Second Assistant Principal Chief candidate files for candidacy on Jan. 5

A second Osage Nation tribal member is seeking the Assistant Principal Chief’s office in the 2022 General Election.

On Jan. 5, Joseph Thornton filed for candidacy at the Wahzhazhe Elections Office in Pawhuska just before 2 p.m. This is the first time Thornton, 50, is seeking candidacy for public office under the Nation’s reformed government.

The filing period for Osages interested in seeking Executive Branch Office runs through Jan. 10 at the end of business hours.

Incumbent Congressman RJ Walker is also running for Assistant Principal Chief. He filed for candidacy on Dec. 7 when the filing period opened for Executive Branch candidates.

According to the 2006 Osage Constitution, “There shall be an Assistant Principal Chief whose Osage title shall be ‘Ki-he-kah O-wah-ta’, who shall have the same qualifications as the Principal Chief and serve for the same term and in the same manner. The Assistant Principal Chief shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law and as may be designated by the Principal Chief.”

Those seeking Principal Chief office must also be at least 35 years old on Election Day and have never been convicted of a felony, the Constitution states. The Assistant Principal Chief also serves “in the temporary absence of the Principal Chief and when serving will have all the privileges, duties and powers of that office.”

Additionally, “The Assistant Principal Chief shall, by virtue of his office, be an ex-officio member of the Osage Nation Congress and shall have a right, when in committee-of-the-whole, to join in debate; and, whenever the legislature shall be equally divided, the Assistant Principal Chief shall cast the deciding vote,” according to the Constitution.

As of Jan. 5, three candidates have filed for candidacy seeking Principal Chief office and – pending candidate certification by the Wahzhazhe Elections Board – will participate in an April 4 primary election to determine which two candidates with the highest vote counts will appear on the June 6 General Election ballot.

“If two or fewer candidates for Principal Chief or Assistant Principal Chief file by the filing deadline, those candidates shall advance to the general election,” according to the Osage election code, meaning two certified Assistant Principal Chief candidates will not appear on the primary election ballot.

All election candidates will be subject to background checks by the ON Attorney General’s Office for any felonies on their records before they are certified by the Election Board to appear on the ballot.

For more information on Osage Nation elections, filing for candidacy, or to register or update addresses for voting, and to request absentee ballots, contact the Election Office toll-free at (877) 560-5286 or visit its website at