Culture , Government

Osage Congress creates $600K museum collections fund

A newly created Osage Nation Museum Collection Fund is now established, thanks to the Fifth Osage Nation Congress who established the revolving fund to set aside money for museum gallery items, storage and maintenance purposes.

During the Tzi-Zho Session, the Congress voted to create the fund by passing Bill ONCA 17-40 (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) which establishes the museum fund in Osage law. On Sept. 29, the Congress also voted to appropriate $600,000 in tribal funds as an initial injection for the fund.

The $600,000 funding appropriation bill (ONCA 17-43 also sponsored by Edwards) passed unanimously after debate and after the fund amount was reduced from an initially proposed $2.5 million. The reduction came as the Congress faced several decisions in considering other multimillion-dollar funding requests in the 2018 fiscal year budgets passed during the session.

According to ONCA 17-40, the museum collection fund is established to “consist of monies appropriated to it by an Act of Congress and monetary donations from any person, group, corporation, government or association … The purpose of this bill is to establish a fund to support the Osage Museum in its endeavor to store, maintain and rotate gallery and collection art pieces for the benefit of the Osage People and public at large.”

In a Congressional committee meeting, Edwards said she recalled discussions as far back as 1994 during the former Osage tribal government years, about creating a new organization and new museum building to house the museum collection items and artifacts. Nothing materialized to put money toward those goals. She said the museum fund legislation is a start to reach those goals.

During the amendment process, the Congress voted to reduce the appropriation from $2.5 million to $600,000. Congresswoman Alice Goodfox (formerly Buffalohead) told the committee “there are other Congress members who may not agree this is a priority now.”

The debate comes as the FY 2018 budgets faced scrutiny, as well as other appropriation bills for direct services and to pay down the loan for the government campus master plan with the Law Building and Welcome Center completed in phase one. At a later date, the Congress will also consider action on future business regarding the Congressional Chambers building, which has mold problems due to roof leaks and drainage issues that caused flooding and leaks in the building. The Congress relocated and held its 2017 Tzi-Zho Session in the former First National Bank building in downtown Pawhuska, which the Nation purchased in 2015.

Goodfox said she was concerned that putting the original money amount into a fund would cause future budgeting issues because the money would not be available for other spending priorities unless a new appropriation law was passed to authorize taking money out of the fund. As an example, Goodfox noted the Osage Veterans Memorial fund money sat for two years, which occurred due to a memorial commission that had yet to be seated.

On the session’s last day, the Congress passed the $600,000 appropriation for the museum fund. Congressman John Maker said he supported the fund creation noting the ON Museum contains “all our treasures.”