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Osage Congress approves $1.1 million for War Memorial fund for design and planning

The five-member Osage Nation War Memorial Commission is continuing its plans for designing and building a War Memorial after the Fifth ON Congress approved $1.1 million for the memorial’s fund.

During the 2017 Hun-Kah Session, the Congress considered and debated how much to appropriate for the War Memorial and considered a lower amount at $875,000. Ultimately, the $1.1 million appropriation bill (ONCA 17-37 sponsored by Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt) passed with a unanimous vote on April 19.

Pratt, who is an Army veteran, also sits on the War Commission as a non-voting ex-officio commission member as does Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. She originally filed ONCA 17-37 as a $1.1 million appropriation bill, but the bill was reduced to $875,000 after consideration in a Congressional committee meeting. Later the Congress voted by majority vote to raise the bill amount back to $1.1 million following debate and consideration of the matter after hearing from War Commission members.

As the Congress considered the bill amount on April 18, Pratt said she heard from the War Commission members who wished for the appropriation bill to be funded at the $1.1 million level, which was reached after the commission worked with a contractor for developing conceptual design plans. Pratt proposed that the bill be amended back to $1.1 million, which is an amendment she said was being proposed on behalf of the War Memorial Commission and Osage veterans. According to the bill, the $1.1 million will come out of the Nation’s retained revenue fund.

“It’s important to them (veterans) as a place and part of the design is a fountain and (the War Memorial Commission) talked about the healing part of that as many, to this day, cannot speak of what they’ve gone through … I’ve supported this before I was on Congress as a veteran and I did spend the first year on Congress trying to find other funding for this and I researched other tribes,” Pratt said, noting her grant research was unsuccessful, but other tribes “stated to me, the ones I contacted, that they funded (their respective memorials) with their gaming funds.”

After the bill’s vote, Franklin McKinley, the War Memorial Commission Chairman, addressed the Congress and expressed thanks for the vote and consideration of the bill.

With the $1.1 million appropriated toward the War Memorial development, further design and construction, the bidding process is ongoing for seeking a contractor to further plan and design the War Memorial. In early May, the War Memorial Commission unanimously approved a Request for Qualifications to be advertised by the Nation to help select a qualified architectural and engineering firm to plan and design the memorial with the commission. The deadline for RFQs to express interest in the War Memorial project is June 15 at 11 a.m. RFQ packets are available from the ON Purchasing Office for those professionals interested in applying for the project.

The War Memorial Commission was established by a 2011 Osage law (sponsored by then-Congressman Standing Bear) and is charged with oversight and control of the Osage War Memorial and other duties including review, approving construction contracts and their expenses in accordance with the Osage bidding law; develop an annual budget to finance the memorial’s operation and present to the Congress each year; and to consider communications and requests from Osages on matters of policy, administration and other items of public concern affecting the memorial. 

The War Memorial Commission law also established the revolving fund for the memorial where appropriated money, including the $1.1 million, will be kept for purposes and costs to establish, construct, maintain, improve and administering the Osage War Memorial.

Current War Memorial Commission members are McKinley, Richard Luttrell, Richard Perrier, John Henry Mashunkashey and Frances Williams. The commission meets monthly at the Executive Branch building in Pawhuska.


Benny Polacca

Original Publish Date: 2017-06-08 00:00:00

Benny Polacca

Title: Senior Reporter


Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.


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