Community , Candidates

Osage candidates speak during UOSC spring gathering

Photo Caption: United Osages of Southern California Chairman Greg Clavier introduces the Osage Nation Congressional candidates participating in a candidate forum during the April 21 UOSC spring gathering in Carlsbad. BENNY POLACCA/Osage News

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Osages seeking office in the 2018 Osage Nation general and Osage Minerals Council elections ventured west to speak with constituents here at the United Osages of Southern California spring gathering on April 21.

Nearly 100 people, which included constituents, their families and candidates who traveled from Oklahoma, attended the day-long gathering at the Carlsbad Senior Center to network and to watch the candidate forum held that day. UOSC Chairman Greg Clavier and family members organized and moderated the event time for candidates to share their reasons in seeking office or re-election to office.

Executive Branch candidates

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear is seeking a second term and updated the crowd on recent projects completed while in office including the new Pawhuska village dance arbor, a new Hominy village dance arbor, which is slated to be completed May 18 along with a new community center building. A rebuilt Hominy roundhouse completed in 2017. Standing Bear also mentioned the Nation’s language immersion school, adding “we now have children that are speaking (the Osage language) better than my generation … We’ve done a lot and I’m asking for another four years to keep this progress going.”

ON Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn is also seeking the Principal Chief office and said “what I want to do is make the right decisions that serve everybody to the best that we can do … As a Congress member, I have supported all the programming we have up there in our local government, I support them through ‘yes’ votes through appropriations … But what I’m seeing from the position where I sit is we’re moving toward a place that’s not being sustainable in the economy of our Nation, everything takes money that we do … Other tribes have stepped out in other realms of economic development (besides gaming) and we’ve struggled with that for years. The Principal Chief is our political leader who makes organizational cohesiveness, develops strategic and policy direction and represents the Nation … We need to do that, communication and cooperation and unity, we need to be moving together, right now I’m not seeing that, that’s what I want to do.”

ON Congressman Otto Hamilton is seeking the Assistant Principal Chief office and said if he’s elected, he would like to see “more quality control, ways to improve our services. As an (education/ strategic planning and grants) employee in going to the Legislative Branch, I’ve seen a lot, I want to go back to the executive (branch) and help our employees out, build that rapport, build the morale – not that they don’t have it now – but I want to make sure it happens, but I think that starts with quality control of our services … One thing I (also) want to do is maintain a strong connection, not just in southern California, but Osages all over and also work hard and give you something to look proud on back home in Oklahoma.”

Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn is seeking a second term and discussed a new endeavor he is working on for the Nation-owned Tulsa Airpark property (renamed Skyway36), which will focus on the Unmanned Aeriel Systems industry, including drones. “That airpark is less than five miles from downtown Tulsa, we are just over the required five miles from Tulsa International Airport in order to conduct aerial exercises and research. The (Osage Casino) has invested millions in that 80,000 square-foot facility, it has robust data wiring, it’s very up to date and they are leaving it all within the next year. This is a serious opportunity… What does this mean to you? We need to establish endeavors that are not gaming-related, thereby diversifying our (revenue sources).”

Osage Minerals Council candidates

Susan Revard Forman is the current chairwoman of the Osage Shareholders Association and said its membership has increased 15-20 members to 123 total members while she’s held the post. Forman said she has 34 years of natural gas marketing experience and conducted her own research to study the revenue the shareholders are receiving in their quarterly checks. “I compared what Osage shareholders are paid with market value. Since (the 2011) settlement, we’ve been underpaid $60,300,040… I’m telling you this because we’re all in the oil and gas business, we need to be vigilant about overseeing what we have, the legacy that our ancestors have left us.”

Businesswoman Margo Gray said she was alarmed by the underpayment reported by Forman who discussed her research during an OSA meeting earlier this year. “I bring 18-plus years of business and marketing experience,” in addition to law enforcement service during younger years, Gray said. “When you have to negotiate, you’ve got to have (people skills), that’s a must … For a Minerals Council you’re going to elect eight individuals to represent you … What I won’t do is spend my time fighting politics, political spats have been long decided by federal law … My pledge is to communicate with the other (government) branches and also to my fellow Minerals Council individuals.”

Cynthia Boone was the lone attending incumbent and is seeking her fourth OMC term. Boone said she also worked in the office when there was no OMC office staff “making sure that our business continued every day, I continue to be in the office almost every day, most of your council members cannot say that, I earn my money. I believe the federal trustee should remain with the federal government, I am an independent thinker … I don’t work anywhere else, I’m retired, I’m in good health and I can make the concerns of my constituents my priority without any interference from anybody else or anything else. I publish ‘Boone’s Bulletin’ (newsletter) that’s my way of keeping in touch with you, my constituents … It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve you for the last three terms ... At the end of the day, I want you to remember this: Vote Boone in June,” she said.

Tribal judge and attorney Marsha Harlan is seeking OMC office “because I believe there needs to be absolute change on that council, we’ve all seen our checks decline, I’m a fourth-generation shareholder and I’ve never had any communication with the Minerals Council – not one single letter from them telling me what’s going on. If we want to progress and move forward, we’ve got to put some professional people on there. I believe there’s professional people running this time … I continue to learn, live sovereignty, I believe everything that we do should be for the benefit of the Osage shareholder, I believe everything we do in the government should be for the benefit of all Osages … I want to be transparent, there has to be transparency, there can be no more of these backdoor executive session deals made, you have to know what’s going on, this is your Minerals Council … The BIA’s never going to take us seriously if we’re all sitting there fighting, we’ve got to be true to what we are here for.”

Paul Revard, a seasoned oil producer, said the biggest obstacle for the Minerals Estate is the Bureau of Indian Affairs, “which holds our minerals in trust for us, they’re responsible for mismanagement and they miserably failed even most significantly severely since 2014. In 2014, the superintendent (Robin Phillips), not on her own, but through a higher power, the regional office and I’m sure it came down from Washington, had implemented some new policies that are not the Code of Federal Regulations … I think we should all get together and work as a team and itemize all these negative things that affect our Minerals Estate that’s caused by the Bureau of Indian Affairs... I know that the current council along with the Chief have been to Washington on multiple occasions and there is some dialogue, but we need to be more aggressive at it.”

ON Congressional candidates

Geneva Horsechief-Hamilton, currently the ON Communications coordinator, introduced herself by discussing her education and family background. Horsechief-Hamilton holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico with focuses on Indigenous people studies and communication. She’s married to Otto Hamilton and has six children with their youngest four-year-old daughter attending the Nation’s language immersion school. “I want to bring my education, my background and be able to build on what we’ve done so far. We’ve had a lot of successes, our tribe has overcome a lot, we’ve come a long way… I want to be able to be there at the table and with my heart, and with faith and prayer, being able to say, ‘this is the best decision for my Osage people’.”

Michael Kidder, currently an ON Gaming Commission board member, works in energy sales and said he is also a shareholder who supports the Minerals Estate. “Another reason why I’m here is to support our heritage, take care of us in that way, look after us, take care of our culture, take care of our language, make sure we have that for our young ones coming up and that’s why we all do this.” For his Gaming Commission service, Kidder said: “I’m very proud of that because we’ve done a good job as far as working with (the Gaming Enterprise), not against them but working with to ensure the integrity of our gaming is protected, making sure everything works properly.”

Former Oklahoma state representative and Assistant Principal Chief Scott BigHorse is seeking Congressional office and also shared his prior professional experience, which includes serving as Principal Chief after the 2014 removal of John Red Eagle, and helping launch “the first co-facilitated juvenile detention center inside an adult county jail, which is near impossible, there’s three of them in the United States, they’ve since closed it down in the past year, as you’ve heard, the politics back home are really bad … I have knowledge, experience, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’m willing to help.”

Brandy Lemon, a nursing professional with 17 years health care experience, is seeking Congressional office and believes her background gives her the ability to have “a voice for the people who don’t have a voice, to stand up for them, I can bring that to Congress. As a nurse in the health care field, we absolutely have to have transparent communication. We have to learn to communicate on many levels, so the patient understands and is educated … I have a lot of homework to do if I’m elected, but I’m not afraid of it, I like research, that’s what my job is about … I really want to bring back attendance records for Congressional members. We’re paid a salary ... we’ve got to have attendance records, so we don’t have to go through each journal one-by-one. It needs to be published on the Congressional website every single time, I want that done and it’s one of my main goals.”

Mary Jo Pratt, a business financial analyst, said she “wears a lot of hats” in her profession including making connections between corporate America and small disadvantaged businesses across various industries (i.e. construction, airspace and defense, government contracts). “That’s what I do, I fix things, I make things better, when a company is losing money, guess who they give it to? Me … As a Nation, don’t you want to ensure prosperity not for my generation or my children’s generation, but our future generations after that as well? We want long-term solutions and I hope you will see my name on the ballot and vote for me, I’m asking for your support, for your vote so that I can bring my expertise there and I can help shape legislation in the Osage Nation and bring it back to prosperity.”

Eli Potts, currently the Congressional budget analyst, said he believes the Nation needs “a budget control act to control the budgetary system, I’ve been there for three years and (seen the Nation’s annual) budget done three different ways, you are not served by that process. I believe we need a process in law that’s fair, open and transparent to serve the Osage people. The next thing I want to do (if elected) is start hosting town hall meetings everywhere because what’s missing is input from the Osage people … The next thing I want to do is some (Congressional) rule changes, we need to take care of our own house and that means some waiting periods for legislation so that the public has the opportunity to provide input.”

Angela Pratt, currently the Congressional Speaker, is seeking a second term and shared several professional accomplishments while serving in Congress including serving on every select and standing committee and was elected Speaker in 2016 and 2017 by her Congressional peers. “I take (my job) very seriously and I’m very passionate about it … I made promises four years ago and that was to work hard for you and communicate with you and I do the best that I can and I feel like I fulfilled that … it is tough being a person coming into Congress having not been an incumbent, having that knowledge … I believe that I worked hard, I believe that I provided good leadership, I believe that I am accountable. Speaking of attendance records, I have an outstanding attendance record and I will continue to do so and work hard for you, so I really appreciate your vote.”

Alice Goodfox is seeking her third Congressional term and said she has served on almost every Congressional committee and is the current Second Speaker for Congress, a post she’s held for two years. “I sponsored (bill) ONCA 15-107, which provided an appropriation to assist disabled Osages above and beyond the health benefit card, I came up with that legislation after coming to a meeting here and listening to what the needs were of people who have very serious health conditions.” Goodfox also recalled voting “no” for several economic development-related legislative bills during the 2018 Hun-Kah Session because “we had three pieces of appropriation (bills) that totaled $3 million coming out of a fund that had $1.1 million in it. That process is flawed, I don’t like it, I want to fix it … I would like to represent you and your voice.”

Clavier said a UOSC fall gathering is planned for Saturday Nov. 3 with more details to come later.