Two Pawhuska village board members resign

With two resignations from the Pawhuska Indian Village Five-Woman Board, the end of an era has come with two men now filling the vacancies.

Asa Cunningham-Concha and Renee Harris resigned their board positions this summer and fellow village residents Ryan Red Corn and Harrison Shackelford have stepped in to fill the vacancies until the board’s two-year terms expire next year.

Village board chairwoman Paula Stabler said Red Corn and Shackelford’s appointments to the board were announced at the July 21 village board meeting. Per the Pawhuska village constitution, vacancies may be filled by the village committee (commonly referred to as a five-man board among the three Osage villages).

Cunningham-Concha recently married and moved out of the village, prompting her resignation due to the constitution requirement that board members “shall be domiciled in the Pawhuska Indian Village.” Stabler said Harris informed her she was resigning due to personal reasons shortly before the Pawhuska In-Lon-Schka dances in June.

The board spoke with other residents in seeking prospective board members to fill the two vacancies before deciding on Red Corn and Shackelford.

Shackelford is currently interim director for Osage Nation Tribal Works Department and Red Corn co-owns and is president of his graphic design business Buffalo Nickel.

Both men join Stabler, Paula Farid and Jodell Heath on the village board until the next village election, which must be held on the first Monday in October of each odd-numbered year, according to the village constitution.

Elected in 2012 by village residents in wake of the investigation of the former Five-Man Board activities and spending of Pawhuska Osage Casino lease rent money paid to the village, the Five-Woman Board sought to clean up the village and revived the board’s monthly meeting schedule. The board work included tackling the finances and cleaning the village landscape peppered with abandoned dilapidated mobile homes, litter and unattended trash piles. The board members’ workload also increased to include village improvement projects for cleaning and upgrading the facilities in Wakon Iron Hall and managing a day-workers program, which paid village residents for landscaping work.

Stabler, Cunningham-Concha, Heath, Harris and Farid were re-elected to their posts in 2013. During that election, Red Corn was also nominated as a board candidate with the five women and placed sixth in the election.

Following re-election, the board started focusing on other improvement projects to build new guest arbors for the Hominy and Grayhorse districts during the June In-Lon-Schka dances, which were constructed and first used this year. Now the board is focusing on the new Pawhuska dance arbor project to replace the current aging one. The village board will present the arbor construction plans to the Fourth Osage Nation Congress during the Tzi-Zho Session and will request funding to pay for the construction costs. A meeting date to discuss the plans has yet to be announced.

In related news, Congressman Otto Hamilton is sponsoring the appropriation bill seeking $2.5 million for the Pawhuska dance arbor project. The bill (ONCA 14-56 with Congressman Archie Mason listed as co-sponsor) was filed on Aug. 22 and seeks the $2.5 million that would be appropriated to the Nation’s capital asset and improvement fund, if passed, to cover the construction costs, surrounding improvements, design costs and costs to cover the demolition of the current arbor.

Stabler said she will remain chairwoman, Farid remains vice chairwoman, Heath will serve as treasurer, Red Corn will serve as secretary and Shackelford will be a board member at-large.

The Pawhuska village committee holds its monthly board meetings on the third Monday of each month in Wakon Iron Hall at 7 p.m.