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Amendment to Constitution could quell fears of Nation takeover of mineral estate

In December, Osage Minerals Council Res. 3-237 demonstrated Headright Holders’ grave concerns regarding the relationship between themselves and the Osage Nation. Res. 3-237 authorized legal counsel to research ways and means to “… restore the Osage Mineral Estate to the exclusive authority of the Osage Minerals Council ...” Based on the results of counsel’s research, the OMC found it best not to bring legal action in the form of a lawsuit. However, fear of a hostile takeover of the Mineral Estate by the Nation remains. Among many it still does.

It seems to me that by demonstrating a friendly, respectful, hands-off approach, the Osage Nation Congress has quelled most, if not all, fears of a takeover. The fear of an Executive Branch “takeover of the Mineral Estate,” however, remains and if anything, among some, spreads and grows more entrenched. I personally believe the words of the 2006 Constitution “sounds like” the door has been opened for the Nation to take over the management of the Osage Mineral Estate. If that is not the intent; and if saying that which is intended will help re-establish unity, then please let’s do amend the document to make it say that which is meant.

In reading both the 2006 and the 1994 Constitution, it is obvious to me that provisions establishing the Nation’s powers and authorities can be made while, at the same time, adhering closely to the original intent of the 1906 Act. The 2006 Constitution, compared with the 1994, sounds obtrusive and over-reaching. Please, read the two and make your own evaluation.  

 

            CONSTITUTION OF THE OSAGE NATION – RATIFIED 1994:

            ARTICLE II. PROTECTION OF THE MINERAL ESTATE (p.1)

 

            CONSTITUTION OF THE OSAGE NATION – RATIFIED 2006;

            ARTICLE XV. NATURAL RESOURCES AND MINERALS MANAGEMENT (p.18)

 

Together, as a group, a people, the Wah-Zha-Zhi are strong. We are here despite colonizers’ efforts. We have survived, thrived even, against difficult odds. Make no mistake; there are still those who covet our land and resources. Our greatest strength is in working together. Our greatest weakness is in working at odds. Let us work together to make the Constitution satisfactory to us all.

Some of the objectionable phraseology of the 2006 CONSTITUTION is found in Article XV and shown herein. Sec. 2) minerals … are hereby reserved to the Osage Nation: 3) right to income protected by Osage Nation: 4) the rights of members of the Osage Nation to income derived from that of the mineral estate are protected.  // leases approved … by the Council shall be deemed approved by the Osage Nation unless, … objection received from the office of the Principal Chief … //  OMC administrative authority delegated under this Constitution.

When I mentioned to Chief Standing Bear that many Council Members and Annuitants did not like requiring the OMC to send leases to the Office of the Chief for approval, he said he didn’t like it either. If you don’t like it, he said, change it. He then showed me ARTICLE XX – AMENDMENT OF CONSTITUTION. I thanked him and said I would. 

Please consider amending the 2006 Osage Nation Constitution Article XV Natural Resources and Minerals Management to read as follows.

AMEND TO READ – Taken from Osage Nation Constitution 1994

SECTION 1. “Ownership of the mineral estate of the Osage Indian Reservation is to be determined by the Act of June 28, 1906, 34 Stat. 539, as amended. The right to receive income from the mineral estate is vested in those allottees and their successors in interest whose names and shares appear on the Osage Headright Quarterly Annuity Roll, maintained by the Secretary of the Interior, as amended from time to time, as provided by Federal law. No authority is granted to the Osage National Council or any department created by this Constitution over the Osage Tribal Council on matters of the mineral estate or to affect the right of individuals to receive income from its mineral estate so long as they are protected by Federal law.” 

SECTION 2. “The mineral estate shall be administered by the Osage Tribal Council who shall be elected and shall serve in accordance with the provisions of the Act of June 28, 1906….; Provided, that no elected official of the Osage Tribal Council shall  be eligible to hold any other elected office in the Osage Nation; and Provided further, that all resolutions, laws and ordinances of the Osage National Council that adversely impacts the mineral estate shall be reviewed by the Osage Tribal Council and the Secretary of the Interior, and shall require Secretary approval for legal validity. Any resolution, law or ordinance of the Osage National Council which adversely impact the mineral estate, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior through his disapproval, shall be invalid by law.”