The Osage News asked candidates to answer 13 questions about their families, Osage culture, work experience and education. The News did not edit their responses and all questions were optional.
1) Name: Maria Lee Whitehorn
2) Osage Name: My Osage name is Pa-hu-gra-sa, it means Spotted Hair. My name was given to me by my Great Aunt Magella Whitehorn Green (Wa-shah-she-me-tsa-he) an original allottee. In the order of our traditional family naming ceremony, she came early the morning after I was brought home from the hospital for breakfast and gave me my name.
3) Clan: My family is Deer Clan, we are also Water People.
4) Band(s): My Great Grandfather Ki-he-kah-na-she was Little Chief Band and my Great Grandmother Frances Whitehorn was William Penn Band, but after marriage she was identified on documents as Little Chief Band.
5) District: We belong to the Zon-Zo-li District (Hominy).
6) Family: I have been married to my husband, Randy Powell for twenty-five years, who is my support—I am blessed. We have two sons, Mason Whitehorn Powell (No-she-walla) who is married to Alice Salamina, and Andrew Lee Powell (To-ho-ho) who is engaged to Katy Sundbye. Currently, we have no grandchildren, but I do look forward to some new additions in their own time. I count it a privilege to have a very close relationship with my father, Dudley Whitehorn, who will turn eighty-five this May. He has been my mentor and has taught me many things about life and Osage government.
7) Osage ancestry: My parents are Dudley and Joyce Whitehorn, my grandparents are Sam and Hattie Whitehorn, and my great grandparents are Ki-he-kah-na-she and Frances Whitehorn (Hu-lah-to-me) both full blood original allottees. My grandfather and his sister Magella were the only children who survived them.
8) Education: I attended the University of Oklahoma, the University of Tulsa and Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. My field of study was Geography with an emphasis on water. After the birth of Mason, I chose to be a full-time mother and to home school my boys. I have considered completing my degree, because I find the study of water, in all aspects, fascinating. This has carried over to my time served on Congress, concerning Osage water rights.
9) Work Experience: Since 2012, I have had the privilege and honor to serve on the Osage Nation Congress in several leadership roles and as a member of numerous committees: 1st year - Chair of Governmental Operations Committee; 2nd year - Chair of Commerce and Economic Development Committee; 3rd year - Chair of Water Rights Taskforce; 3rd and 4th year - Speaker of Congress; 6th year - Chair of Appropriations Committee; 7th year - Chair of Appropriations and Chair of Commerce, Gaming and Land Committees. Staying informed, engaging with tribal members, collecting data, understanding the finance of our Nation and how the Legislative power and process serve the people is my most recent employment and my only position of profit for seven years. My husband and I own a family business in Hominy; and my siblings and I own a small cow/calf operation utilizing our family’s allotted lands for sustaining the herd. While living in Texas 1985-2002, I worked middle management for an oil company.
10) Are you cultural? Osage culture is personal to each of us and to our family traditions, and is a common thread binding us all together. I do participate in the I'n-Lon-Schka. I served as a Zon-Zo-li committee cook 1985-88. I don’t weave, but have finished several woman’s belts (very hard on the fingers) and I highly regard the Osage artisans we depend on, who teach their skills and supply items to those who don’t have the ability to create for themselves. I have always supported the expansion of the Osage Nation Culture and Language by an affirmative vote.
11) Are you related to any other candidate? I am not closely related to any candidates.
12) Are you related to a current Osage official? I am not closely related to any elected officials.
13) Anything else you would like to add?
I have had the opportunity to speak with many tribal members throughout the years and am thankful for every opportunity to hear from them. I hope this includes you, and I would like to hear from you during this election season (918.760.0806).
Our Nation is facing challenges none of us have ever known. The suspension of Osage Casino operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat against our State Gaming Compact stands to have significant economic impacts on the Nation. Experience, knowledge of Osage Nation Law, and proven leadership in its financial and legislative processes is pivotal now more than ever. I have a great respect for the responsibility I share with my Congressional colleagues. The work we do greatly impacts the lives of all tribal members. For instance, the Tobacco Tax Relief Fund which I authored several years ago, has earned the Nation millions of dollars and was lawfully utilized to fund a cash shortage to the Health Benefit Fund. Writing legislation that benefits the community's needs is my duty, one that I concern myself with daily.
Economic Development is my #1 priority for our Nation. We offer excellent services and benefits to all Osage People. It becomes more apparent year after year that we currently have no available revenue for expansion of programs and benefits. Our financial base is near its capacity during normal operations. The Nation simply does not have the ability to offer more tribally funded programming to the Osage People until revenue earnings are diversified into ventures in addition to gaming. It is up to your government to figure this out. I will keep pushing this message forward and will collaborate with all who come to the table.
I ask for your vote so I can continue to serve you. Thank you!