Government

Standing Bear: ‘Osage preference is priority for Nation’s hiring’

There are job positions available at the Osage Nation, some high ranking and some entry.

Thirty people who were hired within the last 90 days were recently switched to emergency hires, making their jobs temporary instead of on a path to full-time employment. The Standing Bear administration is currently re-evaluating the hiring practice of the Nation and whether or not the Osage preference law, ONCA 11-30, was followed in those hires.

“I had asked Scott [BigHorse] after the primary [election] to consult with me on hires because I wanted to make sure Osage preference was followed. I had heard the Nation wasn’t following Osage preference law in many of its hiring,” said Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. “[After I was] sworn in, I asked, among many other things, I asked, have there been any non-emergency hires within the last 90 days and they gave me a list of 30 people and some of them were Osages and some weren’t. I said okay, I would like to make sure the whole process is followed correctly and the consensus of our team was – you don’t want to single out anybody. But, I don’t intend to single out anybody, I want to look at the process.”

All 30 employees received a letter that changed their status from probationary to emergency. The job descriptions for the positions are being evaluated and in some cases rewritten by the new Director of Operations John Williams. Helping him to rewrite job descriptions and also a new policy and procedures manual for the Nation is Olivia Gray, who has worked for the Nation in the past and recently the Delaware Tribe.

Standing Bear said all are welcome to reapply but in some cases it was clear that Osage preference was not followed and in one case it was a high-ranking position.

“What I did was as I was looking at the Osage preference issue, I asked that all other procedures were followed properly including making sure people, especially directors, that those jobs had qualified job descriptions in them. I’m not involved in the rewriting of those,” Standing Bear said. “[The new policy and procedure manual] is not in place yet, but it’s going to be a lot simpler, a lot smaller and a lot clearer. Currently, it is confusing, contradictory and a lot of loop holes were found.”

He said there have been some resignations and in a separate issue Osage Nation Attorney General Jeff Jones recently brought legal action against three individuals – Daniel St. John, Wayne Wilson, Elizabeth Kathleen Sherwood.

“They’re ongoing personnel actions, I can’t comment on that but we did take personnel action on those three and we did it quickly,” Standing Bear said.

Osage News stories are forthcoming on those individuals.

Osage preference

Osage preference gives hiring preference to the most qualified Osage tribal members first, then spouses of Osages, then non-Osages who are parents of an Osage, then Native American tribal members and then non-Native Americans. If there is a job where all applicants are unqualified, the Osage will be hired and trained to perform the minimum qualifications of the job. The preference is supposed to be given during initial hiring, reinstatements, transfers, reassignments and promotions.

Standing Bear issued an executive directive on July 16 detailing the policy and procedure in which the Osage preference law would be followed in his administration.

One requirement, if a non-Osage is hired then a “compelling” reason must be given and a report made to the Human Resources Department that will remain confidential. The Executive Branch, through an Osage Nation Employment Rights Office or other department, will monitor the hiring practice and violations will be sent to the ON Attorney General with a punishment of an employment disciplinary action or $500 fine, according to the directive.

Executive directives

Since Standing Bear took office on July 2, he’s issued nearly 10 directives, some changing long-standing policies that date back to the Gray administration.

One of the first policies to change was the Communication Protocol for Executive Branch Employees that both the Gray and Red Eagle administrations implemented.

“Effectively immediately, all previous Communication Protocols are hereby rescinded except for those sections mandated by Osage law,” according to Executive Directive No. 14-03.

Three Osage laws were listed in the directive as standing laws to abide by: Article X, Section 7 of the Osage Constitution, the Speak What’s on Your Mind Act and the Nation’s Ethics Law.

Executive directive No. 14-06 is to provide hiring preference for Native American Veterans.

“The intent of this policy is to provide maximum opportunity to hire, train and promote veteran applicants to the greatest extent possible,” according to the directive. 

Eligibility for the preference will require veterans to submit a DD-214 form, issued by the discharging military organization. The new policy states the preferences will be prioritized as follows:

·      Disabled Osage Veteran (unless job duties cannot be performed due to disability)
·      Veteran who is an Osage Tribal member
·      Disabled Veteran who is a Spouse or Parent of an Osage Tribal member (unless job duties cannot be performed due to disability)
·      Veteran who is a Spout or Parent of an Osage Tribal member
·      Disabled Veteran who is a Native American Tribal member (unless job duties cannot be performed due to disability)
·      Veteran who is a Native American Tribal member
·      Disabled non-Native American Veteran (unless job duties cannot be performed due to disability)
·      Non-Native American Veteran

Executive directive No. 14-07 places the final signature authority on travel with the Director of Operations. During the Red Eagle administration if an employee, board member, commissioner, minerals council member, needed to travel out of state on business, before their travel could be processed it had to have the signature of the chief.