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Election winners express thanks, happiness to serve


Benny Polacca

After about 90 minutes of waiting, the Osage Nation Election Board and staff announced the results of the 2016 general election.

At 10:30 p.m., the election officials, accompanied by ON police, arrived at the Congressional Chambers building where scores of Osages, their families and candidates congregated while waiting to learn which six Osages would serve on the Fifth ON Congress starting in July.

The crowd grew silent as Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre announced the results with occasional cheers as the names were called in the order of highest votes received: Archie Mason, Joe Tillman, Maria Whitehorn, RJ Walker, Shannon Edwards and John Maker.

Tillman is the only new Congress member who will join the other five incumbents after taking their oaths of office.

Inauguration Day for the Fifth ON Congress is scheduled Wednesday, July 6, at the Skiatook Osage Casino Hotel starting at 10 a.m.

After hearing the June 6 election results, the winners expressed thanks and excitement after spending the day in the mild June weather greeting voters at their nearby campsites on the ON government campus park area.

Tillman said he felt “overwhelmed, honored and humbled” to be elected to his first four-year term on Congress. He added he was proud of the other 14 candidates who ran and said his work on the campaign trail was a “wonderful experience,” adding he felt tired after the long day of last-minute campaigning and greeting voters at his camp – and from the last four days of participating in the Grayhorse District In-Lon-Schka dances.

Mason said: “I am very grateful to have another term and shall express the best efforts to make better the Nation and its services for our people. I appreciate the support of many and hope to earn the support of others as time moves forward.”

Edwards said she was happy with her win. Like Mason, Edwards will serve a third term on the Congress, the legislative body they both have served on since the 2006 Osage reformed government launched. “I work hard and I’m ready to work again for the people,” she said.

Walker said the campaign trail was a long 6-8 weeks and added: “It’s been a long day and I’ve enjoyed meeting a lot of people. I’m humbled, honored and ready to go to work.”

“I want to thank the Osage people, it was a long, hard campaign trail,” Maker said. “Anybody on that list had a chance to win, never thought I was a front runner, but I’m thrilled to be elected and will work for the Osage people.”

Whitehorn, currently the Congressional Speaker, also said she is happy with the results, adding “it shows the members of the Fourth Osage Nation Congress worked hard and I’m honored the Osage Nation people supported me.”  

The Fifth ON Congress will convene shortly after taking oath on July 6 in a yet-to-be-announced special session. At that time, the newly seated Congress will elect its Speaker.

Original Publish Date: 2016-06-09 00:00:00


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Benny Polacca
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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