Osage Nation awaits President Bush's signature on landmark bill

Thursday, December 2nd 2004, 6:35 am
By: News On 6

(AP) _ The only American Indian tribe barred by federal law from choosing its own citizens is looking to President Bush this week to end nearly 100 years under the government's thumb.

Leaders of the Osage Nation are eagerly awaiting the president's expected signature on a bill that would allow the tribe to decide whether to open its doors to potentially thousands of people of Osage ancestry.

Congress in 1906 recognized tribal control of an oil-rich mineral estate in northern Oklahoma and granted the 2,229 original allottees a share of the royalties, known as headrights.

Only about 4,300 Osages who have inherited a headright share can participate in tribal government.

Legislation sponsored by Representative Frank Lucas affirms the tribe's rights to select its citizenry and government but leaves members' mineral rights untouched.

The president has until Saturday to sign the bill into law.