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Muscogee (Creek) Nation Inaugurates New Principal Chief

Newly-elected Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd takes the oath of office in January 2016.
Amanda Rutland
/
Muscogee Nation News
Newly-elected Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd, left, takes his oath of office as his wife, Carol, and mother, Margaret, look on. MCN Supreme Court Chief Justice Andrew Adams III, right, swore in Floyd.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation inaugurated a new principal chief and other tribal officials on Saturday. James Floyd took the oath of office after ousting former principal chief George Tiger in November's election.

Floyd is the retired director of a Veterans Administration medical center in Muskogee, and has also worked with the Indian Health Services.

After Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief Justice Andrew Adams administered the oath of office in the Mvskoke Dome in Okmulgee, Floyd stressed tribal unity during his inaugural address.

"I also know that here because of the many supporters and voters, who may have held differing views, yet have come together to work for a better Muscogee Nation,” Floyd said. “This does not mean that we will always agree on everything, but we can agree we need to do better."

Watch The Entire Inaugural Ceremony (Video Begins At 31:41)

Floyd defeated George Tiger by an almost two-to-one-margin. Allegations surfaced last year that Tiger signed a contract in 2009 with a casino that would've competed with the Creek Nation's own facility. Tiger also received a no-confidence vote from the tribe's National Council, and there was also a grassroots petition calling for his impeachment.

Floyd also said he wanted to embrace Creek traditions and communities.

“To use the strength of our ancestors to become better, we must first recognize the state of our Nation; to honestly assess those things that can be done to put us in a better position,” Floyd said. “We must return to our basic core values of remembering that our tribal government is here to serve our citizens."

Second Chief Louis Hicks also took his oath of office Saturday. He ran unopposed as an incumbent.

Read Floyd’s Full, Prepared Inaugural Address:

Fellow citizens, Second Chief Hicks, National Council Members, religious and spiritual leaders, miccos, and government leaders, we welcome you:

As we gather here this morning, I want to recognize my family that has continually loved and supported me:  my mother Margaret, my wife Carol, her dad Jim, our son Jacob, our daughter Erin and her husband Lloyd, as well as the rest of my family.

I especially want to recognize the sacrifice of the men and women who wore the uniform in service to our country. We can draw great strength from the sacrifices of our warriors who have defended our lands and have always bravely served our country. I have the deepest respect for the men and women who have served, and who continue to answer the call to service today.

I stand here today knowing the strength of our Mvskoke people comes from a lineage of family, faith, tradition, religion, community, and government that has survived through generations of adversity, tragedy, trauma, and survival.  

I am aware of the traumatic time in our history when we were forced to leave our ancestral homelands, forced to march, under extreme conditions, the 1,200 miles to Indian Territory, losing many loved ones along the way. I know, that through the bearing of this atrocity emerged the strength and resilience that guided our grounds leaders, at great risk, to carry the sacred fires, and to re-establish our grounds, our religion, and our traditions within the new lands.

We re-built our political institutions and again exerted our sovereignty as a Nation.  Businesses were opened and our Nation prospered. The survival of our families from the homelands to Indian Territory depended upon our ability to adapt to a new environment and persevere through adversity. Those sacrifices are not lost upon me today. 

I would not be where I am without the influence and teachings of elders throughout my life. I would like to recognize the efforts of all elders as well.  Respect for our elders is a way of life for our people.  My parents, my grandparents, as well as other elders, have been living examples of that same resilience in overcoming adversities experienced in their lives. The benefit of the support from those elders throughout my life is immeasurable. We must commit to find and nurture through any possible ways, to cultivate a spirit of love and respect for one another, especially for our elders. With each new generation, the knowledge of our past and cultural traditions is essential.  

I also know I am here because of the many supporters and voters, who may have held diverse views, yet have come together to work for a better Muscogee Nation. This does not mean that we will always agree on everything, but we can agree we need to do better.

To use the strength of our ancestors to become better, we must first recognize the state of our Nation; to honestly assess those things that can be done to put us in a better position.  We must return to our basic core values of remembering that our tribal government is here to serve our citizens. I believe it is: 

good to own property, but better to own and preserve our traditional lands, churches, sacred and historical sites, and to provide adequate housing to citizens;  

good to build businesses, but better to ensure investments and contracts are above board, profitable, and accountable; 

good to provide jobs, but better to help build rewarding careers throughout our nation;  

good to operate a college, but better to make sure job training is available throughout our nation; 

good to build health care facilities, but better to provide timely, quality care to our citizens in an organized health care system;   

good to provide services to families who live here, but to also seek access to local, state, and federal services for our citizens wherever they may live;  

good to communicate, among departments within the tribe, but better to also communicate with communities and citizens throughout the country;

Being better, after all, will be our priority from this day forward, in the way we provide services, fairly to all, with respect to one another.  

We must also work to be better unified, and we start today as we hold our inauguration together with the National Council.  

My career started with the Muscogee Nation. I started work at the lowest level in the tribe. I was here when we approved our Constitution, when we opened our hospital and clinics, when we first started gaming. I knew we had the ability to be great and I know we can elevate our Nation, not just in how the systems work, but in our dignity, respect, compassion, and care for each other.

As our administration begins we know the road ahead will be hard. However, I am strengthened by many great people. Second Chief, Louis Hicks believes as I do, that we are servants to our citizens. We will work together as a team. We will lead from the front. We will embrace our traditions, our ceremonies, our religions and our communities and will keep them close to us as we move forward. We will stand on the shoulders of those before us who have sacrificed during times of despair, endured during times of trauma, and adapted to changing environments to ensure that we didn’t just survive, we thrived.

My hope is, united by a common bond, that we will strengthen each other by remembering that our past is the greatest teacher for our future.

May we always be blessed for our efforts, may our Maker always guide us in the right direction, and may He always bless us as a Nation.  Mvto.

KGOU produces journalism in the public interest, essential to an informed electorate. Help support informative, in-depth journalism with a donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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