OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – It was a little after the business day had ended on the last day of January that the Muscogee Nation Facebook page released a video of Principal Chief David Hill delivering the 2022 State of the Nation.
“It is my great honor to stand before you today as Principal Chief,” Principal Chief David Hill said. “I am happy to report to you that the State of our Nation is strong and getting stronger.”
Hill reported there are currently 94,000 enrolled citizens and that number will be growing as the Citizenship Office is still working hard to process enrollment applications.
“There has never been a better time to be Muscogee (Creek),” he said.
According to Hill, the permanent fund investment total is $533,507,000 as of Dec. 31 reflecting an increase of $55,645,000 from the previous year.
Detailed analysis of each department and available programs is reported in the quarterly report which can be viewed at: www.muscogeenation.com/documents.
Chief Hill encouraged all citizens to visit and review the progress of the Nation and to take notes on any questions or suggestions.
“In our daily operations here at tribal headquarters, we strive to make decisions and operate through our core values of tradition, integrity, dignity, and excellence,” Hill said.
Through these values, he claimed it is the “paramount vision” to make the best possible decisions on behalf of the people, communities, and future.
The Nation is still faced with the realization of the COVID-19 virus even after two years.
“We are still at war with perhaps the greatest challenge this Nation has faced in our most recent history,” Hill reported. “This virus is still here and still requiring every level of diligence on our part to ensure we are keeping our citizens, our employees, and our neighbors safe.”
Due to the rising number of cases after the holidays, the administration has remained in close contact with the Department of Health for the best mitigation practices.
Many departments have started implementing a staggered schedule and in-person services are being held by appointment only.
Hill addressed the COVID spike has caused an increase in the demand of testing and infusion treatments.
“We have been pleased at the response and performance of our new Council Oak Comprehensive Healthcare Facility,” he said.
Chief claimed the health system has given over 3,000 infusion treatments at the former cancer center since its opening just a few months ago.
BlueCross Blue Shield of Oklahoma donated $25,000 to the infusion clinic along with another $500,000 donation from the Tulsa County Commissioners.
“An affirmation that our partners are recognizing the contribution and impact we are having,” Hill said. “People want to do business with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.”
A post-COVID clinic has been opened at the Council Oak facility which demonstrates another response to the pandemic. HIV and Hepatitis clinic are now open along with other specialty services including increased telehealth services across the health system.
“I am so pleased to report to you that not only is our Department of Health responding to a global pandemic that continues to deplete staff and resources, but it is doing so effectively while continuing to grow and expand its operations,” he said.
The Department of Health is still pushing COVID-19 vaccine efforts to not only Muscogee citizens but to the public as well.
The Nation provided payments funded by the American Rescue Plan Act to fully vaccinated citizens last quarter.
When it comes to education, Hill claimed the Nation is making great strides.
“The head start program was in one hundred percent compliance this year,” Hill said. “And purchased 289 chrome books for the children.”
That number represents the number of families enrolled in the program compared to the 160 the previous year.
According to Hill, MCN is launching a Native Studies Pilot Program at three Mvskoke reservation high schools.
He said the program will offer different units including Muscogee history and life, American Indian Removal, a Muscogee food unit and warrior unit that will teach all the many ways Native Americans impacted the wars.
The state is also funding school improvement projects in two different districts through the School Improvement Initiative.
“Over 90,000 has been set aside for the Nation’s ongoing school improvement efforts,” he said.
The Department of Education has been awarded the ACE Student Direct Service Grant for four years receiving $850,000 annually to provide direct services to native students living within the reservation boundaries.
“Today, 201 students have received academic services through ACE,” Hill said.
Higher Education and Scholarships sent out over 5,020 awards for the academic year through grant funding.
Chief claimed the department received over 800 different grants while the Scholarship Foundation distributed donated awards providing over 75 scholarships.
Job-training opportunities increased for the Nation upon the implementation of the Fiber Optic Tech Program, a development of the partnership between MCN Reintegration and OSUIT.
Two classes graduated the 12-week program during 2021 with the third course finishing up at the beginning of this year.
The Mvskoke Language Department was awarded its first grant from the American Rescue Plan Emergency Native Language Fund in September. The three-year grant total is $82,609.
A few weeks later, the department was awarded its second grant from the ANA Native Language Preservation and Maintenance fund of $128,118 with a 20% match from the Nation.
“Perhaps no work that we have done is more important than the preservation advancement of our Muscogee and Yuchee language through our programs.”
The Cultural Education Resource Council has been revitalized for culturally responsive guidance and support with projects underway, according to Chief.
Hill claimed his administration has “expanded and evolved” the way the Nation approaches economic opportunities on the Reservation.
A key example, according to Chief, is the USDA approved Looped Square Meat Co. that opened late 2021 after a long, anticipated wait with plans on opening commercial processing services soon.
He reported in just the first few weeks of its opening, the retail space has served over 2,400 customers exceeding weekly projected sales.
Hill said this development falls in line with the Nation’s desire to increase agribusiness.
The recent purchase of the Stevens Ranch in Okmulgee County was finalized, making the 5600-acre plot the Nation’s largest land acquisition in recent tribal history.
The ranch currently holds 160 head of cattle.
He claimed the Nation is also closing on property in the Tiger Mountain Area, just east of Henryetta.
The property contains 1300 acres to be used for outdoor recreation and to expand the Nation’s hunting and fishing capabilities equaling to estimated 4500-5000 acres across the reservation used for outdoor recreation.
Hill claimed the filming of the FX Series, “Reservation Dogs” portrayed an authentic story of native life as it was filmed completely on the Muscogee Reservation with all-native cast and crew and was co-created by Muscogee (Creek) citizen Sterlin Harjo.
“This success has led our Nation into pursuing future avenues in the television and film industry,” Hill said.
MCN was the first tribal nation in history to host the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA Pageant at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa.
“This event drew incredible revenue to the Tulsa area for a week and was broadcast to millions around the world,” Hill said.
The Camphouse Portal was created to help streamline services regarding the ARPA programs and funds distribution.
He said this will continue to be used for services in the future.
“We are pleased with its initial success,” Hill said.
Two direct assistance payments have been distributed from the ARPA funds with over 50,000 approved applications and $133 million in payments.
To view the full video from Principal Chief David Hill’s State of the Nation address, visit the Muscogee Nation YouTube channel and Facebook page.