Wah-Sha-She Park

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Wah-Sha-She Park
A map of Oklahoma showing the location of Wah-Sha-She  Park
A map of Oklahoma showing the location of Wah-Sha-She  Park
Location Osage County, Oklahoma, United States
Nearest city Copan, OK
Coordinates 36°55′30″N 96°05′51″W / 36.925°N 96.0975°W / 36.925; -96.0975Coordinates: 36°55′30″N 96°05′51″W / 36.925°N 96.0975°W / 36.925; -96.0975
Area 266 acres (108 ha)
Established 1973
Visitors 15,000 [1] (in 2012[1])
Governing body Osage Nation

Wah-Sha-She Park, formerly named Wah-Sha-She State Park, is on the shore of Hulah Lake (Oklahoma) in Osage County, Oklahoma. The name is from the Osage language, meaning "the water people." The 266-acre (108 ha) park offers recreational activities including boating, fishing and swimming. Hunting is allowed in the adjacent 8,900-acre (3,600 ha) Wildlife Management Area. There is also a 2,000-acre (810 ha) Waterfowl Refuge where birdwatching is allowed.[2][3]

Another version of the name claims that the tribe called itself Wah-Zha-Zhe when French explorer Jacques Marquette encountered them in the 17th Century. The map he produced in 1673 translated the name into the French as Ouchage. In effect, the park is named for the Osage people.


This park was established in 1973.[4] It is 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Pawhuska, Oklahoma on Oklahoma State Highway 99, then 10 miles (16 km) east on State Highway 10. It is west of Copan, Oklahoma on Oklahoma State Highway 10.[3]

Closure threatened[edit]

In 2011, the state announced its intention to close Wah-Sha-She State Park as part of its budget-cutting program.[5] That Labor Day, the Osage Nation took over management of the park, which is owned by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.[6]

Chief John Red Eagle said,

"The Osage people have made it clear that one of their priorities is to expand and improve water recreation on the reservation, including swimming, boating, camping and fishing. This one step enables the Osage Nation to begin realizing that goal."[7]

Chief Red Eagle of the Osage Nation signed a management agreement with the Corps of Engineers in May 2012, although the Osage legislative branch had previously voted down funding the take-over. The agreement extends through 2016, at which time the Osage Nation will reevaluate whether to extend it.[8]

A news report in 2013 indicated that the tribe had upgraded the park. It attracted 15,000 visiteors in 2012 and the number in mid 2013 had surpassed that of the previous year.[1]

Unfortunately, revenues declined in 2014 to $24,000 from $50,000 in 2013. Operating expenses rose from $140,000 in 2014 to about $150,000 in 2015. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear notified the Corps of Engineers that the Osage Nation would terminate its lease for the park.[9]


In October, 2014, a group of local residents organized the non-profit Hulah Lake Association (HLA) to save the park from permanent closure. The Corps of Engineers said that the Osage Nation could not lease the park to a private entity, but that if the Nation continued to hold title, the Corps could approve a sublease to a private entity. So, HLA agreed to "...operate and maintain the park, collect camping fees, keep track of the revenue... also going keep it clean, keep it mowed, all on a volunteer basis.”[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Wah-Sha-She State Park Thriving Under Osage Nation Control." Day, Craig.News on 6. June 13, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  2. ^ "Wah-Sha-She State Park". Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Wah-Sha-She State Park". Shop Oklahoma. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Osage County." Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. May, Jon D. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  5. ^ Canfield, Kevin. "Seven Oklahoma state parks to be closed". Tulsa World. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Why It’s Hard to Privatize and Move State Parks". NPR. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Come Labor Day, Osage Nation Will Run Wah-Sha-She State Park", News9.com, 12 July 2011
  8. ^ Polacca, Benny. Osage News. "Osage Nation takes over Wah-Sha-She State Park." June 6, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2013.[1]
  9. ^ "Osages to terminate lease for Hulah park." Bartlesville-Examiner Enterprise. September 18, 2014.
  10. ^ Duty, Shannon Shaw. "Nation subleases Wah Sha She Park to volunteers, considers Walnut Creek." Osage News. February 26, 2015 Accessed August 3, 2017.