. A career that start­ed at Braum’s when he was younger where he would meet his future wife, Jan­u­ary.

Upon grad­u­at­ing high school, Hoskin Jr. went to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Okla­homa where he would obtain his Bachelor’s Degree and go on to com­plete his stud­ies at the OU Col­lege of Law. While he had always had an inter­est in pol­i­tics, it was at this time that Hoskin Jr.‘s father, who seems to be ever grow­ing in his own life, served on the Chero­kee Coun­cil from 1995–2007, which proved to be influ­en­tial.

Through his own desire to serve, and the inspi­ra­tion and influ­ence of his father, Hoskin Jr. became involved in attend­ing meet­ings regard­ing mod­ern­iz­ing the Chero­kee Con­sti­tu­tion. In 1999, while still in law school, Hoskin Jr. was invit­ed to be a part of the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Con­ven­tion that led to the mod­ern Chero­kee Con­sti­tu­tion. “It was an hon­or”, he said, regard­ing being involved in such a his­toric moment. A moment that was also when the young Hoskin Jr. began to be rec­og­nized on his own for the ben­e­fits of his nat­ur­al tal­ents, plus the mer­its of his humil­i­ty and work eth­ic.

After prac­tic­ing law for some time after grad­u­a­tion, Hoskin Jr. served on the Coun­cil of Chero­kee Nation from 2007–2013. Through this time of ser­vice his expe­ri­ence in Fed­er­al and Trib­al Law, and accom­plish­ments in a mul­ti­tude of ini­tia­tives and roles with­in the Trib­al Coun­cil led to his nom­i­na­tion as Sec­re­tary of State by Prin­ci­pal Chief Bill John Bak­er in August 2013.

In the years that have passed, Hoskin Jr. has accom­plished quite a bit in his role as Sec­re­tary of State. In 2013 he worked on a cen­sus con­clud­ing, at the time, that there were 320,000 Chero­kees nation­wide, with cur­rent num­bers now approach­ing 370,000. When asked what has con­tributed to the mas­sive growth, he said the num­bers are, “dri­ven by the avail­abil­i­ty of resources. We’ve made room for direct­ing funds to com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions.” When it comes to keep­ing Chero­kees con­nect­ed nation­wide Hoskin Jr. said, “it’s a chal­lenge.” And it is a chal­lenge he has tak­en head-on.

Social media, cul­tur­al events and the cre­ation of twen­ty satel­lite orga­ni­za­tions nation­wide, pro­vid­ing urban resources and con­nec­tion, have served effec­tive­ly towards bring­ing Chero­kees togeth­er. More­over, in his time as Sec­re­tary of State, Chero­kees have begun to receive pho­to ID’s prov­ing mem­ber­ship and the local admin­is­tra­tion spends ten months out of the year trav­el­ing nation­wide to engage and con­nect with tribe mem­bers.

In terms of infra­struc­ture, Hoskin Jr. has seen the cre­ation of a 480,000 square foot out­pa­tient med­ical clin­ic in Tahle­quah, to be com­plet­ed this Sep­tem­ber. Hoskin Jr. and the Chero­kee Nation lob­bied the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in the largest Indi­an Health Ser­vice joint ven­ture in his­to­ry for 100 mil­lion to aid in the build-out, with the Chero­kees cov­er­ing 200 mil­lion. The facil­i­ty is expect­ed to cre­ate 850 jobs, fur­ther cre­at­ing a path for young Chero­kees to become doc­tors, nurs­es and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als. To this end, the Chero­kee Nation has cre­at­ed anoth­er joint ven­ture with Okla­homa State Uni­ver­si­ty, who is build­ing a med­ical school in Tahle­quah.

More­over, in addi­tion to facil­i­ties at the four-sto­ry out­pa­tient hos­pi­tal fea­tur­ing a full range of med­ical care for Chero­kees, the build­out is pay­ing atten­tion to art and form as a place that rep­re­sents Chero­kee cul­ture as well. Once com­plet­ed, it will be the largest med­ical facil­i­ty of any tribe in the Unit­ed States. It is a mon­u­men­tal moment for the Chero­kee Nation and a sign of their pros­per­i­ty and the for­ward think­ing of their lead­er­ship.

Addi­tion­al­ly, Hoskin Jr. has been a nation­al spokesper­son for the Chero­kee Nation and for Native Amer­i­can affairs both nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly. He gave tes­ti­mo­ny con­cern­ing the Chero­kee Nation to the Unit­ed Nations and recent­ly, when a sto­ry sur­round­ing Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren inspired a nation­al dis­cus­sion on what it means to be Chero­kee, Hoskin Jr. was the voice that was sought after to bring rea­son and under­stand­ing to the issue. “Any­time we can talk about what it means to be Chero­kee and its pos­i­tive influ­ence on the world I am glad to do it’, he said. Through these accom­plish­ments, and many more, cou­pled with his char­ac­ter, it is no won­der that Hoskin Jr. is the front run­ner to become the next Prin­ci­pal Chief of the Chero­kee Nation.

Sit­ting Chief, Bill John Bak­er, has stat­ed that, “Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the most qual­i­fied, hard­est-work­ing per­son ever to run for Chief of the Chero­kee Nation.” And while his accom­plish­ments have cer­tain­ly been his­tor­i­cal, they are cou­pled with Hoskin Jr’s vision for the future in cre­at­ing a great deal of excite­ment sur­round­ing his cam­paign.

If elect­ed, some top pri­or­i­ties are health care, not­ing elder­ly care and reduced wait times, lan­guage and eco­nom­ic growth. He aims to con­tin­ue mak­ing improve­ments to health care and in mak­ing the recruit­ment and devel­op­ment of doc­tors, nurs­es and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als more robust. Along this vein, he has ini­tia­tives to inspire young Chero­kees to learn. Ever envi­sion­ing a path for­ward, Hoskin Jr. has a vision to help young peo­ple go to col­lege and to cre­ate jobs they can go into upon grad­u­a­tion. This vision is strong with­in the med­ical field, but Hoskin Jr. is set­ting his sights on bring­ing strong eco­nom­ic growth to small­er towns as well. The Chero­kee nation is main­ly found in small towns and “we don’t want to see them die on the vine. We find win­ning strate­gies that look at obsta­cles towns have and that’s how we win”, he said.

In devel­op­ing new gen­er­a­tions of young Chero­kees to go into the med­ical field, and to help turn the cor­ner on job growth, the preser­va­tion of the Chero­kee lan­guage is para­mount among edu­ca­tion­al ini­tia­tives. Cur­rent­ly, there is a full immer­sion pro­gram of a Chero­kee only school for K‑6th grade stu­dents in Sequoy­ah. Oth­er­wise, there is fur­ther devel­op­ment of adult immer­sion and lan­guage pro­grams at NSU to accom­plish this endeav­or.

Addi­tion­al­ly, Hoskin has said he wants to “tack­le envi­ron­men­tal issues con­cern­ing the water, the air, and the land. To be wise stew­ards of the land and be a part of the solu­tion.”

To make these accom­plish­ments an ever-grow­ing real­i­ty, Hoskin Jr. has cho­sen Bryan Warn­er as his run­ning mate to become Deputy Chief. Warn­er has a sto­ried back­ground as an edu­ca­tor, teach­ing chem­istry, biol­o­gy, micro­bi­ol­o­gy and botany, and is cur­rent­ly the Cam­pus Direc­tor, at Carl Albert State Col­lege. He was elect­ed to the Chero­kee Nation­al Trib­al Coun­cil in 2015 and has exten­sive recog­ni­tion and accom­plish­ments that speak to his heart for ser­vice, his lead­er­ship, and his ini­tia­tive. He and his wife raise their three chil­dren in Sal­li­saw where he has had a sig­nif­i­cant impact through civic involve­ment and vol­un­teer work. Hoskin Jr. has said of Warn­er that he is, “high­ly intel­li­gent and cre­ative. I know we will work well togeth­er because we already have worked well togeth­er.”

Anoth­er great part­ner­ship Hoskin Jr. was sure to speak to was his fam­i­ly. “Jan­u­ary and the kids keep me cen­tered”, he said. Speak­ing to her hard work and pas­sion on behalf of the Chero­kee peo­ple he said, “She [Jan­u­ary] has been intri­cate­ly involved with me and on her own. She takes time to make sure our chil­dren are get­ting involved in Chero­kee cul­ture.”

Vot­ing occurs on June 1. For infor­ma­tion regard­ing the elec­tion, you can vis­it the Chero­kee Nation Elec­tion Com­mis­sion at https://cherokee.org/Our-Government/Boards-Commissions/Election-Commission/Election-Information.

For more infor­ma­tion on Chuck Hoskin Jr. and his cam­paign you can vis­it hoskinwarner.com or fol­low the cam­paign on Face­book at https://www.facebook.com/HoskinWarner

Lee Bren­nan

Author, Busi­ness Devel­op­ment

Lee Bren­nan has worked across a broad spec­trum in his career rang­ing from jour­nal­ism, culi­nary arts, min­istry and liv­ing the life of an entre­pre­neur. Cur­rent­ly resid­ing in Tul­sa, OK where he is rais­ing his beloved daugh­ter, and enjoy­ing life with his friends and fam­i­ly, Lee is dri­ven by a love for peo­ple and a pas­sion for telling great sto­ries.

Want to know about our arti­cles right as they get pub­lished?
Sub­scribe to our Awe­some Newslet­ter.

Adver­tise with us

Dream Sea­son Media

Dis­cov­er more about your­self

Uniqula­homa Quizes

Find some­thing to do

Uniqula­homa Events

Voices of the Past Whisper to the Future with John Erling

Voices of the Past Whisper to the Future with John Erling

Voic­es are reminders that we live; words are proof that we have spo­ken and mem­o­ries are what we leave as a result. Each life is a voice spo­ken in a grace­ful flu­id­i­ty through sec­onds and years in time which becomes a whis­per to the future. It is that voice which echoes beyond our years to become the sto­ries of life and lega­cy. One man has become a voice for those voic­es. His name is John Erling. Many of us may remem­ber hear­ing him on KRMG radio in Tul­sa where he enter­tained lis­ten­ers for over 25 years with news and com­men­tary. How­ev­er, now retired for the past ten years, Erling has con­tin­ued the spir­it of his morn­ing radio show Erling in the Morn­ing by bring­ing new inter­est­ing sub­ject mat­ter to lis­ten­ers. Through his endeav­or Voic­es of Okla­homa, he is allow­ing oth­ers to tell their sto­ries and thus telling us all about Okla­homa and those who have made their mark in the pan­han­dle state.
“Voic­es of Okla­homa is a col­lec­tion of oral his­to­ry sto­ries. We have col­lect­ed over 200 of them with 67 of the inter­vie­wees hav­ing already died. This empha­sizes the rea­son we are doing this,” Erling said.

This project began sim­ply over lunch between friends. He and Walt Helmerich III, most notably known for Helmerich & Payne Drilling com­pa­ny and the pur­chase and growth of Uti­ca Square in Tul­sa, met for lunch once a month for ten years. Dur­ing those lunch­es, Helmerich would relay these inter­est­ing sto­ries about his life and career to Erling. It occurred to Erling that he “should not be the only one who gets to sit at this table.” Helmerich agreed but was not keen on the idea of a book. Erling, intrigued by the idea of telling oth­ers’ sto­ries, thought about how he could get these sto­ries to the pub­lic.

While dri­ving around one day, he thought about using a web­site as the vehi­cle to bring these sto­ries to the pub­lic. He then sug­gest­ed to Helmerich that he record the busi­ness­man and phil­an­thropist for future gen­er­a­tions in his own words and make it avail­able to every­one. Helmerich liked the idea, and so Erling already think­ing about future record­ing, asked if he would also ask his friend Hen­ry Zarrow, own­er of Soon­er Pipe & Sup­ply, and Big­heart Oil Com­pa­ny if he would agree to be record­ed. Zarrow agreed and the pro­gram was born. Erling imme­di­ate­ly began seek­ing out oth­ers he could record. Using his con­nec­tions and friends in the com­mu­ni­ty to find inter­est­ing can­di­dates, sug­ges­tions for sub­jects soon began com­ing to light. So much so in fact, that Erling had to clas­si­fy cat­e­gories for the abun­dance of options from the dif­fer­ent aspects of Okla­homa life.

It will be ten years this April since Voic­es of Okla­homa began pub­lish­ing these oral his­to­ries on its site. Erling, with the help of John Hamill, has recent­ly pub­lished the book Voic­es of Okla­homa with excerpts from many of those inter­viewed. Erling was kind enough to send me a copy, and after review­ing it, I must con­clude that any lover of his­to­ry, regard­less of where they are from, will find this an enlight­en­ing and enjoy­able read.

In our lives, we come into con­tact with intrigu­ing and inno­v­a­tive peo­ple who have expe­ri­enced remark­able events. With­in the first few pages alone, one can find out what it was like to dine at a pri­vate cas­tle with George Har­ri­son and Ringo Starr of the Bea­t­les fame along with Eric Clap­ton. One can tour with Bob Dylan, wait on J. Paul Get­ty at a depart­ment store (the rich­est man in the world at the time), Flip a coin of des­tiny with Ritchie Valens and watch your dad pur­chase a home from Will Rogers for $500 down and a ver­bal agree­ment for gro­ceries for one year, with­out a con­tract. All of these sto­ries are told in their own words from their per­spec­tives as Okla­homans.

Erling said he does not have a favorite sto­ry as all have some­thing that make them unique. But he does remem­ber some quite fond­ly due to their his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tion. One, in par­tic­u­lar, is of Mar­i­an Opala, a for­mer Okla­homa State Supreme Court Jus­tice. Erling tells of Opala’s ser­vice with the Pol­ish Under­ground after the Nazis inva­sion of Poland in 1939 and sub­se­quent ser­vice in the British Army. He goes on to speak about Opala’s cap­ture and impris­on­ment in a con­cen­tra­tion camp. Opala would lat­er immi­grate to Okla­homa, earn his degrees and work his way through the legal ranks to obtain the high­est judi­cial office in the state. He died four days after record­ing his sto­ry to Erling.

Although the book is a valu­able resource, there isn’t any­thing quite like lis­ten­ing to the sto­ries told by those who actu­al­ly expe­ri­enced these incred­i­ble moments that made up their lives, Erling explained. The dri­ving force behind this endeav­or has been to offer a valu­able learn­ing resource to future gen­er­a­tions. Many of these per­son­al sto­ries that have been shared with Voic­es of Okla­homa are bits of per­son­al infor­ma­tion that would cer­tain­ly be lost to his­to­ry if not for the efforts of those involved with the project. Erling said that many teach­ers and col­lege pro­fes­sors use the web­site as a resource to enlight­en the younger gen­er­a­tions with a vivid his­to­ry they will nev­er be able to expe­ri­ence oth­er­wise. It is avail­able to any­one at no charge who has an inter­est in his­to­ry or those who have helped forge it. One of the most inter­est­ing aspects of this project is that it does not focus on one ele­ment of soci­ety but all. Cap­tains of indus­try, musi­cians, artists, phil­an­thropists, celebri­ties or any­one who adds to the rich tapes­try of our state can all become part of this valu­able his­tor­i­cal resource.

Our expe­ri­ence with the book has been a good one and has attract­ed inter­ests to the web­site that oth­er­wise would not have been,” Erling said. The site brings in over 10,000 lis­ten­ers each month, he added. There will also be more books to pur­chase in the future as Erling stat­ed that there is enough mate­r­i­al already to fill a set of ency­clo­pe­dias.

This book is hop­ing to add to what we are doing with the web­site, and we are get­ting a lot of atten­tion with it. Peo­ple get excit­ed about books,” Erling said. He explained that the book came about because peo­ple were telling him that it was quick­er for them to read the tran­scripts which accom­pa­ny the record­ings. So he thought about a book and using excerpts in sto­ry form to reach those who may not have heard of the web­site. The book, which pub­lished ten days before Christ­mas, allows those who love to read to expe­ri­ence these inter­est­ing his­tor­i­cal sto­ries in a for­mat they enjoy. The book, how­ev­er, only con­tains parts of the com­plete sto­ries and so those inter­est­ed in the full sto­ries can still vis­it the site and read the full tran­scripts. All the pro­ceeds from book sales go back into the project to fund more inter­views and record­ings.

Our expe­ri­ence with the book has been a good one and has attract­ed inter­ests to the web­site that oth­er­wise would not have been,” Erling said. The site brings in over 10,000 lis­ten­ers each month, he added. There will also be more books to pur­chase in the future as Erling stat­ed that there is enough mate­r­i­al already to fill a set of ency­clo­pe­dias.


The project is fund­ed by both indi­vid­u­als and foun­da­tions who believe in Voic­es of Oklahoma’s mis­sion. These include, but are not lim­it­ed to: The Chick­a­saw Nation, Burt B. Holmes, George Kaiser Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion, Grace and Franklin Bernsen Foun­da­tion, H.A. and Mary Kay Chap­man Char­i­ta­ble Trust, Helmerich Foun­da­tion, The William K. War­ren Foun­da­tion, and Williams Com­pa­nies. To vis­it the site or pur­chase the book, log onto voicesofoklahoma.com.

Authors Note: As own­ers of Unique­la­homa, my busi­ness part­ner Spencer Heckathorn and I believe this sto­ry to be one of the most impor­tant we can pub­lish. The very mis­sion of Voic­es of Okla­homa and Unique­la­homa is to high­light this incred­i­ble state, its peo­ple, his­to­ry and cul­tures. Voic­es of Okla­homa is doing just that in a unique and pow­er­ful man­ner that ben­e­fits us now and for gen­er­a­tions to come. It is our sin­cere hope that each of our read­ers will vis­it and sup­port Voic­es of Okla­homa and help keep our his­to­ry alive.

C. L. Har­mon

Lead Author

C.L. Har­mon a jour­nal­ist and author.

He Has worked for sev­er­al news­pa­pers as a reporter and was the man­ag­ing edi­tor for a dai­ly before start­ing his own paper, The Man­n­ford Reporter in Man­n­ford, Okla­homa. 

The Man­n­ford Reporter came with many life lessons and expe­ri­ences that I may share one day. For now my focus and my love is Unique­la­homa!

Santa is Real! You Just Haven’t Met Him Yet

Santa is Real! You Just Haven’t Met Him Yet

San­ta is Real! You Just Haven’t Met Him Yet
CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber
18 Decem­ber 2018

co-pub­lished with Tul­sa Lifestyle Mag­a­zine

The True Spir­it of Christ­mas Is Clos­er Than You Might Think

You bet­ter watch out, you bet­ter not cry, bet­ter not pout, I’m telling you why, San­ta Claus’ alter ego mayust whack you with a stain­less steel can­dy cane! Okay…that’s not true, but he will find the exag­ger­a­tion fun­ny as he does so many things. What is true though, is that he is the real San­ta. I know that some may scoff and pro­claim there is no San­ta, but those peo­ple have nev­er met Richard Bax­ter Jr. Most peo­ple though just call him San­ta. He even has a belt buck­le he wears year-round that reads San­ta and is a card-car­ry­ing San­ta which he takes with him so he can prove he’s the sleigh rid­ing jol­ly man when chil­dren

Every day 365 days a year, he looks like, acts like and even laughs like San­ta. But more than that, he believes in the spir­it of Christ­mas and the true mean­ing of the sea­son every one of those days. He is a reminder to each of us why we should tru­ly cel­e­brate and to also nev­er for­get that the inno­cence of a child can teach us all that mag­ic does exist if we just believe it does.

If it weren’t for the birth of Jesus, we would be out of a gig,” he quipped. He shares that mean­ing in all
oth­er areas of his life by being an exam­ple of a giv­ing per­son through­out the year. It’s almost as though
he was born with the spir­it of Christ­mas; he was even born on Decem­ber 25 and has been fas­ci­nat­ed
with the hol­i­day since he was a child.

Pho­tos Cour­tesy of Amber Gregg Pho­tog­ra­phy. To view more of her work, vis­it www.ambergreggphotography.com

You are who again?
The fact that he nat­u­ral­ly looks and laughs like the San­ta most of us envi­sion just rein­forces the belief that he is Mr. Claus. The first time I saw Bax­ter, I told the per­son I was with that he looked like San­ta.
Unbe­knownst to me, he was behind me. Then a voice from behind me bel­lowed out, ‘well that’s because I am San­ta,’ fol­lowed by a ho-ho. Of course he was refer­ring to what peo­ple call him, but still, the image of San­ta I have always had was very close to Baxter’s nor­mal appear­ance. He even rolls his mus­tache and has “San­ta street clothes” which he wears for any sea­son. When­ev­er he hap­pens upon a
child and is out of his San­ta suit and the child remarks he looks like San­ta but is not dressed like him, he always has a sto­ry about how he is San­ta. He is just out check­ing on the naughty and nice list or that he had to meet with toy mak­ers. One might say he nev­er miss­es an oppor­tu­ni­ty to be him­self.

It took off like wild­fire”

Bax­ter is also a mem­ber of the Amal­ga­mat­ed Order of Real Beard­ed San­tas and takes the role of the hol­i­day char­ac­ter very seri­ous­ly. Although he por­trays the actu­al char­ac­ter in cos­tume only part-time, he is the spir­it of Christ­mas full-time. It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine for most how some­one could play a char­ac­ter year round, and so it makes sense that they wouldn’t believe. But that’s just it, it’s no act. That spir­it of giv­ing and laugh­ter is with him wher­ev­er he might be at the moment. I had the priv­i­lege of work­ing with him for two years at Web­co Indus­tries’ Stain­less Divi­sion, and dur­ing that time, I nev­er called him by his legal name or heard any­one else do it either. He was always San­ta. He treat­ed every sin­gle per­son with kind­ness and respect. He always con­duct­ed him­self with humil­i­ty and had a bel­low of laugh­ter that was unend­ing.

Pho­tos Cour­tesy of Amber Gregg Pho­tog­ra­phy.

His High­ness King Jol­ly
He moved here from Wash­ing­ton, where he par­tic­i­pat­ed in many hol­i­day activ­i­ties includ­ing mall San­ta. This is where he got his start 35 years ago as a pro­fes­sion­al San­ta. This was back in the days of
Polaroid's, and the “gig” last­ed three years. In addi­tion, it allowed him to become the pho­to loca­tion man­ag­er where he had seen as many as 9,000 chil­dren in just over a five-week peri­od. He even­tu­al­ly tired of the mall scene and start­ed his own busi­ness doing home vis­its, which includ­ed nurs­ing homes, par­ties and hol­i­day gath­er­ings. He has con­tin­ued that busi­ness here, and it has grown to include parades, orga­ni­za­tions, and retail gigs.

It took off like wild­fire,” he said. Even his wife Rebec­ca got in on the act as Mrs. Claus dur­ing a cruise gig where he per­formed as the jol­ly gift giv­er. It is dur­ing this cruise that he knight­ed a young boy as the
elf Son­ic using a can­dy cane. This, he said, is one of his favorite mem­o­ries as San­ta, because the child had suf­fered tragedy in his life involv­ing his par­ents and this small act of kind­ness was a gift to that child that made Christ­mas be the way it should for all chil­dren, Bax­ter expressed. He added that being San­ta is his lega­cy, a way to live on after ha has passed. Every per­son in which he inter­acts, takes a pho­to with or who watch­es him with chil­dren keeps a lit­tle piece of him with them. It tru­ly is an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence that one keeps with them always.

An ambas­sador of Good­will

It should be not­ed that a pro­fes­sion­al San­ta can work year round and make good mon­ey if he is will­ing to trav­el. But Bax­ter would rather make sac­ri­fices so that he can be close to home and care for Rebec­ca
who has health issues. Just anoth­er exam­ple of how he puts oth­ers before him­self. Of course, what else would one expect from the real San­ta? He is a true believ­er in “the mag­ic” of Christ­mas and that keep­ing Christ in Christ­mas is Santa’s job; an ambas­sador of sorts for its true mean­ing.

He has a long list of activ­i­ties this hol­i­day sea­son, and so he will be around the area spread­ing cheer and mak­ing chil­dren smile. And though I can’t promise you will meet him while he is out and about, I can promise that you will real­ize he is the true San­ta if you do meet him. He won’t be the one with a fake beard ask­ing for a dona­tion in front of the mall, but the one offer­ing to share the true spir­it of Christ­mas with you between bel­lows of ho-ho-ho and grant­i­ng wish­es with his stain­less steel can­dy cane. Mer­ry Christ­mas to all and to all a good night!

Oklahoma’s Own The Church Studio Former Stomping Grounds of Leon Russell

Oklahoma’s Own The Church Studio Former Stomping Grounds of Leon Russell


CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber




As she sat there amid the hus­tle and bus­tle of the diner’s morn­ing break­fast rush sport­ing a red Church Stu­dio tee and a slight sense of anx­i­ety, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was sit­ting with a celebri­ty. Dip­ping her tea bag into a hot cup of water, she soon appeared relieved to have made her appoint­ment with me and offered a warm smile once we were seat­ed. She had already been meet­ing peo­ple since 7 a.m., and it was now 10, and she was right on time. I admit I felt a bit ner­vous at first, but that feel­ing soon fad­ed as we began to con­verse. I had been hop­ing for quite some time to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to write about Tere­sa Knox. I learned some time ago about her and believed that she is the very def­i­n­i­tion of vision; a woman who sees val­ue in what is bro­ken, beau­ty in what is decay­ing and faith in what can be. With a fresh cup of cof­fee before me and pen in hand, I jot­ted down bits and pieces of her life in my note­book. Each stroke of the pen con­firmed my belief that I cer­tain­ly was in the pres­ence of vision.

Allow Me To Introduce Teresa Knox

Although I con­sid­er her a celebri­ty, she would nev­er refer to her­self that way. The rea­son is, in part, because she is too hum­ble to see her­self that way and part­ly because she is too gra­cious to admit it even if she did. She would prob­a­bly say that she is a per­son who finds pur­pose in every­thing she does; a per­son raised on the wrong side of the tracks who under­stands we define our­selves by our actions, not our cir­cum­stances. For those who may not know her name, she can be rec­og­nized from her accom­plish­ments and caus­es. The list reads as an impres­sive resume of inge­nu­ity and preser­va­tion. We met to talk about her lat­est project, the restora­tion and even­tu­al reopen­ing of famous Tul­sa musi­cian Leon Russell’s record­ing stu­dio The Church Stu­dio which she pur­chased in 2016. And, we will get to that project soon. But to under­stand her rea­son for tak­ing on such a chal­leng­ing project, it is nec­es­sary to know about Knox, the per­son.

She is the founder of Com­mu­ni­ty Care, Okla­homa Tech­ni­cal and Clary Sage Col­leges in Tul­sa. She found­ed Com­mu­ni­ty Care first under the name of Den­tal Direc­tions, The School of Den­tal Assist­ing which she start­ed while work­ing as a den­tal assis­tant. She got into this pro­fes­sion at 18 years of age after grow­ing up in what she called “poor.” She explained that peo­ple in that type of sit­u­a­tion often live with low self-esteem and tend to make poor choic­es due to that feel­ing. Unlike many peo­ple in her sit­u­a­tion who found escapes in drug depen­den­cy or crime, she had a will­ing­ness to work hard and to let her mis­takes become a teacher. She spent three years as a carhop for Son­ic Dri­ve-In build­ing a work eth­ic and learn­ing busi­ness lessons from books she checked out from the library that still fol­low her to this day. These expe­ri­ences gave her the con­fi­dence to move in a new direc­tion.

Becoming A Better Decision Maker

Den­tal assist­ing prob­a­bly saved my life,” Knox said. Ini­tial­ly head­ing down a neg­a­tive path in life, the pro­fes­sion gave her a sense of pride and self-worth that had been lack­ing in her life to that point. This new per­spec­tive allowed her to become what she called “a bet­ter deci­sion mak­er” which ulti­mate­ly led to her as an advo­cate for oth­ers who need­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make bet­ter deci­sions in their lives. She real­ized ear­ly in her cho­sen pro­fes­sion that she had a knack for train­ing and decid­ed to mar­ket that skill. So she placed a four dol­lar ad in the clas­si­fied ads of Tul­sa World offer­ing to train peo­ple to become den­tal assis­tants. As a young sin­gle mom work­ing in a den­tal prac­tice, she bor­rowed some equip­ment from the den­tist for whom she was work­ing and began train­ing peo­ple at her River­side Dri­ve apart­ment on Sat­ur­days. Things were going well…for a while any­way, she explained. Then her first snag hit when the state attor­ney gen­er­al sent her a “nasty” let­ter inform­ing her she was oper­at­ing a school ille­gal­ly and would have to stop and pay back the mon­ey she had accept­ed from her stu­dents.

The School of Hard Knox

I was scared. I was dev­as­tat­ed. I didn’t know I had to be licensed.” She said. She then spoke with her employ­er and offered to work for free if he would allow her to use his office to teach her den­tal assist­ing class­es. He agreed, and she became licensed a short time lat­er even­tu­al­ly turn­ing that into the for-prof­it school Den­tal Direc­tions. From that endeav­or, Com­mu­ni­ty Care Col­lege was devel­oped with the oth­er two schools fol­low­ing a few years lat­er. With her con­fi­dence and desire to give oth­ers oppor­tu­ni­ties, she, along with oth­ers who shared her vision, cre­at­ed a learn­ing lega­cy that con­tin­u­al­ly grows while offer­ing mul­ti­ple pro­grams of var­ied stud­ies to hun­dreds of stu­dents each year. The schools have pro­duced thou­sands of grad­u­ates since its incep­tion in 1995.

I made so many mis­takes. But I would build on each suc­cess, and I learned from tri­al and error. I have a sil­ly blog called ‘The School of Hard Knox’ a play on my last name and it lit­er­al­ly was the school of hard knocks.” She quipped. She added that she loves to work with start-up busi­ness­es now and share all she has learned. She admits that she was a “screw-up” and knows how dif­fi­cult it is to keep going when mon­ey is tight, and entre­pre­neurs can’t afford to pay for ser­vices such as attor­neys and accoun­tants that are so ben­e­fi­cial to busi­ness own­ers. She used her knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence to help busi­ness own­ers under­stand that the busi­ness prin­ci­ples of old are still the best. Treat­ing oth­ers bet­ter than you want to be treat­ed, the cus­tomer is always right, giv­ing back to the com­mu­ni­ty and tru­ly show­ing grat­i­tude are just a few of the ideas she offers to oth­ers. These, along with per­se­ver­ance, are what bring about suc­cess, she said.

I made so many mis­takes. But I would build on each suc­cess, and I learned from tri­al and error. I have a sil­ly blog called ‘The School of Hard Knox’ a play on my last name and it lit­er­al­ly was the school of hard knocks.”

Graduating To Greater Things

At our 20 year anniver­sary, I was going to sell the col­leges, and then I just chick­ened out. I pan­icked. I thought about it, prayed about it and went to bed one night to awak­en with the deci­sion to make the orga­ni­za­tion a non-prof­it. It made sense. We employed the most gen­er­ous team, hadn’t raised tuition in over a decade, gave mil­lions away in schol­ar­ships, and I real­ly felt like we were run­ning a mis­sion at the cam­pus,” Knox said. It took two years to make the change, but upon com­ple­tion, she stepped down as CEO, moved out of oper­a­tions and vot­ed on to become a board mem­ber. She had been tied to the schools for over 20 years, and now they would no longer be a part of her dai­ly life. She found her­self in a “funk” and real­ized that she was going through the griev­ing process. She also real­ized that the future was wait­ing with open arms.

She was already enjoy­ing com­mer­cial real estate devel­op­ment but want­ed to expand that busi­ness and pur­sue her love of his­tor­i­cal preser­va­tion. She first pur­chased a prop­er­ty near the his­toric Cir­cle Cin­e­ma in Tul­sa and began restor­ing that with a friend. Soon to fol­low was var­i­ous prop­er­ties in the Pearl Dis­trict includ­ing the Church Stu­dio. Her love of Leon Russell’s music would be the hook, and the stu­dio would be her great­est his­tor­i­cal catch.

Finding A New Church

First off, I am a huge Leon Rus­sell fan. He was so tal­ent­ed, and I don’t think a lot of peo­ple tru­ly real­ize the tal­ent that he was. He wasn’t just a singer but a bril­liant song­writer, com­pos­er, and entre­pre­neur. He was a top musi­cian in the coun­try in 1972 and could have gone any­where. But, he chose to come back to his home­town. That alone is incred­i­ble,” she said. For her, it was as though she was drawn to The Church Stu­dio as almost hear­ing Russell’s melody of ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ beck­on­ing her to turn the for­got­ten stranger into a new friend. With a nudge from her big broth­er, Lar­ry-anoth­er huge Leon Rus­sell fan—she found her­self dri­ving past it and even pick­ing up the garbage that drift­ed onto the prop­er­ty. She sought out the own­er and bought the stu­dio with­out even going inside.

At that point, I want­ed it so bad­ly! I want­ed to bring it back to its orig­i­nal glo­ry. I want­ed it to be a pos­i­tive reflec­tion on Leon Rus­sell.” He hadn’t passed away at that time but did a cou­ple of months lat­er. Rus­sell had turned the church into a stu­dio in the spring of 1972. It was also home office to Shel­ter Records. Rus­sell closed the stu­dio in 1976, and it was even­tu­al­ly sold. Knox pur­chased the stu­dio in August of 2016 and decid­ed to breathe new life into a with­er­ing land­mark. She did not know Rus­sell and was “pure­ly a fan” but held his lega­cy in high regard as some­one who men­tored and pro­pelled so many artists includ­ing Tom Pet­ty & The Heart­break­ers, Dwight Twil­ley, and the Gap Band to star­dom and for devel­op­ing the “Tul­sa Sound” with Tul­sa native singer/songwriter J.J. Cale. Famed gui­tarist Eric Clap­ton would pick up this sound and record Cale’s songs ‘After Mid­night’ and ‘Cocaine.’ Lynyrd Skynyrd would also record his song ‘Call Me The Breeze.’ Leon’s mag­net­ism and the oth­er Tul­sa Sound musi­cians like Walt Rich­mond, David Tee­gar­den, Carl Radle, Jamie Oldak­er, Jim­my Markham, and Chuck Black­well to name a few also attract­ed greats to Okla­homa such as Willie Nel­son, Tom Pet­ty, Bob Seger, Peter Tosh, Fred­dy King, George Har­ri­son, Ringo Starr, Kansas, Eric Clap­ton, Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan, and Bon­nie Raitt.

I not only want to hon­or Leon’s lega­cy but have a place that inspires a younger gen­er­a­tion of musi­cians and is an incu­ba­tion cen­ter for these artists. I am very excit­ed about this and believe the stu­dio will be a des­ti­na­tion for vet­er­an musi­cians and new tal­ent alike,” she said. The stu­dio will be an ana­log, and dig­i­tal state-of-the-art record­ing stu­dio after the restora­tion is com­plete next year. She has hopes to make The Church Stu­dio a beau­ti­ful and func­tion­al facil­i­ty that can com­pete with the major stu­dios around the world. In addi­tion, Knox has also been able to get the stu­dio list­ed on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places and is mak­ing it the home to the Church Stu­dio Archive, a 4,000 piece col­lec­tion asso­ci­at­ed with Leon Rus­sell, The Tul­sa Sound, Shel­ter Records, and the his­toric church.

Charity Begins At Home

There is also The Church Stu­dio Music Foun­da­tion which focus­es on the preser­va­tion of the stu­dio as a land­mark, the lega­cy of Leon Rus­sell, the pro­mo­tion of the Tul­sa Sound and engage the gen­er­al pub­lic through music, pro­grams, film, video, record­ing, and activ­i­ties. She is an avid lover of her home city of Tul­sa.

She has recent­ly com­plet­ed the restora­tion of a his­tor­i­cal build­ing in the Kendall Whit­ti­er neigh­bor­hood and is in the process of restor­ing the Har­welden Man­sion in Tul­sa. The three-sto­ry man­sion was built in 1923 by Tul­sa oil­man and phil­an­thropist Earl Har­well. In recent years it has been used to host wed­dings, fundrais­ers, and oth­er events. Knox plans to keep that tra­di­tion, along with adding a bou­tique hotel ele­ment, while pre­serv­ing its his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. “In the future, I’d like to con­tin­ue iden­ti­fy­ing his­toric prop­er­ties that need atten­tion, care and love and bring them back to rel­e­vance,” she said.

Writer’s Church Sermon

Much can be said about Knox, much more than can be writ­ten here. Her life with its inter­ests, pas­sions, and beliefs weave togeth­er in this com­plex and beau­ti­ful pat­tern mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to cat­e­go­rize her and explain her with a sim­ple def­i­n­i­tion. This pat­tern of hers con­nects and recon­nects to every­thing in her life con­tin­u­al­ly build­ing a lega­cy while pre­serv­ing the lega­cies of so many oth­ers and then offer­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties for so many more to cre­ate new lega­cies. Whether it’s a stu­dent from one of the schools she found­ed, a new musi­cian who will be giv­en a chance to make a mark in the music world, a his­to­ri­an who appre­ci­ates her restora­tion efforts or just a fan who believes he had cof­fee and tea with a celebri­ty at a Tul­sa din­er, I believe we could all agree that land­marks are cre­at­ed when some­one takes the time, effort and pas­sion to build them. Tere­sa Knox has become one of those Tul­sa land­marks. I bet Leon would be proud!

For more infor­ma­tion about The Church Stu­dio and its his­to­ry, vis­it https://thechurchstudio.com/

To learn more about The Church Stu­dio Foun­da­tion, vis­it https://thechurchstudio.com/foundation/

Tere­sa Knox has kind­ly donat­ed some items that we will give away! To join the give­away click here: https://uniquelahoma.com/go/the-church-studio-giveaway/

Major Spice Company in Cleveland, Ok

Major Spice Company in Cleveland, Ok

Dad­dy Hin­kle’s, Adding Its Own Spice To Okla­homa Life

CL spends some time with David of Dad­dy Hin­kle’s spice com­pa­ny based in Cleve­land Okla­homa.

CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber

28 Sep­tem­ber 2018

Now and then the expres­sion ‘the spice of life’ gets tossed around. Usu­al­ly, it is refer­ring to some­one or some­thing which adds a lit­tle more to life than what is the norm. It is a rare occa­sion when it hap­pens and so to meet some­one who spices up life both metaphor­i­cal­ly and lit­er­al­ly, is a fla­vor that has a taste all its own. Let me intro­duce you to the David Hin­kle Southard, the man behind the Dad­dy Hin­kle spices label.

Soft-spo­ken and with a sub­tle sense of humor, one imme­di­ate­ly feels com­fort­able in his pres­ence. He humbly works at keep­ing his intel­li­gence from shin­ing through, but it beams through the cracks as he explains the oper­a­tions at Dad­dy Hinkle’s Spices com­pa­ny plant in Cleve­land, Okla­homa. No, he is not Dad­dy Hin­kle, but his grand­son and one of three broth­ers who found­ed the com­pa­ny in 1993. At 50 years of age and liv­ing on a sail­boat in the Flori­da Keys, David had plans to “bum around in par­adise” as he put it when his younger broth­er approached him with the idea of start­ing a com­pa­ny sell­ing spices.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

As for the his­to­ry of where the spices orig­i­nat­ed, David explained that his grand­fa­ther J. Frank Hin­kle was the inspi­ra­tion to build and oper­ate a com­pa­ny using the same prin­ci­ples which the grand­fa­ther had used in build­ing his suc­cess­ful oil drilling busi­ness. The family’s suc­cess would afford them an upper-class lifestyle and a love for enter­tain­ing friends and busi­ness asso­ciates. Since Hin­kle was a lover of steak, it was usu­al­ly the main course. As such, his wife Zula began mix­ing spices and ingre­di­ents of vary­ing types and degrees to enhance the fla­vor. Unbe­knownst to her at the time, she was cre­at­ing the foun­da­tion for prod­ucts that her grand­sons would use to add more taste to the world.

The fam­i­ly had been using the recipes through the years, but pro­duc­ing them for com­mer­cial use was not some­thing that the broth­ers knew much about. David’s younger broth­er Den­ny was an endodon­tist, and his old­er broth­er Michael rais­es race hors­es. Den­ny, how­ev­er, want­ed to invest in the idea and David’s career choic­es made him the one most qual­i­fied to head up such an oper­a­tion. He had spent the pre­vi­ous 20 years own­ing and work­ing in dif­fer­ent capac­i­ties at bars and restau­rants. He knew how to cook var­i­ous types of meats and seafood as well as even being a sautee cook in a French restau­rant for a while. He had an under­stand­ing of what was required spice-wise to give the meat a fla­vor­ful, robust taste. When his broth­er Den­ny approached him about the idea, He wasn’t ini­tial­ly thrilled about run­ning ashore and leav­ing behind par­adise, but he was lured away by the thought of hav­ing what he calls “mail­box mon­ey.”

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

The plan ini­tial­ly David believed would be to take a cou­ple of years off from “bum­ming around in par­adise,” devel­op the prod­uct, mar­ket it and then head back to South Flori­da where he could sail around for a few months and then anchor long enough to cash the mail­box mon­ey checks. For­tu­nate­ly for steak enthu­si­asts, that is not what hap­pened! After three years, it became evi­dent to David that his con­tin­ued involve­ment and for­mu­la cre­ations were cru­cial to the suc­cess of the com­pa­ny. So he debarked for good. His first order of busi­ness was to cre­ate the prod­uct. His grand­par­ents had cre­at­ed the fla­vors to make great tast­ing meats, but they had done so using ready-made spices from the store and sim­ply mix­ing dif­fer­ent options until cre­at­ing the taste they want­ed. David had to recre­ate the fla­vors with for­mu­las using raw ingre­di­ents.

This first for­mu­la would become the “Orig­i­nal” (Onion & Gar­lic based), which is still the largest sell­er. David has since added sev­er­al oth­er blends includ­ing the two oth­er main fla­vors. The sec­ond of these main fla­vors is South­west (Cumin & Oregano based), and the third is Spicy Pep­per (Jalapeno & Red Pep­per). All three blends are paired with Liq­uid Instant Meat Mari­nade. In addi­tion, the com­pa­ny has all nat­ur­al fla­vors sea­son­ing rub mari­nades. These include Onion & Gar­lic- Sug­ar-Free, Tex Mex- Sug­ar-Free, Low Sodi­um- Made with Sea Salt, Cracked Pep­per- Low Sodi­um and Spicy Pep­per-Sug­ar Free. There is also a sea­soned ten­der­iz­er, which is a liq­uid that has ten­der­iz­er, onion, and gar­lic already added.

Next would be the pro­duc­tion aspect. David set­tled on three blend­ing com­pa­nies in the US that take his for­mu­la and cre­ate the prod­uct. The prod­ucts are made in dry sea­son­ing and a liq­uid form. The com­pa­nies which pro­duce the dry sea­son­ing ship it in bulk to the Cleve­land facil­i­ty where it is then pack­aged or and some­times bot­tled for sale. The com­pa­ny offers the dry sea­son­ing in var­i­ous sizes and both the dry and liq­uid in bulk pack­ages. Also, it has gift bas­kets and com­bo packs.

The com­pa­ny has been in exis­tence for 24 years has had steady growth since its incep­tion. It cur­rent­ly dis­trib­utes Dad­dy Hinkle’s spices in the fol­low­ing stores: Wal­mart, Rea­sors, Food Pyra­mid, Krogers, Price Chop­per, Albert­sons, Home­land, Unit­ed, Hy-Vee, Brook­shire Gro­cery, H.E.B., Dil­lon, and var­i­ous meat mar­kets all over the Unit­ed States. The prod­ucts can be ordered online www.daddyhinkles.com as well. The com­pa­ny also has cus­tomers in Cana­da, Cal­i­for­nia, New York, Col­orado, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Prod­ucts are also avail­able on Ama­zon, eBay, and Wal-Mart.com. The com­pa­ny has sev­er­al dis­trib­u­tors that rep­re­sent the com­pa­ny in sell­ing its prod­ucts.

Dad­dy Hinkle’s is cer­tain­ly a unique addi­tion to Okla­homa which con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion of adding to the blend of fla­vors that can always be found cook­ing some­where in the state. So crack open a bot­tle of Dad­dy Hinkle’s and enjoy the spice of Okla­homa life.

New Osage Casino Opens With a Winning Hand

New Osage Casino Opens With a Winning Hand


New Osage Casi­no Opens With a Win­ning Hand

CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber


*This is not a paid adver­tise­ment and we have received no com­pen­sa­tion for the pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry.

It’s an excite­ment like no oth­er. The antic­i­pa­tion builds as you watch the dials spin­ning through the screen. The first dial stops and your eyes become fixed as the sec­ond one drops into place, match­ing the first one. Then your eyes widen, and a smile marks your face as the third dial drops into place…JACKPOT! Yeah, it’s an excite­ment like no other…like an arcade for adults. And thanks to the Indi­an gam­ing indus­try, Okla­homa gam­blers have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to try their luck with­out hav­ing to go to Vegas. How­ev­er, as the trib­al casi­nos gain more pop­u­lar­i­ty, the com­pe­ti­tion steadi­ly stiff­ens. In this com­pet­i­tive game, the Osage Casi­no has just been dealt a new hand, and with it, the tribe may be now hold­ing an Ace high hand.

The Osage tribe recent­ly anted up $160 mil­lion to play in the high stakes com­pe­ti­tion that becomes more preva­lent by the day it seems. Already a major play­er, the tribe has raised the stakes with their new casi­no locat­ed at 951 West 36th st North behind the one built in 2005. Unlike their oth­er casi­nos, this one is con­struct­ed to com­pete with oth­er tribes that have gam­bled on bring­ing more of a “Las Vegas” feel to the state with hotels and enter­tain­ment for its patrons. The 400,000 square foot casi­no opened on August 29 to a crowd of over 6,000 peo­ple.

This ele­vates our prod­uct and brings our game to a whole new lev­el. We are very excit­ed to show it off to every­one,” Byron Bighorse, CEO for the Osage Casi­nos said. He added that the guests in Tul­sa have become accus­tomed to a hotel/casino expe­ri­ence with their competition’s enter­pris­es and this will cer­tain­ly enhance that expe­ri­ence for Tul­sa guests while offer­ing some unique aspects that set them apart from their com­peti­tors.

Rib­bon Cut­ting

Pho­to­graph by Shane Bev­el

As for what one can find in this new addi­tion to the Tul­sa scene, there are 1,628 elec­tron­ic games which triple the size of gam­ing floors in Tul­sa. There are also cur­rent­ly 16 table games with the inclu­sion of roulette and craps to be added soon. The casi­no also offers a high-lim­it room for those high rollers who enjoy a night out of high stakes. Bighorse said, to make patrons even more com­fort­able, the casi­no has an updat­ed ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem which turns out fresh air through­out the facil­i­ty nine times every hour which is three more than an aver­age office space.

There are also four food and bev­er­age out­lets on the floor. The first of these is Stone Creek Kitchen which is a sit-down style café/restaurant and dou­bles as a break­fast buf­fet bar for hotel guests. There is also a piz­za place that is of their design dubbed ‘The Orig­i­nal Roni Pep­pos’ that works like a Sub­way where each cus­tomer picks his/her top­pings. There is also a bar & grill called Thun­der Bar & Grill which offers mixed drinks, beer and var­i­ous styles of food. Last­ly, is the Nine Band Brew Pub where there is a selec­tion of craft beers from fruity to dark bar­leys.

As for the hotel, there are 137 hotel rooms and four hos­pi­tal­i­ty suites which are unique to any­thing else in the area, Bighorse said. He added that “it’s get­ting a four or five-star hotel for a three-star price.” Anoth­er unique aspect of the rooms is that each one con­tains orig­i­nal art from Osage artists. The tribe com­mis­sioned these artists to pro­vide the art­work for both the rooms and the décor of the hotel itself. Bighorse expressed how much artis­tic tal­ent there is in the tribe. He said by using their art; it allowed the tribe to help out its mem­bers while adding a unique aspect of Osage cul­ture and his­to­ry to the hotel. In addi­tion, there is a pool area which he said is “beau­ti­ful” and a 1,039 space park­ing garage for guest con­ve­nience and ban­quet space avail­able.

We know there is a need for new event venues, par­tic­u­lar­ly in close prox­im­i­ty to down­town,” said Bighorse. “These ver­sa­tile ban­quet spaces are ful­ly staffed and give breath­tak­ing views of the Osage Hills that you just can’t find any­where else.”

One of the most unique aspects of the casi­no is that it has its own brewery…yes, they brew their own beer! Now, this is some­thing to raise your mug in a toast for. The brand is Nine Band Brew­ery out of Allen, Texas. Bighorse explained that craft beer is very pop­u­lar in Okla­homa and this brew­ery is the twelfth brew­ery to open in Tul­sa with­in the last year. As a bonus, the casi­no is work­ing on what Bighorse calls a “brew­ery crawl” where beer enthu­si­asts will ride in Mer­cedes shut­tles from the Nine Band pub to oth­er craft beer facil­i­ties where they can try dif­fer­ent brands of crafts beers. Then each of the par­tic­i­pants will be giv­en a hotel room for the night to sleep off the evening crawl.

View of the new Slots!

Pho­to­graph by Shane Bev­el

We are going to make a major state­ment with some major tal­ent with our event cen­ter. We are going to bring some major tal­ent and rock n roll,” Bighorse said. In Feb­ru­ary of 2019, the 2,000 seat event cen­ter will be com­plet­ed. He went on to say that this aspect adds to their new gam­ing expe­ri­ence they have brought to Tul­sa. He added that it’s a very inti­mate set­ting that is mod­eled after the Brady The­atre in Tul­sa and even has VIP box­es in the mez­za­nine.

The future is look­ing bright based on the ini­tial open­ing response, accord­ing to Bighorse. He is already seek­ing approval for $30 mil­lion more dol­lars to add anoth­er hotel wing, spa, and a brand name steak­house. He is hop­ing that approval will come this month and is poised to begin this phase in ear­ly 2019 with com­ple­tion in ear­ly 2020.

The new Tul­sa Osage Casi­no in down­town Tul­sa brings a great enter­tain­ment expe­ri­ence with the new games, event cen­ter, and hotel,” said Osage Nation Prin­ci­pal Chief Geof­frey Stand­ing Bear. “This casi­no rev­enue pro­vides finan­cial sup­port of Osage lan­guage and cul­ture activ­i­ties, includ­ing the Osage lan­guage Immer­sion school. All prof­its go to edu­ca­tion, health, hous­ing, lan­guage, cul­ture, and the oth­er pro­grams for our Osage peo­ple. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all those involved in bring­ing this project into oper­a­tion.”

Pin It on Pinterest