Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle, who faces removal-from-office proceedings in less than a month, has announced intentions to seek re-election.
Red Eagle officially declared his candidacy Wednesday, Dec. 18, on the third day of a recently-modified filing period for the 2014 tribal elections. Filing for both Osage Nation executive positions (principal chief and assistant principal chief) will continue through Jan. 6.
The embattled incumbent is currently serving the final year of his first, four-year term. Last month, the Osage Congress voted unanimously to conduct a removal trial for Red Eagle over pending allegations of malfeasance in office, arrogation of power and disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office. Removal proceedings are scheduled to get under way on Jan. 13.
In filing for re-election, Red Eagle became the third person to enter the race for the tribe’s top office.
Geoffrey Standing Bear declared as a candidate for principal chief on Monday, Dec. 16, the initial day of the filing period. One day later, Margo Gray-Proctor entered the race. The first person to file for the upcoming tribal elections, Raymond Red Corn, declared as a candidate for assistant principal chief on Monday.
A primary election, which is scheduled March 10 for the two executive offices, would be the first primary in Osage voting history.
Approved by tribal congress earlier this year, the new format is intended to narrow the field of executive candidates and avoid the need for a runoff — which in past election years has caused the tribal voting process to extend into the summer.
The Osage Nation’s 2014 General Elections are set for June 2 and will include voting for congressional as well as executive candidates. Filing period for six seats on the tribal Congress will be March 14-31.
Principal chief-candidate Standing Bear is a Pawhuska attorney who is one of the 12 current members of the Osage Nation Congress.
The other challenger in the principal chief’s race, Gray-Proctor, is a Tulsa business executive and the former longtime president of an engineering firm. She has been prominent in Native American organizations at the state and national levels.
Gray-Proctor is reportedly the first female to seek election as Osage principal chief. At least two other women sought the Osages’ top leadership position under previous forms of tribal government, however. Unsuccessful bids were made in 1994 and 2002, tribal spokespersons said.
The lone candidate filing for assistant principal chief last week, Red Corn, is the current speaker of the Osage tribal congress.
Red Eagle could be removed from office if found guilty on any of the five allegations advanced against him. The trial — which is still being challenged in the tribal courts — was recommended by a congressional committee following hearings last summer. According to the Osage Constitution, removal would disqualify Red Eagle from holding any tribal office.