Indian Times
9:45 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Chief Of Osage Nation Impeached

Osage Principal Chief John Red Eagle was removed from office last week.

Credit Susan Shannon

According to senior reporter Benny Polacca (Hopi/Pima/Havasupai/Tohono O’odham) of the Osage News, the problems started last summer.

“Starting in summer 2013 the Osage Nation congress received several allegations of wrongdoing that were committed by Chief Red Eagle administration,” Polacca said. “Altogether, 15 allegations of wrongdoing were considered in a congressional investigative committee. The result of that investigation was a report that was given in October of 2013.”

Polacca said there were six allegations of wrongdoing believed to warrant cause for the removal trial in January. Of those six, two were for interfering with investigations by the Osage Attorney General’s office.

“It’s unlawful for anyone to interfere with an Attorney General investigation,” Polacca said. “Also, out of that instance the chief also was accused of trying to give preferential treatment because of a phone call that he made regarding the Attorney General’s investigation of his grand-niece.”

Red Eagle tried to stop the investigation of his grand-niece, which led to its inclusion into the charges.

Chief Red Eagle was also accused of not upholding Osage law, due to the fact that he never released the Osage Mineral Estates accounts physical records to the Osage Minerals Council, as has been ordained by legislation passed in 2011.

A request for information last summer from the Osage News and the Bigheart Times was ignored by Chief Red Eagle in violation of the Open Records Act. The two news organizations were seeking details on contracts for two men who were paid but apparently didn’t do any work.

This allegation over the tribe’s Open Records Act was settled in tribal court when Chief Red Eagle, while admitting no wrongdoing, agreed to pay the attorney’s fees. “But it didn’t make it go away,” said Polacca.

The Osage congress had also made a request for the contracts, and never received them, so they began their own investigation. This refusing to turn over contracts to congress became another allegation.

This is a new government for the Osage, having signed their constitution in 2006.

“Overall, everyone in the government seemed to have believed that the process worked,” Polacca said.

Senior Reporter Benny Polacca
Credit Susan Shannon

Upon the removal of Red Eagle, Assistant Chief Scott Bighorse was sworn in 10 minutes later. Bighorse then appointed Terry Mason Moore as the first woman assistant principal chief of the Osage

This is an election year for the Osage Nation. Primary elections are in March and the general election takes place June 2nd.

The Osage Nation website, osagenation.co, has audio on the trial. The Osage News has election details.

Interview with Benny Polacca

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