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Osage Nation Chief Takes Stand In Own Defense

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Chief John Red Eagle and supporters. Chief John Red Eagle and supporters.
Osage Nation. Osage Nation.
Mary Mashunkashey. Mary Mashunkashey.
OSAGE COUNTY, Oklahoma -

Chief John Red Eagle, of the Osage Nation, faces charges of ethics violations and misuse of power.

On Tuesday, he took the stand in his own defense.

Eagle spent nearly all of Tuesday on the witness stand. The leader of the Osage Nation is on trial after the tribe's congress determined he should be removed from office.

He's accused of violating tribal law, abusing his power, and interfering with a tribal investigation.

Tribal member Carol Rouwalk said, "They're just a bunch of backstabbing people, they don't have no facts."

Supporters of Chief Red Eagle say the trial is, essentially, a witch hunt by members of the Osage congress who don't like his politics.

Chief Red Eagle's niece, Mary Mashunkashey, said, "I don't think they have basis, no. These were personal attacks from individual members. This is what you call a typical political situation.

Tuesday morning's testimony focused on Chief Red Eagle's granddaughter. She worked for the tribe and was accused of falsifying her time sheet.

The prosecution wanted to know why she continued to work for the tribe for two weeks after Chief Red Eagle learned of the fraudulent time sheet.

They also questioned why the Chief contacted the tribe's attorney general when he learned his granddaughter was under investigation.

Chief Red Eagle became very defiant during the line of questioning and said he didn't think it should be a criminal investigation. He then turned to the judge and spoke loudly saying, "This is an embarrassment, judge. I'm the Chief of the Osage Nation and I don't need to be badgered like that."

He also said it's not uncommon for tribal employees to cheat a little on their time sheets but the office was only worried about his granddaughter.

His supporters agree and say this trial is a black-eye for the Osage Nation.

"Oh my gosh, yes," Rouwalk said. "This is a disgrace. This is an embarrassment, it's a travesty."

The trial is expected to go into next week. The prosecution is not expected to be finished until Friday, at the earliest, and then Chief Red Eagle's attorneys will be given the chance to make their case.

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