Jan. 31, 2016 After the Nation officially purchases Ted
Turner's Bluestem Ranch, the Nation will once again be one of the
largest landowners in Osage County.
roam the morning of Jan. 28 on the Bluestem Ranch. (photo
by Tara Madden - Osage News)
The Nation won the bid to purchase the 43,000-acre ranch on
Jan. 28, but the actual purchase won't take place until early February
when the Purchase of Sale Agreement is signed.
"There are steps remaining in the process, and rumors will circulate.
We will share official information with the Osage people and the
general public as our agreement with Mr. Turner's organization permits,"
said Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn.
The news of the winning bid went viral. Osages rejoiced from
California to Pawhuska.
In an official statement from the Chief's Office the day following
the announcement, Red Corn said: "The bidding process for the Bluestem
Ranch is completed. The Osage Nation is bound by a confidentiality
agreement with the Turner Group through the broker regarding the
details of the transaction. Until additional steps are completed,
the Executive branch will have no additional comment on the transaction.
We are extremely pleased to reverse 200 years of loss of our lands."
Sealed Bid Auction
The bidding process, and how much money the Nation is paying for
the ranch, has been kept confidential due to the sealed bidding
procedure by Turner Enterprises, Inc.
According to Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, the Nation
first heard the Bluestem Ranch was going up for sale in early December
of last year. Standing Bear asked Tim Tall Chief, the chairman of
the Nation's Tallgrass Economic Development, LLC, and an Osage rancher
to speak with Turner Enterprises to find out which broker would
be handling the bid.
On the afternoon of Dec. 23, two days before Christmas, Tall
Chief forwarded the sealed bid package from Hutchison, Kans.-based
Wildin Land, LLC, to Standing Bear and Red Corn.
"I asked Asst. Chief Red Corn to sit with me while we got on
the phone with Tim [Tall Chief] and we talked at length about how
to put this together and prepare it for discussion with the Osage
Congress, who would have to approve this," Standing Bear said. "Asst.
Chief Red Corn and I worked on this every day except for Christmas
They began seeking expert advice from both financial and academic
resources, university level resources and banking institutions,
putting together the best proposal they could, Standing Bear said.
They then sent the proposal to the Fourth Osage Nation Congress.
By then the word was out, the Nation was contemplating a bid.
Non-Osage ranching families, the Mormon Church and the Nature
Conservancy own the majority of land in Osage County. Standing Bear
said after talking to other ranchers about possible upcoming land
sales, none were optimistic.
"The more I thought about it, this is our one chance in the
foreseeable future to reestablish our Osage reservation," Standing
Bear said. "This is the biggest commitment we've made since I've
been on the Congress or have been Chief."
The Congress discussed the land purchase in executive sessions
during the 10th Special Session.
The money for the purchase would have to come from the Nation's
gaming operations and would have to be borrowed from the Bank of
Oklahoma. That meant the Gaming Enterprise Board would have to agree
to the purchase and would be willing to forego an anticipated expansion
to the Nation's Tulsa Osage Casino.
The bid the Nation submitted would be for the purchase of the land
and any permanent improvements thereon; it would not include the
bison, equipment, vehicles or rolling cattle stock on the property.
Those are subject to separate purchase arrangements. Standing Bear
said purchasing the bison is a necessity and they would be planning
on those costs.
"As I've said before to the Osage Congress, we are in a better
financial condition today then we have ever been," Standing Bear
said. "And in our discussions with financial institutions that has
been confirmed, we are very credit worthy."
The sealed bids were due on Jan. 25. Once the sealed bids were
opened there was a 72-hour time period where other possibilities
for top bidders could be discussed.
"Directly from Ted Turner, the Nation was the high bidder and
the preferred buyer," Red Corn said.
Check back to osagenews.org
for updates on the purchase.