By: Barbara Thomburg (Osage) – IA2 Team
Barbara Thomburg is Osage and currently lives in Pahuska, Oklahoma. She is a storyteller, a daughter, and a granddaughter. Barbara encouraged her family to make sure to write things down so stories could be passed through the generations. This also carried into how she learned to cook, especially meat pies that were taught to her by her grandmother, Coshehe. Coshehe loved to cook for her family, she was Potawatomi. People always commented on Coshehe’s cooking, they loved it. Barbara’s grandmother would have people come out to bunk houses/summer houses in June for dances. Barbara recalls one memory of her grandmother that was very special to her from about 56 years ago:
“When I was a little girl, I stayed with my grandma Coshehe all the time. One day, a car came down her dirt road. A big Native came walking up to the house. He said his name, and that he was an Otoe from Missouri. He was on his way with his family to a pow wow in Tulsa. They were in need of a place to pitch a tent, a place to stay. He had heard that my grandma was a kind woman. And that she would provide a safe place for him and his family. Now keep in mind, we were on Osage reservation. About 55 miles from Tulsa. The man pitches his tent and they stayed out there all night.
The next morning. My grandma fixed breakfast for all of them. After he ate, the Otoe man asked me if I could braid, I nodded yes. He said then make it tight. So I did. As they were walking out to leave, the man turned and gave my grandma a red tailed fan. Unleaded, but still so beautiful. We stood on the porch and watched them leave. My grandma showed me the fan and asked what I thought. I said it’s beautiful grandma. And so, my grandma gave me the fan. I still have that fan. I’m 59 now. And I still miss my grandma every day.”
Barbara’s grandmother was ultimately affected by memory loss, specifically dementia. Barbara’s mother also had Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the impacts of memory loss in Barbara’s family, the memories carry on in the stories that are shared by loved ones.