In a vote on January 21, the Third Osage Nation Congress voted not only to remove Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle from office but also to ban him from holding any future office with the nation.
According to reports from the Tulsa World, the legislative body of the tribe had sufficient evidence on at least five out of six allegations, including Red Eagle’s own testimony.
The allegations used to remove Red Eagle from office included interfering with and an attempt to terminate an investigation by the Osage Nation Attorney General’s office against a relative; a refusal to uphold an Osage Nation law that gives the control of tribal mineral estate accounts to the Osage Minerals Council; a refusal to honor Osage Open Records Act requests made by the publications Osage News and Bigheart Times concerning a contract between the tribe and pipeline consultant Rod Hartness; and the breaking of both tribal and federal law in paying more than $70,000 in tribal funds over a two-year timespan to media consultant Paul Allen. The payments to Allen included the maintenance of Red Eagle’s personal website.
Allegations on the Osage mineral rights issue go back at least to June 6, 2012 when the Osage Nation Minerals Council filed a lawsuit against Red Eagle in tribal court. The website in question, www.johnredeagle.com, is no longer accessible on the Internet.
Assistant Chief Scott BigHorse was sworn into office to fill the remaining term of office through June 2014. BigHorse, a former representative in the Oklahoma State Legislature’s House District 36 and a juvenile corrections consultant, is also known throughout the country for singing at the drum.
In a statement issued by BigHorse on January 22 and posted on the Osage News website, he said that his goal for the Osage Nation was to not focus on the “difficult days” of Red Eagle’s removal but instead: “continuing the positive relationships we have established as a Nation with our friends, in our communities, and with our business partners.”
BigHorse also emphasized the commitment to current tribal projects such as the Enbridge pipeline, a plan for a master campus and casino expansions. The statement concluded with BigHorse “looking forward” to working with the Osage Nation Congress, judiciary branch and the Minerals Council.
Before removal, Red Eagle was one of four candidates for the office of Principal Chief. According to the Osage Nation Election Board, the remaining field of candidates include Geoffrey Standing Bear, Margo Gray and Thomas J. Boone Jr. The election schedule includes a primary on March 10 and a general election on June 2.