“The Governor is used to sitting at the head of the table, now with the (U.S.) Supreme Court’s ruling, that table is round.” — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill
Gary Fife/Radio Communications
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — It’s been from the word ‘go’ that differences between Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and tribal governments have arisen says Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill. In an interview recently on Mvskoke Radio, Hill said that right after assuming office, Stitt started it all with his effort to change the rules of tribal gaming compact, claiming the old limits had expired. Subsequent initiatives from the Governor have been aimed at reducing the sovereign powers of tribal government.
Stitt recently even used the inaccurate description of the relationship between the tribal governments and the state government as one “based on race.” Wrong, wrong, wrong.
So now, the leaders of three of the “Five Civilized Tribes” have announced their opposition to the re-election of Stitt as Governor. If these tribal memberships organize and vote as a bloc, that represents somewhere around 400,000 votes, a lotta bang fer the buck. (Speaking of bucks, around $52 billion is what tribes contribute to state and local economies.)
An interesting quote about Stitt that Hill made: “The Governor is used to sitting at the head of the table, now with the (U.S.) Supreme Court’s ruling, that table is round.”
The Interior Department is making the effort to rid the country of names considered ‘derogatory’ to Native Americans. The feds have been assembling an advisory committee to identify geographic names and federal land unit names that are considered derogatory and come up with suitable replacements.
Any federal site with the ‘Sq…w’ word is a likely candidate and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland wants it changed, saying, “those terms perpetuate a legacy of oppression.”
Already several private locations and recreational resorts have made the change on their own. More power to them.
More progress on the educational front. Grunge Magazine, out of New York, has recently published a capsule look at the history, types and usage of war bonnets.
To their credit, the article includes descriptions of who may wear them, why they are worn and federal restrictions on who may possess eagle feathers. It also writes about who should not wear or ‘appropriate’ a war bonnet. It also mentions that several major music festivals have banned the practice of non-Natives wearing the bonnets as fashion accessories.
Just to be fair…here’s a bit from the other side of the question. The Denver Post ran a story about a North Dakota group that is suing the State of Colorado over a law banning American Indian school mascots. The Native American Guardian’s Association contends such names, mascots and logos are meant to honor Native Americans. Do you feel honored by a school mascot with the name “Chief Ugh Lee”, huh?
The statue of President Theodore Roosevelt has been removed from the plaza outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It depicted Roosevelt riding a horse with a Native American man and an African-American man walking alongside in a subjugated fashion. The decades of criticism finally resulted in the sculptures’ being removed at the request of the museum. It’s now headed for North Dakota.
Another casualty of the COVID pandemic: the Annual Challenge Bowl is being postponed. The tribal education program staff decided to hold off because of the resurgence of the virus and its new ‘Omicron’ variant. No future date has been announced.
New National Council Members have been inaugurated and a new Speaker and Second Speaker chosen.
Speaker of the legislative branch for the Nation is Okmulgee District Representative Will Lowe with Tulsa District Representative Robert Hufft elected as Second Speaker. Thomasene Yahola Osbourne was elected Sergeant At-Arms. Sandra Golden now represents Okfuskee District Seat B; Nelson Harjo has been elected for Okmulgee Seat B; and Leonard Gouge was chosen as Representative for Tulsa Seat B.
With new representatives seated, let’s see how the dynamics of the Council change.
Mvskoke poet, author and musician Joy Harjo has yet another honor added to her resume: First Artist In Residence at the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa. The Center is a national archive for the various works of the internationally known musician and artist. Harjo herself has produced seven award winning albums.
And as if that weren’t enough…Indian Country Today reports, Harjo is teaching an Online “Masterclass in Poetic Thinking. It is described as a ‘how-to’ tackle many of the challenges encountered in creative writing. Compared to her writing of what might be called ‘’culinary masterpieces”, my stuff is pretty much ‘meat and potatoes’. Maybe I should be looking into the course?
Native American activist, Clyde Bellecourt has passed away. The White Earth Ojibwe man was one of the founders of the American Indian Movement and participated in several of its most public activities. He was 85.
Enough for now, time to find a warm spot and curl up. Hvtvm cerecares—I’ll see you later.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.