Chief Bacon Rind

Artist: Father John Walch

The exact date and place of Bacon Rind’s birth is unknown, but it is likely he was born around 1860 in Kansas. The Osage tribe was forced to what is now Osage County during the removals of the 1870s. Bacon Rind served as assistant chief in 1904 and 1905 before being elected principal chief in 1912. The following year, United States Interior Secretary Walter Fisher removed Bacon Rind as principal chief over an incident involving an oil lease, but many Osages continued to recognize Bacon Rind as their leader. Bacon Rind supported allotment of Osage lands and the development of oil and natural gas resources while remaining devoted to traditional tribal dress and customs. He made annual visits to Washington, D.C. and it has been said that he was the most photographed of all Native American leaders, always wearing his otter skin cap. Bacon Rind died in Pawhuska, Oklahoma in 1932.

Father John Walch served as president of the Catholic Art Association and was pastor of several churches in central Oklahoma during the last half of the 20th century. An accomplished artist, he also made a significant contribution to Oklahoma’s artistic landscape when he spearheaded work to give the art collection of St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee a permanent home. Father John Walch served as the first director of the Mabee-Gerrer Museum when it opened in 1979.

Walch earned his bachelors degree in English from Loyola University, before studying at the Chicago Art Institute. He studied for the priesthood at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Walch’s work has been exhibited at the International Exposition of Modern Sacred Art in Rome, Italy and in traveling exhibits throughout the United States.

As director of Liturgical Art for the Oklahoma diocese, Walch was instrumental in the planning, ornamentation, remodeling and refurnishing of many Oklahoma churches. Though many of Walch’s paintings were of a religious nature, he also explored Oklahoma history through art, as with this portrait of Chief Bacon Rind. It is on permanent loan from the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Source: "Priest's Art an Expression," The Oklahoman, December 25, 1966; "The Monk, The Mummy & Mabee," Oklahoma Today, November-December 1985; "John L. Walch obituary," The Oklahoman, July 2, 2003; accessed April 30, 2013; Bacon Rind, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.