Before the Osage Nation was relegated to Oklahoma, the tribe ruled the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys from about 700 B.C. to the 1500s. Then the tribe migrated westward, occupying much of what would become Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas for the next three centuries, with many Osage families residing along the Missouri and Osage rivers, reported CCHeadliner.com.
Today, the Oklahoma-based tribe, which owns seven casinos in its “home state,” is looking to expand its gaming presence into Missouri. The Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board is eyeing an area near the City of Cuba in Crawford County, roughly 80 miles southwest of St. Louis, reported World Casino Directory.
The Osage Nation has hired Steve Tilley, former speaker of the Missouri House, to lobby on the tribe’s behalf, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Along with Tilley, the Osage gained two of his associates at Strategic Capitol Consulting firm, Tom Robbins and Shawn Rigger, to advocate for their gaming expansion into Missouri.
The move comes on the heels of the Osage Nation’s two check donations to Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens for his inauguration, setting the stage for a good relationship, Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear told the Post-Dispatch. Missouri’s 13 existing casinos generated $211 million for schools so far this year, the Missouri Gaming Commission reported.
The Osage Nation is also in the process of leading a four-phase, $500 million expansion of its Osage Casino in Tulsa. The tribe broke ground on the first phase of construction, estimated to cost $150 million, in November 2016.
Also last year, the tribe purchased Ted Turner’s Bluestem Ranch for $74 million, restoring a portion of the roughly 1.2 million acres that the tribe owned until 1906, when the reservation was allotted to individual tribal members
Beyond gaming and ranching, the tribe’s parent company Osage LLC oversees two 8(a) subsidiaries, both based in Tulsa: Osage Pinnacle Design Group LLC, doing business as Tallgrass Construction Services, and Osage Innovative Solutions LLC, doing business as Tallgrass Technology Services. Within just one year of business, Tallgrass has secured 11 contracts totaling $16.6 million, the Pawhuska Journal Capital reported.