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The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has voted a no-confidence resolution on Chief George Tiger

by Michael Webster idVer:4e81441863d5468f7cde17d Saturday, Mar. 21, 2015 at 10:41 AM 949 494-7121

- Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribal council member Thomas Yahola leads an emergency meeting of the National Council at which a vote of no-confidence on Chief George Tiger was taken in Okmulgee on Thursday evening.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has voted a no-confidence resolution on Chief George Tiger

photo - Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribal council member Thomas Yahola leads an emergency meeting of the National Council at which a vote of no-confidence on Chief George Tiger was taken in Okmulgee on Thursday evening. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World

Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribal council member Thomas Yahola leads an emergency meeting of the National Council at which a vote of no-confidence on Chief George Tiger was taken in Okmulgee on Thursday evening. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World

By Michael Webster: Syndicated Investigative Reporter

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has voted a no-confidence resolution on Chief George Tiger as members of the tribe are launching a petition drive to oust the current Chief. As reported by the “Indian Gaming Journal this week... National Creek Nation Tribal Council held an emergency meeting which a vote of no-confidence on Chief George Tiger was taken in Okmulgee on Thursday evening. This action is an apparent result of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Tribal Council who voted earlier to ask Tiger to resign, but he refused. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Election Board speaker said the action was due to the revelation in a March 8th 2015 Tulsa World story that reported that Tribal Chief Tiger contracted in 2009 to consult with Shane Rolls, who planned to develop a casino in Broken Arrow for the Kialegee Tribal Town.

The contract shows allegedly that it would have paid Tiger 5 percent of the revenues from the proposed Kialegee casino, which would have been built in Broken Arrow. According to the report it also promised Tiger up to 0,000 in bonus payments for securing land agreements and payment of ,000 per month once the casino opened.

In a recent e-mail by the Indian Gaming Journal to Chief Tiger, he was asked “Do you have a copy of your business consulting agreement referred to in the report”? chief responded by e-mail and said that “You can probably get a copy of my agreement in the Tulsa World story that ran March 8th”. So he may not have a copy or prefers that we get it from the Tulsa World article.

The site for the new tribal casino that was built in 2008-9 is 81st and Riverside as it’s always had been in Tulsa. It's just an expansion and addition of the hotel. There was a proposed site by one of our tribal towns in Broken Arrow a suburb of Tulsa during the time in question.

The Creek Nation’s council voted 12-0 in an emergency session March 9 to ask Tiger to resign.

According to a board member who wishes to remain anonymous told the Journal that the necessary impeachment petition documents formally asking Tiger to be removed as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief was filed with the tribe’s Election Board.

The impeachment petition includes a list of claims against Tiger in addition to those associated with the Broken Arrow casino. The Tulsa World claimed that they could not independently verify the remaining claims in the petition.

Reportedly when reached for comment, a representative of Tiger’s said a statement regarding the petition would be “forthcoming.”

Chief George Tiger, far right, in this photo was in Washington, D.C, to help unveil a 1790 treaty. Photo by Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

Tiger said, “I signed an agreement to serve as a consultant as a private citizen in 2009 with Kialegee tribal town. According to our constitution my term as an official member of our National Council (legislature) began on January 2, 2010. The agreement was with the tribal town whose membership is a dual enrollment. In other words. They are citizens of the Muscogee Creek Nation and Kialegee tribal town. At no time during my tenure (2 years) as a council member did I advocate for a casino for Kialegee. I put myself at risk by not advocating according to the agreement to be sued.”

Tiger has previously denied any wrongdoing in connection with the Kialegee casino plan. He claims that any agreements he had with Rolls expired after he was elected to the Creek National Council in 2011.

“While still a private citizen in 2009, I embraced an opportunity to serve in a consulting capacity to an initiative that aspired to improve the economic development and potential for jobs. In so doing, I understand now that my services and intentions may be misinterpreted,” Tiger said in a statement released Friday.

His statement says that because the contract was signed before he was sworn into office in January 2010, there was nothing improper about his consulting role.

“My consulting business agreement for the Kialegee project terminated when I took the oath of office for National Council member January 2, 2010. I did not take project fees after that date. Former business associates did provide campaign donations,” he said

Tiger indicated to the Journal and by further saying “I was elected Chief in 2011 and was sworn in January 2012. (As he had stated before) Along with the Speaker of our Council we held a press conference to oppose the proposed casino in Broken Arrow according to the laws of the Creek Nation it was within the jurisdiction of our nation so in essence another casino couldn't be built within a 35 miles radius of the new casino due to the loan agreement that financed the River Spirit. Once again, I risked being sued according to the agreement I signed in 2009. I received compensation, loan prior to taking my oath in 2010 and a campaign donation while serving as a council member all legit. Many of my colleagues knew I made my living as a consultant and some knew of the agreement and at that time didn't see it as a problem. In fact, due to my consultancy one council member, David Nichol's sons were able to get their start in gaming for a vendor I assisted in getting a license from National Indian Gaming Commission.”

The Broken Arrow casino could have siphoned up to million per year from the Creek Nation’s River Spirit casino in Tulsa. The casino project stalled after public opposition grew and a federal judge issued an injunction halting construction.

Although that order was later overturned, Rolls has said the casino will not be built on the Broken Arrow site. He said the project is moving forward but has declined to identify the new site.

I can state categorically that I have acted at all times in accordance with our constitution in the best interests of ALL Creek citizens, he pointed out.

In an earlier statement Tiger said, “Since an inflammatory story in a recent media outlet and a council meeting earlier this week, I have listened with concern to questions raised by members of our Nation, I weighed thoughtfully the feedback of experts in our constitutional law, and I refrained from acting or communicating in haste.

I learned of the article, which I believe was encouraged by members of our nation who seek candidacy for the position to which I am currently entrusted, while I was out of town to receive the American Indian Leadership Award at the National Reservation Economic Summit.”

According to Tiger, “the Broken Arrow project was brought to the council for consideration in 2013 that didn't receive approval from the committee of the council. Once again, I didn't advocate for the casino due to jurisdiction. The developer of the project threatened to sue me and drew up a draft of suit against me. It was never filed as we worked out our differences. All of these issues pertaining to this matter evolve around a draft lawsuit that was never filed that but was published in the Tulsa World. I received a campaign donation which was legal I don't remember the amount. The lead lender for the River Spirit casino was Merrill Lynch. I was not on the council when the loan was approved. I believe loan was for a little over 200 million. Not being on council I don't remember.

Previous Chief AD Ellis who is quoted in article stagnated the Creek Nation with no progress and wants to get back in leadership again. He was defeated recently in the 2nd Chief's election by a large margin. David Nichols and Thomas Yahola along with Ellis are really pushing this. Yahola and Nichols can’t win the election on their own due to their almost non-existent contribution in moving the nation in a progressive and positive manner. People are just tired of Ellis. No one can file until July as that is the filing period, Nichols and Yahola both have publicly announced their candidacy. I have yet to announce as a candidate but am catching all this. The Attorney General doesn't see any legal or criminal activity regarding my issue. It's only an issue with some members of the Council.” Tiger said.

The Chief went on to say “Throughout my time on the council and between my election and oath of office, the business agreement I held with the Kialegee project group was not a secret. I repeat: not a secret. I brought the item to the attention of the council and was met with no objections at the time. This was a business consulting contract. The absence of any action taken by our Nation’s attorney general speaks volumes for the lack of constitutional merits of this topic and the resulting story.”

Shelly Harjo-Brandy and other supporters met recently in reference to Tiger’s removal and to begin obtaining signatures.

The group has 60 days to gather at least 3,290 signatures from tribal members. That number represents 20 percent of the registered tribal voters, records show.

Harjo-Brandy said the group hopes to collect at least 4,000 signatures.

“I feel we’ll meet it,” she said.

Even if a sufficient number of signatures are gathered, it is not a slam dunk. The National Council will review the petition and decide whether to proceed with impeachment proceedings.

At least a three-fourths vote of the National Council, or 12 of 16 members, is required to remove the chief.

According to the Tulsa World that after the vote, National Council Speaker Thomas Yahola said that while the resolution is not binding, it was meant to send a message to Tiger that there was strong support on the council for his removal.

“It’s just a statement that we made, and we’re going through the process with the petition, and once that is concluded and validated, the National Council will proceed,” he said.

Two council members, Shirlene Ade and Johnnie Greene, opposed the resolution. After the vote, Ade likened the move to a rush to judgment.

“When the article first came out in the Tulsa World, I feel like the council overreacted,” she said.

“I felt like there was no proof,” Ade said. “There was only allegations and charges.

“He had no due process. I feel like he had a right to face his accusers, and he wasn’t given that right.”

In addition to the concerns about the casino consulting contract, the no-confidence resolution raises issues regarding Tiger’s management while chief.

“During his tenure as Principal Chief, the executive branch has fostered an environment of aggressiveness and hostility towards women” and failed to protect tribal employees from sexual aggression and harassment, the resolution claims.

Ade acknowledged that sexual harassment issues have been raised within the tribal workplace. However, she said Tiger has fired individuals involved in such allegations.

“He got rid of them, and he would never have put up with that,” Ade said.

Since the controversy has surfaced, Ade said tribal members have asked her if she backed Tiger.

She said she tells them: “I am on the side of the rule of law, due process and the constitution of the Muscogee (Creek) Nati

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