Principal Chief Addressing the 2014 State of the Nation
Good morning, citizens of the great Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Second Chief Barnett, Speaker Yahola, Second Speaker Hufft, members of the National Council, Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of District Court, our relatives, friends and honored guests.
To say ‘The Mvskoke Way’ is very sacred. The ways of our elders, and even the ways that our children will follow, are what is considered our way. To continue in those ways and to assure that we will always stand in those ways is our will and desire. This State of the Nation represents the great strides we have made to assure our continuation of ‘The Mvskoke Way.’
Peoplehood & Nationhood
The purpose this morning is to report to you, our most precious resource, our tribal citizens of this great Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the progress and successes accomplished over this past calendar year. I prefer to use progress and success because that is what this administration set out to do and I believe with the support of the National Council, we are succeeding. This is a big change from the “status quo” way of doing business that seemed to hamper us in the past. As we have moved forward, we have continued to use the dominant themes of ‘peoplehood’ and ‘nationhood’ as guiding parameters in how we want to achieve success as a self-sufficient sovereign tribe, as well as balance those efforts with the needs of our citizens.
What I mean by these themes is that we refer to peoplehood as ‘us,’ the Muscogee people. It is important that we focus on revitalizing some of those things that have become dormant for us, such as our language, our history and protecting what is rightfully ours so that we never lose our collective identity. That’s why it was important to this administration and Nation to file suit to address our sacred rights of our forefathers of Hickory Ground in our original homelands of Alabama and to bring home a citizen in time of need for demonstrating opposition to building over a burial ground.
In addition, it was important that we work hard to retrieve our history and works of our artist so it would remain in the hands of its rightful owners, the Mvskoke people. That is the ‘Mvskoke Way.’
We have had a number of strategic planning sessions, which has never been done before, that has included a cross-representation of citizens and employees from all areas of Muscogee life and government. At the same time, it is equally important that we, as a tribal government (nationhood), try to do the very best that we can to improve services for our people.
As a result, we have created a blueprint for success that will extend into the future for many generations and become a standard way of doing business. We understand that it takes direct action to improve, extend, and practice our tribal sovereignty to its fullest. It also establishes the proper context in which to move forward with new initiatives and services, while still improving current services for our citizens.
- Groundbreaking was held for the River Spirit Casino Phase II expansion that includes a hotel and Margaritaville entertainment areas. This is a $365 million investment on the banks of the Arkansas River.
- In the last year, revenues increased from the Nation’s gaming facilities.
- Muscogee Nation Business Enterprise (MNBE) continues to pursue business interests in behalf of the Nation.
- Interest on the Nation’s permanent fund continues to increase. Interest on this fund was $6.3 million for the fiscal year. The Nation’s permanent fund is now valued at almost 270-million dollars.
- The Nation, while being a strong viable government, is a half-billion dollar corporation. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are corporate. Fiscally and financially, the Nation is stronger than ever.
The Muscogee Creek Nation continues to have Health as its top priority for its citizens. The Health Department continues to build its own funds through collections from third party claims. Because of these types of efforts, the Nation has invested in health in the following ways:
- A new Okemah hospital is currently in the process of being built
- The Nation purchased the George Nigh Rehabilitation Center from the University of Oklahoma
- The Nation assumed the debt on the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital and is now called the Muscogee Nation Health Center
- The Nation also has a Mobile Unit, offering health screenings to citizens in heavily populated areas
- Health is averaging $1.5 million a month in third-party collections which totals $18 million a year
Employment for Citizens
This administration continues to focus on the creation of jobs for our people. As we all know, economy has many faces, one of which is poverty.
- Created more jobs, which led to adding 600 more employees in the tribal government. That doesn’t include our businesses or gaming.
- More than 75 percent of our tribal employees are Mvskoke citizens.
Helping Our People
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has established 175 work experience sites in 25 cities
- In addition to the social and family services, such as TANF, the Second Chief’s office assists families and individuals with general assistance, gasoline and groceries.
- In FY ‘13 there were nearly 19,000 tribal citizens assisted through our Social Services office.
- Women, Infants & Children (WIC) will be moving into a new building in 2014.
- Business Development Center has advised 95 clients, assisted 24 individuals with loan packages, 12 of which are now ready with their loan applications.
- The Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI has procured $625,000 in grant funds, and $250,000 has been appropriated by the National Council.
- The National Council approved through legislation to create the One Fire Holding Company. This organizational structure allows the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to aggressively pursue economic development and to keep the business operations separate from tribal government. Businesses throughout the country want to partner with the MCN.
- The Nation is planning a Business/Jobs Summit, one of the largest and the first one of its kind in the history of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. It will give the opportunity to promote its greatest resources, the Mvskoke people.
- Our Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) program has certified 107 vendors, with almost half of them being Creek citizen-owned.
- TERO has generated more than $3.4 million in contracts and procurement in nine months with 18 being Creek citizen-owned companies
- Tribal citizens have been provided jobs through TERO certified companies
Federal Roads Program
- More than 400 miles completed in less than two years. Prior to this administration only 600 miles were completed in the prior seven years.
- Transit & Roads received “award of excellence” for a project in Okfuskee County, with a statewide award to be received on Feb. 11
- The number of projects built with Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) has doubled from 2012 to 2013, from 10 to 20, and the number of projects using “interest” funds has doubled from eight to 16.
- Our federal dollars (IRR) has increased by more than $1.4 million as a result of this. When you increase your federal dollars, it means an increase in interest earnings as well.
- In the last two years the Nation has spent $11.7 million on roads and bridge projects.
Developing Our Communities
- Our communities continue to be an equally important part of this administration. In 2013, the National Council appropriated more than $4.5 million to churches, ceremonial grounds and chartered communities
- Community Research and Development will be hosting ‘Listening Sessions’ along with providing technical assistance in accounting, bookkeeping training and proposal writing. Currently there are 98 people employed with communities.
- A 193-page National Resource Directory is now available for citizens online.
- The Department of Housing provided homes to 47 families through the acquisition and new construction program. In these two years, that equals 82 new homes.
- That more than doubles the amount in the three years combined prior (48 homes 2009-2011.) This administration is aggressively seeking ways to improve our housing in particular innovative ideas that will allow for streamlining all facets of the program.
- Housing also built the first Structural Insulated Panel or SIP certified house in Okmulgee.
- Strategic Planning in Housing has resulted in more workshops and in-service training for homeowners.
- The Creek Nation Foundation scholarship program has raised more than $75,000 through private donations and fundraising events.
- The National Council appropriated funding for a Literacy Program that is expected to extend into all schools that have MCN JOM programs.
- New Funding is available for doctorate level students program
- Increase in individual funds for college students
- Paperless system for distribution of scholarships
- 701 awards were processed for 2013 in higher education
- The JOM program currently serves 16,131 students. In the upcoming Challenge Bowl, there will be close to 700 students participating. Through the advancement of the event, we now have a mastered and condensed study curriculum, now online.
- A major revitalization of the Language Program is currently underway and getting information through surveys for fluency indicators and offering classes to communities.
- The Nation’s Reintegration Program received a $3.5 million grant for transitional living facilities
- The College of the Muscogee Nation served more than 500 students, taught more than 135 courses and broke ground on a new 20,000-square-foot Student Auxiliary Services Center.
- The CMN is expected to receive full accreditation considerations in March 2014.
Parcels of land put into “trust” status has been more expedient due the joint efforts of our lobbyist, Watts Partners in Washington, D.C., and our office meetings held with the BIA Central Office.
Tourism & Recreation
- The 2013 Mvskoke Festival had a record-breaking attendance of more than 40,000 attendees
- The MVSKOKE Hall of Fame Gala was once again a success with proceeds going to the annual Mvskoke Festival and Creek Nation Foundation for higher education.
These few highlights only represent some of the accomplishments of this past year.
Reflecting on a Successful Year
Much of the success is due to transparency, going paperless, savings in funding of benefits, reevaluations of processes in human resources and much more.
The future of our Nation is bright. The Nation will continue to seek economic development and improve services and programs. Economic progress should not be delayed, when progress is delayed, history is delayed.
In closing, the ‘Mvksoke Way’ has never failed us. We gain strength from those before us who set a foundation for future generations. Now, those of us who lead this Nation must continue the journey for our following generations. Our challenges lie before us, and just as it did for our forefathers, adversity strengthens us, but more importantly unity solidifies us and the will of our people.
May God bless America, may God bless the state of Oklahoma and may a sovereign God continue to bless the sovereign Muscogee (Creek) Nation!!