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Calendar No. 697
108th Congress Report
2d Session 108-343
TO REAFFIRM THE INHERENT SOVEREIGN RIGHTS OF THE OSAGE TRIBE TO
DETERMINE ITS MEMBERSHIP AND FORM OF GOVERNMENT
September 15, 2004.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Campbell , from the Committee on Indian Affairs, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 2912]
The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the
bill (H.R. 2912) to reaffirm the inherent sovereign rights of
the Osage Tribe to determine its membership and form of
government, having considered the same, reports favorably
thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill (as
amended) do pass.
The purpose of H.R. 2912 is to reaffirm the inherent
sovereign rights of the Osage Tribe to determine its membership
and form of government.
BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION
H.R. 2912 affirms the right of the Osage Tribe (the
``tribe'') to form its own membership rules and tribal
government, provided that no rights to any shares in the
mineral estate of the tribe's reservation are diminished.
The tribe is a Federally recognized tribe with a nearly 1.5
million-acre reservation located in northeast Oklahoma. In
1906, Congress enacted the Osage Allotment Act (``1906 Act''),
which is unique among Federal Indian laws in that it restricts
the Osage Tribe from defining its own membership rules, and
prescribes a particular form of government which the tribe
cannot change without seeking amendment of Federal law.
All other Federally recognized Indian tribes in the nation
generally have the sovereign right to make their own internal
membership rules and to form suitable tribal governments. In
brief, the 1906 Act--
--Defined the legal membership of the tribe to
consist of all living Osage Indians who were on the
Secretary of the Interior's 1906 roll for the tribe,
plus their children born before July 1, 1907;
--Allotted a certain amount of surface land in the
Osage Reservation to the tribal members;
--Provided that the tribe retained all mineral rights
to the entire reservation in undivided ownership; and
--Provided for the distribution of royalties from
development of mineral resources to each of the
enrollees, such shares in the royalties are called
The U.S. Federal court decisions have interpreted the 1906
Act to mean that Congress took away the tribe's right to
determine its own membership rules. The only individuals who
may be members of the tribe and participate in the tribal
government are those who are the lineal descendants of the
original enrollees under the 1906 Act and who have a headright
share of the mineral revenues from the reservation.
As a result, the 1906 Act excludes many thousands of Osage
Indians from being members of the tribe because they do not
have headright shares. Ironically, in the eyes of the Federal
government, such individuals (including full-blooded Osages)
are not ``Indians'' because one must be a member of a
Federally-recognized tribe to be an Indian.
Those Osages who are precluded from being members of the
tribe under the terms of the 1906 Act are thus denied important
services and benefits, such as Native American academic
scholarships, and more importantly, a role in participating in
the life and government of the tribe.
Without clarifying the 1906 Act, the tribe is prevented
from exercising its prerogatives as an Indian tribal government
and individual Osages are prevented from the full enjoyment of
their rights and privileges owing to their rightful membership
in the Osage tribe.
H.R. 2912 clarifies the 1906 Act and re-affirms the right
and authority of the tribe to craft its own membership,
governance, and governmental rules on the same footing as all
other Federally-recognized tribes. The bill provides that no
individual Osage's rights to shares in themineral estate are
diminished by the exercise of the tribe's re-affirmed authority to
determine its own membership.
The bill also directs the Secretary of the Interior to
assist the tribe in holding appropriate elections and referenda
at the request of the tribe.
H.R. 2912 was introduced on July 25, 2003, by Congressman
Frank Lucas (R-OK) and referred to the Committee on Resources.
On March 15, 2004, that Committee held a hearing on the bill,
and on May 5, 2004, the bill was favorably reported to the
House of Representatives by unanimous consent. See H. Rpt. 108-
502. On June 1, 2004, the House of Representatives passed the
bill, and when it came to the Senate it was referred to the
Committee on Indian Affairs.
On July 14, 2004, the Committee on Indian Affairs favorably
reported H.R. 2912 to the Senate with recommendation that it do
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, in open business
session on July 14, 2004, by a unanimous voice vote of a quorum
present, considered the bill and ordered H.R. 2912, in the form
of a substitute amendment, reported to the Senate with
favorable recommendation that it be passed.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONCERNS
The costs estimate for H.R. 2912, as provided by the
Congressional Budget Office, is set forth below.
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC 20515, July 20, 2004.
Hon. Ben Nighthorse Campbell,
Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2912, an act to
reaffirm the inherent sovereign rights of the Osage Tribe to
determine its membership and form of government.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mike Waters.
(For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director).
H.R. 2912--An act to reaffirm the inherent sovereign rights of the
Osage Tribe to determine its membership and form of government
H.R. 2912 would enable the Osage Tribe to determine the
tribe's membership roll and government rules in the same manner
as other federally recognized tribes. In 1906, the Congress
enacted the Osage Allotment Act that defined membership in the
Osage Tribe. Under that act, Osage Indians may be legal members
of the tribe and participate in the tribal government only if
they are lineal descendants of the original enrollees under the
1906 act and own a share of the mineral revenues from the
reservation. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2912 would
have no effect on the federal budget because federal agencies
currently provide services to all Osage Indians and do not
restrict services to those considered to be members of the
tribe under the Osage Allotment Act. Enacting H.R. 2912 would
not affect revenues or direct spending.
H.R. 2912 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
Enacting this legislation would benefit the Osage Tribe.
On May 17, 2004, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R.
2912, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Resources
on May 5, 2004. The two versions of the legislation and the CBO
cost estimates are identical.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Mike Waters, who
can be reached at 226-2860. This estimate was approved by Peter
H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
The Committee has received no executive communications
relating to H.R. 2912.
REGULATORY AND PAPERWORK IMPACT STATEMENT
Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the
Senate requires that each report accompanying a bill evaluate
the regulatory and paperwork impact that would be incurred in
carrying out the bill. The Committee believes that the
regulatory and paperwork impact of H.R. 2912 will be minimal.
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
In compliance with subsection 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee finds that the
enactment of H.R. 2912 will not effect any changes in existing