Norma Osage Byrd, 80, of Pawhuska, Okla., an Osage Nation Historic Preservation Traditional Cultural Advisor, died Feb. 6, 2013, at Clarehouse Hospice in Tulsa Okla. from an unexpected illness.
Norma was born in Ralston, Okla. on July 18, 1932 to Joseph Osage, Osage Original Allottee # 37 and Mabel Kihega Osage, of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. She resided at times in Fairfax, Okla. and Columbus, Ga.
Norma was steadfast to her native identity and was from the Osage Big Chief Band with grandparents Osage Original Allottee's: Mon-kah-sop-py, # 35, and He-ah-to-me, # 36; and she was the granddaughter of Julia White Cloud Kihega and Chief Charles Kihega; and the great-granddaughter of Chief Jefferson White Cloud and Susan White Cloud of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma.
After attending public and parochial schools on the Osage Reservation and in Kansas, Norma graduated from Fairfax High School and then attended Oklahoma A&M College, Stillwater.
Norma worked in Pawhuska, Los Angeles, Cal., Phoenix, Ariz., Washington, DC, Anchorage, Alaska, Tulsa, and Columbus, Ga. for different employers during her life. She was most honored to have a career at the Bureau of Indian Affairs starting at the Osage Agency, later under the future Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Robert L. Bennett, and ending with Eugene F. Suarez, Sr., Chief, Division of Law Enforcement Services, BIA. Norma worked for WRBL-TV for George Gingell, a popular Columbus Ga. journalist
Kindness, love, and prayer were Norma's greatest gifts in life, and she had a happy and valiant temperament.
Norma was born into the Eagle Clan or clan of her Father the Golden Eagle.
Proud of her heritage, Norma Osage Byrd valued her tribal culture, the Gray Horse community, and Native affairs as she worked to better the Osage preservation efforts and made an unsuccessful bid for tribal chairman in 1995. She was a m ember of the NCAI, Pah-Sue-Lee Club, Osage Language participant, and sat on different boards during her life. Always supporting her children and family's legacy of providing quality and successful management, principles, and values, Norma believed in a strong and contemporary tribal government for the betterment of all Native people. Her birthright was from the traditional hereditary chieftain of her forefathers. Norma made some unpublished oral histories on her tribes and family. Her voice will be missed in the halls of Native government.
Norma was a member of the Catholic Church and she made many contributions: physical, educational, and monetary to her parishes. She made the trip to Rome to meet Pope John Paul II at the beatification of Native Catherine Tekakwitha in June 19 80, aka: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Norma went to St. Louis School on the Osage Reservation under the future Saint Mary Katharine Drexel.
Survivors include many relatives from both the Osage and Iowa Tribes; sons James Roman Dailey, Jr. of Stillwater; William H. Byrd, III of Pawhuska; Norman Joseph Byrd of Buena Vista, Ga. and Patrick Amos Byrd of Columbus, Ga.; daughter Kimberly Anne Bear of Sand Springs; 13 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and one sister, Corena Leland, of Pawhuska.
Norma was preceded in death by her parents, grandparents, brothers Joseph L. Osage and Carl E. Osage; sisters Helen Burnett, Vivian Big Eagle, Mary L. Cox; and numerous nephews and nieces.
A rosary service was held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2013 at the Gray Horse Chapel. A Native service was held at Saturday, Feb. 9, at 8 a.m. in the Gray Horse Chapel with Osage Roadman Andrew Gray Jr. officiating. A funeral mass was held at 9:30 a.m., Feb. 9 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Fairfax with Father Bruce Brosnahan officiating. Burial was in the City of Hominy Cemetery and an Osage Feast was given in Norma's honor at noon in the Hominy Community Building, Hominy Indian Village.
Arrangements were under the direction of the Hunsaker-Wooten Funeral Home in Fairfax, Okla.
Casket bearers were Phillip Byrd, Stewart Byrd, Elijah Bear, Darren McGhee, John Leland, Joe Pratt, and Logan Horn.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Clarehouse in the name of Norma Osage Byrd, 7617 S. Mingo Road, Tulsa, OK 74133.
Mrs. Byrd's online guestbook may be signed at www.hunsakerwootenfuneralhome.com.