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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
ABOUT THE OSAGE MINERAL ESTATE

 

What is the Osage Mineral Estate?

The Osage Mineral Estate is the oil, gas, and other mineral sub-surface of the approximately 1.47 million acre Osage Reservation.
 

Who owns the Osage Nation Mineral Estate? 

Section 3 of the 1906 Act establishes that the Osage Nation is the beneficial owner the Osage Mineral Estate. The United States holds title to the Osage Mineral Estate in trust for the Osage Nation. No individual or group of individuals owns the Osage Mineral Estate. 


What is a “headright”?
 
A “headright” is the right to receive a quarterly distribution of funds derived from the Osage Mineral Estate.
 

Do only Osages own headrights? 

No. Indians of other tribes, non-Indians, corporations, churches, and others own headrights today. 


How many headrights are currently owned by non-Osages?
 
 
According to the BIA’s Osage Agency, approximately 25% of the headrights are currently owned by non-Osages. 

Who manages the Osage Mineral Estate? 

The BIA’s Osage Agency manages the Osage Mineral Estate on a day-to-day basis. 


Whose responsibility is it to collect funds derived from the Osage Mineral Estate?
 
The U.S. Department of the Interior acting through the BIA’s Osage Agency has the exclusive authority to collect funds from Osage minerals leases. No Osage Nation entity has authority to collect these funds.
 

If money damages are awarded as a result of the Osage Nation’s lawsuit against the United States for mismanagement of Osage tribal trust assets in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, who will these monies be distributed to? 

Unless the U.S. Congress authorizes a different distribution scheme, money damages awarded to the Osage Nation from claims against the United States, after proper expenses are paid, will be paid into the Osage tribal trust account then distributed to headright holders, in accordance with Section 4 of the 1906 Act. 


Does the Principal Chief, the Osage Nation Congress, the Osage Minerals Council, or some combination thereof have the power to redistribute headrights held by Osages or non-Osages?
 
 
No. A headright is a federally-protected property right. 


What is the difference between the Osage Nation’s lawsuit in the U.S. Court of the Federal Claims, the Osage Nation’s lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the Cobell v. Kempthorne lawsuit?
 
  • Osage Nation v. United States in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is a lawsuit alleging federal mismanagement of Osage tribal trust assets, including Osage tribal trust funds, and seeks money damages for such mismanagement. 

 

  • Osage Nation v. United States in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeks an historical accounting of all Osage tribal trust funds and a delineation of the Federal Government’s trust duties to the Osage Nation. 

 

  • Cobell v. Kempthorne is a class action lawsuit on behalf of all IIM account holders in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking an historic accounting of all individual trust funds.

 

What is an IIM account?

An IIM account is an “Individual Indian Money” account for trust funds held by the Secretary of the Interior that belong to a person who has an interest in trust assets. These accounts are under the control and management of the Secretary. 

 

Does every Osage tribal member have an IIM account? 

No. Osage tribal members who do not have a headright interest or do not receive income from an individual trust or restricted asset do not have IIM accounts. 

 

Does every Osage headright holder have an IIM account? 

No. There are Osage tribal members with headright interests who do not have IIM accounts.

 

If a person is an Osage Nation member and a headright holder but not an IIM account holder, can that person get an IIM account? 

Yes. The Superintendent of the Osage Agency has discretion to revoke the competency status of any Osage individual, regardless of blood quantum, and qualify the individual to receive an IIM account.

 

What are the roles of the political branches of Osage Nation government – the Executive and Legislative branches -- in management of the Osage Mineral Estate? 

None. But the Osage Nation Congress has power under the Osage Constitution to enact laws within the Osage Nation’s jurisdiction, as long as it does not conflict with federal law. 

 

Why do Osage headright holders no longer elect their own Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief under Section 9 of the 1906 Act? 

The U.S. Congress enacted P.L. 108-431, the Osage Sovereignty Act, which clarifies that the Osage Nation has the inherent sovereign right to determine its own form of government. As a result, the Osage people changed the form of Osage government from a Principal Chief, Assistant Principal Chief, and eight Tribal Council members elected only by Osage headright holders to the current three-branch Osage Constitution with a Osage Minerals Council elected only by headright holders.