The end of May saw the naming of two new members to the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear first tapped Claudette Carnett of Roach, followed by Bruce Pollack, a resident of suburban Kansas City.
Carnett and Pollock will replace two exiting members. Both appointents await confirmation in the Osage Congress’s next session.
In March, the Osage nation released renderings for the new casino they want to build in the Lake of the Ozarks. The process of getting there could take up to a decade.
Meet Claudette Carnett
Carnett lives not far from the proposed casino destination, the Lake of the Ozarks. She began her gaming career as the director of marketing for the Cherokee Nation’s Bingo Outpost, located in Siloam.
She told osagenews.com that at the time, she didn’t “know a thing about gaming” or that casinos would serve as the basis for her career for almost three decades so far. “I had an Indian card and a resume that said marketing on it, so I became a marketing director,” 64-year-old Carnett said.
Also, with her husband, Randy, who served as vice chair on the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board from 2011 to 2013, Carnett co-managed the Osage bingo operation at Wakon Iron Hall in Pawhuska.
She and Randy went on to form gaming consulting companies, if not to work with them. They also worked two years for International Game Technology (IGT).
Carnett grew up in Pawhuska. She’s talented at diplomacy and believes “we do not need to be adversarial with each other for any reason… I can get along with anybody and that’s my goal with the board.”
Carnett brougtwo-new-members-to-come-on-board-at-the-osage-nation-gambling-enterprise-boardht Osage-developed curriculum to the attention of school administrators and the response has proved favorable.
His nomination for the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board was surprising to Bruce Pollock, the operations manager for a large Missouri towing company.
But Pollock is not only familiar with the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), he’s read the whole thing. And unbeknownst for a while to Pollack, that greatly impressed Chief Standing Bear. Also, he’s descended from an original Osage allottee, Ora Tinker.
In 1907, 2,229 Osage were allotted land and mineral rights by the government. A 1990 celebration in Pawhuska — the site of the Osage Nation Gaming Commission — recognized the 90 allottees remaining at the time. Giving back to the Osage Nation matters to Pollock.
“The reason why I’ve been involved is simply because I’m Osage,” Pollock told Osage News. He spoke of how casino money made college and better lives possible for the younger people in his family, and said, “I want to make sure that college fund is there for my grandchildren.”
Pollock participated in the writing of the 2006 Osage Constitution and spent many days with the late historian Louis Burns, a relative on his dad’s side, to learn all he could about the Osage.
“I don’t take vacations like regular people do,” Pollock said. “I come to the Osage and learn.”
Revard and Breeden exit
The two new appointees will replace Mark Revard and Susan Breeden, who were not re-confirmed by the Osage Congress.
Revard has served on the board for six years, including as chairman for the past year. His employment ties to Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt may have factored into his lack of reappointment. For reference, in 2019 the governor tried to force an unpopular new gaming contract on Oklahoma tribes that have casinos.
Stitt has also tried to undermine tribal sovereignty. These attempts led to 33 Oklahoma tribes forming a coalition. In an open letter to Chief Standing Bear, Revard expressed his thanks for the chance to serve the Nation and his appreciation for the Chief.
He also wrote that “in no way has he [Stitt] ever influenced my decisions as a board member, nor has he ever tried.” Revard said he “served with honor and integrity and outside any third party or tribal influence.” He noted that his time in service has brought him closer “to all things Osage.”
Chief Standing Bear in turn thanked Revard for his service “that resulted in the betterment of the services and programs that serve the Osage people.”
During Revard’s board membership, accomplishments included the Missouri Land Purchase and the establishment of an emergency reserve fund. Breeden had been serving as the board’s secretary-treasurer for the past two years.
The remaining board members are Geoff Hagar, who automatically becomes chair; Julia Malone, now vice chair; and Mark Simms, who assumes the secretary-treasurer position.
The Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board’s primary charge is to provide oversight and “ensure that all operations are profitably run and in compliance with all applicable laws,” according to the Board’s inaugural newsletter in 2017.
Gaming Board members serve three-year terms. The Gaming Enterprise serves as the largest revenue source for the Nation.
Osage’s Missouri hopes and history
The Osage Nation purchased land in Missouri a year ago. They’ve proposed a 28–acre hotel complex with a casino, restaurants, and an entertainment venue. It would be a $60 million investment.
But first, as an off-reservation casino, they have to file a land-into-trust application with the Dept. of the Interior.
According to the IGRA, they have to show the plan is in the tribe’s and its members’ best interest. And they have to have an environmental assessment and prove the proposed casino won’t harm the community’s structure and character.
In the past, six out of 17 similar actions have been denied. One thing that could derail the Osage’s proposal is that it would mean the tribe is extending its reach from Oklahoma into Missouri.
Still, Missouri is the tribe’s ancestral home. A history of moves forced on the tribe by the government in the 1800s pushed Missouri Osage off their lands to Oklahoma. There, grazing contracts along with the discoveries of lucrative oil and gas reserves made the tribe wealthy.
Outsiders violently tried to steal that wealth through murders and manipulation during a multiyear “Reign of Terror” in the 1920s; those became the FBI’s first murder cases.
Today the Osage operate seven casinos in Oklahoma.