Something as simple as flying a flag at half-staff can make a huge difference for a community’s recognition of their service men and women. For the Osage Nation it is now a policy backed by a process to formally honor Osage war veterans, elected officials and tribal officers killed in the line of duty.
The new policy, “Colors of Remembrance,” was released on March 18 and states, “The Office of the Chiefs is committed to honoring those individuals that have given of themselves in service to the Osage Nation as a public servant and/or the United States as a member of the military during times of war… additionally, colors will be flown at half-staff upon the death of an Osage Nation Police Officer killed in the line of duty.”
Director of Operations, Christian “Casey” Johnson, initiated the policy the same day former Osage Congressman Mark Freeman was laid to rest, January 7, “that same day I approached [Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear] and said [Freeman] was a World War II veteran, we need to lower the flag. We got it worked out and I came back and lowered the flag.”
Johnson, also an Osage combat veteran and retired Army Infantry 1st Sargent, said lowering the flag for Osage combat veterans was something he had intended to approach the Office of the Chiefs about. He said soon after honoring Freeman the Nation started working on efforts to develop a formalized plan. During planning, the policy developed into recognizing Osage Chiefs and other elected officials in the same way the U.S. and states honor presidents, service men and women and significant traumatic events.
“Since we are a sovereign nation it stands to reason that we can have our own rules about flying our flags at half-staff,” he said.
Incorporated into the policy is the duration for time to keep the flag at half-staff which is four days. The same amount of time traditionally observed by Osage people to mourn the deceased.
To notify the Osage Nation about the recent death of a former Osage Nation elected official or an Osage combat veteran, contact Osage Nation Constituent Services at (918) 287-5662 or at (800) 320-8742. Individuals reporting the death of an Osage war veteran must submit a verification of Honorable Discharge and combat status with a DD-214 form. ONPD is responsible for reporting the death of an officer killed in the line of duty.
Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton writes for the Osage Nation Communications Department.