GRAYHORSE VILLAGE, Osage Reservation – In seeking reelection to the Osage Nation Congress, Eli Potts hosted a March 27 announcement dinner at the Grayhorse Village Community Building.
Potts spoke to a seated dinner crowd of about 70 that Sunday evening and shared personal recollections and reasons why he’s interested in a second four-year Congressional term. His campaign event is the first among the 13 Congressional candidates seeking six open legislator seats in the June 6, 2022, General Election.
Former Osage Congressman Archie Mason spoke first at the podium and praised Potts’s ON government experience which started with him working as the budget analyst for the Legislative Branch before winning his first election to Congress in 2018.
“One of the first things I noticed was his gift of the ability to do numbers, he was able to see things, he was able to look at budgets, dollars and cents and line items here, line items there,” Mason said of his former colleague. “The Osage Nation, the people elected us to do that and Eli was there to assist all of us and he did so excellently because he was able to look at and share with us any time we had a question about a particular item or particular grouping of dollars and cents and where it was and how it was being spent.”
Potts, whose Drum family also comes from the Grayhorse District, shared childhood memories, which included accompanying his mother, former Osage National Councilwoman Cheryl Potts to council meetings in the mid-1990s during her tenure. “Getting involved with our government started with my mother, started with ethnology, what we do as Osages to pass on our knowledge to the next generation because that’s what’s important,” he said.
He also shared that his Osage name means “Water Splasher” and was told by a relative his name meant he would toss rocks in the water to “cause ripples to be felt for generations among our people and it’s not going to be easy … So that’s what I’ve done the last four years.”
“Every time that I’ve tossed rocks into the water, it’s to make our people better, it’s to push our Nation forward,” Potts said shifting to the present. “It’s been a fight, I’ll tell you that, but you can see from my record and press releases I’ve issued, the statements I’ve made, you can see I’m fighting for you and that’s what I believe we need so badly in our Osage Nation among our leaders.”
Potts referred to the ongoing issues raised with the Wah-Zha-Zhe Health Center in Pawhuska with complaints on its operations and staff turnover raised in Congressional Health/ Social Services Committee meetings during the winter. “Here’s the thing, it’s not our people, our employees at the clinic care about our people, I believe that, it’s an administration problem and that’s where this comes down to and it comes down to Congress members not holding elected leaders accountable.
“I believe in an Osage Nation that demands fiscal responsibility,” Potts said, adding the Congress “ceased getting monthly revenue and expenditure reports from this administration (for 15 months) … I have said that is unacceptable on multiple occasions. “I don’t know what else to do, guys, but I’m going to keep fighting because that’s what I was raised to do, that’s what my ancestors taught me to do and that’s what I carry with me everywhere I go is to demand for us to do better,” Potts said. “But I can’t do it without you, I need each of you to talk to your friends, talk to your family, because this election is bigger than this room.”