OKMULGEE, Oklahoma— The Muscogee (Creek) passed legislation in quarterly session on July 23 that set Mvskoke Media under an organizational structure allowing the department safe guards that protect journalistic integrity for the first time since the repeal of the tribes “Free Press” law in Nov. 2018.
Immediately following the quarterly session MCN Principal Chief David Hill, and MCN National Council Speaker Randall Hicks met and signed NCA 20-037 into law.
The “Independent Muscogee (Creek) Press” law, sponsored and motioned by Mark Randolph and seconded by Lucian Tiger III passed unanimously after being amended on the floor.
The proposed law satisfied major ethical principals of news reporting that have been brought to vote many times since the repeal on Nov. 8, 2018. It established an editorial board to oversee the department’s news reporting policy and standards as well as financial oversight.
Since free press was repealed in 2018, Mvskoke Media has been organized under the executive branch authority. With the new “Independent Press Law,” Mvskoke Media is now organized as an Independent Statutory agency that shall be funded by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
The new law is very similar to the previous Free Press bill passed in 2015 with one exception.
While the “Independent Muscogee (Creek) Press” was on the floor, Darrell Proctor made a motion to amend the law.
The amendment would remove language allowing the Mvskoke Media staff to pick one of their board members, a protection included in past free press legislation. Instead of a third board member selected by Mvskoke Media staff, the amended law would allow one board member selected by MCN Principal Chief, one board member selected by MCN National Council, and a third member to be selected by the two seated members.
James Jennings seconded the amended language. A roll call vote was made for the amendment. Voting to approve the amendment were Darrell Proctor, Lucian Tiger III, Mary Crawford, Joyce Deere, Joe Hicks, Robert Huft, James Jennings, Anna Marshall and Adam Jones III. Mark Randolph, Travis Scott, Patrick Freeman, Will Lowe, Charles McHenry and Thomasene Yahola Osburn voted against amending the language of the bill. The motion to amend the legislation passed 10-5.
Once amended the council green lighted the bill with no further objections.
Typically legislation can take as long as 10 days to be signed into law but leaders from both branches came together to sign off on the bill. Both branch leaders communicated a need to act.
Chief Hill said that he was, “honored to have voted “yes” on the historic legislation in 2015, and “no” on it’s repeal in 2018.”
“I was happy to sign immediately,” Chief Hill Said. “It was something I believe we needed to get done.”
“Now we can get the Mvskoke Media back on board and move on from here.”
Speaker Hicks felt the time had come to get the matter settled.
“It’s been a long time coming and it needed to be done,” NC Speaker Hicks said. “It’s another milestone for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Mvskoke Media, and Muscogee (Creek) Citizens.”
Mvskoke Media reached out to members of the council who previously supported the repeal of press freedoms for comment on the new law.
Joyce Deere said the difference between now and 2018 for her was about the process.
She said that she was glad to get the law done. When asked what she felt was different between now and 2018’s repeal she said, “It’s been worked on and going through a process.”
“I just feel like that’s a good thing and everyone’s had an input, it’s come together and we have a good document.”
Adam Jones III, who was the sponsor of the 2018 repeal, said he felt the difference between 2018 and 2020 was about the business side of the department.
“The business wasn’t running real smooth then and it’s since been revamped, that was the main difference for me,” Jones said. “It was never about the press for me.”
James Jennings declined to comment. Mvskoke Media left a message with Darrell Proctor and Lucian Tiger III but did not receive a response by time of press.