Standing Bear to seek wage increase for employees

Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Osage Nation announced March 10 that, as global gasoline and food prices rise due to inflation, Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has decided to seek a 10-percent wage increase for Osage Nation full-time employees to adjust to the increased cost of living.

According to an Osage Nation news release on March 10, Osage Nation Congressman Scott Bighorse will sponsor the bill in order to appropriate necessary funds in the upcoming legislative session on March 28, 2022.

This would mean Rep. Bighorse would introduce a major appropriations measure in the Osage Nation Congress just a week before the primary election for the office of principal chief. Standing Bear is campaigning for re-election to a third term. His two opponents, Angela Pratt and Joe Tillman, are both members of the 12-person Osage Nation Congress. Early voting in the primary is to begin April 1

“My administration has worked hard over the past eight years to be in a position where we can be responsive to whatever curveball gets thrown our way,” Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said in the ON news release. “I’m proud to say that we are in a financial position to support Osage Nation employees during this time of financial hardship, so of course, we should do just that.”

The Osage Nation said it encourages all Osages and Osage community members who are experiencing financial instability to seek assistance from the Osage Nation Financial Assistance Department. The Financial Assistance Department offers assistance to Osage members and other Native Americans residing within the service area.

The Osage Nation said the types of assistance include utility assistance, emergency assistance to prevent homelessness, cash assistance to unemployed individuals, or cash assistance to needy families while establishing employment plans and promoting self-sufficiency. Some emergency assistance is available to all Osages living anywhere in the United States for eligible crisis expenses. More details can be found at osagenation-nsn.gov/services/financial-assistance, according to the news release.

ON Ranch receives conservation award

In other Osage Nation news, the Osage Nation (ON) Ranch, LLC was awarded the designation “Conservationist of the Year” by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) on Feb. 28 at the 2022 84th Annual State Meeting.

The “Conservationist of the Year” Award is a partnership award with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The ON explained that it partnered with NRCS to restore the 43,000-plus acre ranch that is home to 2,600 head of cattle and 190 bison.

“Most of all, we want to protect the land that the Osage Nation purchased,” ON Ranch consultant Galen Crum said in a news release about the award. Within the partnership between ON and NRCS, the Ranch staff got to work with Cody Parker and Dean Collyar. Parker serves as a tribal resource conservationist, while Collyar guides as a soil conservation technician. Together, the ON Ranch and NRCS associates have evaluated and improved resource concerns. This led to Parker’s and Collyar’s nomination of the ON Ranch, LLC for the “Conservationist of the Year” Award.

Crum commented as follows in the Osage Nation's news release: “The NRCS award states Osage Nation Ranch LLC is the 2021 Oklahoma Conservationist of The Year. But what it truly reflects is more than a five-year collaboration between the Osage Nation Ranch BOD (Board of Directors) and Natural Resources Conservation Service. At our request, the NRCS conservation specialists Dean Collier and Cody Parker conducted a physical assessment of all 43,000-plus acres of ON Ranch, the purpose of which was to evaluate the range management and conservation-restoration needs of the ranch. This resulted in the development of a five-year plan to control invasive species, conduct erosion control and conduct good range management practices. The greatest identified need was controlling invasive plant species that were significantly reducing pasture efficiency. The major tools used to effect control of this problem are prescribed burning (approximately 25,000 acres per year) and targeted aerial spraying along with some prescribed grazing. More recently we have embarked on pond building to enhance livestock water and control soil erosion.”

Crum commented further in the news release: “This collaborative effort with the NCRS has allowed the ranch to make these improvements while utilizing USDA cost-sharing programs that greatly reduce the cost to the ranch. And the results are already being realized with significant increases in grazable acres that allow for increased stocking rates which will increase profitability."