Welcome to the Kaw Nation

Flocks of People Gather at Eagle Watch

January 19 brought a warm opportunity for area residents to see eagles during the 24th annual Kaw Lake Ultimate Eagle Watch, presented by the Kaw Lake Association and sponsored in part by Kaw Nation. 579 people attended the Eagle Watch. Even though hunters scared off some of the birds, people were able to catch sight of several eagles throughout the day.

Masses of people crowded into the Kaw Nation Community Center as Ryan VanZant of the Sutton Avian Research Center presented his eagle, BENSAR.

“BENSAR is a fine ambassador for his species,” VanZant said.

BENSAR (whose name stands for Bald Eagle Northern Sutton Avian Research) is 27 years old and weighs eight pounds. He once flew over the Grand Canyon.

BENSAR flew off his perch at one point, unsure of his place in the room. Also, he took a moment to comb his wings as VanZant answered questions.

“It’s an indication that he’s comfortable here,” VanZant said.

Among other presentations given that morning, Luther Pepper discussed the significance of eagles in Native American cultures. Pepper spoke about how eagle feathers are presented to people to wear with their dancing regalia.

“You can’t just get one of those feathers and stick it on your head and start dancing. There’s a process—a ceremony—you have to go through to be able to go to a person who has the right to put a feather on a person. In our tribe, it’s the eldest son that has that right,” he explained.

Pepper mentioned how fancy dancers used to wear eagle feathers in the bustle of their regalia.

He discussed how Native Americans believe that the eagle carries prayers up to the Great Father, Wakanda.

Jennifer Randel of the Potawatomi Tribe gave a presentation on the Citizen Potawatomi Aviary Project.  She decided to start the aviary after attending the Kaw Lake Ultimate Eagle Watch in 2008. Upon hearing that anyone from a federally recognized tribe could start an aviary during a presentation about the Iowa Aviary, she decided to start one.

“Literally on the way home I called my grandmother, who is an elder in my tribe, and told her what happened to me. I told her, ‘I had an epiphany. I realized that this is what I’m supposed to do with my life,’” she said.

She went to various eagle watches and training sessions to learn about taking care of eagles. In 2009, she won a grant for the aviary. At the aviary, Randel and others nurture sick and injured eagles so that they may fly again.

Tribal members also pray with eagles.

Having an aviary enables the tribe to gather molted feathers. She mentioned that this eases the process of obtaining feathers for personal use.

“Sometimes you have a death in your family or a veteran coming home and you need that feather within a day or a week. We can offer that,” she said.

Rondi Large gave a presentation on WildCare, a wildlife refuge for injured or orphaned animals that are native to Oklahoma. WildCare treats 5,000 animals per year among 125 species. A few eagles are able to find a place at WildCare each year.


Kaw Nation Donates to Kildare Fire Department

Kildare Donation

Kaw Nation delivered a generous gift to the Kildare Fire Department on Wednesday that raises the capability of the department. Tribal Chairman Guy Munroe presented Kildare Fire Chief Travis Harris with $15,000 for a hydraulic extrication—Jaws of Life—set.

“I appreciate everything you have done for us,” Harris told Munroe and the Kaw Nation Tribal Council. “This will help serve the community of Kay County and Kildare. We don’t just serve Kildare, but also Newkirk, Blackwell, Kaw City.”

The set consists of five tools, including a power unit, cutter, spreader, ram and hoses.

Without the Jaws of Life, the department only has hand tools to get people out of a vehicle.

Equipment upgrades are often out of reach for the Kildare Fire Department. The crew runs on an average budget of $14,900. Hence, the Jaws of Life set would have typically cost more than a year of expenses for the department.

The donation will also help with training for proper use of the Jaws of Life tools.

“This is going to increase department training,” Harris said. “This is a very intent, concentrated training.”

Harris said that having the set will allow his firemen to respond to a greater variety of situations.

“In October, when there was the pileup on I-35, we would have been there if we had this,” he said.

SouthWind Casino’s bingo hall celebrated its 28th anniversary


Players collected their bingo cards and stepped to their respective tables ready to mark all the winning spots on a special occasion. SouthWind Casino’s bingo hall celebrated its 28th anniversary on the weekend of December 28-30.

The opening of the momentous event attracted 380 players last Friday. That included many of the regular players, some of whom had been playing for more years than spots they would mark in two games.

Saturday’s games saw about 330 players check cards. On Sunday, close to 300 people took part in the festivities.

Participants had a chance to win a $1,199 payout on the $28 buy-in. The free pack paid out $500.

After one of the later games, about a dozen players were honored for having played ever since the beginning of the casino’s bingo run in 1984.

Terry Ashby, who has worked in the bingo hall for more than 20 years, announced the games from the podium in front of the crowd.

SouthWind Casino Blood Drive.


Cece Stevens (above) donates blood at the SouthWind Casino blood drive on December 26. Stevens was one of nine people who gave blood. The blood drive was directed by the Oklahoma Blood Institute. The OBI is the ninth-largest blood center in the United States.

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