Muscogee (Creek) Nation
The culture, social and economic impact of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on the Okmulgee area is significant and growing continuously. The Tribe owns and manages much of the professional health care in the community, employs the largest number of people, supports education and training at all levels, invests significant dollars in infrastructure improvements, advances culture and the arts, and serves as a good corporate partner in all endeavors.
While the greater Okmulgee area (the word Okmulgee is Creek for bubbling water) is not unique with respect to Native American Indian Tribes, the area is certainly much different than most other areas in the United States. The community of Okmulgee is the home and national capitol of the Muscogee (Creek) Indian Nation. The Creek people were relocated to Oklahoma in 1834 pursuant to the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The act was the ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of most citizens of five Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States. The people were forced from their homelands to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.
The territorial boundaries claimed as sovereign and controlled by the Native American nations living in what were then known as the Indian Territories—the portion of the early United States west of the Mississippi River not yet claimed or allotted to become Oklahoma which is named for the Choctaw word meaning “red” people. The United States recognized the tribal governments as dependent but internally sovereign, or autonomous nations under the sole jurisdiction of the Federal government.
Tribal sovereignty in the United States is the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the United States of America. The U.S. Constitution and federal laws grant local sovereignty to tribal nations, but do not grant full sovereignty equivalent to that of foreign nations, hence the term "domestic dependent nations". Native American self-determination refers to the social movements, legislation, and beliefs by which the tribes in the United States exercise self-governance and decision making on issues that affect their own people. Self-determination is the means by which a tribe implements its sovereign powers.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is an autonomous or domestic dependent nation within the United States with its own constitution which is inclusive of all branches of a democratic form of government. The branches are: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. As with other forms of democracy, the government structure of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation assures a complete checks and balance approach to self-determination.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is one of the largest Indian Tribes in the United States with nearly 80,000 citizens and a budget over half billion dollars and growing annually. The national boarder of the Tribe is inclusive of eight complete counties in Oklahoma and portions of two additional counties all of which are contiguous. The ways that individual tribes exercise their sovereignty vary widely, but in general, tribal authority is used in the following ways: to form tribal governments; to determine tribal membership; to regulate individual property; to levy and collect taxes; to maintain law and order; to exclude non-members from tribal territory; to regulate domestic relations; and to regulate commerce and trade.
While tribal sovereignty adds multiple significant benefits to the greater Okmulgee area, the maximization of those benefits is more fully realized when they are understood and appreciated by all citizens. Creek citizens are fully assimilated into the local socio-economic structure of the greater Okmulgee area, and at the same time they function within a sovereign nation.
In the United States, persons of Native American descent occupy a unique legal position. They are U.S. citizens and are entitled to the same rights and protections under the Constitution that all other U.S. citizens enjoy. Additionally, if they are on the Dawes Rolls and a tribal citizen, they enjoy certain rights and protections of an Indian sovereign nation.
Doing business Indian Country is like doing business any other place, except for Tribal owned land. With respect to Tribal owned land, the terms and conditions are negotiated with the Tribe and subject to laws and regulations promulgated by the Tribal government. This dual approach option for establishing a new business, expanding a current business or relocating a current business makes the greater Okmulgee area an ideal location within a tax friendly state.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Community Partner
From early history, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has formed partnerships, which furthered mutual welfare. In the 18th century, when relations with the English Colonies began, regional Muscogee tribal governments united to form the Creek Confederacy. The Confederacy was unified by trade, religion and languages. Since that time, the Muscogee (Creek) nation and their partners formed communities that have mutually benefitted many times over. The concept of 'community' is historically important to the Nation.
The modern Muscogee (Creek) Nation has continued the concept of community here in the Okmulgee area. Although their boundaries extend to 10 other counties, the Nation has joined with this community, their Capital city, on many projects to benefit the region.
A sample of ongoing partnerships that benefit all Okmulgee area citizens:
On December 31, 2013, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation purchased and subsequently began operation of the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital, now Muscogee (Creek) Nation Medical Center, in order to provide health care for all citizens of the region. This purchase avoided the disaster of closure for the hospital, the loss of the medical facility for the community as well as the loss of jobs of over 200 individuals. The Nation has significantly reduced the debt of the Medical Center and has begun to significantly improve the facility, purchase much-needed state-of-the-art equipment, and hire new physicians.
Additionally, the Nation has purchased the former George Nigh Rehab Center, now the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center. The Center is a Medicare certified physical rehabilitation hospital located on eleven wooded acres in Okmulgee Oklahoma. The Center offers a range of rehabilitation services, including physical and occupational therapy, speech pathology and cardiac rehabilitation to all citizens, Indian and Non-Indian.
Roads and Bridges
The Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) provides for the construction of roads and bridges identified by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to support the social, economic growth, and overall development of the Nation’s communities and institutions. The TTP partners with Okmulgee City, County, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on projects of common interest. In the past year (2013), 11 projects in Okmulgee County were completed. Further the Roads Work Force Crew is working on a walking trail in Okmulgee County.
Higher Education and Workforce Development
College of the Muscogee Nation
(COMN) is a two-year private American Indian tribal college, located in Okmulgee, the capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Recognized as
the state’s premier tribal college, it offers several general education and Tribal-specific courses and degrees. COMN is open to all citizens who wish to attend. The Nation also partners with Green Country Technology Center and Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in workforce development and training programs for Muscogee Creek citizens.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Transit provides Muscogee Creek citizens and the general public with transit services in order to access jobs, educational opportunities, human services, medical, recreational, shopping, tribal services and veterans services.
Small Business Development Center and Mvskoke Loan Fund/CDFI
The Muscogee Creek Nation Small Business Development Center and Mvskoke Loan Fund work in partnership to stimulate economic growth through entrepreneurial development and asset building in the MCN jurisdictional area, with a special emphasis on the Okmulgee community. The MCNSBC offers business development services to individuals who wish to partner with the Nation on a business venture, sell their business to the tribe, or open a small business themselves. The Mvskoke Loan Fund is an emerging CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) that offers commercial lending services to Creek Citizens and community members, along with specialized business training, credit counseling and asset development services.
Through these partnerships and many more, the community formed by the Muscogee Creek Nation and non-Indians have created a synergy that has enabled everyone to benefit much more than they would have individually.