MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 5, 2013

Cherokee, Creek tribes can weather shutdown

Both nations’ officials say they are on sound footing for now

Officials with the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations said the tribes will be able to weather the partial shutdown of the federal government for the short- to mid-term.

They described the shutdown, which stems from an ideological dispute centered on the Affordable Care Act, as “a very fluid situation” that is being monitored daily. Federal lawmakers failed to come to any agreement that would bring an end to the shutdown, which now has entered its fifth day.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the tribe should experience no short- to mid-term impact on its operations. He gave credit to the tribe’s “sound financial stewardship and efficient governmental spending.”

“While the Cherokee Nation is prepared, many tribes across Indian Country will suffer by losing important services we believe are guaranteed by the United States’ trust obligation,” Baker said. “Our hearts go out to those tribal citizens, and our prayers are with them during this difficult and uncertain time.”

Edwin Marshall, a public relations manager for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, said from the words of Principal Chief George Tiger, “there will be no immediate impact” on the Okmulgee-based tribe. Marshall said there are several reasons for that, but the primary factor is because most services “are primarily funded by tribal funds.”

“If there were to be a long-term shutdown, our immediate concern would be programs that are 100 percent federally funded such as elderly nutrition,” Marshall said. “However, we are prepared to address any long-term shortcomings if this (budget showdown) continues.”

Tiger, in a videotaped message to tribal citizens, credited the “Creek budget planning process” for allowing the tribe “to operate for a certain time without an immediate negative impact.”

“Although there is no immediate foreseen impact, we will operate cautiously and in a responsible manner and continue to monitor the situation in Washington on a day-by-day basis,” Tiger said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all federal employees and their families who were furloughed or otherwise negatively impacted and face uncertainty even if it’s for a short period.”

Both Baker and Tiger said they are hopeful the budget impasse will be resolved swiftly. Baker said tribal officials have maintained regular contact with elected officials in Washington, D.C. Tiger said he is hopeful federal officials “will set aside partisan politics and resolve any difficulties that hinder the progress of this nation.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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