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One ON constitutional amendment question on 2016 ballot

Osage voters will be asked to consider one constitutional amendment on their ballots when they vote in the June 6 general election regarding the maximum punishment allowed to be issued by the Osage Nation tribal court system.

The Nation’s Election Board approved the 2016 election ballot, which will list the 15 Osages running for the Fifth ON Congress and one proposed constitutional amendment will also appear on the ballot for a “yes” or “no” vote.

In April 2015, the Fourth ON Congress passed a resolution (ONCR 15-04 sponsored by Congressional Speaker Maria Whitehorn) putting the maximum punishment question on the ballot. If passed, the Nation’s tribal court system may issue punishments that are not greater than allowed by federal law.

Currently the 2006 Osage Constitution states the Nation cannot issue punishments that are longer than one year in jail, nor impose fines greater than $5,000.   

The proposed amendment would impact Section 3 of the constitution regarding the “Inalienable Rights of Osage Citizens.”

Whitehorn said her constitutional amendment resolution will simply state the Nation cannot “require excessive bail, impose excessive fines, inflict cruel and unusual punishments, and in no event impose for conviction of any offense any penalty or punishment greater than allowed by federal law.”

The amended language would be inserted under Article IV, Section 3(G), if passed.

According to the amendment literature, the purpose of the amendment “is to allow the (Nation) to align our criminal penalties with those allowed under federal law. Federal law now allows tribal nations to increase criminal penalties on Indian defendants above those by the (Nation’s) Constitution. The amendment will allow the Nation to enhance criminal punishments for crimes committed within the Nation’s jurisdiction. Also, if enacted, the amendment allows the Nation to adopt the Tribal Law and Order Act and the Violence Against Women Act, both of which are vital to the expansion of the Nation’s jurisdiction and sovereignty.” 


Benny Polacca

Original Publish Date: 2016-05-16 00:00:00


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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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