Osage Nation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may ask three oil and gas companies to shut down disposal wells as investigators look for the source of a saltwater leak that has plagued the area for nine months.

Local ranchers and inspectors toured the Bird Creek contamination site on the Chapman Ranch last week, the Tulsa World‘s Kelly Bostian reports:

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Generations ago, the American Indian Osage tribe was compelled to move. Not for the first time, white settlers pushed them off their land in the 1800s. They made their new home in a rocky, infertile area in northeast Oklahoma in hopes that settlers would finally leave them alone.

As it turned out, the land they had chosen was rich in oil, and in the early 20th century, members of the tribe became spectacularly wealthy. They bought cars and built mansions; they made so much oil money that the government began appointing white guardians to "help" them spend it.

The Osage Nation has voted to change the definition of marriage in an election that drew an overwhelming number of absentee ballots.

The tribe will now define marriage as a union between "two persons" rather than "a man and a woman."

More than 1,100 people sent in absentee ballots but only 347 people showed up for onsite balloting during a two-day early voting period and on Monday, the actual election day.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Federal regulators have shut down 17 wastewater disposal wells in the Osage Nation of northeastern Oklahoma following a weekend earthquake that matched the state's strongest on record.

Because the wells are located on tribal land, Oklahoma regulators have no jurisdiction over oil- and gas-producing facilities in the region. Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Matt Skinner told The Associated Press that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified the state Tuesday that 17 wells were ordered closed.