Everett Waller is a member of the Osage Nation and chairman of the Osage Minerals Council, which on December 20, 2023, won a federal lawsuit that requires Enel to remove 84 wind turbines it built in Osage County at an expected cost of $300 million. In this episode, Waller explains why the tribe continued the legal fight against Enel for 12 years, its plan to collect compensatory damages from the company, why he is “ecstatic” about the ruling, and why he believes it will “be a landmark case, spoken about long after I’m dead.” (Recorded December 29, 2023.)
0:00 – Robert Bryce
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Power Hungry podcast. I’m Robert. On this podcast, we talk about energy, power, innovation, and politics. And I am very pleased, and I do mean very pleased, to welcome Everett Waller. He is the chairman of the Osage Minerals Council, which just won a massive ruling in federal court in Tulsa just before Christmas. Chairman Waller, welcome to the Power Hungry podcast.
0:16 – Chairman Waller
Thank you. It’s our privilege to be here.
0:20 – Robert Bryce
So, I gotta tell you, and we talked about this before we started recording, you know, I’ve been talking to you for a couple of years now, hoping to get you to talk about the pending litigation, but now, on December 20th, the federal court in Tulsa sided with the Osage Nation, with the federal government and the Osage Minerals Council against Enel, and in one of the most important rulings ever in the history of the wind industry, has ordered the removal of 84 wind turbines in Osage County that Enel built, despite the tribe’s objections.
0:49 – Robert Bryce
I’ve written about this on my sub stack. There’s been a little press coverage, but I have to ask you how, after a 12 year legal battle, how does this feel?
0:58 – Chairman Waller
It feels… Proper, that we knew that when you come into an Indian reservation that was bought after a civil war, we’re never recognized in that capacity. But that’s where our grounding comes from I think that the actual case, I appealed it with the support of my counsel for the last nine years, and the United States was not going to appeal it. So we went ahead and went to fight the battle on behalf of our children’s future.
1:30 – Robert Bryce
And the Minerals Council is part of the Osage Nation, and you manage the mineral estate on the traditional lands in Osage County. There’s a fascinating history of mineral rights in America, generally. Paul Getty, the famous oil man, said, what the meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights. But the Osages have a unique history and a proud history. They bought that Osage County from the Cherokee Nation in the late one thousand eighteen hundred seconds tell me about, if you would, the history of the mineral estate and how it was Chief James Bighart, I believe, who negotiated that the mineral estate stayed with the tribe.
2:18 – Robert Bryce
Can you just walk us briefly through that history? Because it’s important history to understand.
2:22 – Chairman Waller
Yes, sir. 1881 Constitution of the Osage Nation was established here on our reservation. The commitment to it stayed until we actually had 1896 discovery of the oil on our reservation. The unique part is that we picked this spot so no one would want to plow it. We had just left Kansas and terrible issues up there as in Missouri and Arkansas. The situation that came up then was the United States government was a Department of War, and then we always had them as established under Bureau of Indian Affairs.
3:04 – Chairman Waller
That triggered some initiation over the leasing of these properties. They ran into such a foul that they had to bring in the 1906 Allotment Act. And that’s when James Bighard, our chief, had been designated to go into there and negotiate for us. He was well educated and well beloved here. I still deal with his grandchildren and they’re wonderful. But he had a foresight to look into getting us some requirements because this was fee simple property. And this land we’re on here is not the first time we saw it, it was on aboriginal hunting properties of ours.
3:47 – Chairman Waller
The Cherokees were moved in in 1823. We purchased this in the late 70s, and that’s when this initiated under the Allotment Act. They, 1906, allowed the last members of the tribe to be identified from a ration roll, and there was two thousand two hundred twenty nine participants and they were all delivered acreage and headright and any surplus land. That was key to our allotment is that we left no surplus land. As you well know, immediately afterwards, you become a state of Oklahoma and you give away all that Indian land that you didn’t own and have the land run.
4:30 – Chairman Waller
So we were under different aspects. And the lot of it was because we had been initiated with the Department of War. So they had some folks after the Civil War that recognized all we had done. We were at Braddock’s defeat in 1754. We had known this newcomer and what the position was for the Osage is to better have an established homeland. We had already been ceded two states and they were put on a strip in Kansas, which I think is funny when you bring up Rockefeller and some of the others.
5:12 – Chairman Waller
They had problems here because they had to get us out of Kansas to put that railway in. And that’s how we ended up with 1.5 approximately million acres here in the Osage Reservation. This Allotment Act had established one other item and the United States signed the actual sales and it was that we held the underground reservation in common. Everywhere else, the allotment you you gave it to the late and that was.
5:44 – Robert Bryce
That ownership and other reservations and I lived on the Navajo for a couple years and they the people own the land in common,
5:51 – Chairman Waller
5:51 – Robert Bryce
And and the family will, oh, you know, they’ll have a stake right that allow their traditional area where they own but the Osage owned the underground mineral estate in common, I guess, similar somewhat to the state of Alaska, right, where they have the mineral rights are owned by the state and people who are part of the member that live in Alaska get some royalty payments. But just a quick point about James Bighart. I read this and I know he’s been a hero for many Osage. I just saw this the other day.
6:20 – Robert Bryce
He spoke Osage, Ponca, Creek, Sioux, Cherokee, French, English and Latin. He served in the Civil War on the side of the North and served in the Kansas Cavalry. And at the end of the Civil War, he was mustered out in Arkansas. But I’m also reading a book. It’s Richard Rhodes’ biography of Audubon. And Audubon, when he was in Missouri, knew many Osage.
6:41 – Robert Bryce
And that history of the Osage tribe is an incredibly rich one and one that I mean, it extends into even my own family. My great uncle was born in Fairfax and was an Osage. But the tribe’s history is one that really is coming out now because of Killers of the Flower Moon, which leads to my next question. How similar is Inel’s violation of your mineral estate and the fact that the judge now has sided with the Osage tribe on this? What are the parallels between this and the themes of the Killers of the Flower Moon and the Reign of Terror?
7:14 – Robert Bryce
Is this just a different chapter in a similar story?
7:18 – Chairman Waller
I think it’s very similar, but it is a different chapter and it’s identified differently. But the same element of greed is what takes place here. How did you come into an Indian reservation that’s been established under permitting and leasing for the last hundred years, and you decide our fate? We had a company that was a foreign company. And that they wanted to go ahead and get around any federal triggers. But that weakens our position, and they didn’t have that right. They could easily come to us, requested a permit, and we possibly could have had all that worked out just like every other leasing and permitting that I do or my council does for the nation.
8:01 – Robert Bryce
How much drilling is going on today in Osage County? You know, I’m born and raised in Tulsa. I’ve been in Osage County many times, around Pawhuskan, Fairfax, and so on, Ponca City. How much drilling is going on in Osage lands these days?
8:16 – Chairman Waller
It is a minimal because of our marginal wealth situation. And that has really been the undertow of this is when a company tries to value one item, but it has so many other effects to the owners of the reservation. That’s the key question there. It had a lot to do with that. And it has a lot to do with how are we protecting ourselves if we don’t even have the proper permitting to be here. And as you mentioned, There’s a lot of states that you couldn’t even have a permit that wasn’t approved by a city and have a wind farm removed.
8:56 – Chairman Waller
Then they all went the whole route of trying to disregard our sovereignty and take us into court. It didn’t work out so well for them.
9:07 – Robert Bryce
So how does this feel? We talked the other day on the phone, and after 12 years, and you’ve had to kind of be quiet about this because of litigation. And I know Chief Standing Bear, and I went to school with his brother, so I you know, I know know his family for a long time. But he said, look, this is a Minerals Council issue. You have to talk to them. And you didn’t want to talk. Now, after all this time, how does it feel? I mean, this is an enormous win for you, for the tribe, for the Minerals Estate.
9:34 – Robert Bryce
How does it feel?
9:36 – Chairman Waller
I cannot even have words to express how it feels for me, but I want to express how it feels for my grandchildren. It just shows that we’re a mighty nation. Brother and I talk about what is the deliverables we want while we’re in these offices. The chief and chairman have a lot. I did understand the complexity of the case and the depositions I took were grueling. I could not risk that on behalf of my children. I make all my decisions on looking at pictures of my grandkids and that takes care of your family’s grandchildren.
10:14 – Chairman Waller
And this was so huge in that is, I just can’t explain other than I went to prayer immediately. I told them I could fight them with a wing and a prayer and supported my people. And that’s exactly what we did.
10:30 – Robert Bryce
You mentioned the depositions were grueling. What do you mean by that? Who were you deposing and why were they grueling?
10:37 – Chairman Waller
Enel had hired three different law firms to put us through depositions, to put questions to us on why they didn’t have to come to us for permitting, and then tried to read us a letter of the law, which was not true. You’re looking at some efforts that they might want to interpretate, but it’s real easy. You come into the Osage Reservation, you get a lease, we permit your operation. And go from there because I’m not only in oil and gas, but I’m also into the underground injection and then also quarries and things of that nature.
11:14 – Chairman Waller
So I’m looking at a broader span and these federal laws have to hold up for our kids. I’ve grew up with them enforcing them, but I want those to be regulated. And you asked about production. We were having a tough time because the over regulatory of the drilling permit. So I know this permitting very well. Some days it’s a it’s an issue that it has to be answered because I have so many other avenues as a council to look and the leasing itself.
11:49 – Robert Bryce
So when you were talking about the depositions being grueling, you were being deposed.
11:55 – Chairman Waller
11:56 – Robert Bryce
I see. And so these were different law firms that, and I know that, well, I understood that, and they’ll hire, they’d hire one law firm, then hire a different one so that you had to go through this several times. So when you say they were grueling, how, how hours long, days long?
12:12 – Chairman Waller
Hours long. And then they were just trying to see if I have a chink in my armor on representing my people. And I do not. I grew up in a full-blood traditional home. I have been trained by the best and that heart for my people is real. I’m not a corporation and I’m damn sure not a trespasser. So when you come to our lands, this is what you expect. And they just wanted to literally bleed us to death. And we’re a small tribe. I’m not funded through the gaming and through the other initiatives here in the Osage.
12:47 – Chairman Waller
So they knew what they were doing. And you were correct on the depositions. I did three, and it was all with three of the top law firms that they brought in. They had to get a new one every time.
12:59 – Robert Bryce
And who were the law firms in Oklahoma?
13:01 – Chairman Waller
I will go with that on record. They hired some out of New York and some out of Tulsa,
13:04 – Robert Bryce
Which law firms did they hire?
13:11 – Chairman Waller
And I’ll put those out. I don’t have those in front of me.
13:14 – Robert Bryce
I gotcha. You said you were raised in a full-blood household. We interviewed, for my upcoming docuseries, Danette Daniels was a great help, but we also interviewed Tommy Daniels, who’s one of the last of the full-blood Osage, or one of the oldest of the full-blood Osage. Where were you raised? Were you in Fairfax, in Hominy? Where in Oklahoma?
13:36 – Chairman Waller
I’m here in my great-grandfather’s home, the assistant chief, Iron Necklace, and here in Hominy, Zanzoli country.
13:46 – Robert Bryce
In Hominy. Okay. And there are two bands of the Osage, right? And Chief Big Heart was the one that united both of the bands. Is that right? I’m trying to remember my history here.
13:57 – Chairman Waller
Yes, they were actual separation. Back in Arcadian times, and what they had done is looked at not only conjoining the traditional group, but then also there was called the big and the little Osages, and they were huge, the bands themselves, and basically it was the societies that we brought out of Missouri.
14:18 – Robert Bryce
I see. And how many then are, how many members, you said when the tribe and under the Osage Allotment Act of 1906, there were two thousand two hundred and twenty nine recognized members. How many are there today?
14:32 – Chairman Waller
We are approaching 24,000 today. And that number will just keep going up.
14:43 – Robert Bryce
And so, as the tribal members intermarry and have kids and so on, but of those 24,000 how many have shares or own part of a head right.
14:52 – Chairman Waller
Approximately six thousand. Portion. There.
14:55 – Robert Bryce
Six thousand. Um. Gotcha. And about, I don’t know, I assume these numbers are public. So in terms of mineral wealth, oil and gas now, given that we’re looking at Killers of the Flower Moon, and I’ve read the book, I’ve seen the film, I mean, both are remarkable. How much oil and gas revenue is the tribe taking in per year today?
15:16 – Chairman Waller
We are at the marginal well. At the institute, I’m pushing probably 11,000 barrels a day and 10 million cubic feet a day of sales in gas.
15:28 – Robert Bryce
And 10 million cubic feet per day. Gotcha. So on an annualized basis, what do you think you’ll make this year in terms of revenue? Okay, no problem. 11,000 that’s that’s respectable, but it’s not a huge number. I mean, some some. And so is there is there any new drilling underway then in on minerals estate?
15:35 – Chairman Waller
I won’t say that over the podcast. We’ve had to look at not only the attack from the huge landowners on the environmental capacities of the Bureau, those that stopped our drilling, and also when you drill here on the reservation, you have a federal trigger that you do not have next door in Kansas or any areas that’s next to us. Those are held and work permitted through the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. That alone stopped our drilling. This element here with the wind farm stopped the drilling in that area.
16:28 – Chairman Waller
Because you can’t go in. Nowadays, the technology is the last thing we got left. And the new technology, 3D seismic, things of that nature, has been finding dome caps that weren’t available under 2D or just wildcatting. That also was an issue for us, is that we We couldn’t manage or lease any of that property because you can’t do seismic on it. So all those thousands of acres there would be out of the commitment for us to look and drill.
17:03 – Robert Bryce
And that was roughly 8,400 acres, something like that. And that land, I forgot the name of the highway, but it’s there between north of Fairfax. Say it again.
17:14 – Chairman Waller
United States, US 60.
17:16 – Robert Bryce
Right, U.S. 60, so that land that’s mostly north of U.S. 60 between Fairfax and Pawhuska, roughly east, well, yeah, 60 goes east-west. But back to The Killers of the Flower Moon, because that’s obviously in the news and it’s been nominated for a bunch of awards. A number of critics have called it the best movie of the year. Did you have connections to that film, you yourself or your family? Where people that you know were people that you know a lott of Osages were.
17:46 – Chairman Waller
Yes, my relationship was with Molly Burkhardt, she’s a Morrell, and my family’s ranch is next door to the Burkhardt estate. And being relatives of it, we were more than aware of the situations they had gone through. And you spoke of Mr. Daniels, what a great man. And in their areas, it was tragic.
18:10 – Robert Bryce
So in the reign of terror, how many family members did you lose?
18:16 – Chairman Waller
We had lost a handful, but there are so many that had not been registered as a murder that I think that’s another situation. The killer of Flower Moon is looking at a dozen of issues, but I know that there’s hundreds more that went with that. And with that being said, it affected so many families. And I think that that’s the other issue about the killer is that it’s going to bring out that comment alone is look at the effect of this greed. That’s what I meant in court, greed.
18:55 – Robert Bryce
Well, but it was greed on the part of Enel, and I calculate that the company was making, you know, obviously once they got the wind project up and they started producing electricity in 2015, by my calculations, and they’re very simple to do, they were making roughly $10 million a year just on the tax credits alone before they sold any of the electricity. So that covers the greed part, but the arrogance is the part that to me is so gobsmacking, right? Because you had the letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2011 to then Chief Red Eagle, if I’m remembering correctly.
19:31 – Chairman Waller
Red Eagle, I was their liaison for him at that time to the council.
19:35 – Robert Bryce
Right, so the BIA sent a letter to Red Eagle warning about the potential of the wind project to violate the minerals estate. Then you had the 2014 letter directly to Enel, not to the tribe, but directly to Enel saying you have to get a lease and they ignored that too. I, you know, the other part of this, of course, is that NL portrays itself as this, you know, climate change and in environmental. So yes, gee, they’re the green and incorporation. I mean, but the arrogance is just gobsmacking.
20:04 – Robert Bryce
What was it like to deal with them? Or did you ever deal with the company directly? How did you, how do you explain that level of arrogance? And what was your experience in dealing with their officials?
20:16 – Chairman Waller
I had some issues with them right at the start. And then also when I was working for the executive side, I watched what they had said to the chairman at the time at the minerals council. And I was furious. I have sat on two other governments for my tribe, the Tribal Council and the National Council, and we had never seen anything like this. We have people who might have an issue, but never at this extent. To come in, go into the county commissioner’s office, try to bypass a federal permitting But that’s pretty easy to do when one of your commissioners has a wind farm turbine on his land.
21:03 – Robert Bryce
So one of the county commissioners had land that was leased to the, and who was that?
21:10 – Chairman Waller
You’ll just have to look it up in the documents.
21:12 – Robert Bryce
Okay. Well, I looked up in the documents that one of the leaseholders is the Cain family, and M. John Kane IV is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, and he was appointed by Governor Stitt, who, since he got into office, has been antagonizing the tribes across the state pretty much nonstop. How do you explain this kind of cozy relationship and the fact that I called Kane’s office and asking for a comment, they won’t comment on this. Is this another example of how the white culture is trying to explain how this works, the power dynamics here?
21:56 – Chairman Waller
I think that you’re asking the greatest question is that how does the state of Oklahoma follow into a position where it can dictate to these tribes that were here before them? In our case alone, that’s when I brought up on the Allotment Act of not having surplus property. If Mr. Chief James Bighart and his council had not covered that area, we might be looking at a different footprint. But I want to get back to the state of Oklahoma. I represent a group of headright owners that has been paying the state of Oklahoma gross production tax on every barrel and MCF that I’ve sold.
22:35 – Chairman Waller
And this has been going on since the 50s. So we are a partnership, whereas other tribes might not be that unless they’ve compacted or contracted to issues of gaming and things of that nature. I’d look at that as even why would you go with someone that is new, and number one, you subsidized them into the millions, and then we don’t know what the subsidized credits were out of Washington. The numbers in which you generated are probably conservative, and that was one of the issues in court that Enel was to turn over that income show it to us so we could better proceed on a review of the damages done to the nation.
23:24 – Robert Bryce
So to clarify there, Chairman, what you’re saying, and I saw this in the court documents, that the court ruled that Enel had to produce effectively their profit and loss statement on the wind project, on Osage Wind, and they still have not produced that, or am I mistaken on that?
23:39 – Chairman Waller
No, that is coming right forthcoming into the actual court date next and it has to be delivered. They have fought it all the way because it’ll give us a great opportunity to see just how much did you receive and who gave it to you and then I’d like to know is why a county would go against the largest group that pays in. My taxes as state of Oklahoma, I’m representing the shareholder, goes right into the state coffer. It is brought back to, again, some very well disciplined Osage leadership.
24:19 – Chairman Waller
That payment comes right back to our schools here in the reservation. We build roads and bridges. I’m the former Transportation Improvement Program Director. So we have spent millions and millions of dollars on the infrastructure here. And to neglect that position, I just don’t know. I think that we need to have a better relationship.
24:43 – Robert Bryce
So why did it take so long to get this resolved? I mean, you first sued them in 2011. Now we have 12 years later what is an extraordinary ruling, an extraordinarily favorable ruling, a precedent-setting ruling, I think, when it comes to the wind industry in general. But let me ask this question, how important it is it you when we we talked the other day you said it’s an important or you, I think it was the quote you gave to the Tulsa world. It’s an important win for Indian country. How important is this ruling in terms of tribal sovereignty brought more broadly across the US.
25:20 – Chairman Waller
I believe that it shows that I’ve never been chairman without being in federal court. Protecting my child’s future. I think all tribes are looking at the same commitment to their reservations and their lands. I believe that there’s something to add to this, is that We’re a small tribe. I did an interview for New York Times, and it’s called How to Kill a Giant. What it mentioned is that the Osages were prepared to stick with this fight. I never had an Osage come to me and tell me, give up.
26:01 – Chairman Waller
They were prayers and support. You just can’t let those people down. And that’s where I feel like my feeling is a creator has protected my people once again.
26:16 – Robert Bryce
Well, tell me about the New York Times. I didn’t I haven’t seen them cover this. Is there a story there are there are an article they’re writing and they haven’t published or what’s going on?
26:24 – Chairman Waller
Oh, it must be sitting on the table somewhere. I imagine it’s going to be used now.
26:30 – Robert Bryce
Oh, okay. Got it. Just a quick station break. My guest is Everett Waller, the chairman of the Osage Minerals Council. He is celebrating, maybe gloating a little bit, I’m sure, about the tribe’s incredible win in federal court decision on December 20th. You can find out more about the Osage Nation at osagenation-nsn.gov and the Minerals Council. You can navigate to the Minerals Council from there to find out more about the Minerals Council. And I haven’t found, I need to download the court ruling, the document, the decision from December 20th, and I think that they will post that there sometime soon.
27:16 – Robert Bryce
So what are the next steps on the appeal? I read one news article that said, because the 10th Circuit has already ruled in this case, and the judge in the case is in the Northern District of Oklahoma, is part of the 10th Circuit, that Enel had already appealed their case to the 10th Circuit, but in Denver. But I read, this is the quote, it said, appeal is unlikely because the wind developer’s argument of whether they needed a lease has already failed before that court. So do you expect them to appeal anyway, because a delay is a win for them?
27:47 – Robert Bryce
What do you think’s next?
27:49 – Chairman Waller
I don’t believe they would ever risk taking us to trial. The damages will be into the billions. I think that they’re going to have to reach out to us, which is going to be quite a maneuver themselves. But I won’t make any comments till I see that spreadsheet.
28:07 – Robert Bryce
And the spreadsheet is going to be their profit and loss statement on the on Osage wind.
28:12 – Chairman Waller
Yes, we as a council that never looked at any negotiation on the actual damages being done. Because why would we do that when we don’t even know how much you were subsidized. But we do know this is that for the thousands of permitting and leasing that the tribe has done, you could easily fell into that requirement just upon request.
28:35 – Robert Bryce
I’m sorry, I didn’t follow you there, Paul, into that requirement. I didn’t. What do you mean there?
28:39 – Chairman Waller
To lease and permit your operations in the Osage.
28:44 – Robert Bryce
I see. Okay. So, but you then your damages, the amount of damages that you will seek. Now, just to clarify, Enel has estimated that removing these 84 wind turbines will cost it roughly $300 million, which is equal to or greater than what it costs them to build them. But that will be only one of the costs that they incur. And the other is going to be damages, compensatory damages to the tribe, which you are going to seek based on how much money the company made off of the wind farm between 2015 and today.
29:18 – Robert Bryce
Is that what I’m hearing you say?
29:21 – Chairman Waller
Yes, I would like to have that number in front of me because I’m going to look at it as any other leasing that we have here, non-compliance to that lease or permitting is termination of the lease. Well, that’s why I don’t think the situation now is the same as it was for them because of the actual dollar amount. Once we see that, then we are going to look at the cost of it to the Osage, not what it cost in the hell. But what does it cost us in no drilling activity? You’re talking 100,000 acres taken out and then we have had reviews.
30:05 – Chairman Waller
It’s not my first. Federal court battle, we went to the Department of Energy, Mining, and Development out of Colorado, and their projections there were into the billions of the reserve that we have left in that area specifically.
30:23 – Robert Bryce
Billions of barrels of oil, you’re saying?
30:25 – Chairman Waller
And precious metals. I’m also looking at a lot of other items, and we are looking at the helium, hydrogen, and then the lithium is going to be the big effort coming up.
30:37 – Robert Bryce
So the compensatory damages that you’re going to seek will be based on the tribe’s lost opportunity costs for additional mining on the areas that were taken out of consideration because of the wind project? Is that what you’re saying?
30:53 – Chairman Waller
It’s going to have to be reviewed, yes. We’ve got to see the effect of that. I know what it is. You asked about drilling. We have very little drilling where I would do two to 400 wells a year. I am just permitting ten to twenty. And Sir.
31:09 – Robert Bryce
Uhhuh. Are. You are? Are you a lawyer, Chairman? Are you a lawyer?
31:14 – Chairman Waller
I am not. I try to grace myself as being a very learned man. I’ve sat on three governments. So this is my first first time of getting a little worried because it took so long and I knew they were just trying to bleed me out as a counsel. Because I’m not funded like other tribes. I’m under Allotment Act, which they knew how much administration dollars I have, and they just planned on trying to just roll over us.
31:48 – Robert Bryce
Can you tell us how much you spent on legal fees?
31:52 – Chairman Waller
They can after they pay it.
31:58 – Robert Bryce
I know Wilson Pipestem was one of your lawyers. He’s based in Tulsa. Was he your lead counsel on this?
32:04 – Chairman Waller
We’d actually had, we started off with Tom Frederick’s firm. We went to Pipestem. Wolf had worked on it as our general counsel, and then we went back to Mr. Raleigh Wilson, Jeff Ramison, Bernhard Patterson, Real Bird and Wilson.
32:22 – Robert Bryce
And are they based in Denver or Tulsa? Where are they based?
32:25 – Chairman Waller
They are based in Denver and Washington, but they are former members of Tom Frederick’s organization.
32:32 – Robert Bryce
And so we talked a bit about this earlier, but in terms of Indian law, and I know Chief Standing Bear, a big part of his career was in litigation and Indian law, and I asked about your legal training because you spent a lot of time working on court related issues. I asked about this before, about the precedent in terms of what this means in terms of enforcement of tribal sovereignty. It’s obviously too early to tell, but is this potentially a landmark case in terms of the defense and enforcement of tribal sovereignty across the country?
33:09 – Chairman Waller
I even look at it as a broader element. As a pride. Of tribes everywhere you talked about a lot they signed an agreement and it fell short other tribes and areas you always hear about the three affiliated and some of the other tribes that are making a lot of oil And this is a protection of the smallest to the largest tribe. No matter what your product might be, we have just won you the sanction of your reservation, your nation, and also your operations. Because a lot of these are under compacts, contracts, and statutes.
33:53 – Chairman Waller
We’re just preparing ourselves to protect ourselves from the elements who doesn’t want to follow our rules. And I think every tribe option now. I think it’s going to be a landmark case, spoke about long after I’m dead. And then I want to just reiterate, I couldn’t thank my councils enough for their support. Could not thank the Osage people for the support they showed us and the commitment that my people had as upcoming chairman, so mighty.
34:30 – Robert Bryce
So when I interviewed several members of the tribe, including Tommy Daniels, his daughter, Danette, Billy Ponca, the late Joe Connor, all of them were unanimous in saying, we want the turbines taken down. And is there any possibility the tribe will relent on that and agree to let the turban stay or is that final, that they are going to be removed?
35:01 – Chairman Waller
I’m buffering a little bit here on the reservation.
35:05 – Robert Bryce
I’m sorry I seem to have lost you there. Yeah, you dropped out. There for, you dropped out for a minute there. Let’s let’s pick up there. I’m just noting that there was a break there.
35:21 – Robert Bryce
So I’ll ask the question again, if you don’t mind. But before I do just so are we are you still buffering there? Or do I have you live again? Okay. Um, so I interviewed, uh, I’ve been working on this documentary. That’s going to be out at the end of next month. And, uh, I’ve been working on it for a couple of years. I’ve interviewed a number of Osage members, Tommy Daniels,
35:41 – Chairman Waller
35:43 – Robert Bryce
So I interviewed, I’ve been working on this documentary that’s going to be out at the end of next month. And, uh, I’ve been working on it for a couple of years. I’ve interviewed a number of Osage members, Tommy Daniels, Danette Daniels, uh, Joe Connor, Scott Lohah, Billie Ponca, all of them were unanimous in saying, we want the turbines taken down. Is there any chance that at this point, the tribe, given where you are, that you’d agree to a monetary settlement and let the turbine stay or those turbines coming down, no matter what.
36:01 – Chairman Waller
They got to come down.
36:04 – Robert Bryce
Full stop, no matter what.
36:06 – Chairman Waller
They’re coming down.
36:09 – Robert Bryce
Well, I want to come up and see it. I’m going to stay abreast of this because I want to see that myself. Because I know the tribe has had several prayer meetings where they have gone out to the turbans and prayed for them coming down. What’s the likelihood that Scott Lohah and Billy and some of the other Osages will be out there to celebrate that first turbine being taken down?
36:34 – Chairman Waller
I’ll ask you when we’re out there.
36:37 – Robert Bryce
Okay, what are the next steps? You said you in talking with Chief Standing Bear, texting with Chief Standing Bear. He said there’s a mini trial coming up that will be, I guess, to decide the damages question. How soon will that occur?
36:54 – Chairman Waller
Not soon enough for me. We have not been given that date yet. That’ll be up to the honorable judge who decided this case.
37:03 – Robert Bryce
Gotcha. And the judge in the case in federal court in Tulsa, she was with the Court of International Trade, which was her it was she was designated in that it was that on was this case purposely put into the Court of International Trade. I was a little confused by the venue description there. It was in the northern district of Oklahoma. But why? Why was the judge affiliated with the Court of International Trade?
37:29 – Chairman Waller
That’s actually where she’s detailed out of to the Supreme Court, and it stayed with the actual court element that we were in on the 10th. But that’s her judge title.
37:42 – Chairman Waller
We worked in her national court.
37:44 – Chairman Waller
She had been detailed from there to our court and thank the Lord. She was.
37:51 – Robert Bryce
Gotcha. Joe Connor, the late Joe Connor, was incredibly helpful to me. And he and his wife, Carol, of course, published the Fairfax Chief for years. And Joe went out of his way to be, you know, cordial and, you know, he’s very proud of being Osage and preserving his efforts to preserve the Tall Chief Theater there in Fairfax. How important was his role in this? Because he created the document with the entire history of the controversy. How important was he in this battle?
38:26 – Chairman Waller
I could not express my gratitude to the late Dr. Conner. Him and his wife, on those nights where you don’t get any sleep, were there supporting me. He was instrumental, and you have my brother, Scott Lohah, they were riding the situation which we were going to be facing. And as you well know, I was being very careful on what I said politically, We couldn’t have won without him. But his passing goes to tell you rhythmically, some of them folks want to see these wind farms come down, but I want them to know we’re doing it and they’re on.
39:10 – Robert Bryce
Well, he was very articulate in all of this and how he discussed what had happened and the fact that outsiders were coming on to the Osage just as they had done a century ago. I asked you about The Killers of the Flower Moon. I want to ask you about that. So I’m assuming you’ve seen the film. Did you like it? Do you think it did justice to the Osage? How does an Osage think about seeing that film?
39:38 – Chairman Waller
The Osages have a different element. The film was the largest Hollywood creation there could possibly be. You spend a million.
39:50 – Chairman Waller
It’s Martin Scorsese. He did come to the gray horse and Osage communities to find out how they wanted representative. And I got lucky enough to be asked to play a role in it.
40:05 – Robert Bryce
And what role were you in the film?
40:07 – Chairman Waller
I played Assistant Chief Red Eagle.
40:11 – Robert Bryce
Okay. And how many other Osages were in the film?
40:16 – Chairman Waller
Multiple numbers. We had speaking parts. And then we had others and as extras. It was us and a lot of other tribes come here to help us. It’s into the hundreds.
40:27 – Robert Bryce
So you were pleased with how you were portrayed in the final product?
40:31 – Chairman Waller
I wouldn’t allow it any other way.
40:35 – Robert Bryce
You know, to me, it was a remarkable film. It made me cringe though. I mean, just because of the brutality of it and the, I mean, the on scene, you know, you get numb to seeing, you know, murder on television and in movies, but the cunning and the brutality of it was just, it was hard to watch. I mean, really hard to watch. And I mean, it was hard to read in David Grand’s book, but even harder to watch on the screen I mean, how did it, how did you feel when you saw some of the, like the murder of Henry Roan and some of the others, how did you feel when you saw that on the big screen?
41:12 – Robert Bryce
It must’ve, did it, did it affect you?
41:16 – Chairman Waller
I’m a former commissioner for my tribe and I grew up here in the hominy village. I watched my first man get shot in front of us at 10. Those items were hard to watch, but also it’s hard to live with later. These aren’t just someone that I watched a movie about. These are my family. And with that being said, I think the movie is excellent in bringing up the issues. It falls short in some areas, but it doesn’t on the tragedy that we faced. I think there’s a clarity there This is what happened.
41:58 – Chairman Waller
This is what greed will do. Then also, we’re looking at doing another element of some other issues that happened to the Osages during this time. I’ve only watched it once, and I cried after I saw it. Now, I’ll be happy to admit to that, it hurt.
42:19 – Chairman Waller
This isn’t a movie I’m watching. These are some of my family members. Henry Rohn’s peoples, all my family on the one side, the Murrell side, the Copperfield side, these people all had loved ones lost there. And I think that’s gonna be the next issue is that how many families were affected, 300, 400 by just the first single murder or loss of their loved ones. And how that articulated to today’s time as it moved us up, as it moved us, down. I think that the nation has done very well in allowing this.
43:00 – Chairman Waller
And then also we had some issues about that. And I think that how many people come up to me? Well, we didn’t know that. That that just surprises me. But it also gives me some credence on why I was supportive of the movie and why I participated.
43:21 – Robert Bryce
Well, and a lot of credit has to go to David Graham because I read his book and I’ve, you know, not bragging here but I’ve written six books I know how hard it is and I read his book and I thought, wow, I mean the detail that he found and the amount of research that he did, and And
43:37 – Robert Bryce
It was incredible. And also to look at what Tom White did. And Tom White, as you probably remember, ended up here in Austin as the Sheriff of Travis County. So there were a number of tie-ins there that, as I thought about it, I thought, damn, what an incredible work of research that he did. And to bring it all together, I mean, you must know David Grant. I mean, his role in Osage history now is one of a pivotal character as a white coming in from outside to bring the Osage story to the world.
44:09 – Robert Bryce
How do you see him in the book?
44:12 – Chairman Waller
I was lucky enough to be asked to meet with him from my elder at the time, Catherine Redcorn. So I met with him and he told me what the plan was. And I told him that the investigation is going to lead you into way more than that. And he did it so well that exactly what happened did. He started looking at some of those guardianship papers and everyone was shown deceased. And those situations kept piling up. You could not give him enough credit. Yeah, of course you’re going to say, oh my God, you let a New Yorker come in.
44:51 – Chairman Waller
Well, that’s the only other thing about it is that He came to the right people. He wrote a book that he’d spent so much time in researching it. And then I believe that it’s about as good as it gets. I have worked with other journalists, Kenny McAuliffe, Dennis McAuliffe on Blood Land, and Liza Des the civil boat, those type of other issues. And then the next item would have been the Pipe for February. Charles Redcorn. He was such a special man.
45:30 – Robert Bryce
So what does this mean broadly for the Osage? I mean that to get the tribe this kind of recognition now national international recognition. The Osage are one of what 550 tribes in the U.S. Now federally recognized tribes. Does this, obviously the killers of the flower moon raise your profile. And so, and this judgment from NL could mean a significant slug of cash into the tribe. But what does this mean though, for the tribe? You talked about your grandchildren. Does it mean longer term for tribal members like yourself and the future Osages?
46:08 – Chairman Waller
The thought I have on it is number one, you got to tell your history. Whether it’s good or bad, and especially the Osages, when we had this removal, we had to go through so much. And then they decided that when we accepted this reservation here in the Osage, this was going to be our last move. This is going to be our homeland to meet the end of time. With those kind of people here, I think it’s only relevant to bring this up. That’s these folks’ descendants we’re talking about. These names you have mentioned today, that is who I’m fighting for.
46:50 – Chairman Waller
That commitment from myself and my council, we were put in such a position, there was no turning back. And we were dedicated to it. And the other issue comes back is now we’re going to represent that child’s future is not only in this enormous payment they’re going to have to make, but it’s also in following the sovereignty of our nation. And that is a recognized effort, I think, that the case brings out. I think Killer of the Flower Moon, I don’t want us to be shown as a victimized group as much as a group that had to cleanse itself.
47:33 – Chairman Waller
And that the United States government has had many options here. And some of them they chose unwisely. And those are the issues there that we’re going to have to acknowledge and not make sure our children doesn’t face those kind of atrocities.
47:51 – Robert Bryce
You mentioned your grandchildren before. How many grandchildren do you have?
47:54 – Chairman Waller
I have two wonderful grandchildren and I plan on more. I’ve just got a fresh graduate from NYU. I want her to get busy and go to work a little while. And my oldest daughter has also had two children and they’re the sunshine in my life.
48:15 – Robert Bryce
And do they live in Osage County?
48:18 – Chairman Waller
They live just right up the hill. And at three o’clock I’ll be available. I’m grandpa. Yes, sir.
48:24 – Robert Bryce
And that’s in harmony. Well, I told you Tulsa is my hometown. So for people who aren’t familiar with Oklahoma, uh, harmony is, is to the West of Tulsa, North Northwest of the North West Northwest of Tulsa between sky Duke and Fairfax. If my geography is, uh, To me correctly here.
48:40 – Chairman Waller
48:43 – Robert Bryce
Um, so w What would the tribe, if you’re facing the compensatory damages, would that go into the general fund for the tribe now? I mean, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here a little bit, but you’re potentially going to have an enormous amount of money coming into the tribe. What would the tribe do with that money?
49:00 – Chairman Waller
I will administrate it to take care of the shareholders and then also deliberately make sure that we have a treasury deposit for the nation who supported us on eight years. We knew we couldn’t do without it. And then we’ll go from some administration. I might let NL pay for administrating the Osages from here to eternity.
49:27 – Robert Bryce
Speaking of NL, again, going back to how they’ve acted in this case, I’ve followed all the news reporting. I reached out to NL three different ways to get a comment. They won’t comment. Their lawyer won’t comment. Why do you think they’re being so quiet now?
49:46 – Chairman Waller
I believe that they chose unwisely. Never underestimate your opponent. And this is why it’s going to be a smackdown.
49:56 – Robert Bryce
And so is the, the quiet. They’re being quiet because they’re embarrassed. They’re quiet because they know that they’ve overstepped. I guess it would be just speculation on your part. But that sure seems like this is a huge defeat for them, a huge black eye for them. And they don’t want any comment because it makes it worse.
50:14 – Chairman Waller
I think the publicity of them coming in as a foreign element to bring in this whole project without without following the protocol. I think a lot of it is that now you’re going to go back to your shareholder. I know what a shareholder is. And you’re going to tell them that you attacked a little Indian tribe. You wouldn’t recognize their sovereignty. And you wouldn’t even develop a working relationship with them. And now you’re going to pay. I think that’s what they’re more scared of I was asking that question myself.
50:51 – Chairman Waller
Do they tell their Folks, they’re doing this because I met with so many different attorneys that even I got a little worried about it.
51:03 – Robert Bryce
Well, you know, they were rejected. There was a project that they were building in Colombia, in South America, that there was massive resistance from an indigenous group there. And it was a 200 megawatt wind project, slightly larger than the Osage Wind Project. They pulled out after the resistance went on for several years there. So this isn’t the first example of NL intruding on indigenous people, but this time they’re going to pay dearly. That seems obvious. Let me just hit you with one quick thing that Tommy Daniels said when I interviewed him in Fairfax.
51:38 – Robert Bryce
In fact, we interviewed him in the building that Danette Daniels now owns, and it’s a historic building because it was where the Schoen brothers practiced medicine, which there’s no little bit of irony.
51:47 – Robert Bryce
There, I think. But he said, when we interviewed him, he said, I don’t think they’re coming down. He said the turbines are there for good. And I’m pretty much quoting him directly. He said, well, they aren’t. And have you talked to Tommy? Any indication of what Tommy’s thinking about that now? Because I understand why he said what he said, but it’s a massive turnaround. Is there other members? Let me ask the question this way. Have other members of the tribe reflected back to you about how they feel about the turbines coming down?
52:21 – Chairman Waller
I always like to go with whatever my elder says. I understand this, but the complexity, which I know as reality, had me very few options. And I never make promises I can’t keep. And in this case, it was that we were going to have to have them removed.
52:42 – Robert Bryce
And that was going to be the starting point from all of the negotiation that there was no because of the injury because the the they acted so badly that that was the only option for the tribe.
52:54 – Chairman Waller
We have many options now. And I look at the full compliments of each to that remark right there. I I’m not against the green energy. If the United States would have come to the Osages and subsidized us on those, I don’t know why we’re not available for it or other tribes. That’s another issue that comes up. I sat on a White House committee of the Indian Country Energy Infrastructure Working Group, and a lot of it is looked at what stops us as a energy tribe. But then on the other side of the coin, it’s what helps us.
53:39 – Chairman Waller
Well, we can’t even move into that arena when we had someone here with the support of many. And then don’t follow the protocol with the Osage Nation. We can’t risk that because, like I said, we have some other issues going to be coming up in the reservation, and that all needs to be protected by this situation here. You want it, you’re going to lease it from the Osage Minerals Council. We’re going to have it permitted correctly. Under federal law. And then later on, I know the chief and I just discussed this yesterday, is what do we have planned?
54:19 – Chairman Waller
We’re going to strengthen up our laws here at the Osage. I can tell you that for certain. The email went out this morning. And this is going to give us some effort of showing the fulfillment. I’m only here to take care of what I can. But my thought in this case was that wanted to pick a fight, well, they did. And they wanted to be so brutal to us as a nation. I just can’t do that as a God-fearing man. You’ve got to be able to have some consideration. And I understand the comments from my elders.
55:03 – Chairman Waller
I just knew that I can’t give them any options. I can’t negotiate with a company that won’t tell us how much they made, how much they were subsidized for this green energy. We all know the administration, but I’m an answer as a minerals council to both sides. Your political unrest today, I had to be careful of it also. Because I’m not just fighting NL. Someone brought them And that’s going to come up later when they have to show where they got their funds from
55:39 – Robert Bryce
Fair enough. Well, we’ve been talking for close to an hour here, Chairman. So I ask all of my guests. Well, you know, it’s funny. I didn’t have I do. This was all my guess, and I didn’t have you introduce yourself. And that’s one of the things that I do. Now, I introduced yourself. I introduced you, rather. And now, we don’t get to start over again. I’m not asking we start over. But if I imagine we’ve looking at my last two questions, and I’m going to ask you the question I should have asked you right at the top.
56:08 – Robert Bryce
So excited to get started. Imagine you’ve arrived somewhere, and you don’t know anyone, it’s a Christmas party or whatever, and you walk in the room, you don’t know anyone there, and they ask you to introduce yourself, and you have about 30 or 40 seconds. Tell me, how would you introduce yourself?
56:25 – Chairman Waller
Web You know Weber Ha Nika Pk is on. He stole me Auk. Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to meet Everett Waller, chairman of the Osage Minerals Council. I represent a mighty tribe out of Oklahoma. We have a situation of having bought a reservation during the Civil War, and we plan on keeping it. The homeland is what’s valuable to us and our traditions. And at this case, I’m in the situation here to take on all comers who do want to follow the guidelines and procedures here on my reservation.
57:06 – Chairman Waller
And I call it mine, that’s for all those ages. I have been in many court battles and won them all. I went to the Supreme Court and showed that you can beat anyone on any given day long as you never give up.
57:24 – Robert Bryce
Well, I love the mighty tribe. That’s great. And I think it was on your LinkedIn profile that we’re a warrior. You said. You also said we’re a warrior tribe. I believe that was your description there. I asked my guests to introduce themselves and then at the end of, which I didn’t do at the beginning, and now we’re at the end of the interview, and I asked them two other questions. First, what are you reading, Chairman? What books are on your stand? I know you’re doing a lot of legal briefs and legal documents, but what books are you looking at these days?
57:52 – Robert Bryce
What are you reading?
57:53 – Chairman Waller
To take away from it, I go back to my Bible. I have moments with my wife because through this battle, every warrior gets damaged. And what I do is I go with the loved one of my family and have moments with them in prayer. And I had two eagles show up yesterday here at the house, which is a great sign that the Lord’s in command. And that’s what I usually go with. Other than that, hundreds and hundreds of pages every evening.
58:28 – Robert Bryce
Tell me about the eagles.
58:30 – Chairman Waller
It was a wonderful moment. We had them fly up here in the yard. And I was so surprised that you can see them fly over, but to be sitting here, and then they started screeching because they’re a pair and they make for life. And I felt like that’s my Osagae, just like those eagles, which we hold at the highest esteem, that that’s the only bird that can fly up to the right hand side of God. Get his blessings and fly back down to us.
59:01 – Robert Bryce
And these were bald eagles?
59:05 – Chairman Waller
59:07 – Robert Bryce
It’s interesting they would be in the Hominy area because I usually associate them with being around the Arkansas River and not necessarily so close in the Tallgrass.
59:17 – Chairman Waller
I just don’t know what to tell you other than I look for blessings from the creator and I definitely got one.
59:24 – Robert Bryce
So what gives you hope? That’s my final question, Chairman. You’ve been through a lot, and you’ve persevered along with your fellow members of your tribe in an incredibly long battle. And now you’ve had a massive win, and one that I’d be incredibly proud of. What gives you hope?
59:48 – Chairman Waller
My children’s future, the education, I’m looking at what is going to be next for our young ones. And then there’s a couple of issues that I have, and that’s I’m getting older. It’s starting to change my thoughts on a lot of things. And most of it is that we take care of our traditions. You put in the right people to battle for you. You realize is that there’s an archaic Osage back there thousands of years ago and all they prayed for was that it’s Osage people would survive. And I’m here to say that that’s my job.
1:00:31 – Chairman Waller
And I want to hand it off like that. I was given a lot on my plate, but I pray a lot. I use my eagle wing a lot. And then I have been so many tribes have reached out to me. I am truly blessed, but As you say, my finest line in the movie, we’re still warriors, and all tribes out there, you are too.
1:00:56 – Robert Bryce
Well, we’ll stop there. My guest is Everett Waller. He’s the chairman of the Osage Minerals Council. You can find out more about the Osage tribe at Osage Nation, Dot Nsn, Dot Gov, and the Minerals Council, you can locate there as well. Everett Waller, it’s been a real pleasure. Glad that we could finally make time and congratulations. And I mean that sincerely. It’s a huge win for the tribe and one that I am I’m a longtime critic of the wind business, proudly so, and to see you beat him in court, I’ve got to tell you, I’m enjoying it right next to you.
1:01:30 – Robert Bryce
1:01:32 – Chairman Waller
I’m a ecstatic brother.
1:01:38 – Robert Bryce
All right, my friend that will do it for us. Thanks to all of you out there in podcast land for listening to this episode of the power hungry podcast until next time see you. You.