OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Principal Chief David Hill addressed the Nation on Saturday, Jan. 28, before the National Council Quarterly session began. Chief Hill highlighted the accomplishments and areas needing improvement for the previous year.
“Our people have been here for thousands of years and navigated every challenge, always looking ahead with a prosperous future in mind,” said Chief Hill. “Today, it is my honor to stand before you to report that while we continue to face many challenges, the state of our Nation is stronger than ever, and our future is bright.”
The covid pandemic presented a new threat to the Nation, forcing change and innovation across the reservation. The change was a challenge, but the Nation learned that there were more efficient ways to get things done.
During this administration, the Muscogee Nation has achieved many goals for its citizens and their neighbors living within the reservation.
“The AG’s office has worked tirelessly to put this Nation in a position to not only take on the increased caseloads but also to identify areas where we can provide more resources and communication agencies like our Muscogee (Creek) Nation Center for Victim Services so that we have a greater level of advocacy for the citizens and the public,” Chief Hill said.
Another accomplishment includes building the Lighthorse Department by adding 40 new officers to the force, a certified SWAT team, a certified dive team, mobile command unit, and additional programs and agreements with partners and agencies. The K-9 unit recently saved over $1,000,000 of stolen property and took drugs and firearms off the streets.
“To the naysayers who wish to work against us instead of alongside us, we will continue to prove our effectiveness, and we will keep our hands extended in the spirit of collaboration and partnership,” said Chief Hill.
Keeping our language and culture alive is a priority. The Mvskoke Revitalization Committee was created to ensure it is preserved. A partnership with the College of Muscogee Nation, headed by CMN President Dr. Monty Randall, formed the committee consisting of Mvskoke language speakers and teachers. The end goal is to have an immersion school.
The Cultural Preservation Department has also ensured that sacred Mvskoke sites are kept sacred, and that the Nation is included in any and all discussions concerning them.
Chief Hill said, “We have been proactive through the media in telling our story, and we hold those accountable who are not compliant in law and who do not reach out to us and show the proper respect this Nation demands when it comes to all that we hold sacred.”
Another area that saw opportunities was healthcare. With the addition of Council Oak Comprehensive Healthcare Center, the Nation’s fourth community hospital, vaccinations and antibody treatments are available to the public. Council Oak also has an agreement with the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, offering surgical training and other services.
To combat the mental health crisis, a new Behavioral Health facility opened. The Nation hopes to conduct more research and treatment options for behavioral health.
Dr. Lance Fry was appointed the Surgeon General by the Muscogee Nation, the first Tribal Nation to do so. This allows the Nation to attract community health, analyze research and studies, formulate plans and recommendations for wellness innovations, and combat sickness and disease.
Citizen services that the Nation has been working on include offering Tribal tags to all citizens within Oklahoma, even those outside of the reservation. A total of five tag agencies are now open across Mvskoke lands to bring those services to citizens. The Wildlife program also offers citizens more hunting and fishing opportunities, including licensing through the Tribe. Housing services are another area that is being evaluated also.
“We all know there is a need for veterans, our homeless relatives, and our elders,” said Chief Hill. “We have projects underway in housing to meet all these needs plus the affordable residence for low-income families and exploring options for temporary housing.”
A new Tribal Liaison was hired and developed the Citizens Beyond the Reservation program. Over 300 citizens live in Fresno, California, and were able to build a connection with the Muscogee Nation and feel more connected to their roots. Social media has also played a role in making those connections and educating citizens on programs and culture.
Continuing the former administration’s efforts in reconnecting and establishing a presence in the original southeastern homelands in Georgia and Alabama for education, preservation, opportunity, and progress. To formally mark Muscogee Nation’s return, a festival was held in Oxford, Alabama, the original Arbeka Ceremonial Grounds site.
“It is important to us that our story is told correctly and by Mvskoke,” said Chief Hill. “We made history with our friends at Macon, Georgia, and now and forever, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation flag flies above the City Hall in Macon Bench County.”
Chief recognized a few citizens that made history in 2022. Rear Admiral Calvin Foster is the first Mvskoke citizen to reach the rank of Admiral in the U.S. Navy. Joy Harjo was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall and Fame as the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate. Lauren J. King is the first Indigenous person appointed Federal Court Judge in Washington state history. Chief also recognized Sterlin Harjo.
“Mvskoke citizen Sterlin Harjo, I want to thank him for his awareness and representation of our people and our communities and for providing a global audience,” said Chief Hill. “We have strengthened our working relationship with the hit television series, Reservation Dogs, and are now preparing the third season with the award-winning show.”
There are 500 enrolled Mvskoke citizens making up 43 percent of gaming’s workforce. During 2022, gaming was given the Reader’s Choice Award and was frequently recognized by the media, public, and trade publications for its excellent facilities, superior customer service, and employees. Funding from gaming operations exceeded budget levels and was nearly equal to the prior year’s.
A detailed report for each department and available programs is in the quarterly report on the Muscogee Nation website.
Nicole Spencer, a River Spirit Casino security officer, saved the life of a two-year-old child underwater for two minutes by giving CPR and other life-saving procedures.
The historic Memorandum of Understanding with the cities of Tvlse and Jenks, building a low-water dam will provide an avenue for development and prosperity well into the future. The low-water dam project has been in the works for over a decade.
Muscogee Nation was the first Tribe in history to receive a disaster declaration from FEMA, allowing communities within the Nation’s boundaries to file for disaster assistance through the Nation instead of the State. MCN is also the first Tribe to meet in person with FEMA Administration in Washington, D.C.
Bobby Howard, Director of Emergency Management, is the only Tribal representative on the Homeland Security Guidance Council and serves on the FEMA Public Assistance Steering Committee. Howard was out in the winter storms delivering water to communities throughout the reservation.
Second Chief Del Beaver was selected to serve on the Department of the Interior’s first-ever Secretary Tribal Advisory Committee. This position allows the Nation to have a voice in decisions that affect Mvskoke citizens.
For 2023, there are many things on the agenda.
“We have an ambitious agenda to continue strengthening our Nation, defend our sovereignty, expand services to citizens, and grow our economy,” said Chief Hill. “Today, we find ourselves in a position of great opportunity to re-establish the Mvskoke presence throughout the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation.”
“These opportunities consist of creating new Tribal economies, tax collection, manufacturing, and bringing partnerships to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.”
Areas of concern, ranging from jurisdiction to language preservation, were outlined by the Muscogee Nation Reservation Protection Commissioner.
“I’m calling on my fellow elected leader to work with me to fund a smaller commission that is focused on bringing these matters to the action of the administration and National Council so that we can institute necessary loans and policies that will ensure the Nation is on solid footing when issues are challenged by state elected leaders or other outside threats to the Nation’s sovereignty,” said Chief Hill.
Expanding citizen services is an area focused on, including how they are delivered. There are multiple Human Resource training working on improving customer service skills, such as answering phones in a professional and courteous way.
The Nation is also focusing on the southern region of the reservation and how to bring jobs and resources to the areas and stimulate the economy. There are plans for an IHS clinic in Holdenville and a historic agreement with the Seminole Nation to share capacity in the court system allowing for a presence in that area.
Two historic partnerships in Okemah and Dustin will provide new, much-needed infrastructures. A new water treatment facility in Okemah and a water tower in Dustin will serve the communities and surrounding counties funded by a historical $1,000,000 grant.
Chief Hill said, “We know the future holds challenges we all may face that can hinder our momentum, but our resolve will stand firm, and our commitment to our duties and public servants of this Nation may never waver.”
“If we stand together, we will continue to grow and thrive as a Nation,” Chief Hill continued. “So, I invite the National Council and each Mvskoke citizen to stand with me.”
“We won’t always agree on everything, but we all share the duties to find common ground to work for our great Nation,” Chief Hill said. “This is how we will succeed and keep the prosperity and progress moving forward for all people, our communities, and our future.”
The full State of the Nation Address video can be found on the Muscogee Creek National Council YouTube.