Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle is among tribal leaders who were scheduled to meet with President Obama on Wednesday at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.
Red Eagle was first granted an audience with the president in Dec. 2010 to discuss the trust settlement for Osage shareholders. The topic of this meeting’s discussion will be “prominent issues in Indian country,” according to Chief Red Eagle.
Various tax issues of the Internal Revenue service, government-to-government relationships and sovereignty will be topics of discussion. In addition, the rights of Native American children and parents, addressed in the long-standing federal Indian Child Welfare Act enacted in 1978, will be an important part of the discussion with President Obama, Chief Red Eagle said.
On Tuesday, Red Eagle was part of a small group selected to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about ways in which Native Americans can take advantage of educational opportunities in order to be on parity with their non-Native peers.
On Friday, Red Eagle is scheduled to meet with Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Recently, the state of Oklahoma has made efforts toward an attempt to obtain control over water and mineral rights of the Osage Nation shareholders, Red Eagle explained.
“We believe this is a strategic move on the part of the state to assert itself at a time when the two branches of Osage government are at odds. I will make every effort to see that the state is not allowed to encroach on the sovereign rights of the Osage Nation and the Osage shareholders,” Red Eagle said. “Budget cutbacks in the federal government make the state’s management of water rights more appealing, but that doesn’t make it right.”
Another subject to be discussed with both President Obama and Mr. Washburn are the goals of wind farm producers to build 300 wind turbines in the Osage.
Although alternative energy sources are laudable, they are not appropriate when they endanger the eagle population and other indigenous wildlife in the Osage, according to Red Eagle. Industrialization of the site chosen by the wind farm will have a devastating effect on the unique ecosystem of the Tallgrass Prairie being preserved by the Nature Conservancy and the planned wind farm site is along the first Osage buffalo trail.
The wind farm will have a negative impact on the minerals estate as well, according to Osage Nation officials. The site chosen includes a field in the Burbank area currently leased to Chapparal Energy, which tribal leaders claim will interfere with Chapparal’s oil and gas production there.
Equally troubling is the fact that Osage sacred sites in the Flint Hills area will be disturbed by the wind farm construction and the Flint Hills state scenic byway will be degraded by the presence of the wind turbines, Chief Red Eagle said.