Today Jan. 13 is Day One of the removal trial for Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle in the Congressional Chambers in Pawhuska.
The Third ON Congress called itself into a special session to hold the proceedings, which are a first in the reformed Osage government’s history. The Congress will convene at 9 a.m. with the trial scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
ON Supreme Court Associate Justice Jeanine Logan will preside during the trial and the 12 members of Congress will serve as the tribunal that will ultimately decide whether Chief Red Eagle should be removed from office after hearing testimony regarding the six allegations of wrongdoing made against the Chief.
The removal trial is the next crucial step in the Nation’s removal process regarding elected or appointed tribal officials. A Congressional Select Committee of Inquiry investigated a total of 15 allegations made against the Chief last year and that investigation resulted in a committee recommendation that those six allegations warrant cause for the Congress to hold a removal trial. Congress voted for the removal trial during the Nov. 15 special session.
The following six allegations were placed on the written motion for Chief Red Eagle’s removal trial passed by Congress and will be considered throughout the trial:
1. Chief Red Eagle “interfered with an investigation of the Office of Attorney General of the Osage Nation, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office and arrogation of powers.”
2. Chief Red Eagle “attempted to have the investigation being conducted by the Office of Attorney General of the Osage Nation terminated to give preferential treatment to an employee, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office and arrogation of power.”
3. Chief Red Eagle “refused to uphold Osage Nation Law, ONCA 11-78, enacted by the (Congress) with a veto override on October 6, 2011, which delegates, “… full and sole control over all Mineral Estate Accounts…” (Section 2A) to the Osage Minerals Council, an independent agency within the Osage Nation. In response to the (OMC’s) letter requesting the release of accounts, he replied by letter stating, “the management of these accounts shall remain in the Osage Nation Treasury” which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.”
4. Chief Red Eagle “abused the power of his elected position to improperly influence the administration of the Osage Nation Election Board by forbidding disciplinary action against an Election Board employee, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.”
5. Chief Red Eagle “abused the power of his elected position to improperly withhold one or more contracts between the Osage Nation and Rod Hartness properly requested under the (Nation’s Open Records Act) by the Osage News staff and The Bigheart Times staff, which constitutes malfeasance in office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, and arrogation of power.”
6. Chief Red Eagle “violated Osage and federal laws, misusing public money of the Osage Nation by authorizing Paul Allen to be paid $73,334 in Osage Nation public monies for personal services contracts, for which he admittedly did no work to earn his fees, which constitutes malfeasance in office, abuse of the government process and undermining the integrity of the office.”
The trial comes after several legal challenges Chief Red Eagle made against the actions calling for his removal with the latest event being the ON Supreme Court ruling that stated the Chief had been afforded due process throughout the SCOI investigation phase and he had a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the trial.
The removal trial is the Chief’s opportunity to cross-examine witnesses who will testify during the proceedings.
Both legislative and executive branches retained outside legal counsel throughout the SCOI investigation and those attorneys will be representing them during the trial. Tulsa-based attorney Mark Lyons worked with the Congress and Oklahoma City-based attorneys Kirke Kickingbird and James Burson are representing Chief Red Eagle.
Check back to www.osagenews.org for updates on the trial, as well as the newspaper’s Facebook page.