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Last December a federal court in Oklahoma issued an order in a long-continuing suit between the United States and the Osage Nation, as plaintiffs, and Enel Green Power North America. United States v. Osage Wind, LLC, et al., No. 4:14-cv-00704-JCG-JFJ (US Dist. Ct. N.D. Okla., Dec. 20, 2023)  Enel’s subsidiary operates a wind farm on 8,400 acres of land in Osage County, with 84 wind turbines. The Osage Nation and the US government are seeking to enjoin Enel from operating its wind farm. The court’s order holds that the plaintiffs are entitled to an injunction requiring Enel to remove its wind turbines.

The Osage have a fascinating history, most recently made famous by the book Killers of the Flower Moon by David Gran, and the 2023 release of the movie by the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

In the early 19th century the Osage controlled a huge area between the Missouri and Red Rivers, the Ozarks to the east, and the foothills of the Wichita Mountains to the south.  The US government first required the tribe to move to a reservation in southeastern Kansas, containing some 325,000 acres of land. In 1870 Congress passed and the tribe ratified the Drum Creek Treaty, providing that the Osage Nation’s land in Kansas be sold and the proceeds paid to the Osage Nation. The Osage received $1.25 an acre for the land, which they used to purchase their present-day reservation in Oklahoma, now the county of Osage, some 1,470,000 acres. The surface estate of those lands was later “allotted” to individual tribe members, some 640 acres each, and most of those lands were later sold. But the mineral estate in the tribal lands remained with the Osage Nation, managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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