The third group of Osage Minerals Council candidates took the stage for the Osage News Candidate Debates on April 30.
Fifteen candidates are running for eight seats on the 5th Osage Minerals Council. The debate was held at the Osage County Fairgrounds Ag Building.
The candidates were divided into three groups of five; however, candidates Jeff Patten and Stephanie Erwin were unable to attend due to health issues. The third group had five candidates, Everett Waller, Anthony Shackelford, Paul Revard, Myron Red Eagle and Talee Redcorn.
The debate was moderated by Sterling Cosper (Muscogee Creek Nation), who is acting director for the Native American Journalists Association and former News correspondent Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton (Cherokee Nation) who is now a Tulsa World education reporter.
Each group received three questions submitted from the Osage public. However, only one person submitted a question for the Minerals Council candidates. The Editorial Board made up the difference, as well as pulling questions from other submissions for Congressional candidates.
Each candidate received two minutes for opening statements and question responses, one-minute rebuttals and two-minute closing statements.
What do you see as your biggest challenge if elected or re-elected to office? – Addie McClain, Houston, TX
Redcorn: “We went through Osage Minerals Council 4, we’ve had some big battles. I’m still with our council in federal courts, we’ve won those. We’ve gone to federal court and take those serious. Everyone out there wants your asset and I don’t think that’s gonna stop. These people out here they think this reservation belongs to them, and it doesn’t, it belongs to you, the Osage headright holders. That’s one thing I’m going to continue to fight for.”
Red Eagle: “Increasing our production, increasing our payment check … how we do that is expedite the permits as best we can. I think the more leases we have that come to us, the more leases we can locate, the minerals council, the better off we are. Right now, we’re just on totally production. That’s our biggest challenge. Also, expedite the permits, there’s ways to do that. We have to go to Washington, D.C. to do that, there’s also a TERA program that’s been studied upon, it’s still undecided on that too, but the main thing is to increase production.”
Revard: “The foremost challenge in my mind is we have a reputation that’s been hard. Osage County used to be a place people flocked to, to come spend their capital dollars. It was an easy place to operate, you had an unusual, unique set of regulations that you had to learn, but it was doable. It was low risk, it was a really good place to spend your money with a pretty high degree of success for exploration. But what’s happened over the last decade or so, is our reputation … people have heard of our regulatory, burdensome implementation of these regulations, the permitting process taking so long … we need to make some changes, make it a more competitive area, for our producers to come in and drill.”
Shackelford: “It’s not really that cut and dry. I think in order to entice and influence investors, which equates to producers for more drilling and for more hiring on return of investment on our mineral estate itself, is that we got shallow wells, we’ve got a great bulk of oil, a great bulk of other resources such as dirt, rock, certain things like that I don’t think we’re capitalizing enough on. So, we have to expand our array of offerings to potential investors.”
Waller: “The first thing I would think, is let’s get together … I’ve been on enough councils to tell you, that this will be my 60th numbers of groupings, of council people I’ve been with. You’re going to have to fix that before you can fix anything else. Talk about these federal regulations, why you’re in that bind is because you’ve had individual groups here sue the oil companies on your environmental assessment. We’ve taken care of that as a council.”
As a Minerals Council member, are you in favor of the council regulating our own oil and gas rather than the Bureau of Indian Affairs? Please explain. – Osage News Editorial Board
Red Eagle: “We have hired an attorney in Washington, D.C., to [formulate] our own regulations as a minerals council, for our mineral estate. That in itself is an advantage that will cultivate [solutions] for every problem we have today, including permits, pipelines, the gas pipelines. The gas activity isn’t checked at all. We’ve even hired a gas analyst to go out and check the gas pipelines meters, as this council has did and he’s out there right now checking on those things. That right there, in itself is what needs to be done.”
Revard: “I don’t even know if that can even be an option, based on the 1906 act, I’m not sure that the federal government will ever be relieved of their responsibility to us. They are the trustees of the mineral estate, that’s held in trust for us, the beneficiaries. There are several different avenues we can do regarding our own regulations or doing things ourselves, but it will always come with the ultimate oversight of the federal government.”
Shackelford: “I think when you take on anything of that magnitude, it goes back to process, having a workable plan, strategy. Do we have things in place, are we prepared to take on something like that. I fully believe our Osage people; I fully believe our Osage Minerals Council having the ability to do certain things and aspects as it pertains to the minerals estate … I think it’s imperative we handle as much of the work as we can here.”
Waller: “I would like to say yes, but the answer is no. You cannot come in and take over a fiduciary trust responsibility of the United States of America. Before I ship them out, they’re going to pay us. We’re getting into a … system that a lot of candidates brought up. Your EIS is going to be on there, your production value is going to be on there, this council’s worked hard going after these grants and delivering.”
Redcorn: “The federal government is going to be involved I the administration of your asset, no matter what. Because of the 1906 Act. They are the ultimate authority, the trustee of it. They’re here to protect it.”
How do you keep shareholders engaged in the future of the Osage Mineral Estate during times of low development? – Osage News Editorial Board
Revard: “It was mentioned by a previous group that was up here, about communication with the shareholders, transparency, that’s something that this particular council has stumbled at. We’ve gone periods of times without communication to the headright owners. It doesn’t always have to be a lengthy production like we’ve put out once or twice, but maybe something shorter and sweeter and more often.”
Shackelford: “It’s one thing to send out newsletters and things like that, but one thing I’ve discovered in my work with the Nation, we do something called community based participatory research. We go out to you, we don’t wait for you to come to us. It’s good to have a gathering like this. People are seeing us up here, they’re seeing us asking for your vote, we’re putting our best food forward.”
Waller: “3rd Minerals Council we had to survive the mold in our own building and offices. 4th council come in and not only did we have to finish cleaning up the mold, then I think we had some equipment move up to main street, across a location you well know. We started with nothing. So my councilwoman and I and the council, we upgraded our systems. That’s to answer this question, we go at any value and make every attempt at reaching our people.”
Redcorn: “The last council I voted yes to approve our audits, something we’re having an independent group we had come in and take a look at all the financing. We’re going to take that recommendation and move that forward. Your money’s important.” He said that social media, the minerals council newsletter are ways to reach out and he always answers his phone and returns emails.
Red Eagle: “In 2009, I went out to California with my brother John Red Eagle and visited with people out there. The first thing they told me is we don’t know anything that’s going on back home. I asked him if I started a newsletter, would you vote for me? He said yes, he would. Starting a newsletter, that’s engaging the populace to what’s going on with the minerals council … communication, transparency is very, very important to keep our shareholders engaged.”
To watch the third group of the Osage Minerals Council candidates debate, visit the Osage Nation’s YouTube page at https://youtu.be/IrxYsb9vWQo