Culture

Yun Chen and Nanping Yu didn’t waste any time Tuesday in asking questions about the tribe’s infrastructure, casino profits, land decisions, oil business, health care and election process during their tour of the Osage Tribal Museum.

The two ambassadors are visiting the United States as part of an International Visitor Leadership Program, a project through the U.S. Department of State. They are here to study aspects of energy security and its foreign policy implications, with emphasis on academic and private sector input into policy making. They have already visited Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Cleveland, Ohio, and Tulsa.

Speaking through an interpreter, Chen asked Leonard Maker, who was giving the tour and who is also the Nation’s Policy Analyst in Principal Chief John Red Eagle’s new administration, about whether or not the tribe’s chief has placed any restrictions on tribal citizens gambling in the tribe’s casinos? In the Chinese city of Macau, whose main income comes from multi-million casino resorts, city residents are not allowed to gamble. City officials view it as bad for its citizens. The city residents are only allowed to work in the casinos.

“No,” Maker said. “There is currently no law prohibiting Osage citizens from gambling in our casinos if they live in the same town as the casino.”

Chen gave an audible sigh of disapproval. “Our citizens do work in the establishments as well but the casino employees are not allowed to gamble in the establishments,” Maker said. Which Chen and Yu nodded their heads in agreement.

Maker, who is also the youngest Osage full-blood at the age of 60, explained the history of the Osage and the rise and fall of the Oklahoma oil business and how it affected the tribe’s income. Yu asked if the tribe has its own oil company and do the citizens work at the Osage oil companies?

“No, we turn it over to the private sector,” Maker said.

Both Chen and Yu asked questions about taxation on the reservation, education and whether or not the Osage had a tribal college. Maker said there were talks of an Osage college and that the tribe is looking into it and for all other educational needs the tribe relies on the state. Chen wanted to know why the Osage chose this area in which Maker explained the tribe’s forced move from Kansas.

This is Chen’s first visit to the U.S. She is an associate professor in the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University in Shanghai. Yu is the director of regional and energy research of East China Normal University in Shanghai and has made several trips to the U.S. for research.

“[Chen and Yu] enjoyed it, that’s the first opportunity to get a better understanding of the Native American and especially your nation because they’ve never had an opportunity, during the entire program, to know the history and visually see the artifacts and all the photos – that was a very special experience,” said Mary Nimtz, who served as Chen and Yu's interpreter, in a telephone interview Aug. 13. “They appreciated the opportunity, it was a cooperative experience.”

The ambassadors traveled to San Francisco on Aug. 11 and on Aug. 13 visited Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.