Business

Attorney General confirms Ranch and ONES boards are ‘non-existent’

Two Osage Nation business boards are no more.

According to an Oct. 27 opinion from ON Attorney General Clint Patterson, both boards for Osage Nation Energy Services LLC (ONES) and Osage Nation Ranch LLC (ONR) were legally restructured as subsidiaries of the parent company Osage LLC upon filing new articles of organization with the Secretary of the Nation on Oct. 7.

Since Sept. 23, when Congress and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear enacted the joint resolution (ONCR 21-15) that designated the ONR as a subsidiary of Osage LLC, the status of both boards has been in question. On Oct. 6, Standing Bear filed an Executive Memorandum requesting an official opinion from Patterson clarifying the status of the ownership and control of both the ONR and ONES.

“The boards of both Osage Nation Energy Services, LLC and the Osage Nation Ranch, LLC were dissolved by operation of governing documents and replaced with a manager organization structure,” the opinion reads.

In an email, Osage LLC board Chairman Frank Freeman said ONES General Manager Paul Yates has been providing support and counsel and would continue in his position.

Former Chairman of the ONES board, Eddy Red Eagle Jr., did not wish to provide comment given that his official role has been dissolved.

Osage LLC and ONES operate similar business models based on consulting and government contracting. The ONR is a different type of business involving livestock, leasing, and land management. In his email, Freeman confirmed that the three former ONR board members Galen Crum, Dr. Ladd Oldfield, and Hank Hainzinger had offered to remain in advisory positions to support the transition and the Osage LLC board accepted their offer.  

“Fall is a busy time for a Ranch and there were many issues in play that needed to be completed. One being the sale of livestock, so it was a great help that these gentlemen carried through on the commitment,” Freeman said.

When reached by phone for comment, former ONR Chairman Crum said he had hoped the Osage LLC board would bring the advisory roles to a vote at the Oct. 10 meeting but, since they did not, he still did not know what their official role was in relation to the new board.

Though Congress and Standing Bear appear to be in agreement about the consolidation of the LLCs, Standing Bear has said they are not on the same page on a larger economic development plan for the Nation.

“I had proposed an economic development office for the Nation,” Standing Bear said at the Oct. 10 Osage LLC meeting. Within that proposal were professional fees for General Lee Levy to advise and assist in aerospace development. Levy was the Special Assistant to the Vice Chief of Staff for the U.S. Air Force. Prior to that assignment, he was the Commander, Air Force Sustainment Center, Air Force Materiel Command, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, according to his bio on the U.S. Air Force website. 

Congress did not vote to fund the economic development office, however. Congressional Second Speaker Jodie Revard, joining the meeting by phone, explained that the economic development office was not presented to Congress in the same manner Standing Bear described in the meeting. Congresswomen Pam Shaw and Paula Stabler were also in attendance. 

Standing Bear indicated that he planned to rely on Osage LLC to move forward with his plans and he “highly recommends” that the board find a way to fund a role for Levy. 

“I’ve already gone to the Congress, unsuccessfully. I need Osage LLC to find a way to step up,” he said.

He also spoke of other initiatives he wants funding for, including a consultant for strategic planning purposes to prepare for increased traffic and interest after the film, “Killers of the Flower Moon” premieres; a sports complex in Pawhuska and the increased traffic from that development; and the casino and hotel developments to support increased visitors.

“If Congress starts chopping away at those initiatives it causes problems which you are seeing already because the Congress has chosen some other path which is a mystery to us,” he said. “We don’t know what other path you all are taking but you decided to not fully endorse the path that my executive team has presented to you. And there are consequences to it. Political and financial. So, given the fact that you all are halfway supporting my administration and trying to undermine other parts of it, we’re going to go forward anyway.” 

Timeline

Patterson provided a timeline leading up to the LLC board restructuring:

-       April 14, 2008: Osage, LLC is formed as a wholly-owned LLC with the Osage Nation as its sole member.

-       Sept. 21, 2012: Osage Nation Energy Services, LLC is formed.

-       April 30, 2015: Tallgrass Economic Development (TED), LLC is formed.

-       April 14, 2016: TED, LLC forms Bluestem Ranch (Bluestem), LLC as a wholly-owned subsidiary of TED, LLC with TED, LLC being Bluestem’s only member.

-       Sept. 24, 2018: Congress and the Principal Chief transfer control from TED, LLC to Osage Nation, making the Nation the sole Member.

-       Jan. 17, 2018: Osage Nation Energy Services, LLC registers the trade name “Osage Nation Environmental Solutions, LLC.”

-       July 10, 2019:  Bluestem Ranch, LLC’s name is changed to Osage Nation Ranch, LLC.

-       April 30, 2020: Congress and the Principal Chief designate ONES, LLC a subsidiary of Osage, LLC but because Osage, LLC did not approve the subsidiary’s articles of organization, the restructuring was not complete and ONES, LLC continued to operate independently.

-       Sept. 23, 2021: Congress and the Principal Chief designate Osage Nation Ranch, LLC a subsidiary of Osage, LLC.

-       Oct. 1, 2021: Osage, LLC Board of Directors accept and approve ONR, LLC and ONES, LLC’s articles of organization and operation.

Oct. 7, 2021: The Secretary of the Nation records the amended articles of operation and organization, and the restructuring is complete.