MUSKOGEE, Okla. – A vote of no confidence, an absent Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council representative, and a DUI charge were all on the table of discussion at a meeting for members of the Muscogee Indian Community on Monday, April 10. While it was not an official community board meeting, a dozen or so citizens gathered to discuss their concerns with tribal government leaders.
One of the main points revolved around Muskogee District Seat B National Council Representative Joyce Deere, whom the citizens at the meeting claimed has not been present at a MIC meeting in years. While it is not a legal requirement for MCN National Council representatives to appear at the community meetings from the district they represent, some believe that it is a common courtesy.
Rep. Deere’s absence over the past few years resulted in a vote of no confidence from the community in February of 2022. An excerpt from that meeting’s minutes reads as follows:
“Pam Shoemaker made a motion to call for a vote of no confidence in the Muscogee district representative for Joyce Deere based on their representation of the Muscogee Indian community followed up by a formal resolution. Followed by discussion among the community members. Michelle Thompson second Pam Shoemaker motion to call for vote for no confidence based on representation for Joyce Deere. 16 yes/1 abstain.”
A topic of concern that came up involved the process of removing a council member for wrongdoing or misbehavior. One community member present asked “What do you have to do to get removed by Council?”, to which Lisa Deere (Mvskoke) replied “We have one on there now with two DUI’s”. Lisa Deere was referring to Representative Joe Hicks, who was arrested in February for a second DUI offense. Deere said she emailed Speaker Lowe with concerns when the news broke on Rep. Hicks’ first DUI charge in 2022.
MCN National Council Speaker Will Lowe was believed to have been invited to the meeting, however due to a miscommunication it was later discovered that he was not.
The community members had intended to bring up their claims regarding the council’s lack of communication, and accusations of limited accountability among its representatives.
“It’s imperative the Council put some sort of principle of conduct in place,” Lisa Deere said. “Our ancestors never had to have anything in writing to tell them how to behave.”
Shoemaker went on to express her concern that Rep. Deere had attended out-of-town events like the recent Citizens Beyond the Reservation conference in Phoenix. However Shoemaker noted that in spite of that trip, Rep. Deere had not made a trip to the Muscogee Indian Community to speak with her constituents in some time.
“It’s embarrassing to me that my National Council draws a paycheck and travels all over the United States, and does not think enough of this community to show up,” Shoemaker said.
One council member that was present at the April 10 meeting was Muskogee District Seat A Representative Mary Crawford, who members said made an effort to frequently attend MIC meetings. If she was unable to attend, the community claimed that she would answer their questions, or would listen to their concerns.
Lisa Deere filed a complaint on Rep. Deere and Rep. Hicks on April 4. The complaint outlines three main points. First, that there does not appear to be any principle of conduct for the council. Second, that Rep. Hicks has not been censored based on his two DUI offenses. Third, that Rep. Deere had refused to speak with constituents from her district. An excerpt from the complaint reads as follows:
“It is disappointing I must request the MCN National Council to adopt some sort of principles of conduct for themselves. In the past, I’ve worked at the Nation indirectly with the National Council and for the National Council. However, I never thought, as estē-cátē people, principles of conduct would have to be addressed or written for our elected leaders of the National Council.”
Mvskoke Media reached out to Speaker Lowe, Second Speaker Robert Hufft, and Representative Deere for comment on the meeting. However, none of the aforementioned council representatives responded to our request for comment at the time this article was published.
The members from the MIC present at the April 10 meeting said that they will continue contacting council representatives regarding their concerns and complaints.