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Congress passes two culture-affiliated bills on Day 11 of Hun-Kah Session

A $600k appropriation for a new Osage Nation Heritage Center passed and an amendment to the Cultural Preservation Act also passed on April 8

On Day 11 of the 2022 Hun-Kah Session, the Seventh Osage Nation Congress passed bills to amend the Cultural Preservation Act and to appropriate $600,000 toward costs of designing a new Heritage Center for the Nation’s cultural entities.

Both bills passed unanimously and received signatures from Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear to take effect.

Bill ONCA 22- 14 (sponsored by Second Speaker Jodie Revard) is “An Act to amend the Osage Nation Cultural Preservation Act in order to add definitions and vest all cultural preservation regulatory authority in the Historic Preservation Office.”

“This act allows us to further exercise our sovereignty and jurisdiction and is supported by the (2006) Constitution,” Revard said before the vote. “This act is also a way we can exercise our inherent right to protect our cultural resources and our Osage Reservation. This act is a product of our Nation’s agreement with the National Park Service, which recognizes the Nation’s Historic Preservation Office as the lead agency within our reservation. This act also ensures that the Historic Preservation Office is not excluded from any ground-disturbing activities, including but not limited to construction activities, the permitting process and the development of agreements.”

According to the bill, the Historic Preservation Office is “granted the authority to draft, promulgate and implement regulations as the (office) deems necessary to promote cultural preservation and regulate the protection and preservation of the Osage’s ancestral lands and items of cultural patrimony. All rules and regulations promulgated by the (ONHPO) shall not be final until published and noticed pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.”

Also sponsored by Revard, bill ONCA 22-28 is “An Act to authorize and appropriate the amount of $600,000 to the Capital Asset Fund for architectural design and engineering of a new Osage Nation Heritage Center.”

Revard said the $600,000 appropriation request will come from tribal funding to go toward architectural and design costs for a new Heritage Center building.

Currently, the Nation’s Language Department and Wahzhazhe Cultural Center share office space in a Nation-owned building – referred to as the Heritage Center – on Pawhuska’s Main Street but face aging wear and tear issues. The Historic Preservation Office is in the Nation’s Capitol Building but would also be housed in the new Heritage Center.

“This would be Phase 1 and would begin the process to build a new facility,” Revard said. “As many of you are aware, our language and cultural departments share a building that was purchased over 18 years ago and the building is located on fee simple land. Since then, the building has been structurally renovated, provided a new roof and repairs on the sewage system, as well as concrete work. Because of the age of the building, it is not up to par. And although it’s a two-story building, only one floor is usable and the current parking is inadequate. Because of the lack of space, our (ONHPO) is housed in a different location and the Museum offices are also lacking in space.

“This new building will include office space, classrooms and accommodate our current library … It will also meet the needs of our constituents that attend our classes and visit our library,” Revard said. “It will also provide a place to protect our records that assist in preserving our culture. The Executive Branch agrees with this new building and this effort has been discussed for many years.”

Revard said a proposed site for a new Heritage Center is on the government campus adjacent to the ON Museum in Pawhuska.

For more information regarding ON Congressional sessions, filed legislation and Congressional committee meetings, visit the Legislative Branch website at www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/legislative-branch

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Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.
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