Government , Minerals Council , Legal

Osage Minerals Council rescinds resolution to sue the Osage Nation

The Third Osage Minerals Council voted to rescind resolution 3-237 that called for a lawsuit against the Osage Nation over the ownership of the Osage Mineral Estate. The ownership of the mineral estate has been a consistent issue with the OMC since 2006.

According to OMC Resolution No. 3-262, the OMC is a government entity within the Osage Nation, that the Osage Nation Constitution “vests the Osage Minerals Council with the powers to administer and develop the Osage Mineral Estate in accordance with the Act of June 28, 1906, 34 Stat. 539, as amended, such powers with prior ratification of the Osage Nation Constitution were vested in the ‘Osage Tribal Council.’”

The resolution continues to state: “The Osage Minerals Council was elected to carry out the business of the Osage Mineral Estate and believes it to be in the best interest of said Estate and Headright holders to rescind resolution 3-237.”

The resolution to rescind was passed 5-2 on Nov. 16. Council members voting in favor of rescinding was Chairman Everett Waller, Andrew Yates, Galen Crum, Talee Redcorn and Kathryn Red Corn (who voted for the lawsuit on Sept. 20). Voting against rescinding were Councilwomen Cynthia Boone and Stephanie Erwin. Absent was Councilman Joe Cheshewalla.

The question of who owns the mineral estate has been the subject of two federal cases. The first was the Jech case, in which the Interior Board of Indian Appeals ruled the plaintiffs in the case did not have the standing to file suit against the Nation. The second case was the 2011 settlement agreement of the Highest Posted Price case. According to terms of the settlement, the Nation agreed they could no longer sue for anything related to the mineral estate. 

The oil and gas production on the mineral estate is managed by the OMC. Headright holders are individuals who own interest in a headright. Commonly called Osage shareholders, or annuitants, headright holders are paid a quarterly royalty for oil and gas production from the mineral estate. Prior to the formation of the 2006 government, only headright holders had the right to vote in Osage elections and it was based on the percentage of the interest they owned.

In 2004, the U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 108-431, 118 Stat. 2609, which reaffirmed the sovereign right of the Osage people to reform its own government. In 2006, the Constitution was signed and the government was reformed, doing away with the Osage Tribal Council and giving all Osages a right to membership and a right to vote.

According to Article 15 of the Constitution, “the Osage Mineral Estate is reserved to the Osage Nation. The government of the Osage Nation shall have the perpetual obligation to ensure the preservation of the Osage Mineral Estate.” Article 15 also creates the minerals council, its duties and jurisdiction.

The minerals council is an “independent agency within the Osage Nation” responsible for managing the mineral estate in accordance with the 1906 Allotment Act, according to the Constitution.