Oklahoma’s Osage Nation Pawhuska Casino to Open in October
The Osage Nation’s highly anticipated new Osage Casino in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is gearing up for a two-stage launch in October. The casino will open for Osage tribal members and guests on October 4, and then will see a grand opening to the public on October 5.
This announcement was made by the principal chief of the Osage Nation, Geoffrey Standing Bear, during a Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week.
The 60-acre venue will host 250 slot machines, a 47-room hotel, and more than 3600 square feet of event space. It will join the list of 108 Oklahoma casinos, all of which are tribally operated ventures.
The Osage already operate seven casinos in the state, most on their large Tribal reservation that is bigger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island. Their existing Pawhuska Village casino, a rather nondescript block building with no hotel space that has been operating for 20 years, will close upon the opening of the Osage Casino & Hotel.
“This property has been a long time coming,” said Kimberly Pearson, Osage Casinos CEO.
“We’re so proud to share this beautiful facility with the Pawhuska community and our Nation, and it’s amazing to see all the hard work come to fruition.”
Delayed Project Finally Ready
The Osage Nation embarked on this ambitious casino-hotel project in June 2021, with an initial plan to have it completed by the fall of 2022.
However, the journey to its completion wasn’t smooth.
The project faced significant challenges, including supply chain disruptions and escalating costs, which led to delays. The initial concept included a $12 million outdoor recreation park and health center for downtown Pawhuska. But Osage Nation politicians opposed the funding deal for the plan.
That delayed the casino venture until casino planners agreed to shelve the recreation park for the moment. However, Standing Bear is still hopeful the health park part of the project will be up for consideration again in 2023, according to local newspaper Pawhuska Journal-Capital.
Standing Bear expressed his determination to make it an electoral issue, given that six of the 12 seats in the Osage Nation Congress will be contesting elections 2024.
Casinos. Heritage and Scorsese
Chief Standing Bear also shared insights into other developments. He anticipates the opening of another casino-hotel in Bartlesville a few months after the Pawhuska launch.
Furthermore, the chief discussed other projects, including the development of a new Osage Nation health clinic in downtown Pawhuska, the construction of residential treatment center facilities for drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation, and a planned expansion of the tribal museum and tribal heritage center space.
In an interesting aside, Chief Standing Bear also took the meeting as an opportunity to share his positive review of the upcoming Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon, which was largely filmed in Osage County. He praised the film for its extensive incorporation of the Osage language, and credited the filmmakers for their effort to authentically represent the cultural aspects of the story.
Standing Bear says he also organized the Nations’ acquisition of a building constructed for the movie’s set in Pawhuska. The plan is to resurrect the building as part of the upcoming Tribal heritage space in the downtown area.