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Former councilman named ON director of operations


Benny Polacca

John Williams is getting reacquainted with government day-to-day duties after coming out of retirement to work in the Osage Nation’s Executive Branch as director of operations.

Williams, who has supervisory experience in the medical field and previously served on the Nation’s 31st Council, will oversee the Nation’s 32 programs and their directors. The retired director of the Indian Health Service clinic in Pawhuska started his director post on July 15.

Robert Hyatt, who formerly held the director of operations post, has moved to director of the Nation’s Education Department, which had been without a director for several months. Hyatt didn’t respond to an e-mail inquiry before the Osage News went to press.

Williams, 62, said he is getting to know the government operations by visiting with each department and its employees. He said one item he is focusing on is the government’s 25-year plan strategic plan.

“My job is to start setting directions to get there,” Williams, 62, said. He was director of Pawhuska’s IHS clinic from 1991 to 2002 and worked in other IHS positions, including as a physician’s assistant in other states.

Williams is a military veteran who served in Vietnam from 1969-70 and was trained as a medic in the Special Forces and in an IHS physician’s assistant program when he returned from Vietnam.

From there, Williams worked in IHS facilities with several tribes including the Havasupai and Tohono O’odham in Arizona, Alamo Navajo and Jicarilla Apaches in New Mexico, and the Aberdeen Area office and the hospitals in Winnebago (Neb.) and Lawton, Okla.

Principal Chief Jim Gray said Williams’ previous leadership experience in IHS is one of his strong assets along with his tribal council term before the tribal government changed into today’s three-branch model.

Williams served on the final council before the government reformation began. He lives in the Grayhorse Village where he’s served on the five-man board for about 15 years, on and off.

“I felt we needed to make our move toward defending our sovereignty,” he said on running for council. He added that he’s impressed with the Nation’s growth amid some “growing pains. My job is to get us through those.”

Original Publish Date: 2009-08-25 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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