Muscogee (Creek) National Council votes to ask
for Chief George Tiger’s resignation
Tulsa World investigation sparks emergency meeting and citizens’ recall petition
By HERMAN BROWN / Okmulgee Times editor
On Tuesday, Principal Chief George Tiger was in Las Vegas to receive the “American Indian Leadership Award” at the National Reservation Economic Summit (National RES) in Las Vegas.
The event is hosted by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (the National Center). A press release provided the basis for the award.
“George exemplifies everything that the National Center stands for -- a firm devotion to enhancing economic development in Indian Country,” said Gary Davis, President and CEO of the National Center. “Native American leaders like George are critically important to improving the economy and creating good jobs in Indian Country. The National Center is truly honored to recognize him for his achievements in business.”
Meanwhile, the Muscogee (Creek) National Council met Tuesday 1,215 miles to the East of Sin City. The tribe’s governing body huddled in an emergency meeting at the complex in Okmulgee. The attending members voted unanimously to create a letter asking Chief Tiger to resign. The group also approved a vote of no confidence measure - which is expected to be written into a National Council Resolution and approved during another emergency meeting next week.
National Council Speaker Thomas Yahola told the Okmulgee Times said the representatives heard numerous complaints about Chief Tiger during a special executive session. The closed-door portion of the meeting allowed tribal citizens to address their concerns to council members. Yahola indicated that everyone who spoke to the panel made complaints on the chief - and nobody offered any words of support for him.
The Tulsa World investigated Tiger’s agreement with the Wetumka-based Kialegee tribe. The report detailed the issues related to the “secret deal” between Tiger and those pushing for the casino project. The newspaper obtained documents that show Tiger signed the consulting agreement two months after being elected to his tribe’s council in 2009. He was to receive a share of gaming revenue on the project, which would compete with his own tribe’s casino, a Tulsa World investigation has found.
Chief Tiger is denying he acted illegally in his dealings with Kialegee Tribal Town and the developer of a proposed Broken Arrow casino.
Tiger was a paid consultant for the casino project. He received more than $30,000 for his services. He was working with the Kialegee Tribal Town to gain approval for the Kialegee casino.
Tiger continued to work with developer Shane Rolls and the Kialegee Tribal Town to gain approval for the Kialegee casino. The Tulsa World article reported that then-Creek Nation Chief A.D. Ellis and other tribal officials fought to stop what they viewed as an assault on Creek Nation sovereignty.
Tiger said his actions were legal and not a conflict of interest because they occurred before he was sworn into office as a tribal councilor in January 2010.
“I’ve been involved with tribal government since I was 24 years old, so I know right from wrong when it comes to conduct of an elected official,” said Tiger, 64.
Records show nearly all of Rolls’ $31,500 in payments to Tiger came after he was an elected official, as defined by the Creek Nation’s law and constitution.
After Tiger was elected chief in 2011, records show he continued to accept money from Rolls and attended several meetings on the casino project.
The newspaper report triggered a flood of calls to the National Council office. The angry reaction led to the emergency meeting. It also led to a planned petition drive among tribal citizens. Creek citizens will be given the opportunity to sign a form seeking a recall election for the principal chief.
Sources tell the Times that Chief Tigers prepared an official response to the Tulsa World investigation and news coverage. However, the statement is not expect to be released until Friday when he returns from Las Vegas.