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.”

Healing Rock Skiatook, Oklahoma — Smoke Signals By Sammie

Healing Rock Skiatook, Oklahoma — Smoke Signals By Sammie

The Heal­ing Rock in Ski­a­took
Sam­mie Har­mon
A direct descen­dant of Chief White­hair I. I write and research Osage his­to­ry.

Leg­ends are a very impor­tant link that con­nects us to our ances­tors and are a pos­i­tive force from our Cre­ator. Are these true sto­ries or based on actu­al events?  I believe the leg­ends of the Heal­ing Rock speak for itself.

The Main Player Moonhead Wilson

Moon­head Wil­son, a Cad­do Indi­an, John Wil­son was a moti­vat­ing char­ac­ter.  As leg­end goes, while fast­ing, Moon­head would go into a trance and “die” for three days, before com­ing back to life; here are two sto­ries relat­ed to Osage his­to­ry:

  1. Moon­head went into a death-like stu­por at the orig­i­nal site of the Heal­ing Rock and was pre­sumed dead, until before the eyes of the onlook­ers he awak­ened.
  2. Moon­head lay injured near the rock and was brought back to health by an opos­sum which cleaned his wounds and brought him food.
John Wil­son the Reveal­er of Pey­ote”

Old Peyote Religion

Dur­ing the 1890s, the Hominy Creek Val­ley was fre­quent­ly vis­it­ed by (Moon­head), whose ver­sion of the pey­ote reli­gion was com­bined with Chris­t­ian sym­bols in his Moon Altar.  This was accept­able to the Catholic Osages.  The reli­gion known as the Native Amer­i­can Church was accept­ed and is prac­ticed today.


Is it possible that Moonhead’s experience was the revealing of the Healing Rock’s power?

Accord­ing to leg­end, in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, the Indi­ans brought their sick ones there and leaned them up against the rock to be healed. Wit­ness­es told that in the 1940’s the prac­tice of bring­ing sick Osages by stretch­er con­tin­ued.

Why is this not prac­ticed today?
Has a con­tem­po­rary soci­ety over­shad­owed the gifts from our great Cre­ator, Wah-ka-ton and we have mir­a­cles around us still, but fail to prac­tice the pure, uncon­di­tion­al faith of our Ances­tors?

Old Legends Die or Fade Away

As has hap­pened with so many of our beau­ti­ful leg­ends, the rock was rarely thought about for years. After the wag­on train that passed near it was no longer vio­lable, the “Teepee Rock,” was all but for­got­ten, hid­den among the trees and tall grass­es.  One can only imag­ine what mir­a­cles the rock could tell if it could only speak


The Coming Flood Skiatook Lake

When the plans for Ski­a­took Lake were final­ized, it became clear the rock would be cov­ered by water. Descen­dents of Tallchief, led by Ski­a­took res­i­dent, Bill Kugee Super­naw, con­tact­ed the Corps of Engi­neers to ask that the rock is saved. The Ski­a­took Cham­ber of Com­merce and The Ski­a­took Muse­um Board cam­paigned to get the rock moved above the planned lake waters.

In 1985, the Corps moved the rock to its present loca­tion 1/8 mile south of the project office on Ski­a­took Lake. An access trail, built by the Corps, leads from the project office to this unique nat­ur­al fea­ture.

Archae­ol­o­gists from the Corps of Engi­neers and The Uni­ver­si­ty of Tul­sa exam­ined the for­ma­tion. Evi­dence obtained from digs and aer­i­al pho­tographs proved the rock was a nat­ur­al for­ma­tion and had been set in near per­fect ver­ti­cal align­ment by nat­ur­al ero­sion … end­ing any spec­u­la­tion that the rock was man-made. The rock stands 12 feet high, has a 17-foot base, and is 14 to 16 inch­es thick. It is tri­an­gu­lar in shape with its jagged apex point­ing upward to the heav­ens.
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Pawhuska Man Paints Outside the Lines

Pawhuska Man Paints Outside the Lines


He is not a large man in stature but put a paint­brush in his hand and he becomes larg­er than life. Frank Loren­zo of Pawhus­ka is the first to say that he prefers to paint out­side the lines. Even as a young man with crayons, he real­ized that he inter­pret­ed life dif­fer­ent­ly than those around him. It’s what his fam­i­ly called a “vision­ary touch”. His fam­i­ly real­ized his unique take on his sur­round­ings and encour­aged him to col­or his world as a young artist at the age of ten.


Spend­ing a great deal of time at his grand­par­ents’ farm while grow­ing up, he found that though his sur­round­ings were his sub­ject mat­ter, they were not his only inspi­ra­tion; much of that, he explained, came from inside him. See­ing things as they were and draw­ing them was not the vision he saw from his inter­nal eye, see­ing them as a col­lec­tion of items need­ing to be placed in a man­ner which gave them new mean­ing was the vision. As with any vision­ary, see­ing the world dif­fer­ent­ly than oth­ers opens up a new course of thought. Although Loren­zo did not quite under­stand this as a child, he did feel that what he expressed through his art was some­how dif­fer­ent. It was the incor­po­ra­tion of those images sur­round­ing him into a work of art that set him apart. “I feel it. I sense it. I use col­ors to cre­ate that feel­ing,” is how Loren­zo describes where his ideas come from. The art is not a sin­gle idea but a col­lab­o­ra­tion of feel­ings that mate­ri­al­ize into a sin­gle work of art.


I try to cre­ate an ele­ment that peo­ple can respond to.” Paint­ing for him is like a liq­uid puz­zle with each stroke of the brush lay­ing a new piece, thus con­nect­ing them into a com­plete image. Painters want peo­ple to con­nect to the feel­ing of what they are paint­ing, he explained. Light became an impor­tant ele­ment and he always works to con­nect to the ele­ments of life and bring that light to those who expe­ri­ence his works of art. He has an innate sense of see­ing what is beyond the sur­face of an object.

I like col­or and the light. The light is the beyond ele­ment. It is the essence of giv­ing life to an object or thing,” Loren­zo said As an art teacher he would ask his stu­dents to cre­ate by explor­ing beyond what they could see. His con­cept is using the light and allow­ing his art to grow out of the light. Loren­zo was a teacher at a high school and col­lege for ten years. As a high school teacher, in 1975, he was select­ed as one the Most Out­stand­ing Edu­ca­tors of Amer­i­ca.


. In addi­tion to paint­ing the world around him, he also has a back­ground in clas­si­cal pot­tery even once mak­ing a com­plete table set dur­ing col­lege. As with his paint­ing, he uses the same phi­los­o­phy of not let­ting the clay become the art but using col­ors through a tech­nique he cre­at­ed to allow the art to grow out of the clay. He is a skilled, wheel thrown, clas­si­cal pot­ter, he also attend­ed San Fran­cis­co State Uni­ver­si­ty to work on a Mas­ters of Art in ceram­ics, with a con­cen­tra­tion in Raku. (A low fir­ing process inspired by the tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese.) “I believe the lev­el of com­mit­ment cre­ates the lev­el of suc­cess,” Loren­zo explained.  In 1984, he was select­ed to exhib­it four paint­ings in the Salon des Nation juried show in Paris, France. The paint­ing “Fury” won an inter­na­tion­al award.  The paint­ing was made into a litho Lim­it­ed Edi­tion Print.



This Okla­homa artist uses nature as sym­bols for defin­ing the con­cepts in his art. Birds seem to be a strong pres­ence for human­i­ty and they are calm­ing, he said. “My job as a cre­ator is to bury a trea­sure that oth­ers can seek out in the art and hope­ful­ly dis­cov­er what I buried.”

Loren­zo is a recip­i­ent of many awards in paint­ing and pot­tery.  Over his pro­duc­tive years in cre­at­ing works of art, he has exhib­it­ed in gal­leries and some muse­ums and is rec­og­nized nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly. He is con­sid­ered a cre­ative Renais­sance per­son, com­bin­ing fan­ta­sy, real­i­ty, emo­tion and dynam­ic col­or in jux­ta­po­si­tion between what is real and not real.  His biog­ra­phy reflects an ear­ly inter­est in cre­at­ing art and the chal­lenge evolv­ing through archi­tec­ture and back into the paint­ing and pot­tery world. The skill, tal­ent, and com­mit­ment are the response to his cre­ations.

In addi­tion to his artis­tic abil­i­ties, Loren­zo has also used his tal­ents to cross bar­ri­ers that lead into areas of the world that are most­ly acquaint­ed with the math and sci­ence of life. Due to diver­gent of cre­ative inter­est that occurred from 1985 to 2015, Frank moved into the area of real estate devel­op­ment and lat­er into becom­ing an Asso­ciate mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Archi­tects.  He estab­lished an archi­tec­tur­al design busi­ness, restored and cer­ti­fied a build­ing that became a reg­is­tered his­tor­i­cal land­mark, and was an Asso­ciate Direc­tor of his local Chap­ter of the AIA.  He also pub­lished a Home­own­ers Portable Con­struc­tion Hand­book.


To view Lorenzo’s work or inquire as to pur­chas­ing his pieces, vis­it



Larry Sellers, The True Native American

Larry Sellers, The True Native American

Out­side my win­dow is a wood­peck­er tap­ping away at an oak tree. To most, this is of no impor­tance. But to Lar­ry Sell­ers it has mean­ing. Per­haps even a mes­sage from one who has already passed on. There is the old com­ic quip, ‘I am not a doc­tor, but I play one on TV.’ If this were Sell­ers, he would tweak that quip and say I am an Indi­an and I played one on TV. How­ev­er, to say he is just an Indi­an is a gross under­state­ment. This Pawhus­ka native is the very def­i­n­i­tion of what it tru­ly means to be a Native Amer­i­can. Sip­ping black cof­fee from a mug with the word “Lako­ta” stamped on it and sur­round­ed by walls adorned with Indi­an art cer­tain­ly rein­force his con­vic­tion for the pride that all native peo­ples should feel about their her­itage.



Although Sell­ers is of Osage/Cherokee her­itage and an adopt­ed mem­ber of the Lako­ta tribe, his char­ac­ter Cloud Danc­ing on the tele­vi­sion show Dr. Quinn Med­i­cine Woman was a role where he por­trayed an Indi­an of the Cheyenne tribe. He told the pro­duc­ers that for him to play the part, the char­ac­ter must be brought across as the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the real Native Amer­i­can both of trib­al eth­nic­i­ty and as a whole of the Native Amer­i­can peo­ples. Sel­l­ars act­ing cred­its include movies such as “Son of the Morn­ing Star,” “Quick and the Dead,” “Rev­o­lu­tion,” “Like Father — Like Son,” “Assas­si­na­tion and “Wayne’s World II.” plus his tele­vi­sion cred­its. He was also a stunt­man dur­ing his career.

For Sel­l­ars though, act­ing was art imi­tat­ing life. Above being an actor or stunt­man, Sel­l­ars has always been true to him­self first. He even turned down a role in the Kevin Cost­ner film Dances With Wolves because an agree­ment could not be made that allowed him the four days required for him to par­tic­i­pate in the Sun­dance Cer­e­mo­ny.



At the age of 28, his moth­er passed away, and his father’s health was in decline. Sel­l­ars then began walk­ing around the Indi­an Camp not far from where he lived. Sud­den­ly he sees a vision of Indi­ans danc­ing and hears the word “Sun­dance” spo­ken to him.

He had no idea what that was as he had nev­er heard the term. At that moment and feel com­pelled to act, he prayed and said if his dad’s health improved, he would track down the ori­gins of that word.

The very next day my father was total­ly dif­fer­ent.” With his father’s restored health, he began car­ry­ing through with his promise and start­ed research­ing just pre­cise­ly what is Sun­dance. It didn’t take long to learn that it was a native cer­e­mo­ny. Learn­ing its full mean­ing, how­ev­er, would take a bit longer. The Sun­dance, he real­ized, was the most impor­tant cer­e­mo­ny prac­ticed by the Lako­ta (Sioux) and near­ly all Plains Indi­ans. It was an act of renew­al for the tribe, peo­ple and earth per def­i­n­i­tion. But as Sel­l­ars explains, it is actu­al­ly a reli­gious revival of sorts with humil­i­ty at its core. The prayers and sac­ri­fice of no food and water for four days and the dance are gifts to the uni­verse and for all peo­ples as well. Also, they are pleas for help and offer­ings of thanks to those alive and those who have passed on to the next stage of life’s jour­ney.

Sel­l­ars was instruct­ed about the cer­e­mo­ny from the Lako­ta in South Dako­ta. After danc­ing with them, he was guid­ed by them to bring the dance back to the Osage peo­ple. That was 19 years ago. Sel­l­ars has been danc­ing now for 38 years keep­ing the jour­ney began by his ances­tors mov­ing into the 21st cen­tu­ry.


In his plight to keep the tra­di­tions of old alive, Sel­l­ars oper­ates two non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. The first is the Mis­sion­ary Soci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of Tra­di­tion­al Val­ues which empha­sizes tra­di­tion­al native val­ues of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. Peo­ple from all over the US are mem­bers of this orga­ni­za­tion and active­ly work to keep the her­itage and his­to­ry of Native Amer­i­cans alive. The oth­er is Friends of the Osage Lan­guage. This is where mem­bers raise mon­ey to help in pro­vid­ing stu­dents with the tools nec­es­sary for cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive self-image for them­selves in using the lan­guage. One way in which he aids in the organization’s suc­cess is by speak­ing to stu­dents in Osage, thus prompt­ing them to do the same and to be proud that they can talk in their ances­tral tongue. “Our lan­guage is our iden­ti­ty, a part of who we are. It’s our cul­ture.”

Dr. Quinn was the first show to incor­po­rate native thought into their writ­ing. It was a good thing for indige­nous peo­ples because it was a chance to human­ize us and not por­tray tribes as the mighty war­rior bands.

 We laugh, we cry, we joke, we mourn. We do all those things.” Sel­l­ars was the tech­ni­cal advi­sor on the show. As such, he point­ed out dis­tinc­tions such as why would the pro­duc­ers wish to por­tray a white man on the show that could speak South­ern Cheyenne flu­ent­ly but he, as a Cheyenne, could only speak bro­ken Eng­lish. In oth­er words, why would one race of peo­ple be more intel­li­gent than anoth­er race? This stereo­type is what he worked to change through his efforts on the show and in his per­son­al life.

He believes, as his ances­tors did. Every­thing in nature is alive with a lan­guage to com­mu­ni­cate and that all life is con­nect­ed, even when that life pass­es into the spir­it realm. Con­nect­ing with nature in mod­ern church­es is not some­thing prac­ticed. But tra­di­tion­al Indi­an cer­e­monies and cus­toms were wor­ship of all things in nature; a con­nec­tion to all life, he explained Sel­l­ars hope through his efforts, those of Native Amer­i­can ances­try will embrace those ele­ments of trib­al cul­ture which defines them as a sin­gle race wor­thy of preser­va­tion.



With­out going into too much his­to­ry of Indi­ans and their removal from their home­lands in the expand­ing US of the 19th cen­tu­ry. Sel­l­ars explained the white cul­ture should under­stand that through Euro­pean beliefs of civ­i­liza­tion and Chris­tian­i­ty and their use of tech­niques such as board­ing schools designed to ‘edu­cate’ their native lifestyle out and repro­gram them to the white ways and the Indi­an Removal Act of 1830. Was a type of cul­tur­al geno­cide was used to dri­ve out the old ways to make way for the white man’s def­i­n­i­tion of civ­i­liza­tion and assim­i­la­tion to the major­i­ty-Euro­pean cul­ture.

It’s not that Sel­l­ars has an issue with the mod­ern world or its beliefs. He doesn’t. His pas­sion for pre­serv­ing tra­di­tion­al cus­toms and val­ues come from the real­iza­tion, that what was once a trust­ed belief sys­tem for gen­er­a­tions, is not wrong now mere­ly because it is no longer the dom­i­nant belief sys­tem of the mod­ern cul­ture. In many ways, his efforts are to pro­vide a jour­ney home. Tak­ing all peo­ple back to a time and place where the con­nec­tion between peo­ple and nature was nour­ished, and those native peo­ples flour­ished with­in the embrace of Moth­er Nature.

C. L. Har­mon

Lead Author

C. L. Har­mon

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