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Osage Congress honors four former Osage National Councilwomen


Benny Polacca

Photo Caption: On March 26, the Fifth Osage Nation Congress issued citations of commendation to four Osage women who served on the National Council in the 1990s. Those former councilwomen recognized are (left to right): Virginia Bennett, Dawn Pratt Harrington, Cecelia Tallchief and Cheryl Potts. The four women received the honors in recognition of Women’s History Month. BENNY POLACCA/Osage News

In honor of Women’s History Month, four former Osage National Councilwomen were recognized by the Fifth Osage Nation Congress for their government service.

On March 26, the Hun-Kah Session started and that day the Congress voted unanimously to issue four resolutions honoring former National Councilwomen Virginia Bennett, Dawn Pratt Harrington, Cheryl Potts and Cecelia Tallchief.    

The Osage National Council form of government ran from 1994 to 1997.

Congresswoman Alice Goodfox asked for the motion to approve the resolutions and after they passed, she issued citations of commendation to each of the former Councilwomen present with their families and friends who filled the attendee seating area of the ON Capitol Building.

“Three years ago, I was thinking about the women who have served in our Osage government. I was raised by my grandmother Marguerite Matin Waller who was very active in government, so I can recall being a young girl coming up to elections very early on and waiting up all night to wait on the results and it was a fun time, I remember we had dances,” Goodfox said. “March is Women’s History Month and I’ve started this as a way to honor the ladies that have gone before us and helped make a way for the ladies that are here now. So we started honoring our women in government and our elected officials.”

Goodfox said past honorees include those women who served on the First ON Congress when the reformed government launched in 2006 and women who served on the former government’s Osage Tribal Council. One-by-one, Goodfox recognized the four Councilwomen and presented them with the certificates, bouquets of flowers and shared summaries of their professional backgrounds.

– Dawn Pratt Harrington was elected to the National Council in 1996 and served until the government was dissolved. She is a University of Tulsa Law School graduate and served as an Attorney General under the former tribal government. Harrington also served as an ON Gaming Enterprise Board member (2014-2016).  

– Cheryl Potts was elected in 1994 and served one term. Potts has more than 35 years of experience in working with several tribal governments throughout Oklahoma. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology, women’s studies and educational psychology from Yale University and has a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Oklahoma. Her son Eli Potts is currently running for a seat on the Osage Nation Congress.

– Cecelia Tallchief was elected in 1994 and served two terms. Tallchief has 25 years of service dedicated to the Nation and Osage people. She is a Pittsburgh State University graduate, a former Indian Health Service nurse who worked in several tribal health facilities and currently serves on the ON Health Authority Board. Her daughter Brandy Lemon is currently running for a seat on the Osage Nation Congress.    

– Virginia Bennett was elected in 1996 for one term and is a current member of the Grayhorse War Mothers Chapter.

Goodfox also extended a special citation of commendation to Lou Brock, a retired researcher for the formally-named Osage Tribal Museum who helped Goodfox obtain information on the Osage National Council. Brock researched and compiled many pieces of historical information on the Osage tribe and several historic events that are listed in The Osage Timeline, which was first published in 2013 by the museum.

Original Publish Date: 2018-04-15 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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