Liz Gray/Managing Editor
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Muscogee (Creek) voters made history during the Muscogee (Creek) Nation 2021 Primary Election.
Unofficial results came in the evening of Sept. 18 for the MCN National Council Seat B and ballot question for an amendment in the constitution guaranteeing freedom of press.
Muscogee (Creek) citizens voted in favor of amending the MCN Constitution to include press protections and guarantee funding for Mvskoke Media. The ballot required two-thirds approval and was passed with 76.25% voting yes.
“I sincerely hope the work done in our community catches on in every one of the Indigenous nations in this country and that we grab hold of roots by writing our own stories,” Mvskoke Media Director Angel Ellis stated on the passage of the amendment.
Free press was first introduced at MCN by the National Council in 2015, becoming only one of few tribal nations with press protections on the books.
However, on Nov. 8, 2018 National Council introduced legislation during an emergency session and voted 7-6 to repeal the free press law. The repeal placed Mvskoke Media under the direction of the Secretary of the Nation, a cabinet member of the executive branch.
Press freedoms were restored in July 2020 with a 15-0 vote by the National Council, further action by the Council was taken when Wagoner District Representative Mark Randolph sponsored legislation turning over free press to a vote of the people, the legislation passed with a vote of 13-2.
The amendment prevents action to be taken by any branch of the tribal government to repeal freedom of press, the decision would once again be placed into the hands of the citizenry.
“The people have spoken, and so overwhelmingly,” Principal Chief David Hill stated. “A truly free and independent press is the only way we can function as a transparent government. We must have the press operating without any editorial influence or control of what’s published.”
“I’m thankful that Muscogee citizens agree that the free speech of our official publication must be constitutionally protected.”
Three incumbents in the MCN National Council Seat B won their districts.
Thomasene Yahola-Osborn won the Tukvpvtce District with the majority vote of 71.04% over Edwin Marshall.
Representative Mark Randolph cemented his spot with 66.10% of the vote for the Wagoner District.
Muskogee District Representative Joyce Deere won over challenger Sandra Parish obtaining 1,296 votes over Parish’s 1,139.
Adam Jones III was not given a fifth term by voters, losing to Galen Cloud in the McIntosh District. Cloud received 1,377 votes; Jones received 1,089.
There will be three runoffs in the General Election scheduled for November.
Okmulgee District will see Incumbent James Jennings facing off with Nelson Harjo Sr. Jennings received 32.90% of the vote, while 33.19% went to Harjo.
In Okfuskee District, incumbent Travis Scott was able to make it through the primary with 30.12% and challenger Sandra Golden received 24.75%. Scott and Golden will take part in the runoff.
The seven-candidate Tulsa District seat was whittled down to incumbent Lucian Tiger III (819 votes, 32.98%) and challenger Leonard Gouge (644 votes, 25.9 percent).
All results will remain unofficial until Friday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m.
Early voting for General Election will be Nov. 3-4. General Election Day is set for Nov. 6.
Unofficial primary election results in its entirety can be found at: https://www.muscogeenation.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2021-PRIMARY-UNOFFICIAL-RESULTS.pdf.