Although its initial goal deadline has long passed, a group seeking to amend the Osage Nation Constitution’s language regarding the mineral estate is still pushing forward.
Initially formed in 2019, Annuitants for Change has been drafting language to clarify some sections of the Osage Nation Constitution that deal with the mineral estate.
After extended discussion with legal counsel, the proposed changes were initially endorsed by the Osage Minerals Council in December with the hopes of getting on the 2020 general election ballot. However, thanks to COVID-19 and other complications, the group was unable to hit that deadline.
The group used the extra time to seek out additional feedback and tweak the proposal’s language to address concerns previously raised by the Osage Minerals Council.
“I feel like we’ve consulted the realm of people who’d be impacted by this or that we needed input from,” Annuitants for Change spokeswoman Julie Malone said at the Oct. 2 Osage Minerals Council meeting. “This is now our final product that we’re going to go back to Congress and try to get on the ballot.”
Among the changes was adding a clause to a provision regarding the authority of the Osage Nation Congress. As originally proposed, the resolution would have explicitly barred the Osage Nation Congress from having any authority over the mineral estate. As amended, the Congress still does not have authority over the mineral estate, unless given permission by the Osage Minerals Council via resolution.
“I know we had issues about that before and I think that would resolve those concerns,” Malone said.
A second change by the group concerns the language in Article XV, section 4 of the Osage Constitution, which addresses mineral estate management. The group is suggesting that the wording regarding the mineral council’s role with respect to energy development changed from “propose” to “engage.”
“That leaves a wide-open window to be able to do additional things other than just to suggest,” Malone said. “You’re our elected officials and it gives you that authority over the minerals estate which is what we were trying to do here.”
In order to get the proposed amendments formally before voters, either one-quarter of the tribe’s electorate has to sign a petition or at least 10 of the 12 members of Congress can vote in favor of a resolution calling for a ballot question.
As amended, Annuitants for Change’s proposal will still move forward with the support of the Osage Minerals Council.
“It’s their project,” Councilwoman Susan Forman said. “We’re just supporting it. I just want to support it. I was elected to participate in those kinds of activities, and I support this fully.”