27 Osage Nation tribal members receive dis-enrollment notices

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A long-brewing tribal controversy re-opened recently when 27 Osage Nation citizens received notifications of dis-enrollment.

The notices, which informed the recipients of a dis-enrollment appeals process, were sent by ON Membership Director Sarah Oberly.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said an investigation by the Osage Nation Attorney General’s office determined that the 27 persons are not of Osage lineage.

Each of the individuals has until Jan. 5, 2016, to appeal the decision and bring proof of lineage based upon the Osage Allotment Act of 1906. As of last week, 16of the 27 had reportedly responded.

Several members of the Osage Nation Congress are questioning the dis-enrollment procedure.

Attempts have been made to purge the tribal rolls of non-Osages before. In 1896,

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Osage Nation Organization (ONO) was formed by members possessing Osage blood quantums of at least one-fourth. sought a truly Osage government by purging the tribal rolls of alleged “no bloods.” (those and their heirs who were not Osage but fraudulently enrolled in 1906.)

1972 Osage census roll listed 8,200 names, which included 325 (4 percent) who were considered full-blood Osage and approximately 30 percent mixed-blood of over one-quarter Indian blood heritage. Of the 3,120 headright owners at that time 2,178 were enrolled Osages who were eligible to vote and run for office in tribal elections.

ONO hired Dr. Garrick Bailey to analyze the tribal roll. Basing his research on government records from 1898 investigations of contested enrollment cases, Bailey testified before a U.S. Congressional subcommittee that “the Osage allotment roll was one of the most fraudulent documents ever published by the government of the United States.”

Bailey — whose doctoral dissertation in anthropology dealt with the Osage tribe — further asserted that the Indian Office (predecessor of the Bureau of Indian Affairs) was aware of the fraud and “possessed the documents to prove it,” including proof of bribery involving several tribal chiefs and officials. Bailey accused the Indian Office of using its Agents to “flood the tribal roll with pro-allotment mixed bloods.” Of 1,369 mixed bloods on the 1906 roll, he claimed that at least 151 had been shown to possess no Osage blood heritage. Between 1916 and 1971, the combined headright incomes of these persons and their heirs amounted to more than $31.5 million in oil and gas royalties, in addition to dividing nearly 100,000 acres of surface allotments.

Raymond Lasley, 15 years as ONO leader, said: “I feel like what we’re doing is so right, I don’t even think about quitting. I just hope I live to see it come true.”