Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle removed from office after impeachment hearings

PAWHUSKA, Okla. - The Osage Nation Congress voted to remove Chief John Red Eagle from office on Tuesday morning.

The decision to remove Red Eagle from office came at the end of his impeachment trial, which started on Jan. 13.

The tribe's assistant chief, Scott Bighorse, was sworn-in as the new chief a few minutes later by Osage Nation Supreme Court Justice Jeanine Logan, who presided over the trial.

Congress members found Red Eagle guilty of 5 of the 6 articles brought against him, including interfering with a tribal attorney general investigation, in which Red Eagle's granddaughter, a former tribal worker, was the key focus.

They also found him guilty of violating the tribe's open records act, refusing to implement a tribal law he disagreed with, and violating tribal and federal laws by using funds to pay a man $70,000 to work on his website.

"He was not apologetic for anything he did," said Mark Lyons, attorney for the Osage Nation Congress. "He said specifically, and we got the transcript on it, that he wouldn't have changed any of his behavior had he had it to do over again."

Congress member Alice Buffalohead called Red Eagle's removal a difficult decision, but one that had to be made.

"We have laws and rules in place and each elected official has a duty to uphold those laws," said Buffalohead.

R.J. Walker, another congress member, described the impeachment hearing as "emotionally charged."

"I did my best to not allow my emotions to control my actions," said Walker.

Red Eagle was found not guilty of abusing his power to influence the tribal election board.

Red Eagle declined to comment after the hearing.

Supporters of Red Eagle described the impeachment hearing as purely political.

"All these ducks were put in a row by that congress in there for the conclusion that they wanted from the get-go," said John Star Bighorse, a Red Eagle supporter. "Never in a day would I have thought we'd be where we're at today. It's sad and it upsets me."

Congress members also voted 11-0 to disqualify Red Eagle from holding future tribal public office. One member abstained from that vote.

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