Chief James Bigheart

public profile

Is your surname Bigheart?

Research the Bigheart family

Chief James Bigheart's Geni Profile

Records for James Bigheart

568 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Share

James Bigheart

Also Known As: "Pun-Kah-Wi-Tah-An-Ka"
Birthdate: (66)
Birthplace: Osage Mission, Saint Paul, Neosho County, Kansas, United States
Death: October 5, 1908 (66)
Osage County, Oklahoma, United States
Place of Burial: Osage County, Oklahoma, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Nun-tsa-turn-kah Bigheart and Wah-hiu-shah Bigheart
Husband of Amelia Bigheart; Humpeshance?? Bigheart and Alice Grass McIntosh
Father of Camilla Kiasumpa; James Bigheart; Mary Madelaine Bigheart; Agnes "Wah-Tsa-me" Bigheart; Josephine Bigheart and 5 others
Half brother of Peter Cassidy Bigheart (USA)

Managed by: Lloyd Alfred Doss, Jr.
Last Updated:

About Chief James Bigheart

CHIEF JAMES BIGHEART OF THE OSAGES

By Orpha B. Russell

Much has been written and published about the Osage people, commonly recognized as the wealthiest tribe of American Indians, yet the one man largely responsible for that wealth has had very little notice. Had James Bigheart chosen the "easy going ways" of his full blood Indian kinsmen' his life would have been much less strenuous, but the Osages would not be enjoying their present position as one of the wealthiest Indian tribes in America.

The story of "Big Jim" and his work, heretofore, has been kept in the minds and hearts of the few remaining old-timers who knew him personally. Only a few intimate friends and his family knew that practically every beneficial move made for the Osage Tribe from the end of the Civil War until the death of "Big Jim" in 1908, was sponsored by "Big Jim" and carried out, with his helpful guidance, by men of his choice. He cared nothing for personal glory and was happy to appoint and coach others to secure whatever he might desire for the security of his own children and those of his fellow tribesmen. 1 Today, four and one-half decades after his death, James Bigheart is recognized as the most brilliant politician and leader of the tribe that the Osages have known. 2

Because he was the outstanding leader in his tribe during the four decades immediately preceding his death 2,229 enrolled Osages and their descendants have shared more than $300,000,000 from royalties, bonuses, leases, and rentals during the 44 years since his death. Ironically, "Big Jim" died and was buried October 5, 1908, just three months before his tribesmen received their first payment under the "headright" method he had worked out for them, but he had lived long enough to realize that his life-long dream, security for his tribesmen and their children, had been assured.

The mere mention of his name brings near-apoplexy to some of the old timers who knew Bigheart personally and hate him with a passion. Others refer to him reverently as their greatest leader. "Big Jim" died, as he had lived, a Catholic. Consequently he was feared and hated by those who clung to their old medicine men and those who adopted the Peyote faith introduced to their tribe in 1899 by a Southern Indian. Bigheart had the power to outlaw such worship had he so chosen. Instead, he sorrowfully watched his neighbors worship. in what he considered ignorance, because he felt all men were entitled to freedom.3 Some tribesmen, educated in Catholic mission schools, ridiculed Bigheart for not outlawing other religions groups, yet he ignored personal ridicule and hatred as long as it did not affect the tribe as a whole.

------------------------------------------ 1The writer wishes to make her grateful acknowledgments to outstanding writera of Osage history and Indian leaders who gave her much of their knowledge in the compilation of this article on James Bigheart of the Osage Nation. See Appendix A. SThe writer secured valuable data in interviews with Mr. Retrard, Mr. Hall and Fred Lookout of the Osage Nation. Also, see Joseph B. Thobarn, A Standard HirtOrl. of Oklahoma (Chicago, 1916). VoL XI& p. 3 ---------------------------------------------

The exact date and place of Bigheart's birth is not known, became of the government's method of enrolling the Osages, who had never kept records of births and deaths among their tribesmen. The late Julia Lookout said that James Bigheart mas born in an Osage village near what is now St. Paul, Kansas (known as Osage Mission until July 1,1895), and that he was named Pun-Kah-Wi-Tah-An-Kah by his parents in 1838.4 His father, Nun-tsa-turn-kah and mother, Wah-hiu-shah. were both full blood Osages, according to Julia Lookout. Osage Indian records confirm this statement, but reveal a slightly different spelling of the mother's name 5 Government registers of the Osage tribe list members born as of January 1 of the years of the " Big Flood, ' ' " Smallpox Epidemic, " ' 'Measle Epidemic, " Drouth, " " Grasshopper Plague, " etc.

Regardless of the methods of recording births among Osages, all agree that James Bigheart lived during a colorful and turbulent period of his people's history. Official government documents carrying his signature show that he was energetic. and that when Osage interests were at stake he worked persistently for years to win his point. He is credited for holding up passage of the allotment bill for at least ten years. 6

P. M. Hamer, Chief of the Division of Reference in the National Archives in Washington, D. C. found James Bigheart's name on several census rolls between 1880 and 1907 as chief or head of the Black Beaver Osage Band. Many of the letters received in the Indian office from the Osage Agency National Council in 1881 and 1883. Principal Chief of the Nation in 1894. Conncil Secretary in 1899, and Treasurer in 1900, carry his signature

Mustering out papers for James Bigheart, at the close of the Civil War, show that he was twenty-five years old when he enlisted as a private in Company I of the 9th Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Cavalry at Iola, Kansas January 19, 1862. He was honorably discharged, as a first lieutenant, March 22, 1865. Laying down his firearms at the end of the Civil War by no means ended fighting for the young Indian destined to become a controlling factor of his tribe for the next four decades. Standing six feet tall, and speaking seven languages fluently, Big Jim was a figure to be handled tactfully. A Catholic convert, educated at the old Osage Mission established among the Osages in 1847 by Father Schoenmakers, Bigheart never returned to the blanket.

---------------------------------------- 3 See Appendix B for sources consulted. 4 Bigheart signed his name "Eu-Tsa-tah-wah-tah-in-tsa: according to the Osage Council Record of 1889. 5 Osage Agency records give his mother's name. "Pah-heu-shah." 6 The great problem of the Osage Nation was the pressure from outside parties to have their names listed on the Osage rolls where the moneyed interests and income per capita increased from oil and other property. Keeping these rolls clear of fraudulent of hndnlent claimants and securing an accurate record of those who were bona fide members of the nation meant a long determined fight on the part of the Osage Council and delayed the final allotment act in Congress -Ed. 7 Letter signed by P. M. Hamer, May 19, 1941, originally owned by William W. Graves, and now in the Osage Indian fiIes of the writer, Tulsa, Oklahoma -----------------------------------------

May 27, 1868, Bigheart signed his first treaty. Recognizing the fact that the Indian Office at Washington. D. C., was "selling out" his tribe by persuading them to sell 8,000,000 acres of their diminished reserve for twenty cents an acre to the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad, he sought the advice of his faithful old teacher, Father Schoenmakers at Osage Mission. Bigheart followed the advice of Father Schoenmakers and thus broadened and solidified .the road to wealth for the Osages.

Father Schoenmakers in turn, warned all Osage chiefs and protests were sent to Sidney Clark, Representative of the Southeast Kansas District in Congress. As a result Congress passed a law prohibiting any Indian tribe from selling its land to any other than the United States. 8

July 15, 1870 Congress passed an act providing for the sale of the Osage Diminished Reserve to the United States for $1.25 an acre. From this fund the Osages bought a reservation in Indian Territory.

See Charles Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties. Vol. I, p. 138. This act defines the boundaries of the Osage Reservation (present Osage County, Oklahoma, and that part of Kay County east of the Arkansas, later assigned the Kaw tribe), as follows:

"BE IT ENACTED BY THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED, That in order to provide said Osage tribe of Indians with a reservation, and secure to them a sufficient quantity of land suitable for cultivation, the following described tract of country, west of the established ninety-sixth meridian, in the Indian Tenitory, be, and the same is hereby, set apart for and confirmed as their reservation, namely: Bounded on the east by the ninety-sixth meridian, on the south and west

by the north line of the Creek country and the main channel of the Arkansas River, and on the north by the south line of the State of Kansas: Provided, That the location as aforesaid shall be made under the provisions of article sixteen af the treaty [Cherokee] of eighteen hundred and sixty-six, so far as the same may be applicable thereto . . . . ."-Ed.

The balance of the fund was placed in the treasury of the United States to the credit of the Osages to be paid to them, with interest, as annuities. ----------------------------------------- 8 An interview with Fred Lookout, Sr., late Osage Chief. 9 William Graves, Life of Father Schoenmakers, S. 1. Apostle of the Osage (Parsons, Kansas. 1928), pp. 118-20 ---------------------------------------- In 1871 the Osages moved to Silver Lake near what is now Bartlesville, but learned a year later that they were east of the 96th meridian and in Cherokee Territory, so moved as near the center of their reserve as possible and established their capital at Pawhuska in 1872. 10

Bigheart built a log cabin on the hill overlooking Bird Creek, just east of Mother Chouteau's little village of tepees, and about fifteen miles southeast of the Osage capital. 11

He became principal chief of the Osages in 1875, through an appointment by the Pawhuska Band. When old "White Hair" died .Beaver took his place. At the time of Beaver's death his sons were all too young to assume the responsibilities involved, so the band appointed Bigheart chief . 12

In December of 1881 James Bigheart's political dreams became reality. For years, as an outstanding linguist speaking Ponca, Sioux, Cherokee, Osage, French, English, and Latin, he worked as an interpreter and clerk at the agency offices. 13

There he had watched his people cede thousands of acres of valuable land for a small amount of money that never reached the Indian owners; white traders swarmed the agency on payment days to collect huge sums they claimed the Indians owed them and usually managed to take all the Indian's payment and carry over a balance for collection on the next payment day.

A number of early citizens in Cushing, Oklahoma (Sac and Fox country) recall what was standard procedure for partners in the hardware and casket business. The same casket was used as long as the box held together for burial purposes at $50 per service. Some boxes were used as many as 50 times at $50 per trip to the burial grounds of the Sac and Fox Indians, who buried their dead on hides stretched high on poles.

The casket was used to carry the dead to the burial ground then returned to stock and when payment day rolled around this man and his partner were on hand with their claims for caskets and collected for same before the Indian survivors received their payments. 14 --------------------------------------- 10 Interviews with Chief Fred Lookout, Sr., Mary Field, James Bigheart's daughter; Franklin Revard and the late George E. Tinker. A review of the history of the Osage land purchase in the Indian Territory and confirmation of the tribal reservation is found in the "Letter of the Secretary of the Interior to the Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs" in "A-p -p endix." Misc. Doc. No. 317. 2nd Sess. Cong., 1872. 11 Confirmed by St. Francis Church records and by Mary Field, daughter. 12 From interviews with the late Chief Fred Lookout, Sr., late Mary Field, late George E. Tinker and Franklin Revard. 13 Letter from James Bigheart's granddaughter, Margaret Spurrier, written to tho writer during the time she was employed in the Osage Agency at Pawhusk. 14 Story well known among old-timers at Cushing, ----------------------------------------- Grieved and provoked with the manner in which his people were being swindled, Blgheart persuaded William Connor, a former schoolmate, to help organize their tribe so that by staying together they mlght get the results desired from the government at Washington. Bigheart felt that if the President knew of the truth about the agents that the political wrinkles could be ironed out to advantage and satisfaction of the Osages. The two set about propagandizing and by 1881 had brought about the organization of two political parties. They encountered much opposition because their theory was to elect a new chief every two years by popular vote, whereas chieftainships had always been handed down from father to son.\

Two political parties were organized; the Mixed Bloods of Progressives and the Full Bloods or Non-Progressives (so-called because of their opposition to the allotment bill). Bigheart belonged to the "Full Blood Party," and he is credited with holding up the allotment bill for more than a decade.15 The Osage Nation was divided into five districts and each district sent three members to the National Council.

The National Convention met at Pawhuska, drew up a constitution, and organized a tribal government patterned after our Federal government. Bigheart signed their Constitution as President of the National Council.

Other signers were Ne-kah-He-Pon-Ah ; Wah-Ti-An-Kah ; Saucy Chief ; Tah-wah-An-Kah ; Saucy Chief' ; Tah-Wah-Che-He ; William Penn; Claremore ; Two-Giver ; Tall Chief ; Sa-Pah-Ke-Ah ; Black Dog; Thomas Big Chief ; Ne-Kah-Wah-She-Ton-Kah ; Joseph Pawnee No-Pah-She ; White Hair ; Cyrpian Tayrien ; Paul Akin ; interpreter and E. M. Matthews, Secretary.

The constitution provided for elections the first Monday in November, beginning the following year, 1882, and every two years thereafter. Two-thirds of the council could overrule the principal chief, and they must return a bill within five days, Sundays excepted, otherwise it was considered passed. Fiscal years were to run from October 1 to September 30. The qualification of religious belief was a prerequisite to office-holding. Supreme executive power rested in the principal chief, who was to be elected by popular vote of qualified electors on general election day. He must be a natural born citizen and 35 years old. He was to hold office for two years with a salary of $450 per annum, and was subject to impeachment by the council. The treasurer was to receive ten percent of all moneys passed through his hands.

The first Osage election was held in November of 1882, and each district sent representatives to vote for its chosen candidate. A large ballot box, beneath a giant tree, was surrounded by the electors. ------------------------------------- 15 Interviews with the late Mary Field, the late Kathleen Conner Woodwd (daughter of Wm. Connu) and the late Gemge E. Tinker. ------------------------------------ One man stood on one side holding colored strips of paper; one color in one hand and another color m the other hand. Those colors represented the candidates. That is, if Bigheart's color was red and the elector wished to vote for Bigheart, he took a red strip from the ballot keeper and dropped it into the ballot box. Those wishing to vote for Bigheart's opponent took the other color and dropped it into the box. When all had voted, if the electors had not already counted the votes as they were dropped, they waited until the box was opened and the colored strips counted in the presence of all. 16

As a politician, with the faithful assistance of his aunt, mother of Julia Lookout, Bigheart entertained every Secretary of the Interior during the perlod 1881 to 1908. He was an extravagant entertainer and promoter and gave many large and elaborate dances and feasts. Even during his last two years, although confined to his bed, he counselled and feasted with his friends in his home. Indian chiefs from other tribes and bands in his own tribe, including Silas Smith, the educated and brilliant Seneca chief from Canada, enjoyed the well known hospitality of James Bigheart. Railroad magnates came to his ranch seeking right-of-way through the Osage Nation.

T. N. Barnsdall, the world's first refiner, was a close friend of Bigheart's and the little town of Barnsdall, Oklahoma carried the name of Bigheart until 1916, after Bigheart and Barnsdall had both died. Barnsdall had named the little settlement on the lease he secured from the Osage tribe for his good friend, Bigheart. The Foster brothers owe their great wealth to the blanket mineral lease they secured from the Osages while Bigheart was chief in 1896. Bigheart promoted an investigation of the Osage citizenship rolls in 1896 that weeded out all ineligibles. He secured the removal of a Quaker Indian Agent, who insisted in removing Osage children from Catholic schools to government schools. He was democratic and broad-minded, but allowed nobody to interfere with the progress of his tribe. With unlimited energy, a determination that never recognized defeat, he fought long and hard for what the Osages are enjoying today.

1882 was a "red letter" year for Bigheart in other ways. That was the year the government began rationing cattle to the Osages. Those cattle were not gifts but part payment for their ceded lands in Kansas. The government had promised to teach them to farm and this was a feeble step in that direction.

Cattle were driven north from Texas to Guthrie and Pawhuska where they were delivered to family heads in lots of three to five. At that time, all the land belonged to the tribe and an Osage could have all that he fenced and used. Knowing that his people did not want to be troubled with the care of live stock and would sell for a ------------------------------------ 16 Interview with the late George E. Tinker. ------------------------------------ trinket, Bigheart determined to buy up those cattle before the white swindlers from the borderlands could strike. Riding among his people a few days before the allotment, Bigheart offered cash for their allotted cattle. When the big day arrived he took several cowboys to Pawhuska and sent others to Quthrie to buy and drive home the cattle other Osages did not care to keep.

From this small beginning with allotted cattle, Bigheart built his empire that spread out into the mercantile business in a building on his ranch, a half-interest in Pawhuska's leading drug store, a director of the Bank of Bartlesville and the First National Bank of Cleveland, a stockholder in the Citizens Trading Company of Pawhuska, and continued to manage his ranch. Because he was one of the first to recognize the possibilities for grazing and fattening stock on the lush blue stem grass that covered the reservation, Bigheart became the wealthiest man of his tribe prior to the discovery of oil on the reservation. 17 His ranch home was the center of all. his activities. He knew that people are more receptive to ideas when their stomachs are full. Consequently, he entertained often and lavishly at the ranch. Feasts, barbecues, and dances were arranged on a few hours notice, when guests arrived.

1896 was one of the busiest years of Bigheart's career. While biding for time on the allotment bill, hoping that minerals beneath the reservation would be proved so that his tribesmen could better comprehend the advisability of holding their lands in common, Bigheart granted a 10-year blanket lease, with renewal privileges to the Foster brothers of Independence, Kansas, and Westerly, Rhode Island. The Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company was organized and blocks of leases given stockholders. Some tried to monopolize the land and bickerings led to bankruptcy. A Westerly bank went broke trying to stem the tide of manipulation. Finally, by selling 50,000 acres of lease for enough cash to pay outstanding bills, the corporation settled down to business and began actual development.

Bigheart finally accomplished a Federal investigation of the Osage Indian rolls in 1896 to eliminate those not entitled to Osage property rights. In the early 1890's, the mixed bloods, known as the "Progressive Party," began a movement to secure the division of million and half acres of Osage land among tribal members. Refugees from other tribes had joined the Osages in Kansas during and immediately following the Civil War and, enjoying Osage hospitality, stayed on. Bigheart wanted all but Osages stricken from the rolls. He finally succeeded and the names of those not entitled to Osage property rights were eliminated in 1896. --------------------------------------------- l7 Interviews with Mary Field, Julia Lookout (James Bigheart's couein), the late George E. Tinker, who worked as a cowboy for Bigheart at the --------------------------------------------

THE ALLOTMENT BILL

The full bloods, led by James Bigheart, fought the allotment bill with all their powers. By December of 1894, they had reached a partial agreement among tribal members, and in February of 1898 Bigheart and Black Dog were sent as delegates for the " Full Blood Party," to fight the bill introduced in Congress, at Washington, D. C. A feast was given, and subscriptions were taken from members of the tribe to finance the delegates' trip to Washington.

In the early part of 1904, a bill providing for the allotment of the Osage Reservation and the pro rata distribution of the funds held in trust by the United States was introduced in the House of Representatives by Delegate Bird McGuire. This bill provided that each Osage receive 160 acres of land, inalienable for twenty-five years. The surplus land was divided among the members of the tribe, and after satisfying the Secretary of lnterior that they were capable of managing their own affairs, they were permitted to sell the same. The trust funds were apportioned among the Osages and drew interest while retained in the United States Treasury. This money was not paid out until full disposition had been made of their surplus lands. The school fund of $1,500,000 was preserved as a separate fund in the Treasury. The Osage rolls were kept open for three months after the passage of the Act for Osages not then included, and an opportunity given to present proof wherever fraud was charged in connection with the enrollment. A commission of four had charge of the allotment work: one commissioner named by the president served as the chairman; one was named by the tribe, one by the Osage Council, and one by the Interior Department.

Bigheart, aware that white men waited impatiently to seize any Osage property interests that by fair or foul, the moment they were left without Federal government protection, was still bitterly opposed to the Allotment bill, and shrewdly and persistently fought its passage. The Osage delegates were kept too drunk to conduct business until Indian Cornmissloner Jones took a hand in the matter and his lecture is recorded in the March 3, 1904 issue of the Kingfisher Free Press :

"JONES LECTURES INDIANS"

'The Indian Commissioner Gives Red Men Talk on Temperance in Washington. Indian Commissioner Jones had what looked like a Sunday School of Red Indians in his office one day last week. They were Jim Bigheart and the dozen Osage Chiefa who hare been here for a month to agree on legislation for apportioning and selling their lands and getting their tribal funds in the treasury divided up amoug the tribe. Ten days ago Rep. Curtis of Kansas drew up a bill for them, al:d they said they would come to an understanding about it, but they have not. Mr. Jones ranged the Indians around his room and gave them a temperance lecture for 15 minutes. He told them they were acting like fools, and that they would have to get down to businem or he would ship them back home."

The same newspaper carried an article concerning Bigheart's purchase of $480 worth of valentines in Washington for mailing to officials and personal friends in the Territory.

Bigheart did not drink to excess and old-timers believe he was merely playing politics, stalling for time by keeping his opponents drunk. He hued a brilliant young lawyer, John F. Palmer, and stationed him in Washington "to keep his finger on the governmental pulse." Credit has been given Palmer for much of Bigheart's work. The Osage chiefs returned to the reservation before reaching any definite decision on the bill, and the following election Bigheart was defeated by Progressive Candidate 0-lo-ho-wal-la.

In 1906, when the bill came up before Congress again and Bigheart learned that 0-lo-ho-wal-la's delegates planned to pass the bill as introduced in 1904, he took Fred Lookout (later Principal Chief of the Osages) with him to Washington and succeeded in having the rider clause introduced that saved all minerals below the surface lands ("top fifteen inches of the soil") for the tribe.

In February Chief 0-lo-ho-wal-la and assistant Chief Bacon Rind, James Bigheart, Ne-Kah-Wah-She-Tan-Kah, Black Dog, W. T. Mosier, Frank Corndropper, C. N. Prudom, W. T. Leahy, Peter Bigheart, J. F. Palmer, and Two-ah-hee selected by the chief, promoted the final of the bill that was passed as Act of Congress, on June 28, 1906. This is known in history as the "Osage allotment Act." It provided for a division of the lands and moneys held in common by the tribe. It provided for a final roll to be closed July, 1907, with membership that totaled 2,229. Each enrolled member received about 655 acres of the surface land and $3,819 in cash out of the tribal funds in the Treasury.

In March 1906, while in Washington, Bigheart suffered a stroke of paralysis from which he never fully recovered. He continued to entertain and counsel with his tribesmen from his bed, but died just three months prior to the tribe's first payment under the Allotment Bill. Consensus in the Osage Country is that probably no Indian ever enjoyed the confidence of government officials as did Chief Bigheart. He was consulted by Secretary Hitchcock on all important matters pertaining to Osage Indian affairs, and it is said that both Secretary Hitchcock and his wife were regular visitors at Bigheart's bedside while he lay sick in Washington. 18

While operating a drug store in Pawhuska he was indicted by the Federal Grand Jury for bringing intoxicating liquor into the reservation. The April 25, 1899 issue of The Vinita Chieftain carried the following story of his arrest: ------------------------------------------- 18 It has been said that Bigheart was the only Indian ever granted a license to bring whiskey into the reservation, and that this privilege was granted to him by the Secretary of the Interior.-"The Bighorn Chronicle for October 9, 1908. ------------------------------------------ 1908. "The U. 8. Grand Jury, Pawhmh, indicted exchief James Bigbeart,a full blood Osage Indian, on a charge of unlawfully bringing intoxicating liquors into Osage County. Reported to be the wealthiest member of the Osage tribe, prominent politically, and owning among a number of enterprises half interest in a large drug store in Pawhuska, his indictment caused much surprise"

This incident caused Secretary of the Interior Hitchcock to issue a license to James Bigheart.

On a shady knoll beside Bird Creek, that flows through the old homestead, James Bigheart rests among his family and people whom he buried in the family plot when nobody else seemed to care for them. Although Oklahoma State Highway # 11 now borders his family plot, few travelers give it more than a passing glance because it looks no different from any other family cemetery in that section of the country. Although Mary Field, Bigheart's oldest surviving daughter, pleaded with the Osage Council for years to place a historical marker at her father's grave it is still unmarked, except for the large stone his children erected.

"Big Jim" expected nothing in return for his work during his lifetime; he knew what he wanted for his people as a whole and did not stop until he had accomplished this. Slowly, step by step, first he promoted a written constitution for the Osage nation, then organized two political parties among the Osages, encouraged schooling for their children and finally when all odds were against him succeeded in securing his rider clause to the Allotment Bill that preserved all mineral rights for the Osage people as a tribe.

He lived a full life of seventy years and saw many of his dreams fulfilled, and although no historical marker may ever point out his grave, the man who led a mistreated, starving tribe of Indians plagued by diseases, Jim Bigheart is appreciated today, four and one-half decades after his death, far more than during his own lifetime. He led them out of the darkness of illiteracy, and among his people he may well be referred to as the "Joshua of the Osages." ------------------------------------------------------------- APPENDIX A During thirteen years of research after meeting the late Mary Field, oldest daughter of Bigheart, the writer of this article met and was graciously assisted by members of the Osage, the Cherokee and the Choctaw nations. Dr. Grant Foreman of Muskogee, Oklahoma, whoee research and books are well known to every reader of historical work4 kindly pointed out source material and his own well known books that presented material on Osage. Mr. Lee Harkins, a descendent of Choctaw and Chickasaw chieftians, and a collector of rare Indian artifacts, loaned maps and books. He also introduced the writer to the late William W. Graves, publisher and writer of St. Paul, Kansas, who graciously helped search the Old Osage Mission files for school records of James Bigheart's attendance there. When Mr. Graves was eighty years old on May 81, 1952, two hundred friends, neighbors, and co-workers gathered in the St. Francis gymnasium in St. Paul, Kansas (formerly Osage Mission) to honor him. Father Brendan McConnel of St. Paul spoke. Paul Pitta, Hominy, Oklahoma, present Chief of the Osage tribe, presented Mr. Graves with a feathered headdress, token of honorary member in the tribe and named him: 'The Man of the Journal." Most Reverend Mark K. Carroll, Bishop of the Wichita Diocese of the Catholic Church presented Graves with a scroll denoting his appointment, by Pope Pius XII, ae a Knight of St. Gregory. In July 1952 Graves died, after the completion and publication of the second volume of his Neosho County Hbtory, his fifteenth published book.

The late Fred Lookout, chief of the Osages for twenty-eight years read and checked the manuscript from which this article is adapted and graciously gave the entire day of Memorial Day of 1948, to discussion of Osage history reviewed in the manuscript. He discarded portions of the original typed copy and added valuable information about the Bigheart family. Chief Lookout's wife, Julia, who died soon after her husband's death, was a second cousin of James Bigheart.

Wesley Disney furnished information gathered from the Indian archives in Washington, D). C. The late George E. Tinker, father of the late Major-General Clarence Tinker, famous soldier lost in the Battle of Midway, was always ready to reminisce over a cup of hot coffee or a glass of cold beer, recalling the days when he, as a youth, enjoyed James Bigheart's hospitality. Mr. Tinker had attended the old Osage Mission school, and at one time "punched Cattle" for James Bigheart. T. B. Hall, superintendent of the Osage Agency at Pawhuska, contributed information concerning oil production on the reservation.

APPENDIX B Mary Field stated that her father was the first Osage Indian to bury a immediate family in the ground and as a Catholic.

Records of the St. Francis Church. St Paul, Kansas reveal entries in Book No. 2, page 116: "June 12, 1876, the undersigned buried the corpse of Camilla Kiasumpa, daughter of Big Heart from Big Hill, some 15 years old. Signed: Paul M. Ponziglione, S. J.

Ibid, under date of June 21, 1876: 'The undersigned buried James Bigheart, aged 8 years, -signed A. Hayden, S. J." Julia Lookout confirmed these entries and said they were daughter and son of Jim Bigheart, who died during an epidemic that swept the tribe.

Records of the St. Francis Church, Book 3, p. 13, Paul Mary Ponziglione, 8. 3. Signed the following entry: May 23, 1880, the undersigned baptised Josephine, about three months old, on Bird Creek, Osage Reservation, daughter of James Big Heart and Amelia Big Heart, both Osages. Sponsor Marie Louisa Chouteau.

Ibid., p. 18, Paul M. Ponziglione, S. J., stated, "October 22, 1883, the undersigned baptised solemnly Mary Magdalene, about one year and a half old, daughter of James Big Heart and of Humpeshance (both Osages). This child was born on Bird Creek, Chouteau settlement. Sponsors-The Brave and Maria Loisa Chouteau, all residing in the Osage Nation. The child was baptised in Muskogee, Creek Nation, where they happened to be traveling and were found.

  • *********************************************************

Notes: Clippings from the Mountain View Progress - 1902 as transcribed by Mollie Stehno

November 13, 1902--Mountain View Progress— James Big Heart Is Chief—The Osage elected him and inaugurated him as chief at Pawhuska amid ringing of bells, firing of anvils and other ceremonies. The new administration belongs to the non-progressive element which has been opposed to allotment of tribal lands.

  • ***********************************************************
view all 16

Chief James Bigheart's Timeline

1842
April 1842
Saint Paul, Neosho County, Kansas, United States
1861
1861
Age 18
Saint Paul, Neosho County, Kansas, United States
1868
1868
Age 25
Saint Paul, Neosho County, Kansas, United States
1878
1878
Age 35
Osage County, Oklahoma, United States
1880
May 23, 1880
Age 38
Osage County, Oklahoma, United States
1882
1882
Age 39
Osage County, Oklahoma, United States
1890
January 1890
Age 47
Osage County, Oklahoma, United States