Editorials , Columns

Osage Constitution 10 year Anniversary

With an Osage election around the corner, I wanted to encourage all Osage people to vote. This right for “all” Osages to vote in our current Osage government has only been around since the Osage People voted and passed the Osage Constitution exactly 10 years ago. Our Constitution was ratified on March 11, 2006 and then the document was signed on May 6, 2006 by then-Principal Chief Jim Gray, Assistant Chief Kenny Bighorse, the 31st Osage Tribal Council and the Osage Governmental Reform Commission.

At that time, I was a member of 10 fellow Osages who served on the Osage Governmental Reform Commission and I was honored to also have my signature on the final signed document. The document is by no means perfect but I am proud of what we created and the Osages should feel good about our Constitution and what we have accomplished during the past 10 years. It is a fluid document that can serve many generations in our future.

I want to point out that within our Preamble of our Constitution is an important excerpt: “Having resolved to live in harmony, we now come together so that we may once more unite as a Nation and as a People, calling upon the fundamental values that we hold sacred: Justice, Fairness, Compassion, Respect for and Protection of Child, Elder, All Fellow Beings, and Self.”

I quote this to remind our people, the Executive Branch, Judicial Branch and our current members of our Osage Congress as well as our current Osage Congressional Candidates to help our people live in harmony by being fair, compassionate, and protect our children and elders.

Another part of the Preamble:

“This Constitution, created by Osage People, hereby grants to every Osage citizen a vote that is equal to all others and forms a government that is accountable to the citizens of the Osage Nation. We, the Osage People, based on centuries of being a People, now strengthen our government in order to preserve and perpetuate a full and abundant Osage way of life that benefits all Osages, living and as yet unborn.”

Before this Constitution was signed and implemented only Osage shareholders were allowed to participate in our Osage government. After it was enacted all Osage people were able to participate and as the above quote cites “grants to every Osage citizen a vote.” I am most pleased with this Osage Constitutional right because at that time a decade ago both my adult children were finally able to participate in our Osage government. Although my children were in their early 40’s if this Constitution had not passed at that time they would not be able to participate in the Osage government even today. Another example, is the late Congressman Mark Freeman was not able to participate in our Osage government until he was in his early 80’s. Again, the right to vote for an individual Osage is important.

With that much said I am encouraging all Osages to vote and especially our young Osage voters who have never voted before to educate yourself on who the Osage candidates are for the Osage Congress and vote. Find out which candidate you think will protect our children and elders. Ask yourself who will promote harmony within our tribe with justice, fairness, compassion and respect? Remember voting allows you as an Osage to express your political opinions by voting for a particular policy or candidate that has your best interest in mind.  Please do not take it for granted because as I stated before it was only a decade ago that the majority of Osage People were not able to participate or vote in our Osage government.