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Campaign Trail: Melissa Currey holds campaign dinner in Pawhuska

About 60 people attended Currey's campaign dinner on April 10 where she spoke about her experience working for the BIA and her priorities for the 5th Osage Minerals Council if elected.

Melissa Currey, a candidate for the 5th Osage Minerals Council, told attendees at a campaign dinner April 10 in Wakon Iron Hall, that her experience working at the BIA’s Osage Agency for more than 28 years made her an invaluable asset to the council.

Currey said she began a career with the BIA in 1984, where she worked in multiple departments, specifically realty and minerals. She rose to the ranks as a supervisor, a specialist and then became Superintendent before she ended her tenure. She now works for the Nation as the Real Estate Services director.

“As superintendent, I had a quality staff under me. I had an excellent engineering staff, and we were approving hundreds of drilling permits every month,” Currey said of the late 2010s. “As superintendent, I worked with the Osage Minerals Council and we sat down together and planned … things that we could do to bring the lessees in and get the payments up and keep them up, keep production up.”

“I bring this up because I don’t see that today, I don’t see the collaboration.”

She said the BIA is holding all the council’s records, including their production and well data. This makes it hard for the council to conduct business.

“One of the first things we can do as a Minerals Council is get our data back and get it in a usable format and not just a box of paper. We can digitize those records and there’s a lot we can do with our GIS and other software systems,” she said. “That will be one of my top priorities.”

Campaign yard signs were available to attendees of Minerals Council candidate Melissa Currey on April 10. SHANNON SHAW DUTY/Osage News

Her second priority will be the oil and gas regulations. She said she is aware that the OMC has hired an attorney to write oil and gas regulations and she has experience in that department.

“At some point, we’re going to have to negotiate those regs with the BIA. There’s going to have to be some kind of discussion, some kind of meeting, there will have to be some kind of negotiation there,” she said.

She said there hasn’t been a very good accounting since 2012. She’s hearing a lot of that from shareholders and the last two years she knows there hasn’t been anyone out in the field except for “one little land guy.”

“As a former Minerals Councilman, this lady has done her homework,” said Sonny Abbott, who served on the 2nd Osage Minerals Council. “Everything she said is right on and needs to be done.”

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear attended the dinner and spoke in support of Currey to the attendees. “When you go talk to the BIA, and you talk to their solicitors, which is the worst place to be, you’re going to find out they’re just about delay. And the next thing you know two years goes by, then three years goes by, then four years goes by and then our people get frustrated, and they take it out on leadership and the minerals council, I see it all the time and so have you,” he said. “She knows about it and we need to get on it, and we’re all going to help her, we’re going to help her get elected, I’ve been talking to my family and friends and we’re all behind her.”

Minerals Council candidate Melissa Currey speaks to supporters at her April 10 campaign dinner at Wakon Iron Hall in Pawhuska. SHANNON SHAW DUTY/Osage News

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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Duty is the editor of the Osage News. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a master's degree in Legal Studies, Indigenous Peoples Law from the OU College of Law. She served on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) from 2013-2016 and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee from 2017-2020. 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 (NCAIED). In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive the Elias Boudinot Free Press Award, NAJA’s highest honor. An Osage tribal member, she and her family are from the Grayhorse District. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and six children.

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