MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 26, 2013

Muscogee chief focuses on solidarity

State of nation address touts accomplishments

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— OKMULGEE — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief George Tiger focused on solidarity during his second state of the nation address Saturday.

Tiger, who first took office Jan. 8, 2012, said the Creek Nation is committed to solidarity for the common good.

“Muscogee solidarity works,” Tiger said, before presenting each member of the tribal council with a T-shirt spelling out the same.

Tiger covered 2012’s tribal accomplishments and made some announcements of what is to come in 2013 for the tribe.

The nation grew by more than 3,000 members in 2012. The tribe employs more than 645 people, not including casinos, and 54 percent of those are enrolled Creek citizens.

Many of the strategic plans made for 2012 were realized, he said.

“I’m proud to say we accomplished the 90-day plan last year — many items in less than 90 days,” Tiger said, about the plan he introduced at his first state of the nation address in January 2012.

That plan included changes to the judiciary system, submitting funding applications for economic development, greatly expanding the role of the Second Chief Roger Barnett, and creating a new advisory board for the health systems of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, among many other items.

Tiger reviewed several major projects and purchases the tribe made in 2012, including the most recent purchase of the Riverwalk Crossing in Jenks.

The chief said the tribe will create a master plan for the site in 2013 as well as a master plan for housing for elders.

Creek Nation Casinos reported record results in terms of revenues, operating income and net income distributions, and distributions to the Creek Nation were up 10 percent over 2011, he said.

The Nation also created a scholarship foundation to provide financial assistance to Muscogee (Creek) students and fund educational research. The Foundation Program raised more than $75,000 so far, Tiger said.

“While raising money, we’ve also saved,” he said. “We saved $3 million with the change in administrators of the Nation’s self-insured health plan for employees.”

Tiger discussed major health care changes for the tribe, including the creation of its first nursing home and a fast track program designed to speed up services in emergency care.

He also announced an upcoming health care project, which won’t be formally announced until August.

“One of the things we’re going to have is long-term health services for our elders,” Tiger said. “Hospice follows the tradition of our people. How many of you have heard their loved ones say, when it’s my time, I want to go home?”

Other highlights of Tiger’s speech included introduction of Mvskoke Media, honoring tribal members with Medals of Honor, and comments about the purchase the Okmulgee Golf Course.

The golf course was former Muscogee (Creek) lands and where tribal members were once forbidden to enter the grounds, Tiger said.

“I grew up in this town, and I remember being denied access to that facility,” Tiger said. “But my heart soared like an eagle when I was able to sign the document that said all will be welcome there now.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.