MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Mvskoke Media reported to the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Sale for the auction of Bacone College to find it had been recalled from the sale within an hour before it was set to start at 10 a.m. on April 27.
MHEC LLC (Midgley-Huber Energy Concepts) recalled their prior request for auctioning the college sometime between 8:41 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. Thursday morning.
The sale is the result of an over one million dollar debt owed by the college to MHEC LLC for materials and installation of energy conservation services.
MHEC LLC filed a lawsuit against Bacone for a breach of contract. A district judge ruled in their favor on Nov. 13, 2022.
According to the contract, Bacone agreed to pay the costs of materials and labor in August 2020.
Bacone argues that the contract also states that MHEC was not to start any projects until paid in full and that the college did not have any money at the time.
It was Muskogee County District Court Judge Timothy King’s summary judgment ordering the campus be sold to pay off the debt. The school is currently valued at $10 million, the Sheriff’s sale requires bidding to start at two-thirds of the appraisal value.
Bacone appealed the judges’ decision.
In the judges’ ruling, the college was given until April 27 to put forth a supersedeas bond, a type of surety bond in court that is purchased by the appellant who wants to delay payment in a civil lawsuit.
Bacone President Dr. Nicky Michael confirmed the college is under a large amount of debt due to previous administrations.
“We are working with the opposing attorneys,” she said. “We are working toward making sure this gets behind us in a positive way.”
Previously, Michael was a chair on American Indian Studies. She was asked to step into this position but claimed she did not seek it.
“It’s a very large task,” she said. “Its been one day after another of unearthing and unlayering the depth of some of the past wrongdoings and misadministration.”
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council published a press release on April 26 announcing that they will not pursue efforts in purchasing Bacone College based on the institution’s current outstanding debts with creditors. The MCN National Council’s statement reads as follows.
“As the legislative body representing the Muscogee people, the Muscogee (Creek) National Council has multiple responsibilities in addressing the needs of tribal citizens, as set forth in the 1979 Muscogee Constitution, specifically, in Article VI-Legislative Branch.
During each legislative session, the National Council receives legislation proposing land purchases, as submitted by the Principal Chief. Land purchases must meet the health, housing and other needs of Muscogee citizens, or long-range plan objectives for administrative, health, judicial and other tribal government facility needs. Land purchases are subject to MCN Title 28-Lands and Minerals, Chapter 10-Acquisition of Property, and NCA 20-047.
Purchase opportunities can be initiated by a National Council Representative, or the Principal Chief. Properties for sale on the open market, or properties offered directly to the Nation for potential purchase, undergo a thorough property acquisition process, conducted by the tribal administration. This process produces answers to questions about: the property’s title status; any potential environmental issues; indebtedness and possible liens; and, general suitability for purchase by the Nation.
If the review is unfavorable for a given property, purchase-authorizing legislation is not submitted to the National Council; for purchases that appear to be feasible, legislation is submitted for consideration by Council committees and the full body.
The American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) and numerous tribes have a vested interest in Bacone College; while the historic institution is situated within the Muscogee reservation, MCN has no ownership or other legal interest in the College. Recent media reports have documented the financial, environmental and accreditation probation issues the institution has endured, and most recently, the pending sale of Bacone College for unpaid debts.
The National Council explored all viable possibilities, including continuing Bacone College as an institution, subject to its outstanding indebtedness, or an outright attempt to purchase the lands that comprise Bacone College and bring it back into the historic reservation lands of the MCN. Unfortunately, the pending state court-ordered sheriff’s auction of Bacone College involves only the claim of one of many creditors of the College. The MCN simply cannot buy all legal interests in the lands of College by paying that one creditor. A question of law involves whether any amount of money paid at the court ordered sheriff’s sale could extinguish the legal interests of the known and likely unknown creditors of Bacone College, which would permit the MCN to own it outright.”
The total amount of debt of the institution is not known at the present time. The institution may be subject to closure, bankruptcy or other long-term changes.
This is currently a developing story. Mvskoke Media will continue to provide updates on the college’s status moving forward.