In late summer 2022, the Osage Nation received multi-million-dollar grants to build a “Fiber Optic Broadband Network” designed to bring faster and more reliable internet connectivity to residents and businesses throughout the Osage Nation service area. The competitive grants include a $40.6 million Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program Grant and a $13.9 million ReConnect3 Grant Program from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In response, the Osage Nation has formed a new department known as Wahzhazhe Connect, which is currently building staff to support the critical broadband infrastructure for the Osage Nation under the Secretary of Development Christian Johnson. The construction project will lay more than 200 miles of fiber optics and erect 16 towers throughout the Osage Nation service area over the next two years.
“These grants are game changers for the Osage Nation and all those who reside in our service area,” said Secretary Johnson. “We need experienced folks who can manage these massive projects efficiently and without delays. I am excited about how this team is coming together and look forward to progress updates as they continue to push forward.”
Dr. James Trumbly brings more than 40 years of experience in the Information Technology field as a Project Manager and Systems Analyst. Dr. Trumbly is a member of the Eagle Clan from Pawhuska. He descends from original allottees
Oliver Trumbly, Julian Trumbly, and Eliza Tinker. His great, great, great, great grandfather was Pawhuska (White Hair).
“As we build out the network, what’s in the forefront of our minds is what’s best for the Osage people,” Trumbly said. “Our language department can improve distance learning. We can increase online culture and language classes. The health clinic can increase telehealth.
The Osage Nation Museum can create virtual exhibitions. This is in addition to connecting and maintaining that thread from generation to generation, linking us with our ancestors and our descendants.”
Trumbly has served on the faculty at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at El Paso. Trumbly also worked as the Sr. Project Manager for the Program Management Office (PMO) while with Electronic Data Systems (now Hewlett Packard on the MCI/WorldCom Account overseeing the PMO for the entire Network Infrastructure organization.
He is a Certified Project Management Professional from the Project Management Institute, has worked with the Federal Government as a defense contractor for Air Force Research Laboratory, and served in Afghanistan as a system designer and trainer. Dr. Trumbly attended the University of Oklahoma for his BBA in Management and Texas A&M for a Master’s in Business Computing Sciences. His Doctorate in Business Administration is from Mississippi State University.
Phone: (918) 287-5534
Wahzhazhe Connect staff members (in alphabetical order):
Emily Akers: Administrative Manager
Emily recently got married and will update her business cards to read Emily Hill. Emily is from Skiatook and is a member of the Grayhorse district. Her great-great-grandfather was John Franklin Morrell (Osage) and her parents are LoneElk and Valarie Akers of Skiatook. Emily graduated from Rogers State University with a B.S. in Business Administration.
“Because of the support I had from the Osage Nation throughout college, I knew I wanted to give back to the Osage Nation,” Emily says. “I gravitated to this project as it hits close to home for me. I live in rural Osage county with little to no cell service, which is why I am passionate about bridging the gap between rural Osage county and access to modern technology.”
Emily manages Wahzhazhe Connect’s complex administrative functions by coordinating with Osage Nation entities, contractors, and sub-contractors. Emily manages departmental accounting, grant processing and reporting, determining potential sources of data to generate reports, assisting in the contracting process directly with Osage Nation procurement, hiring and employee resources, purchase processing, and accounts payables.
“I would tell anyone who has some reservations but is interested in joining the project to take the leap of faith and dive all in,” Emily says. “It can be intimidating at times with all the obstacles and challenges, but the reward to the Osage people of making this project successful will be worthwhile and monumental. In her spare time, Emily likes to spending time with family, going to sporting events, and learning American Sign language.
Phone: (918) 287-1580
Kiersten Dailey: Procurement Coordinator
Kiersten is a member of the Eagle Clan from the Hominy District and also lives in Hominy. She is married to Brandon Wallace, the Osage Nation’s Construction Manager. Together they have five children, Rayven, Cierra, Ella Jo, Kannon, and Olivia. Kiersten descends from Tom Bigchief and the current matriarch and eldest living relative in her family is her grandmother Marilyn (Hopper) Dailey.
“In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my large, close-knit family,” Kiersten says. “I also enjoy watching my children participate in sporting events, spending time outdoors and watching movies.”
On the job, Kiersten drives all of Wahzhazhe Connect’s activity involved in obtaining goods and services needed to support daily operations of staff, contractors, and sub-contractors. Kiersten’s responsibilities include sourcing, negotiating terms, and purchasing items. Kiersten brings 10 years of professional experience working for the Osage Nation. Most recently, she handled procurement and other professional services for Wahzhazhe-owned Dailey Technologies, a software company based in Tulsa.
“The broadband team is an amazing team to work with and the broadband project is going to bring much-needed services to Osage County,” Kiersten says.
Phone: (918) 287-4118
Dave Madden: Warehouse Manager
Larry David (Dave) Madden, Jr. manages thousands of tons of fiber optic and construction materials and coordinates equipment inventory used by Wahzhazhe Connect’s staff and construction crews. He also ensures that all incoming and outgoing inventory is processed according to funding source of materials.
Dave is from Pawhuska and is the son of Larry Madden and Susan Hamilton. He and his wife, Tara Madden, live in Dewey with their three children, Haley Little Starr Madden, Alexis Rain Madden, and Daniel Sky Madden. Dave currently serves as a committeeman for the Zonzoli district in Hominy. Dave has worked in a variety of construction fields and feels grateful to bring his professional experience home to serve his Osage people.
“I was initially attracted to this project by the newness of the idea of an Osage-owned and operated broadband service,” Dave says. Broadband is an interesting field with a variety of skills that can be learned and applied to the project and beyond. I feel that this project will help the Osage people immensely and improve the lives of those who receive these services.”
Although he won’t admit it, Dave is considered to be one of the best traditional beadworkers around. His long list of current orders includes fans, dance sticks, drops, hat bands, and full dance outfits. When he’s not working on beadwork projects, Dave attends tribal functions and dances regularly at powwows. He is an avid fisherman and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.
Phone: (918) 287-3216
Drew Tiger: Senior Project Manager
Drew Tiger was raised in Pawhuska Indian Camp with his parents Dr. John Tiger (Euchee/Delaware) and Olivia St. John Lookout (Osage/Chickasaw). The family’s Osage name before the government changed it to St. John was Shon-pa-nan-zhin. Drew has served on the Pawhuska District committee for more than 50 years, having held positions from Water Boy to Committee Member.
As Senior Project Manager for Wahzhazhe Connect, Drew manages the Fiber-to-the-Home projects, which are part of the “final mile” in the broadband network. Drew’s construction teams connect the fiber from the main trunk lines in the “middle mile,” which is located along highways and streets directly to homes.
Drew says that being part of a start-up can be uncertain at times as Wahzhazhe Connect works to establish a new department in a new industry.
“It’s normal to be apprehensive working on a new project in a new company,” Drew says. “Trust your skill set and knowledge base while expressing the willingness to learn.” Drew is currently working toward getting a Project Management Certification to strengthen his knowledge base for the broadband expansion. On weekends, Drew coaches in the United States America Volleyball (USAV) league.
He serves as a Juniors Coach, with his team comprised of 15-year-old female athletes. Drew has spent 24 years courtside as a head coach, and 23 years as a club owner.
Phone: (918) 287-4112
Kelbie Witham: Project Manager
As a Project Manager, Kelbie makes sure that the various individual projects that comprise the overall project stay on course and on time. Kelbie is from the Grayhorse District and is Deer Clan. Her grandfather is Wayne Ray Mitchell from Burbank and her parents are Kimetha Mitchell Bennet and Donnie Bennet from Fairfax.
Kelbie graduated from Woodland High School in Fairfax and St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee and was an award-winning athlete at both schools. As a rugby player with the Wichita Valkyries, Kelbie is bringing “scrum,” a rugby strategy built on an entire team simultaneously moving the ball together as a single unit, to Wahzhazhe Connect to help advance the project as a cohesive broadband team.
“We learn, we earn, and we return,” Kelbie says. “In learning, I moved to Wichita in 2017 to work for T-Mobile. I was hungry to learn anything I could about technology. I wore many different hats, starting out in customer service to moving into leadership roles and ending as a Project Manager. In learning, I earned one of the most prestigious awards at T-Mobile, which was the
‘Peak Achievement Award’. Now I am returning to Osage County after learning and earning and I‘m now able to implement that knowledge and experience for my people.”
In addition to attending St. Gregory’s, Kelbie studied Marketing and Management at Arkansas Tech University.
Phone: (918) 287-5511
Data and Program Analyst: Amanda Wamego Buffalohead
Amanda reviews the data requirements for the $54.5 million dollars in broadband grants and ensures that the proper data is collected and reported to the granting agencies.
“As a Grant Management Specialist for the Osage Nation for nearly nine years, I rarely got to follow a project from beginning to end,” Amanda says. “For this project, I worked on the NTIA TBCP, and USDA ReConnect grants, and I saw this new position as an opportunity to be a part of the successful completion of the projects the grants funded.”
Amanda is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi tribe with Kaanze (Kaw) descendance. Her mother is Little Carol Clark (Kaw/Citizen Potawatomi) and her dad is Raymond “Chief” Wamego, Jr. (Citizen Potawatomi). Originally from Pawhuska, Amanda has resided in Kaw City for the past 28 years.
In her spare time, she attends dances and powwows with her daughter Katzy. Amanda says she serves as official “momager” for Katzy, who is a competitive athlete and model for Native fashion designers throughout Indian Country.
Phone: (918) 287-0088
Training for Field Work: Wahzhazhe Connect is partnering with Tri County Tech to offer paid employment training for prospective field technicians interested in helping build the broadband infrastructure. Course instructors are experts in the construction and maintenance of broadband infrastructure and will offer field exercises in the training program. Classes begin in early 2023.
“The Tri County Tech curriculum will train potential field technicians in technical skills needed to support the construction project,” says Dr. James Trumbly, director of Wahzhazhe Connect. “We are grateful to Andrea Kemble, director of the Osage Nation Financial Assistance Department, for supporting the training by offering financial support for Wahzhazhe trainees to be paid during the training program. Classes will begin in early 2023 and lunch will be provided for Native American trainees.”
The training curriculum covers fiber optic field work, from basic safety skills to laying fiber optic cable in the ground to aerial construction and towers. The “Essential Fiber Optics, Splicing, Termination, and Testing” course covers the basics of fiber optics and equipment used to service fiber optic systems. The “Aerial Telephone Line Placement and Safety” course instructs technicians on how to safely attach and remove Telecom cable to poles, including instruction in electrical safety rules, regulations, standards, best practices, and pole top rescue. Additional courses will be offered later in the curriculum to include trainings in more advanced areas of field engineering.
Native applicants interested in joining the team, please contact Tim Lookout in the Osage Nation Financial Assistance Department at @email
Additional job opportunities with Wahzhazhe Connect, visit www.osagenation-nsn.gov/job-opportunities.
For media and general inquiries, please call (918) 287-5532, email Russ Tallchief at @email, visit https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/services/wahzhazhe-connect, Follow us on Facebook @WahzhazheConnect