Yesterday media mogul Ted Turner officially transfered ownership of his 43,000-acre Bluestem Ranch to the Osage Nation. The tribe's $74 million purchase restores a portion of the roughly 1.2 million acres that the tribe owned until 1906, when the reservation was allotted to individual tribal members, according to Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear. The Osage Reservation once covered the entirety of Osage County.
The Osage Nation is filing applications for federal trust status to protect the land from future sale. "We are the boss of our lands. The federal government is here to assist us," Standing Bear told Fox 23 News.
Turner likewise intends for the land to remain under tribal ownership: "It is my sincere hope that our transaction is the last time this land is ever sold," Turner wrote in a letter to Standing Bear, "and that the Osage Nation owns this land for all future generations."
Turner, the founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting, ran a bison-raising business during his 15-year ownership of the land. He will continue to run his bison operations in a more centralized area, primarily in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The Osage Nation plans to continue the bison business. The tribal council has additionally received at least a dozen applications already for additional proposals for the open fields, involving, fishing, hunting and more to turn a profit, while preserving the wildlife and the land. "We are trying to organize ourselves on a preservation side and the profit-making side, and also with the cattle operations to support it," Standing Bear told Fox 23 News.
The tribe celebrated receiving the land with drums and song on Wednesday.
In a January 21 letter to Turner explaining what regaining even a small portion of the Osage’s original homelands would mean, Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear wrote:
"Until 1906 we owned nearly 1.5 million acres in one contiguous parcel of what is now Osage County. Then, our ownership was fragmented into thousands of individual parcels and the mineral estate handed over to control of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a result of these actions we now own only five percent of our original land in scattered parcels."