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In The Hoop
MAY 23, 2001

Welcome to In The Hoop, Indianz.Com's occasional column about assorted Indian issues.

Chasing Gale Norton
Its 8:30 AM in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Secretary of Interior Gale Norton isn't here.

And neither is the van the Department of Interior promised would herd this tiny, but growing, herd of reporters, Indianz.Com included, to the tallgrass prairie where Norton will ooh and ahh over an oil field that protects bison, encourages public-private partnerships, and generates revenue for the Osage Nation all at the same time.

Sounds vaguely like the ANWR / Caribou / Inupiat Eskimo / Gwich'in debate.

Anyway, it seems Norton is still yucking it up with Osage Nation Chairman Charles Tillman. The tribe held a 7:30 AM breakfast for her at Osage HQ with a large list of Indian dignitaries, including Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anaotubby, Seminole Nation Chief Haney, the Vice-Chair of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas and Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Neal McCaleb, potential head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In The Hoop now sees that Native Times publisher Jim Gray, a tribal member, and his brother are here, so we figure Norton and that trusty little van are on their way.

But they aren't. Seems Norton is on Indian Time.

Meanwhile, Interior spokesperson Mark Pfeifle asks if this will all make In The Hoop. So just for you, Mr. Pfeifle, you made In The Hoop!

So does a staff member for Rep. Brad Carson (D-Okla.), who said the Cherokee Nation tribal member was "very interested" in this whole visit, a New York Times environmental reporter, and a freelancer for National Native News, just a few of the people who are here to witness this magical, late event.

Wondering about Gale Norton
So why is Norton visiting the Osage oil field? Isn't she worried that a federal jury in 1999 found that Koch Industries under-reported the amount of oil it took from Osage and federal land?

Koch later settled the suit. Some tribal members, however, were angry that Tillman publicly supported Koch throughout the trial, and filed their own lawsuit. The tribe itself then filed a $2.5 billion lawsuit against the Interior, alleging mismanagement of their trust funds.

And the wheel rolls on.

Chairman Tillman, Science Guy
So, back at Pawhuska. There's a photo op with the bison, who are so far away you can barely see them. But yes, the bison exist and according to Norton, they are thriving.

All the tribal dignitaries, having had their moment in the spotlight with Norton, don't show up to the prairie. But McCaleb is here, mysteriously disappearing and reappearing throughout the entire morning.

Soon Norton, Harvey Payne of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and Dr. Kerry Sublette from the University of Tulsa, begin talking about the Osage oil field. Good for the environment, Bush energy policy, let's drill more Indian and federal lands, yaddayaddayadda.

Hoping to jump on the bandwagon, Tillman coyly but strategically asks Sublette if oil located on the Osage mineral reserve is actually "good" for the soil.

"I really can't agree to that," responds the Doctor.

Maybe next time.

In Your Hoop
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Previous In The Hoops
May 16, 2001 | May 11, 2001 | May 8, 2001 | May 7, 2001 | May 2, 2001 | May 1, 2001 | April 30, 2001 | April 25, 2001 | April 24, 2001 | April 23, 2001 | April 20, 2001 | April 19, 2001