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AG says power to revise or modify a removal lies with the Osage People, not Congress

Photo caption: The Osage Nation Tribal Courthouse in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Osage News File Photo

Toward the end of the Tzi-Zho Session in September, Congressman Joe Tillman asked the 7th Osage Nation Congress to reverse the 2014 removal of then-Principal Chief John Red Eagle.

He submitted a written motion on Sept. 24 asking his fellow Congress members to reinstate Red Eagle’s eligibility to hold office, but the motion did not make it to the floor of Congress for a vote.

Congresswoman Jodie Revard asked that the Speaker of Congress postpone the vote until the Congress received an Attorney General opinion on the motion’s legality. On Oct. 2, AG Clint Patterson issued a four-page opinion.

“The Osage Nation Congress does not have the power to remove the disqualifications issued in the judgment after a Motion for Removal and a subsequent removal trial,” Patterson wrote. “The exclusive Congressional power for removal is limited by the Constitution to removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit in the Osage Nation. It does not extend beyond those two provisions.

“The power to revise or modify a prior removal judgment to nullify the disqualification of an official was not invested in the Osage Nation Congress, and therefore, rests with the Osage People.”

Red Eagle was removed from office by the 3rd ON Congress for five articles of removal. Three members of the 3rd ON Congress that voted for Red Eagle’s removal remain on the legislature, Congresswoman Alice Goodfox, and Congressmen John Maker and RJ Walker. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn were also congressmen on the 3rd ON Congress that removed Red Eagle from office.

Tillman said he is doing further research on the subject.

“I’m in communication with members of the (Red Eagle) family and we are discussing our options at this time. The AG opinion was just that, an opinion, and I appreciate Mr. Patterson responding and like he told me it’s just an opinion,” Tillman said. “Ultimately, we would like for Chief Red Eagle to have his name cleared and return to the good graces of the Nation. I have heard from many Osages who are in favor of this happening so we will continue to explore our options and pray.”


Shannon Shaw Duty

Original Publish Date: 2020-11-10 00:00:00


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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Duty

Title: Editor


Twitter: @dutyshaw

Topic Expertise: Columnist, Culture, Community

Languages spoken: English, Osage (intermediate), Spanish (beginner)

Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage from the Grayhorse District, is the editor of the award-winning Osage News, the official independent media of the Osage Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Legal Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently sits on the Freedom of Information Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served as a board member for LION Publishers, as Vice President for the Pawhuska Public Schools Board of Education, on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (now Indigenous Journalists Association) and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive NAJA's Elias Boudinot Free Press Award. The Osage News won Best Newspaper from the SPJ-Oklahoma Chapter in their division 2018-2022. Her award-winning work has been published in Indian Country Today, The Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, NPR, the Associated Press, Tulsa World and others. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and together they share six children, two dogs and two cats.

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