Six members of the Fourth Osage Nation Congress are running for re-election in June.
Congresswoman Shannon Edwards and Congressman Archie Mason have served for 10 years on the Congress. Congressmen John Jech, John Maker, RJ Walker and Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn were all elected to their first terms in 2012.
The Osage News requested their legislative record of each congress member. The legislative record obtained is prior to the start of the 2016 Hun-Kah session, which began in March.
Edwards, who lives part-time in Oklahoma and part-time in California, has sponsored and authored a total of 211 pieces of legislation, with 125 of those signed into law – the most of any member of Congress, past or present.
Educated at the University of California, Berkley, and Georgetown University Law Center, Edwards was appointed to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary to represent the 10th Circuit in October of last year.
Notable legislation she has sponsored over the years has been the Health Benefit Act, the Medicare Supplement Option for Elders, the Higher Education Scholarship, and the Arts and Regional Gathering Grants.
“The Nation is currently spending more on its government than ever before, and I believe the people are not served unless Congress stewards our resources and rejects proposals that waste money,” Edwards said. “I am not afraid to vote my conscious when I believe the People are not best served. I would be honored to continue as an Osage Congresswoman.”
Criticized for her attendance record during Congressional sessions, she said on March 29 during a Rules and Ethics congressional meeting that “sitting here somehow causes you to believe you’re doing your job” to Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw. She pointed out some members of congress stay for the roll call vote and then get up to leave for their offices, skipping the committee meeting.
Supernaw is planning on introducing an easily accessible online attendance record for the Osage public, otherwise the public would have to look at every legislative journal entry for attendance records.
Jech, who lives in Pawhuska, served for many years as the Osage Nation’s Treasurer and unsuccessfully ran for the Second Osage Nation Congress in 2010 and finished ninth. A CPA, he started his own accounting firm and still has an office on Kihekah street in downtown Pawhuska.
Since his successful election in 2012, for the past four years he has continuously served as chair of the Congressional Appropriations Committee. Sponsoring only appropriations bills, he has sponsored a total of 47 pieces of legislation, with 37 of those sponsored becoming law.
Born and raised in Pawhuska, he received his bachelor’s of administration from Northeastern State University and received his CPA certifications in 2002. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Maker, who lives in Hominy, worked at the Osage Language Department before unsuccessfully running for the Second Osage Nation Congress in 2010. He finished eighth. He successfully ran in 2012 and has sponsored a total of 15 pieces of legislation, with 11 of those becoming law.
Known for his cultural knowledge and that of the Osage language, he said he is proud of his legislation he worked on with the Hominy Water Treatment Facility, the Osage Nation Eagle Protection Act and the Osage Graves Protection Act.
“Being a member of Congress is more than just sponsoring legislation, it is also about being an ambassador and representing the people to the best of your ability,” Maker said. “I believe I’ve done that. I’ve always represented our people to the best of my ability and anything and everything I’ve done has been for the Osage people.”
Mason, who lives in Tulsa, was elected to the First Osage Nation Congress in 2006. He was re-elected in 2012 and was the Nation’s first Speaker of the Congress. He has sponsored a total of 37 pieces of legislation, with 25 of those sponsored becoming law.
“Serving as Speaker of the Congress for the first four years allowed me to witness the historic beginning of a new government,” Mason said. “I have observed our three branches of government growing and have witnessed the growing pains of this new nation.”
Mason said the recent legislation he is proud of is his support of the Hominy and Pawhuska Districts for new dance arbors and improvements to their villages. As Head Committeeman for the Grayhorse District, he sponsored the legislation to build a new arbor for his district. He is also proud of the Nation’s purchase of the Turner Ranch and his “yes” vote to help make that happen.
“The recent movement to purchase the Turner property had my support as a congressman,” he said. “The expansion of our land base for use and ownership by our Osage people, our children, grandchildren and yet unborn children is truly a dream come true.”
Walker, born and raised in Pawhuska, received the highest vote count in the 2012 election when he joined the Third Osage Nation Congress. He has sponsored a total of 36 pieces of legislation, with 27 of those sponsored becoming law.
Walker, who worked for a decade as the director of the Roads Department for the Nation, was also Chairman of the Osage County Industrial Authority. He worked to bring about the Pawhuska Business Incubator, which has been a successful program for start-up Osage entrepreneurs.
Over the years he has continuously supported legislation that improves the infrastructure of the Osage Campus, roads, bridges, sustainable energy and communications. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Whitehorn was elected in 2012 to the Third Osage Nation Congress. She has sponsored a total of 34 pieces of legislation, with 27 of those sponsored becoming law.
Serving as the Nation’s third female Speaker of the Congress, Whitehorn said she is proud of the legislation she has sponsored to benefit the Osage people and employees of the Nation.
Among those sponsored include an amendment to the ON Revenue and Taxation Act making it possible for disabled veterans and Osage elders to receive tax-free tags; a revolving Tax Relief Fund that has earned the nation more than $1 million in revenue since it passed; amended the language in Article XV, Section 4 of the Osage Constitution to say minerals royalties are protected for Osage Headright Owners instead of members of the Osage Nation; reinserted an employee grievance procedure back into the Merit Pay for Performance Act.
“As Speaker my concern has been to provide the WHOLE body of Congress with information and tools to make informed legislative decisions …” she said. “It is paramount the legislative body be information driven in order to make the important fiscal decisions required by our office, for the Osage people. This has been my contribution as Speaker of Congress.”
She said she is currently working on language for an amendment to the Osage Constitution to allow for a Constitutional Convention.
Shannon Shaw Duty
Original Publish Date: 2016-05-16 00:00:00