Community , Government , Health

Congressional resolutions thank healthcare workers, first responders, ON entities

During the 2020 Hun-Kah Session, the Sixth Osage Nation Congress passed several resolutions expressing appreciation to ON government entities and health care workers who worked as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic grew.

As the number of positive COVID-19 cases grew in Oklahoma, as well as across the globe, local and federal governments issued orders that shuttered non-essential businesses and sent many workers home and those in other fields deemed essential continued working in the pandemic to provide needed services, resources and especially healthcare to the public.

Those resolutions unanimously passed by Congress and later signed by Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear are:

- ONCR 20-09 (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) is a resolution “to support and express appreciation for all of the first responders of the Osage Nation for their dedication, courage and service in helping our communities in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.”

- ONCR 20-10 (Edwards) is a resolution “to support and express appreciation for the employees of the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center for their dedication, courage and service in helping our communities in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.”

- ONCR 20-11 (Edwards) is a resolution “to support and express appreciation for all Legislative Branch employees for their dedication, courage and service in helping our communities in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.”

- ONCR 20-13 (Congresswoman Alice Goodfox) is a resolution “to support and express appreciation for all Judicial Branch employees for their dedication, courage and service in helping our communities in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.”

- ONCR 20-14 (Goodfox) is a resolution to support and express appreciation for all Executive Branch employees for their dedication, courage and service in helping our communities in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.”

In addition, the Congress also unanimously passed resolution ONCR 20-16 (Congressman Archie Mason) “to express support of the Executive Branch application and approval of grant funds through the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) recently authorized by the U.S. Congress; to recognize the Executive staff for their accomplishment in obtaining the approval for our Nation; and to commit to taking any further action necessary to complete the transfer of federal funds to the Nation.”

According to ONCR 20-16, the ON “Executive staff, including the Treasurer, Controller, Chief of Staff, Attorney General, Human Resources Director and many others contributed to the timely and successful application under the (PPP). The receipt of these funds comes at a very critical time when the Nation is facing tough decisions about staff employment, but this loan that will convert to a grant will allow the Nation to continue to pay its payroll for an additional five pay periods … And will also help the Nation retain more of its own revenues that the Osage Nation Congress has made available to support the Nation.”

Edwards said she offered the resolutions, especially for ONCR 20-09, because the first responders, healthcare workers “need to know that we support them” considering the resolution states “First responders are often the first to make contact with potentially ill citizens … These First Responders are risking their own lives to help the people of the Osage Nation and others as they serve our communities in the weeks and potentially months ahead.”

For ONCR 20-11, the Congressional Office staff had the unprecedented task of moving the entire Hun-Kah Session into video and teleconference mode in addition to regular duties including processing legislation, support documentation and handling clerk duties for the Congressional committee meetings scheduled throughout the 24-day session. Edwards said “it’s not business as usual” with some of the staff working from home and setting up office space there to run the operations.

Congressional Speaker Joe Tillman also expressed gratitude to the Congressional Office staff, noting “it has been a challenge” and thanked clerks Shana Robedeaux and Dana Murrell, who sometimes work long hours before he arrives or leaves the office on workdays.

Goodfox thanked the Judicial and Executive Branch employees who readjusted workdays after the ON government offices closed to the public following the Public Health State of Emergency declared by Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear in March. Non-essential employees were sent home while essential employees continued to work behind locked office doors. “We appreciate all that you do for the Osage people and we thank you very much,” Goodfox said.