The removal trial of Osage Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle is scheduled to begin Jan. 13, 2014, according to a proclamation made late last week by the Osage Nation Congress.
Red Eagle will face removal proceedings on charges of malfeasance in office, arrogation of power and for allegedly disregarding his constitutional duties and oath of office. He has also been accused of abuse of the government process and undermining the integrity of the office.
The charges against the chief stem from six specific allegations of wrongdoing cited in a report made to Congress by a Select Committee of Inquiry. Members of the congressional committee recommended Red Eagle be removed from office after their investigation of 15 accusations that had been made against the principal chief. All of the claims involve incidents alleged to have occurred since mid-2010, when Red Eagle was elected as the executive leader of the Osages.
Prior to the trial, the Osage Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling regarding the constitutionality of the tribe’s removal process. Red Eagle requested a declaratory judgment on the matter in a lawsuit filed earlier this month against Speaker of the Osage Nation Congress Raymond Red Corn and the chairperson of the select committee, Alice Buffalohead. Last week, the tribal Court announced that a ruling would be issued in the case before the end of the year.
The Osage Congress voted unanimously (12-0) on Nov. 15 in favor of holding a removal trial for the principal chief. Proceedings are to be conducted by the Congress and presided over by a justice from the tribal Supreme Court. A judgment for removal of Red Eagle would require concurrence of five-sixths of the members of Congress.
Two allegations cited in the removal motion against Red Eagle involve an investigation earlier this year by the Osage Attorney General’s office. One claims the chief interfered with the investigation and the other alleges he attempted to terminate the probe in order to give preferential treatment to an employee of the tribe. Another allegation accuses Red Eagle of improperly using his elected position to forbid disciplinary action against an Osage Nation worker.
The principal chief also is alleged to have abused the power of his office in refusing to comply in a timely manner with news media requests made under the tribe’s Open Meetings Act. Another of the allegations accuses Red Eagle of using Osage public monies to pay a contract employee for developing and maintaining the chief’s personal website.
Red Eagle also is charged with refusing to uphold a law that was passed by the ON Congress in 2011 (over the Chief’s veto). The law, which involves a unique arrangement the Osage tribe has with the U.S. government, delegated "full and sole control over all Mineral Estate Accounts to the Osage Minerals Council, an independent agency within the Osage Nation."
In a letter of response to a Minerals Council request for release of the Mineral Estate Accounts, Red Eagle reportedly stated that ""the management of these accounts shall remain in the Osage Nation Treasury."