Government , Legal

AG says power to revise or modify a removal lies with the Osage People, not Congress

Photo caption: The Osage Nation Tribal Courthouse in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Osage News File Photo

Toward the end of the Tzi-Zho Session in September, Congressman Joe Tillman asked the 7th Osage Nation Congress to reverse the 2014 removal of then-Principal Chief John Red Eagle.

He submitted a written motion on Sept. 24 asking his fellow Congress members to reinstate Red Eagle’s eligibility to hold office, but the motion did not make it to the floor of Congress for a vote.

Congresswoman Jodie Revard asked that the Speaker of Congress postpone the vote until the Congress received an Attorney General opinion on the motion’s legality. On Oct. 2, AG Clint Patterson issued a four-page opinion.

“The Osage Nation Congress does not have the power to remove the disqualifications issued in the judgment after a Motion for Removal and a subsequent removal trial,” Patterson wrote. “The exclusive Congressional power for removal is limited by the Constitution to removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit in the Osage Nation. It does not extend beyond those two provisions.

“The power to revise or modify a prior removal judgment to nullify the disqualification of an official was not invested in the Osage Nation Congress, and therefore, rests with the Osage People.”

Red Eagle was removed from office by the 3rd ON Congress for five articles of removal. Three members of the 3rd ON Congress that voted for Red Eagle’s removal remain on the legislature, Congresswoman Alice Goodfox, and Congressmen John Maker and RJ Walker. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn were also congressmen on the 3rd ON Congress that removed Red Eagle from office.

Tillman said he is doing further research on the subject.

“I'm in communication with members of the (Red Eagle) family and we are discussing our options at this time. The AG opinion was just that, an opinion, and I appreciate Mr. Patterson responding and like he told me it’s just an opinion,” Tillman said. “Ultimately, we would like for Chief Red Eagle to have his name cleared and return to the good graces of the Nation. I have heard from many Osages who are in favor of this happening so we will continue to explore our options and pray.”