Osage Chief on separation of powers

Osage Chief John Red Eagle

The Founding Fathers of our country recognized and understood the importance of the separation of powers among established branches of government, and this understanding was instrumental in drafting the United States Constitution.

As a result, the separation of powers has become a key component at all levels of government, which include state, local and tribal governments.

My goal in bringing this issue to light is to ensure the Osage people the Office of the Principal Chief is adamant about following these principles.  However, there have been incidents where those outside the Executive branch have abused their authority and overstepped the boundaries laid out for them in the Osage Nation Constitution by performing Executive Branch functions and duties.  Please know that it is my intention to put a halt to this abuse of power in an effort to keep the Nation moving forward in a responsible manner.

Under the Osage Nation Constitution “the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government shall be separate and distinct and no person or collection of persons, charged with official duties under one of those branches, shall exercise any power properly vested in either of the others except as expressly provided in the Osage Nation Constitution.”

As Principal Chief of the Osage Nation, I am bound to adhere to the powers granted to the Executive branch of government outlined in the Osage Nation Constitution.  These executive powers include board and staff appointments, veto powers, removal powers and establishing a treasury. I am mandated to dutifully support the Constitution, and to see that the laws of the Osage Nation are faithfully executed, administered and enforced.  A conflict arises whenever laws are passed that do not respect and support the Constitution and separation of powers.

The Legislative and Judicial branches of the Osage Nation have their own inherent powers. When all three branches work in unison, the tribe benefits greatly from a strategic and deliberate separation of powers that, when exercised properly, result in great strength in government and service to the people.  It’s been effective on a national level since the 18th Century, and it’s been effective as part of the Osage Nation Constitution when followed.

There are so many projects on the horizon for the tribe that will bring a great deal of resources and pride to the Osage people.  Under my leadership and that of the Osage Congress, it is my hope to make these dreams a reality sooner rather than later.

However, this can only be done with full cooperation among all parties involved.  Politics aside, it is our responsibility as elected officials to perform the duties we were elected to perform.  This cannot be done when any single branch of government goes beyond its authority, especially when it negatively affects the tribe.  We owe it to our constituents to represent them in a professional, ethical and legal manner.

When I was elected as Principal Chief, my top priority was to instill a sense of unity among the Osage people.  We’ve made tremendous strides in that area among tribal members, and we will continue to do so.  But, the three branches of government must do the same.  One of my proudest memories to date is the day I was sworn in as Principal Chief.  Many years from now, when I look back on my time as Chief, I want my fondest memory to be how the three branches of the Osage Government united for the greater good of the Osage people.

 By Osage Nation Chief John Red Eagle


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