PAWHUSKA, OK – Osage Nation Chief Standing Bear has announced six Osage Nation Cabinet Secretaries. The Cabinet Secretaries counsel the Chief on various matters related to their respective offices. The Cabinet became effective on April 26, 2022, through Executive Order 22-01 to administer the ever-growing needs of the Osage Nation. Over the past eight years, the Osage Nation population has increased from 17,648 to 24,292 (as of May 3, 2022) tribal citizens and services have greatly expanded.
“Osage Nation has grown substantially over the past eight years and we must make changes to accommodate the increase in our population and services we provide,” said Chief Standing Bear. “Each one of these secretaries has incredible knowledge and experience to continue supporting the needs of our thriving Nation.”
Secretaries include: Vann Bighorse, Secretary of Language/Culture/Education; Teresa Bledsoe, Secretary of Social Services; Jann Hayman, Secretary of Natural Resources; Christian Casey Johnson, Secretary of Development; James Weigant, Secretary of Administration; and Nick Williams, Secretary of Public Safety.
Secretary of Language/Culture/Education – Vann Bighorse
Vann Bighorse is a member of the Osage and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and comes from the Pawhuska District. He currently resides in Ponca City, OK.
Bighorse started as a student of the Osage language in 2003 at Wakon Iron Hall in Pawhuska, along with four other students, under the guidance of respected tribal elder and Master Language Teacher Dr. Mongrain Lookout. From there, he continued his work and dedication to the revitalization of the Osage Language.
Bighorse works alongside the Language Department’s teachers and staff on many linguistic research and development projects, collaborating frequently with the Osage Nation Cultural Center and other Osage Nation departments and members on the creation of podcasts, apps, artistic designs, and more that serve to expand access and bring awareness to the Osage language and its orthography.
Bighorse enjoys leading the mission of revitalizing and sustaining the Osage language and culture, one of Chief Standing Bear’s main priorities and goals.
Secretary of Social Services – Teresa Bledsoe
Teresa Bledsoe is the new Secretary of Social Services. She is from the Grayhorse/PahSueLee District and of the Eagle clan. Bledsoe grew up in the Ralston area and currently resides in Fairfax with her husband and their children. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and a Master’s in Education Administration, Bledsoe has led the Osage Nation Child Care & Development for almost four years. Before that, she was an educator and Indian Education Director for Woodland Public Schools.
Bledsoe is an at-large member of the Osage Tribal Education Committee Board and belongs to multiple professional organizations including the National Association for the Education of the Young Children, the Oklahoma Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Indian Child Care Association. Certifications include an Oklahoma State Department of Education Teaching Certificate, Six Sigma Global Institute/Baldridge Foundation Project Management Certification (2021), and the Schnake Turnbo and Frank Leadership and Reputation Academy (2019).
Secretary of Natural Resources – Jann Hayman
Jann Hayman is a native of Skiatook and a citizen of the Osage Nation. She began working with the Osage Nation Department of Natural Resources in 2006 as a Natural Resource Specialist and then was promoted to Director in 2012. During her time with the Osage Nation, she has worked with a multitude of federal and state agencies to implement wildlife, oil and gas, and other environmental and natural resources programs. Recently, Jann has worked extensively on food sovereignty initiatives for the Osage Nation, including the development of the Harvest Land and Butcher House Meats facilities.
Hayman’s research interests relate to the development and implementation of Native nation agriculture and agricultural education programs.
Secretary of Development – Christian Casey Johnson
Christian Casey Johnson retired as a First Sergeant after 23 years of service with the United States Army Infantry, including two combat tours in Iraq receiving a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He is a member of the Grayhorse/PahSueLee District and of the Ponca Peacemaker Clan. His Osage name is Eagle Not Afraid.
Johnson served as the Director of Operations at the Osage Nation for nearly eight years before being promoted to the Secretary of Development.
Secretary of Administration – James Weigant
Over the past six years, James Weigant has served the Osage Nation as the Deputy Director of Operations, Housing Director, and COVID Task Force Coordinator. Weigant was born and raised in Pawhuska. His Osage lineage comes from his Fronkier side of the family. James’ maternal grandfather, Frantz Fronkier, also worked for the Osage Nation in the 1950’s in the Minerals Department.
Before joining the Osage Nation, Weigant worked for the Oklahoma Municipal League, the Tulsa City Council, and Young Oil Tools where he ran the Remco Division.
Secretary of Public Safety – Nick Williams
Nicholas Joe Williams is currently the Whipman/WahNahZhe for the Grayhorse/PahSueLee District and is of the Ponca Peacemaker clan. He is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force and has been the Chief of Police for the Osage Nation Police Department since 2011.
Williams used his education and training from the service and worked for a Native-owned company named Chugach, an Alaskan 8A company based in Anchorage, AK. In addition, he became an Environmental State Manager for the State of New Mexico and is acknowledged as the second-highest scorer in the state for this title. Williams moved home to the Osage Nation in 2005 where he started as a Security Officer for the Osage Casinos. Since then, he entered the field of law enforcement.
In June 2011, Williams was asked and accepted the position of Whipman/WahNahZhe for the Grayhorse/PahSueLee District under Drum Keeper Jacob Lux.