Government

Strategic Plan update will shape policy for next five years

After months of meetings around the country and both online and paper surveys, the results for the Strategic Plan update are in.

The first Strategic Plan survey was administered in 2007 by the administration for then-Principal Chief Jim Gray and was for 25 years. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said that more than half of the initiatives from that 25-year plan have been completed. He directed his staff of the Office of Self-Governance and Strategic Planning to conduct an update to guide the Nation for the next five years. The result is a 62-page report, packed full of photos, charts and survey results.

For the Strategic Plan update, 725 eligible tribal members completed the survey. To be eligible, a tribal member had to be over the age of 18 and there were 16,354 eligible members to take the survey. Sixteen group sessions were held across the country, including six webinars, two ON government employee meetings and various online events. The survey was conducted from May 4-May 24 and was administered by the University of Southern California’s Center for Economic and Social Research

“The survey questions were developed through listening sessions input and vetted by Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, the Office of Self-Governance and Strategic Planning, and the volunteer Strategic Planning Steering Committee,” according to the final report.

Results and Data

Participants ranked the following areas of focus in order from most important to least important.

  1. Health – most important
  2. Education
  3. Cultural Preservation
  4. Economic Development
  5. Minerals and Natural Resources
  6. Governance and Justice – least important

The report breaks down the data of the participants by state, age and gender. The top five states with participants were:

Oklahoma: 375

California: 62

Texas: 53

Kansas: 22

Oregon: 18

More than half of the participants felt they benefited from the six areas of focus. More than half also felt the Nation had improved under the initiatives taken from the 2007 Strategic Plan.

Health

Four questions were asked pertaining to health needs with multiple answers to choose from. For health initiatives that needed to improve or more funding was needed, participants overwhelmingly supported increasing funding for mental health services. Second, they wanted better access to medical services in rural areas within the Nation’s jurisdiction. Third, expanding substance abuse rehabilitation programs and facilities, including transition facilities. Fourth, invest more in comprehensive Osage-owned and operated eldercare. Fifth, increase access to healthy food grown by the Nation. Sixth, promote education and options for preventable diseases, such as diabetes by using telemedicine outreach. Seventh, collaborate with regional medical schools to recruit more graduates. Eighth, invest more in prenatal and family planning.

Participants overwhelmingly supported the increase in investment in comprehensive Osage-owned and operated eldercare. As part of those priorities, first was an Assisted Living Facility. Second, skilled nursing facilities to promote recovery and rehabilitation. Third, transportation for medical and essential services. Fourth, more senior housing. Fifth, hospice and end-of-life care. Sixth, nursing home. Seventh, Alzheimer’s and dementia long-term treatment with specialized memory care. Eighth, patient advocacy services.

Education and Higher Education Scholarship

Six questions on the survey were dedicated to education.

For educational needs, participants would like to see financial literacy and life skills programs for Osages of all ages. Second, the availability of career tech and trade school opportunities emphasized. Third, support ON workforce needs with funding and guidance for students, tribal services and teachers that are connected to priorities outlined in the strategic plan. Fourth, develop an online curriculum that included language learning, gardening, cooking, health and traditional arts education. Fifth, develop future Osage Nation leaders through mentors, training and internship programs. Sixth, provide education for Osages concerning wills, probates, land and headrights. Seventh, develop educational programs that focus on connecting youth to the Osage Nation community, Eighth, develop an Osage Nation University/College.

More than half of the participants wanted the grade point average eligibility for the Osage Nation Higher Education Scholarship increased, as well as awarding scholarship amounts based on GPA. More than half also approved of requiring scholarship recipients to participate in service to the Nation as well as requiring applicants to provide a statement of purpose outlining their intentions for how they will use their degree/credential upon completion of their degree.

Requiring the Nation to develop programs to encourage scholarship students to participate in services after they graduate was a top priority for more than half of respondents.

Cultural Preservation

For Cultural Preservation, the participants would like to see the programs and facilities expanded for the Wahzhazhe Cultural Center, Language Department and Osage Nation Museum. Second, create an online curriculum for Osage protocol and ceremonies. Third, digitize Osage historical materials and preserve family photos, memorabilia and stories. Fourth, record Osage tribal historians, including elders and full bloods. Fifth, create a formal way to research and capture Osage ancestry and family trees. Sixth, increase resources to support Osage cultural heritage sites. Seventh, increase funding for Daposka Ahnkodapi Elementary Osage Nation Immersion School. Eighth, create more youth and adult summer culture camps.

Economic Development

The area of focus for economic development that got the most approval, according to the plan results, was for the Nation to provide start-up funding and services to establish successful individual Osage-owned businesses. Second, start an Osage-owned financial institution. Third, develop tourism on the reservation. Fourth, explore public-private partnerships by investing in successful existing business enterprises. Fifth, develop manufacturing facilities. Last, develop commercial properties.

Best use of land, the participants overwhelmingly chose to explore expanding Osage Nation agriculture to generate food and revenue. Second, invest in developing an agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to the Osage Nation Ranch. Third, hemp production. Fourth, expand bison herds. Last, expand cattle herds.

Minerals and Natural Resources

The following initiatives respondents would like to see the Nation prioritize. First, increase transparency and communication between the Osage Minerals Council and shareholders. Second, develop Osage-owned businesses relating to the oil industry, such as drilling, refinery, trucking companies, etc. Third, explore the profitability of solid mineral resources, such as sand and gravel, for construction and other uses. Fourth, develop Osage-owned wells as opposed to leasing.

Priorities for addressing the Nation’s natural resource needs were the following. First, invest in alternative energy sources. Second, develop programs that support the revitalization of traditional Osage approaches to land and wildlife management. Third, create Osage-owned hunting, fishing and wildlife management businesses. Fourth, build energy efficiency into new buildings and retrofit existing buildings. Fifth, support Osage's sustainable production of traditional foods. Sixth, focus resources on environmental cleanup and ecological restoration services. Seventh, use natural resources as education initiatives for conservation and responsible human-environment interaction.

Governance and Justice

In terms of governance and justice, an overwhelming majority of participants voted in favor of the following: updates from the chief on a regular basis about current issues such as gaming compact, appropriations, economic development opportunities, etc. Second, more accessibility and communication from Congress members with their constituents. Third, review and improve Osage Nation laws on crimes within Osage Nation jurisdiction, and crimes against Osage citizens, including special jurisdiction under the violence against women act. Fourth, allocate more resources to support an independent judiciary, public education about the courts, qualified Osage judges and court-appointed counsel, improved use of technology and access to the Osage Nation. Fifth, focus on increasing voter participation via education and outreach to young adults on social media.

The final report also asked about new areas of communication respondents would like to see, sovereignty, and accessibility to services and programs.

The strategic plan will not be mailed to all constituents, as the survey responses indicated tribal members prefer to receive correspondence electronically, Thomas said. Hard copies of the strategic plan update will be available in January.

To watch an Osage News video about the Strategic Plan update with Chief Standing Bear, Congressional Second Speaker Jodie Revard and Thomas, visit the Osage News YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou5EQQCk_S4.

The Osage Nation Strategic Update 2020-2025 can be downloaded at http://s3.amazonaws.com/static.osagenews.org/cms_page_media/43/Osage%20Strategic%20Update%202020-2025%20-%20FINAL%20%28reduced%29.pdf