For several centuries Osage People have governed themselves very capably. Our People lived close to nature and the organized system that guided the People was patterned after the Sky, Earth and Water. That system was also based on other Earth Creatures such as the Bear and the Birds. Today, Osages have a basic idea of what that means, and it is important to us.
In 1881 Osage People accepted a Constitution but it did not last long. Then, beginning with the Osage Allotment Act in 1906 the People conducted elections every two years. Later, the Act was amended to an election every four years. That lasted until the year 2006. That’s a hundred years of elections.
In 2006 the Osage People accepted the Osage Nation Constitution.
During the past six years we’ve held the following eight important elections:
2006 Referendum on the Osage Nation Constitution.
2006 Elected a new 8 member Mineral Council.
2006 Elected Osage Nation Executive and Judicial, and 12 members of Congress.
2010 Elected 8 Mineral Council members.
2010 Elected Osage Nation Executive, Judicial and 6 members of Congress.
2012 Elected 6 members of Osage Nation Congress and voted on amendments.
2012 Voted on 4 additional Osage Nation Constitutional Amendments.
Today Osages know the purpose of an election is to make decisions once made by Clan Leaders after they had consulted with the People. In today’s world Osage elections seem to be doing the job, and yet there remains a family feeling in our elections.
Any referendum vote to pass an amendment to the Osage Nation Constitution requires a Super Majority of 65 percent of the vote. Change will come a little slower because of that rule. Change has been slow in coming to our People, but when changes have come in the past, they have made sense and we, as a People, remain a People.
Elections are a Happy and Sad kind of thing. The voting either went your way, or it didn’t. If an election went your way you are happy. If not, you are disappointed. Either way, in 22 months we will be voting again. The point is this, as a diverse People, by voting we are making decisions, and those decisions reflect the will of the People.
Today we have a strong economic base in the Mineral Estate. There are significant numbers of Osages involved in family businesses, like ranching. Many Osages are employed and in other ways involved in the broader economy and own businesses. Many are involved in the Arts.
Osages are receiving quality education, and we have health and social programs to enrich the lives of our People. The business of Gaming is providing employment for a significant number of Osages, and funding social programs.
Today we have a sound and healthy culture that has, when necessary, accepted change while hanging on to the best of values and teachings. Those changes may very well have given us the potential to meet the challenges of our future, much like our ancient selves.