Minerals Council , Legal

Harlan resigns as OMC chair following conflict with fellow councilwoman

A disagreement among members of the Osage Minerals Council has led to the resignation of the body’s chairwoman. 

Citing almost two months of conflicts with Councilwoman Susan Forman, Chairwoman Marsha Harlan confirmed on Oct. 10 that she has tendered her immediate resignation as chairwoman of the Osage Minerals Council but will stay on as an elected council member.

“I didn’t run to be the chair,” Harlan said. “I ran to represent the shareholders and that is exactly what I intend to do. If the council would prefer to have someone else be the chair, I will continue to do my job to represent the shareholders who elected me.”

According to Harlan, the relationship between the two has become tense since the decision to ask Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear to solicit an opinion from the Osage Nation Attorney General’s Office regarding potential conflicts of interest. Although no individual council members were name-checked in the opinion or the formal request, Councilman Paul Revard, Forman’s cousin, was specifically mentioned during a public discussion on the matter at the July 18 OMC meeting.

The matter allegedly came to a head on Oct. 2 when Forman confronted Harlan in the council chambers building after a meeting. Harlan requested the Osage Nation Police Department remove Forman from the building after she screamed at her and the two had physical contact.

The Osage Nation Police Department confirmed that it did respond to the call and the Osage Nation Attorney General’s office acknowledged that it received reports from Councilwomen Harlan, Forman and Margo Gray regarding the incident. However, on Oct. 9, First Assistant Attorney General Clint Patterson declined to release the reports until the completion of an investigation into the matter.

Councilwoman Gray, who was not part of the incident, confirmed that there was shouting in the building prior to ONPD’s arrival.    

“I was in the building when Marsha and Susan’s event happened,” she said. “I could hear the yelling down the hallway.”

Attempts to reach Councilwoman Forman on Oct. 10 via telephone were unsuccessful.

A special meeting to elect a new chair is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Oct. 12 in the council chambers. With Harlan’s resignation as chairwoman already in effect, Second Chair Andrew Yates will run the meeting until a new chairperson is elected.

Near the conclusion of the council’s regular Oct. 5 meeting, an attempt was made to suspend the council’s standing rules in order to amend the agenda and potentially vote Harlan out as chairwoman. However, the motion to suspend the rules was not entertained, with an attorney citing a provision of the tribe’s Open Meeting Act that requires at least 48 hours notice to amend a published agenda for anything short of an emergency.