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Whitehorn re-elected Speaker; Hamilton elected Second Speaker


Benny Polacca

On the last day of the Hun-Kah Session, the Fourth Osage Nation Congress re-elected Maria Whitehorn as Speaker and elected Otto Hamilton as Second Speaker.

The April 27 elections occurred during a day-long session that included setting the eight Congressional committees and those committee members then elected their officers.

For the Speaker and Second Speaker elections, the 11 Congress members present voted for the nominees by raising their hands and Congressional Clerk Barbara Rice took count. Congressman John Jech was absent that day.

For Speaker, Congresswoman Shannon Edwards nominated incumbent Maria Whitehorn and Congresswoman Alice Buffalohead nominated Archie Mason, who presided as the first ON Congressional Speaker (2006-2010).

Whitehorn, the Nation’s fifth Speaker, won the election with six votes from herself, Edwards, John Maker, Otto Hamilton, William “Kugee” Supernaw and Ron Shaw. Mason received five votes from himself, RJ Walker, Angela Pratt, James Norris and Buffalohead.

For Second Speaker, Buffalohead nominated Pratt; Shaw nominated Hamilton; and Norris nominated incumbent Buffalohead. Hamilton will serve his first term as Second Speaker after winning six votes from himself, Edwards, Shaw, Supernaw, Maker and Whitehorn. Buffalohead received two votes from Walker and Norris and Pratt received three votes from herself, Buffalohead and Mason.

Also that day, the Congress members signed up for the eight committees, which initially consider legislation and other matters brought to the Legislative Branch’s attention. Those committees also selected their officers including chair and vice chairpersons with this year’s Congressional Cultural Committee chairperson election resulting in numerous ties, prompting the tie break to be determined by a name drawing.   

The newly seated Cultural Committee members nominated Pratt and Maker for chairperson. Rice asked the members to raise their hands in voting for the chairperson, resulting in tie votes for both nominees. After several failed tie-breaking vote rounds, the committee used a name drawing to choose the chairperson. Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn drew one of the two names written on pieces of paper placed in Congressman Supernaw’s white hat. Pratt won the chairperson post.

Red Corn, a former Congressman (2006-2014) later said on Facebook a similar situation played out during a committee election in 2006 and the name drawing method was used to break the tie, creating a precedent.

2015-2016 ON Congressional Committees

  • The Congressional Affairs Committee is chaired by the Second Speaker (Hamilton). Other members are Maker (vice chair), Walker, Edwards and Whitehorn.
  • Rules and Ethics: Pratt (chair), Shaw, Supernaw
  • Appropriations: Jech (chair), Supernaw, Pratt, Edwards, Shaw and Mason.
  • Education: Mason (chair), Hamilton (vice chair), Edwards, Maker, Buffalohead and Pratt.
  • Commerce and Economic Development: Supernaw (chair), Jech (vice chair), Pratt, Whitehorn, Buffalohead and Walker.
  • Governmental Operations: Walker (chair), Buffalohead (vice chair), Shaw, Pratt and Supernaw.
  • Cultural: Pratt (chair), Hamilton (vice chair), Supernaw, Norris, Maker and Buffalohead.
  • Health and Social Services: Shaw (chair), Norris (vice chair), Mason, Pratt, Jech and Walker.

Original Publish Date: 2015-05-06 00:00:00


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Benny Polacca
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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