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Campaign Trail: Berbon Hamilton hosts candidate dinner in Pawhuska Village

The 2022 Osage Nation General Election is June 6, 2022

Family members, friends and Osage constituents joined Osage Nation Congressional candidate Berbon Hamilton at his family camp in the Pawhuska Village where he discussed his interest seeking public office.

Attendees enjoyed a barbecue dinner and listened to Hamilton at the camp located across from the dance arbor on May 1. “I was told this is the first time anyone’s ever had a campaign dinner at their family camp, so we got blessed with a beautiful (sunny) day.”

Hamilton introduced himself as the Whipman for the Pawhuska District during the Inlonshka. The family camp was built around 1950 and his parents are the late Otto Hamilton Jr. and Sandra Murphy-Hamilton, Berbon Hamilton added.

Hamilton is a Tulsa East Central High School graduate and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kans. Hamilton said he also earned a certificate from the U.S. Small Business Administration which covered government contracting.

He currently serves as program manager with Tribal Government Institute PTAC, which is a Procurement Technical Assistance Center. “What we do is we help Native and tribally-owned small businesses with government contracting and I bring 15 years of government contracting experience to the Congress (if elected),” Hamilton said.

“In (fiscal year) 2021, $145 billion was awarded to small businesses and we need to be in there,” Hamilton said. “Small business means you have to have a net worth of $700,000 and with American Indian federally recognized tribes, that don’t matter, we can just start a (small) business through the federal regulations.”

Osage Nation Congressional candidate Berbon Hamilton holds a cake at his May 1 announcement dinner at his family camp in the Pawhuska Village as he seeks legislative office in the June 6, 2022 General Election. BENNY POLACCA/Osage News

In learning about the Osage Nation’s business endeavors, Hamilton said “We have two 8(a) companies and I helped start one (wrote the business plan for one), but they only have a year left and they’ll graduate out of that program. It’s a business development program and only people with this certification can get these contracts, $34 billion was awarded to 8(a) companies last year.”

“There’s Indian tribes out there that don’t have gaming, but they have government contracting,” Hamilton said, adding he’s aware of an Alabama tribe that has 600 tribal members and has a $200 million business. “And so, we need to go into the 8(a) business, big time, I’m ready to go all-in,” Hamilton said.

For other endeavors, Hamilton said the Nation should also look at lowering the elder age from 65 to 55 to serve more people with the health benefit $1,000 annual amount currently available to elders. For higher education, Hamilton said he’d like to see more scholarship funding appropriated for master’s and PhD programs.

“On June 6, I’m asking for your vote to put me to work,” Hamilton said.

Benny Polacca

Title: Senior Reporter


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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