Community , Business

Osage LLC has a new chairman; contract for Fort Belknap Reservation extends

SKIATOOK, Okla. — A new year means new digs, new leadership and a new subsidiary company for the Osage LLC board of directors.

In its first board meeting in its new office in downtown Skiatook on Feb. 19, the Osage LLC board of directors voted Frank Freeman in as its new chairman. Freeman was initially appointed to the board during the 2018 Tzi-Zho Session.

"I leave my role as Chairman of the board for Osage LLC today with money in the bank, no debt and no outstanding contracts and an excellent team in place. Additionally, the broadband has a new life and is on track. My tenure was rough but calm waters are ahead for Osage, LLC,” outgoing Chairwoman Kay Bills said. “As we all know, there were dark times, but we persevered. Congress stayed the course. Now I believe I can step back and focus on some other activities in the contracting world which I had put aside. 

“I have full faith that Mr. Freeman can now continue the next phase of growth. And I'll be there as vice-chair to cheer him on at every turn."

The board’s third member, Richard Perrier, was unanimously elected treasurer.

In addition to the shuffling of officers, the board approved the creation of Osage Aerospace and Defense LLC in the hopes of swooping in on contracts left from another Oklahoma tribe’s recently shuttered defense contracting firm.

“I think there are some contracts we can pick up off of the ground,” CEO Gina Gray said. “We just have to have the entity set up so we can move quickly if needed.”

Meanwhile, in other business, progress is finally being made on one of Osage LLC’s out of state government contracts.

In 2019, Osage LLC won a contract from Indian Health Services to provide assistance addressing a declared mental health emergency at the Fort Belknap Reservation. The Fort Belknap Indian Community made the declaration after a rash of suicides and suicide attempts by tribal members, particularly among the youth. According to the most recent data available from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, 42 of every 100,000 deaths among Native youth is via suicide.

The suicide rate still remains high in the Fort Belknap community, which is home to about 5,800 tribal members. Osage LLC deployed personnel to the area in July and those staffers are still waiting to get to see patients, but the contract has been extended to accommodate the extended delay.

“It’s finally, slowly, starting to turn up there,” Gray said.