Culture , Government

Congress passes appropriation bills for NAC chapters, Hominy roundhouse

Two appropriation bills for Osage cultural purposes are law after the Fourth Osage Nation Congress passed them during the Hun-Kah Session.

The Congress passed a $4,000 appropriation bill on April 12 that designated $1,000 to four Native American Churches who hold meetings within the Nation’s boundaries.

Congress voted 8-3 with one abstention to pass the bill (ONCA 16-41 sponsored by Congresswoman Alice Buffalohead), which appropriates the money to the four NAC churches – if those churches’ officials request the money.

Buffalohead said she sponsored the bill to provide assistance to those NAC chapters who hold meetings within the Osage Nation to help offset the costs in hosting a NAC church meeting, which includes expenses for the meals, supplies, medicine and other expenses associated with the cultural events.

“I spoke with a roadman last night and he said he probably wouldn’t take the money, but he also said he appreciated the gesture and he agreed with the legislation and thought it was a good thing,” Buffalohead said. “I just thought it would be nice if the Nation could help.”

According to the bill the Congress will appropriate $1,000 to each of the following four NAC chapters: Gray, Lookout, Red Eagle and Lottie Shunkamolah Pratt. 

Voting “yes” were Congress members Buffalohead, Otto Hamilton, John Jech, John Maker, Archie Mason, James Norris, Angela Pratt and RJ Walker. “No” votes came from Shannon Edwards, Ron Shaw and Congressional Speaker Maria Whitehorn and one abstention from William “Kugee” Supernaw.

Supernaw said he would be abstaining from the vote and said “I don’t like to be in a position appearing to vote against the churches, however the old people told us that we shouldn’t take money from the government to run the Native American Churches… I’m going to abstain from the vote as I have in the past.”

In 2007, the First ON Congress passed a similar bill (ONCA 07-46 sponsored by former Congressman Mark Simms), which appropriated $60,000 for NAC chapters established by Osages for construction or restoration of NAC facilities. Those churches who applied for the money would receive a maximum of $10,000 for their respective construction/ restoration projects. That NAC funding opportunity lasted for one year and expired when the 2009 fiscal year started.

Congressman James Norris said he would vote “yes” and said he didn’t see the opportunity as giving the churches money but “I look at it as we’re setting aside some money and making it available for the church to come in and if it’s needed, let them make that decision.”

Hominy roundhouse restoration bill passes

On April 13, the Congress voted unanimously to pass ONCA 16-55 (sponsored by Whitehorn), which appropriates $410,000 for restoring and repairing the historic Hominy Indian Village roundhouse.

According to ONCA 16-55, the $410,000 will be appropriated to the Nation’s capital asset and improvement fund with the money earmarked to restore the roundhouse for dance and cultural event purposes. Whitehorn said an engineering analysis has been completed on the roundhouse so the restoration process can continue for future uses of the building.   

Congresswoman Shannon Edwards said the bill indicates a priority in funding efforts to preserve the Nation’s historic landmarks. She also said restoring the roundhouse – built in the early 1900s – helps fulfill the wishes listed in the 1964 village constitution signed by the first village committee whose members were Leroy Logan Sr., Jerome Barnes, Marguerite Waller, Viola Deroin and Lucille Roubedoux.

That portion of Article I of the Hominy constitution reads: “To further historical interest in our Osage heritage and to preserve our Roundhouse as a historical landmark, and to carry on any activity which may directly or indirectly effectuate these objects or any of them.”

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed both bills into law after their passage.