Government , Minerals Council

‘Annuitants for Change’ address OMC on proposed constitutional amendments

The Osage Minerals Council is not unilaterally backing a series of constitutional amendments regarding the minerals estate just yet.

At the council’s May 3 meeting, representatives of a group calling themselves “Annuitants for Change” presented a working draft of proposed constitutional amendments in hopes of securing the Osage Minerals Council’s support.

“This is not an attempt to change the tribe’s current form of government,” Julie Malone said. “We just want clearer wording regarding annuitants. If we act now, our descendants – our children and grandchildren -- won’t have to.”

Among the group’s proposed changes are striking references to the Tribal Council previously used by the Osage Nation and adjusting language regarding royalty payments to reflect that some of that revenue comes from non-mineral sources.

However, some of the wording in the other proposed amendments would potentially strip the tribal government of any legal authority over the mineral estate, thus prompting some raised eyebrows from members of the Minerals Council.

“In some places, you say the tribe has no jurisdiction while in others, you say ‘as long as there is no conflict,’” Congresswoman Marsha Harlan said. “I can be supportive of clarifying, but you want to be careful that you’re not creating an internal dispute with the language.”

To help address those concerns, the council voted to form a three-member liaison committee to work with the group before it moves forward to get the amendments before Osage voters.

Councilor Talee Red Corn, one of the three members serving on the new liaison committee, acknowledged the need to hustle while also expanding the discussion.

“I want to hear what Congress has to say before we act on this,” he said.

The group will also be presenting a draft of their proposal to the Osage Shareholders Association on May 19 at Osage Casino Skiatook.

Meanwhile, despite a previous request from the council for Superintendent Robin Phillips to attend the meeting and answer questions, the Osage Agency did not have a representative on hand. As per an email sent to the council, Phillips is recovering from recent surgery.