Minerals Council Divided over Relations with Chiefs

By Kyle Walker / Originally published July 23, 2015 in The Bigheart Times

PAWHUSKA, Okla.—At its Friday meeting, the Osage Minerals Council decided to address what one member called the “elephant in the room”—relations between the Minerals Council and the Office of the Chief.

Councilwoman Kathryn Red Corn raised the issue at the outset of the meeting.

“We have no communication with Chief Standing Bear and Assistant Chief Red Corn,” Red Corn said. “We cannot move forward without this communication.”

The appeal comes after the Minerals Council filed a lawsuit in early July against the federal government, something Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear says he was not told about ahead of time.

“I would like for us to invite Chief Standing Bear and Assistant Chief Red Corn to our meetings to discuss this,” Red Corn said.

The proposal was divisive.

Councilwoman Stephanie Erwin expressed her displeasure with the chief, who she said “slams [the Council] in the newspapers.”

“It’s my understanding that their house over there isn’t in very good order,” Erwin said, claiming that the chief and assistant chief do not communicate.

Red Corn was having none of it.

“Well, ‘I heard this happened, I heard that happened,’—that has no place here,” she said. “I don’t want to hear rumors.

Councilmen Andrew Yates and Galen Crum sided with Red Corn.

“I support Councilwoman Red Corn in her efforts to reach out to executive,” Yates said. But, he added, “it may be too late.”

Councilman Talee Redcorn, sitting in for Chairman Everett Waller, who was absent, called for a vote to put the issue on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting.

Just before the vote, Assistant Chief Raymond Red Corn, who had been in the audience for most of the discussion, rose to speak.

“I would certainly disagree that our house is not in order,” he said. “I would certainly disagree that the chief and I don’t talk.”

After the assistant chief spoke, the council took a vote. Council members Kathryn Red Corn, Galen Crum, Andrew Yates and Talee Redcorn voted yes.

Councilwomen Cynthia Boone and Stephanie Erwin voted no.

“I really think [Standing Bear] needs to be the one to come to us,” Erwin said.

Councilman Josephen Cheshewalla abstained.

The issue is set to be discussed at the Minerals Council’s July 22 meeting.

This basically procedural vote showcased the deep divisions within the Minerals Council, which is wracked by name calling and shows of ill will.

Councilwoman Boone’s July 12 bulletin to constituents furnishes more than one example.

“In the past G. Crum has been called a carpetbagger,” the bulletin reads. “One of my constituents said he was guilty of treason. As I recall he first ran for congress but failed. His loyalty does not appear to be with the OMC.”

The bulletin goes on to attack Crum and Yates for voting against suing the federal government.

In a phone call on Monday, Standing Bear said he would be happy to meet with the Minerals Council.

“I’m there,” Standing Bear said. “They just need to let me know when I can be there.”