Jim Gray is Osage. Not only is he Osage, he is the former Principal Chief. Jim is one of the few (so far) elected leaders to appear on NextGen Native.Jim served two terms as Principal Chief from 2002-2010. During that time, he led significant reforms to the Osage government, eliminating almost one hundred years of U.S. government say in who was an Osage.
I’ve shied away from interviewing elected leaders on NextGen Native. The reason is there are so many people serving or working in Indian Country that are not elected leaders that I thought they needed a spotlight of their own. However, I think Jim’s story as a former leader, in particular one who accomplished what he did as a young leader, is worth sharing his story.
It’s amazing to see how small events cascade and facilitate into life changing moments. Jim did not seriously consider college until he realized he could play tennis at the collegiate level. Sport is what pushed Jim into college and set him on his course.
Jim’s first job was with his tribe as a grant writer. Eventually he found a job in the newspaper business where he found the work suited him. He continued working for the Tahlequah Daily Press for about ten years. An opportunity arose to buy his own newspaper, the Native American Times. At the time, there were only a few papers in Indian Country that were not owned and published by tribes.The Times was able to cover all tribal issues in Oklahoma and across Indian Country with a unique viewpoint.