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2020 Year in Review: From the front pages of the Osage News

JANUARY

Congressional candidate filing period starts Feb. 4

The candidacy filing period for Osages interested in running for the Seventh Osage Nation Congress in the 2020 general election starts Feb. 4. Election Day is the first Monday of each June during election years, according to the 2006 Osage Constitution. This year’s general election will be held June 1 in Pawhuska.

Oklahoma tribes stand united and reject Gov. Stitt’s gaming compact extension

TULSA, Okla. — Calling it unnecessary, Oklahoma’s gaming tribes are officially passing on a compact extension offer from the state.

New Health Benefit Plan cards ready for 2020 calendar year enrollment

With the new year will come new health benefit cards for Osage tribal members who have enrolled in the plan.

Oklahoma’s Secretary of Native American Affairs resigns over gaming compact dispute

OKLAHOMA CITY — Despite maintaining that gaming compacts expire on Jan. 1, the state of Oklahoma is sending auditors in to review tribal casino books come 2020.

 

FEBRUARY

Chief Standing Bear advised not to join federal gaming lawsuit ‘at this time’

OKLAHOMA CITY — And then there were five. On Jan. 27, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Oklahoma over whether the gaming compact used by more than 30 tribes renewed on Jan. 1.

Public outcry as Tulsa Public Schools considers reducing Indian Education footprint

TULSA —Native parents, students and employees are speaking out at the possibility of the state’s second-largest school district shrinking its Indian Education program due to financial woes.

Pawhuska City Hall may once more be home to Osage lawmakers

Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn went before the Pawhuska City Council on Tuesday and made a proposal – to begin the conversation of the Nation possibly purchasing the City Hall building.

ON Election Office preparing for 2020 general election

The Osage Nation Election Office is preparing for the upcoming 2020 general election on June 1 in Pawhuska with advertising important dates and information for Osage voters and candidates who will be seeking office starting in February.

Local catering company hired to cook for ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ production

At high noon, on Jan. 3, Brian “Da Chef” Lookout made his usual rounds delivering lunch orders to local Pawhuska businesses, offices and residents as part of his Osage-owned catering business, but he also delivered a breaking news update on the side.

 

MARCH

Fifteen Osages file for candidacy seeking Congressional office in 2020 election

A total of 15 Osages ran for the Seventh Osage Nation Congress in the June 1 general election – the same number of candidates who ran for legislative office in the 2018 election.

Mediation talks to begin in tribal gaming compact dispute with state

OKLAHOMA CITY — With 14 tribes now suing Gov. Kevin Stitt, the fate of Oklahoma’s gaming compact may be decided by a mediator rather than a judge.

Allegations arise after report of Congresswoman’s tribal judgeship is published

The Congressional Rules and Ethics Committee met on Feb. 25 and Feb. 27 to discuss Congresswoman Shannon Edwards’ appointment as an appellate justice for the Arizona-based Yavapai- Apache Nation.

Absentee ballot requests due by April 17 to vote in 2020 election

Osages planning to vote as absentee voters in the June 1 Osage Nation General Election must submit absentee ballot request forms to the Election Office by April 17.

 

APRIL

Chief Standing Bear declares state of emergency and sends non-essential personnel home

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear declared a Public Health State of Emergency on March 19. Following that declaration all non-essential Osage Nation employees were directed to work from home due to the pandemic.

Osage Casinos suspends hotel and gaming operations until further notice

The Gaming Enterprise Board unanimously passed an emergency resolution to suspend hotel and gaming operations at all seven casinos starting at 11:59 p.m. March 18, until further notice due to the pandemic.

Candidates extend their campaigns online

With the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and safety measures for the country top of mind, the Osage Nation General Election is moving forward.

Election Office video records drawing for candidate name placement on 2020 ballot

The Osage Nation Election Office held a March 20 drawing to determine the order of Congressional candidate name placements on the June 1 general election ballot.

 

MAY

Osage Nation scheduled to reopen campus on May 11

The Osage Nation will reopen to the public on Monday, May 11, at normal work hours, according to an executive branch interoffice memorandum after having closed due to the pandemic.

Osage Casinos furloughs more than 75 percent of its workforce during pandemic

With all seven of its properties shuttered since mid-March due to COVID-19, Osage Casinos has had to furlough more than 75 percent of its employees.

Osage Nation employees to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work

Osage Nation employees will be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work on May 11. According to an all-employee April 29 executive branch memorandum from Director of Operations Casey Johnson, as a “precautionary measure” all employees will be required to be tested at the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center for the COVID-19 virus prior to returning to their worksite.

Sixth ON Congress honors outgoing Congressman Archie Mason

Before adjourning the 2020 Hun-Kah Session, the Sixth ON Congress honored Archie Mason, one of the longest-serving members, before he retires with his third term ending this summer.

Grayhorse and Pawhuska Inlonshka postpone their dances till further notice

The Drumkeepers of the Grayhorse and Pawhuska districts have postponed their annual Inlonshka dances for the safety and wellbeing of Osages everywhere.

 

MAY (Candidate Special Edition)

Candidate Debates hosted online via Zoom video conferencing

Instead of taking to the podiums, Osage Congressional hopefuls took to their laptops and smart phones for the Osage News’ candidate debate. Due to COVID-19, the Osage News editorial board voted in March to cancel the in-person debates scheduled for April 4 at Osage Casino Tulsa. Instead, the debates were postponed to April 25 and moved to Zoom.

Second group addresses LLCs, laws, the Supreme Court and per cap

The second group of candidates to participate in the 2020 Osage News Candidate Debates were Michael Kidder, John Maker, Mary Jo Pratt, Amanda Proctor and Jodie Revard.

Third group discusses economic development, COVID-19 impact

With the global COVID-19 pandemic sidelining countless public gatherings and annual event functions, the 2020 Osage News Candidate Debates shifted online for the first time on April 25 with all 15 Congressional candidates participating.

 

JUNE

Three Osage Nation Congressmen re-elected; three new members elected

Osage voters re-elected Joe Tillman, RJ Walker and John Maker as Osage Nation Congressmen and selected three new members in the June 1, 2020 General Election, Jodie Revard, Pam Shaw, and Billy Keene.

6th ON Congress votes to hold removal trial for Congresswoman Shannon Edwards

A removal trial will take place for Congresswoman Shannon Edwards on June 23.

The 6th Osage Nation Congress called itself into a 9th Special Session to conduct the trial, which will begin at 10 a.m. in the legislative chambers in downtown Pawhuska, according to the special session proclamation.

Osage Nation mourns passing of WWII veteran Charles Edward Lookout Jr.

World War II veteran Charles Edward Lookout Jr. passed away on May 6, 2020, in Tulsa at the age of 97.

Federal judge to determine legality of gaming compacts with two tribes

OKLAHOMA CITY —Gov. Kevin Stitt is asking a federal judge to determine exactly who has the power to expand the terms of Oklahoma’s gaming compacts.

 

JULY

2020 Osage Nation General Election results certified

The Wahzhazhe Elections Board certified the results of the June 1 Osage Nation General Election, which included the Congressional race for six seats and two Constitutional

amendment questions with one of those passing.

Inauguration Day ceremony moving to Pawhuska due to COVID-19 pandemic

After recent spikes in positive COVID-19 coronavirus cases locally and nationwide, the 2020 Osage Nation Inauguration Day ceremonial plans are being reworked to cut down on potential crowding and will be held July 11 in Pawhuska on the government campus.

COVID Task Force releases project details for CARES Act funding

The Osage Nation received its third and final payment of funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act on June 26.

Osage Nation to close four Head Start facilities

After 41 years, parents in Osage County will no longer have the choice of enrolling their child in an Osage Nation Head Start.

Exec discusses plans, priorities for WELA and Daposka Ahnkodapi

It’s not about the money. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said shutting

down the Osage Nation’s four Head Start facilities was a decision he made to invest in the Osage language and culture.

 

AUGUST

Seventh ON Congress members take oaths of office

In a brief July 11 inauguration ceremony held in the Minerals Council Chambers building lobby due to the morning rain, six Osages took their oaths of office to serve on the Seventh Osage Nation Congress.

Osage Nation to give out over $10M in direct assistance

The Osage Nation has published the application and policy for its CARES Direct Assistance Program for those tribal members affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal judge sides with tribes and rules gaming compacts renewed Jan. 1

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge has sided with nine Oklahoma tribes and ruled that Oklahoma’s model tribal-gaming compact automatically renewed on Jan. 1.

SCOTUS rules Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation never formally disestablished

WASHINGTON — In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the 10th Circuit Court and ruled on July 9th that the federal government never formally disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation.

 

SEPTEMBER

Hominy Inlonshka to take place Sept. 10-13; Hominy District only

The Hominy Drumkeeper’s family has announced their plans to dance in the fall, but they have one caveat: Hominy District only.

Executive Branch provides update to Congress on CARES Act spending

At the start of the August special session, the Seventh Osage Nation Congress received an update on the Nation’s implementation of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding, which totals more than $44 million.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ to begin filming in February 2021

This year may have brought on a global pandemic and a new world of changes, but next year may bring excitement and Hollywood fanfare to the Osage community.

ON officials and U.S. Attorney’s Office collaborating on missing and murdered tribal citizens

Osage and federal officials met Aug. 13 at the Osage Nation Museum to collaborate on how to address cases of missing and murdered tribal citizens.

 

OCTOBER

New deadline set for annual re-enrollment for Health Benefit plans

Osages who participate in the Osage Nation health benefit plans now have a two-month enrollment period and deadline to participate in the direct assistance health programs for the upcoming year. The deadline set was Dec. 15.

Minerals Council holds listening session on Tribal Energy Rights Agreements

Despite COVID-19 temporarily shoving it to the proverbial back burner, the Osage Minerals Council is still considering pursuing a tribal energy rights agreement.

Language and Culture gets financial boost for online initiatives

The current pandemic has forced the Osage Language Department and the Wahzhazhe Cultural Center to move classes online – and the interest is huge. Thanks to CARES Act assistance funds, the departments are producing a series of cultural videos and will have podcasts on Osage culture and history.

Nearly five years later, construction progresses on Eco Park

The former Communities of Excellence department received a $1.2 million grant in 2015 to begin construction on Eco Park, a community park the likes Pawhuska had never seen. The park includes walking trails and other amenities that can be enjoyed by the entire community.

 

NOVEMBER

Osage Nation opens second round of applications for CARES Act direct assistance

Starting Oct. 15, the Osage Nation is accepting a second round of applications from enrolled Osages to receive up to $1,200 in direct assistance due to hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategic Plan update will shape policy for the 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.

Repeal of Regional Gathering Fund fails during Tzi-Zho Session

The Regional Gathering Fund has created a lot of discussion among Osages recently. After much debate and discussion by members of the 7th Osage Nation Congress, the fund prevailed.

BIA releases final version of oil and gas environmental impact study on Osage County

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has released the final version of an environmental impact study on Osage County’s oil and gas operations. Published in the Oct. 16 edition of the Federal Register, the study looked at the long-term potential impacts associated with drilling permits, workover permits and oil and gas leases approved by the Osage Agency under certain scenarios.

 

DECEMBER

Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief celebrated with a Google Doodle

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, Google honored the late Maria Tallchief with a Google Doodle. People from across the world visited Google on Nov. 14 and enjoyed a video of Tallchief dancing to a backdrop of Osage artwork.

Wahzhazhe Health Center to receive COVID-19 vaccine mid-December

The Wahzhazhe Health Center will receive a COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December.

Congress votes down funding for new Pawhuska District buildings and permanent fund

Efforts to fund construction projects for the proposed new Wakon Iron chapel and com- munity building, along with a proposed $5.5 million replenishment for the Osage Nation’s permanent fund failed during the Seventh ON Congressional special session on Nov. 24.

Tribal member donates 11 Pawhuska city lots to Osage Nation

When Jacque Boulanger moved back to Pawhuska nine years ago, she noticed the town had seen better days. She decided to do something about her surroundings and began buying town lots and cleaning them up. Before she knew it, she owned 21 Pawhuska city lots.