The Osage Nation Congressional Government Operations Committee discussed a bill that appropriated an additional $500,000 in legal fees to the Osage Minerals Council from the Osage Nation Congress during its April 26 meeting.
However, the bill ONCA 21-47 (sponsored by Second Speaker Jodie Revard) did not go into effect. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear pocket vetoed the bill, stating a lack of justification.
“A requirement of that appropriation was being subject to Osage Nation laws. Without any information on how this money was spent, we do not know if laws such as Osage Preference in employment or contracting have been followed,” Standing Bear said.
“Transparency and accountability must be observed and practiced.”
According to Revard, the council sent justification to Congress that was received on April 8.
In the April 26 meeting, Second Speaker Revard said, “It was requested that they provide justification and of course that was sent out to Congress, and it included a resolution stating what they wanted in their body is to come to Congress and ask for professional fees for litigation.
The council is currently in litigation against Enel Green Power North America over 84 wind turbines built along Highway 60. The company mined into the Osage Mineral Estate when they constructed the turbines, and they did so without an approved lease from the council and the Secretary of Interior. The legal counsel for the OMC is Pipestem & Nagle, P.C.
“Of course, if we win it will benefit the shareholders and our nation by keeping our sovereignty intact. A favorable ruling will also set precedence against other companies showing interest in our lands by obtaining leases without approval,” Revard said.
The council originally requested a million dollars for litigation fees in September 2020 during the Hun-Kah Session. Standing Bear signed legislation granting the Osage Minerals Council $716,547 for which $500,000 was designated for professional fees.
The legislation had support from other members at the April 26 meeting. Congressman John Maker said, “We don’t fight these people on the battlefield anymore, we fight them in the courtroom. Please support our mineral council in any way we can.”
Standing Bear said, “I will gladly consider signing future legislation for the Osage Minerals Council for non-mineral funding if the Osage Minerals Council submits actual justification and allows for transparency and accountability on the expenditure of Osage Nation money.”
Representatives for the Osage Minerals Council did not respond to requests for comment.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from the version that ran in the June 2021 print edition of the Osage News.