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Third ON Congress votes 7-6 to appropriate $13 million for campus master plan

The Third Osage Nation Congress voted to appropriate $13 million toward building phase one of the new government campus master plan on April 18.

The bill (ONCA 13-13 sponsored by Congressman RJ Walker) authorizes the $13 million to come out of the Nation’s general treasury fund and places it into a revolving fund for construction of the long-discussed master plan to replace the current old and outdated campus infrastructure.

During a late afternoon session, the legislative body voted 7-6 to pass ONCA 13-13, which is an act to establish the revolving fund for the campus master plan. The bill also appropriates $13 million from the Nation’s general treasury fund to be spent on completing phase one of three proposed building phases of the plan.

Assistant Principal Chief Scott BigHorse broke the tie with a “yes” vote. Also voting “yes” were Congress members: Archie Mason, RJ Walker, Shannon Edwards, John Free, Alice Buffalohead and Congressional Speaker Raymond Red Corn.

“No” votes came from Geoffrey Standing Bear, William “Kugee” Supernaw, Maria Whitehorn, Daniel Boone, John Jech and John Maker.

ONCA 13-13’s passage is the latest step in efforts made by the ON government to fund the master plan being developed by Seattle-based architectural firm CollinsWoerman. The Congress passed a resolution (ONCR 13-01, Walker) during a December 5 special session to authorize the Executive Branch to seek a $10 million loan to also fund phase one of the master plan. The loan resolution passed with the same 7-6 vote count with Assistant Principal Chief BigHorse breaking the tie.

During the December special session, Executive Branch officials noted estimates to build phase one would reach $22.7 million.

According to the master plan, ON departments easily accessible in close proximity by Osages and visitors will be built in phase one with the welcome center. The Nation’s police department and Treasury office would also get new buildings. Other entities including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, roads and government branches will also receive new buildings.

Historical buildings including the Superintendent’s house, Tribal Museum and Principal Chief’s office will remain standing with the proposed master plan buildings. Seattle-based architectural firm CollinsWoerman created the master plan and has been working with the Nation since 2009. A planning committee selected the firm in 2009 during the Principal Chief Jim Gray administration.

Principal Chief John Red Eagle signed ONCA 13-13 into law on April 19.

Also in related news, Congress authorized extension of the Hun-Kah Session by three days as allowed by the Constitution. The session’s last day will be Thursday April 25.


Benny Polacca

Original Publish Date: 2013-04-19 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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