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HomeElectionAnita Fields resigns as Wahzhazhe Elections Board alternate

Anita Fields resigns as Wahzhazhe Elections Board alternate

Fields has accepted the appointment to the ON Traditional Cultural Advisors Committee.

The Wahzhazhe Elections Board now has a vacancy for one of its two alternate board positions after Anita Fields announced her resignation from the post on June 18.

Fields, a seasoned Osage artist with many of her works on display in museums, art galleries and exhibition shows through the years, said she is moving on to serve on the Nation’s Traditional Cultural Advisors Board. Like with the alternate Election Board position, Fields will go through the formal board member appointment process by the Executive Branch and will be subject to confirmation consideration for a three-year term by the Osage Nation Congress at a later session.

Fields (Hominy District) has served as an alternate Election Board member for 10-plus years and, as needed, stepped into the voting board member role during election years when a sitting member needed to recuse from serving. She also attended regular board meetings to stay engaged with the sitting three-member board and staff on election business matters. Fields also served as a polling place worker during in-person voting on election days, including the 2024 General Election.

“I would like to tell you all that I have been asked to be on the (Traditional Cultural Advisors Board),” Fields told the board and staff. “It was a very hard decision and I really enjoy working with you guys and I learned a lot and totally believe in the Election Board and the work that we do there and just how I’ve seen it evolve in the short time I have been there. I’m so impressed by your dedication and it’s so important to the Nation – the work that is done there – And I have been glad to be a small part of it and any contribution I’ve been able to make because I believe in it very, very deeply.”

“So, I have made the decision to take that (invitation) because I think you know how I feel about being a life-long learner and I feel like I can learn a lot there and also it’s my understanding from talking to a member of that board that a lot of art (related) things come up that people could use some clarification on … I’m going to miss you guys.”

Election Board Chair Shannon Lockett praised Fields for her past service, adding “We have certainly been blessed with your help on this board for I think close to 10 years, if not 10. So, we understand your situation here and I know you’ll be a tremendous asset to that board just as you’ve been to us.”

According to the Osage Culture website, “The Traditional Cultural Advisors (TCA) serve as the advisory review board for the Osage Nation Historic Preservation Office (ONHPO). The TCA is comprised of Osage community members respected for their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Osage culture and heritage. Members of the TCA will occasionally be involved in discussions, and asked to make important decisions regarding culturally sensitive materials.”

Fields, who primarily works in clay and textiles, has won several awards during her career, including the highest honor in the folk and traditional arts when she was named a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow.

According to Fields’ professional website, her work can be found in several collections, such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art; Museum of Art and Design, New York City; Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, N.M.; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.; Heard Museum, Phoenix, Ariz.; and the National Museum of American Indian, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre said “I feel like it’s a good thing though because (Fields) can take what she’s learned here and spread the word about elections also, honestly. So, I feel like it’s another avenue to help us even though it may not seem like it right now … Congratulations! I feel it’s a big honor to be asked to be on more than one board in your lifetime. You have a variety of expertise that needs to be shared.”

Fields said she’s had past conversations with others about elections and she’s set the record straight when it came to misconceptions. “I have a deep respect for everybody that is on that (election) board and the work that is done there,” she said.

On June 21, Fields submitted a formal resignation letter to her former colleagues and the Election Board voted unanimously to accept the resignation during a June 25 meeting. Lockett, Vice Chair Terry Hazen and board member Belle Wilson voted on the motion made. The second alternate Election Board member is Fred Byers, who has also served as a polling place worker, like Fields.

According to the Osage election code: “The (Election) Board shall be composed of three members and two alternates, appointed by the Principal Chief with the advice and consent of the Congress. The Board shall consist of members of the Osage Nation. No elected official of the Osage Nation or any employee of the Osage Nation or its business subsidiaries shall serve on the Board.”

For the alternate board position established in the election code: “Upon the filing of a candidate who: Is a member of the immediate family of the Board (member); Lives with a Board member; or Is a partner in a business concern with a Board member, the (Election) Board member associated with the candidate shall recuse himself or herself from service on the Board for that election, and an alternate shall serve according to the provisions of this law.”

The next Osage General Election will take place on June 1, 2026, with office openings for six of 12 Congressional seats, Principal Chief, Assistant Principal Chief, ballot questions on whether to retain the four judges serving in the Judicial Branch, as well as any other ballot questions referred to Osage voters.

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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