MVSKOKE RESERVATION, Okla. – On July 29 during the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council Quarterly Session, the council passed three pieces of legislation aimed at restructuring several offices of the executive branch to create a department of culture and humanities. Representative Galen Cloud sponsored all three bills with co-sponsors Representative Leonard Gouge and Representative Joseph Hicks.
Addressing the need for restructuring, Second Chief Del Beaver made the following remarks during the council session:
“When you look at the organizational structure of the nation it doesn’t make sense to have a cultural department over here, a cultural archive over there, a language department here, so that’s what this does…it makes it make sense. That we have a cultural department, a true cultural department and a secretary of culture that is responsible for maintaining the integrity of this department…So, what this Legislation 1 [NCA 23-045] does, is it makes it make sense… it creates that one department, our culture, our language, all those things that are underneath that also extends to everything we do though, that’s what it does, it extends to everything we do…this legislation was not created overnight, we’ve been talking about this for years now. And it’s been carefully throughout. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but we got to start somewhere.”
During the session, Chief Beaver also said that they will seat someone for the position this fiscal year if they can find a candidate. The fiscal year ends in seven weeks.
NCA 23-045, entitled “The Organization for the Executive Office of the Principal Chief ” gave approval to reorganize several offices under different departments in the executive branch. A law amended MCNCA Title 16, Chapter 1 §1-102. It passed 13-1, with Representative Joyce Deere voting no.
The legislation moves the Mvskoke Revitalization Language program and the Euchee Language program from the office of the secretary of education and training within the department of education, employment and training. Likewise, the MCN Departments of Cultural Preservation, Library, and Museum Management moves from the department of interior affairs.
They will now be under the newly created MCN Department of Culture and Humanities. Departments within this newly formed department will be historic and cultural preservation, Mvskoke Revitalization Language program, arts, archives and museum, Mvskoke Language liaison program, Euchee Language, and an immersion school.
According to language reflected within the legislation, “the purpose of this act is to organize various cultural and humanities programs throughout the Department of Culture and Humanities. This organization will allow for more direct oversight and administration of the various cultural resource programs.”
NCA 23-046 entitled “Culture and Humanities Department”, codifies and defines the position of MCN Secretary of the Culture and Humanities Department and secures funding for the new department in the amount of $273,148 for FY 2023 startup costs. It passed 12-2 with Representatives Deere and Sandra Golden voting no.
As outlined in the new law, the MCN Secretary of Culture and Humanities will have a “lifetime appointment for the purpose of removing them from political pressures and to ensure that the decisions the Secretary makes are guided by the utmost importance…”
The law also outlines the selection process and creates a committee composed of nine members for this purpose. It will be made up of one member each from the offices of cultural preservation, cultural center and archives, and language. Two members each from the national council, the executive office and the ceremonial grounds will complete the nine-member committee.
The selection committee will be responsible for the job description for the new secretary and the interview process. The candidate for the position will be decided on by majority vote, which will then be sent to the principal chief for appointment with consideration of the national council. If the secretary should be removed from office, it will follow MCNCA Title 31, Chapter 1 Removal of Officers: impeachment.
The lifetime appointment will also be under yearly reviews from a cultural review committee of five members. This committee will be established by the selection of two non-employee members from the offices of principal chief and the national council; a fifth member will be decided on by majority vote after the four are seated. Members will serve a three-year term and receive a $350 stipend per meeting. Meetings will take place at least once a month and no more than twice. Additionally, according to the legislation, “The Secretary of Culture and Humanities with designated representatives from each department shall serve as ex-officio members from the Committee.”
NCA 23-047 a law of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation appropriating funds to create the Mvskoke Language Liaison Program passed with a vote of 12-2 with Rep. Deere and Rep. Golden voting no. The act will appropriate funds in the sum of $325,627 to create the liaison program under the MCN Department of Culture and Humanities. This sum is for the remainder of the FY 2023 start-up cost.
As covered previously in our committee coverage, this legislation creates a “multigenerational staff responsible for serving as liaisons between Mvskoke speakers and academic, cultural, and tribal institutions in an effort to perpetuate the Mvskoke language.” Duties of the program staff include collecting and managing language data, serving as advocates for speakers, creating a “Mvskoke Language Speaker Roll”, and coordinating language speaker gatherings.
In a statement to Mvskoke Media, Principal Chief David Hill stated:
“This was something that Second Chief and I had discussed wanting to create upon assuming office and were working on developing in 2020, when unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and put a lot of our plans and process at MCN on hold. We basically lost two years. So, now as we transition back into a normal atmosphere here, it was important to us to pick up right where we left off with this department. We’re excited about the focus this brings to our most important asset and that’s our culture.”