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Indian Times: Five Civilized Tribes Inter-Tribal Council meets after 7 year hiatus (Jun 15, 2012)

Muscogee Creek Nation Principal Chief George Tiger is the president of the Inter-tribal council of the Five Civilized Tribes.  I asked him for a little background information.

TIGER: The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes was the first inter-tribal council to ever be organized in the country.  It was started in 1950.  It had a lot of… stroke ,if you will, in terms of  bringing up issues that affected Indian  tribes, not only here in Oklahoma but across the country as well. They always held a quarterly meeting at the various tribal areas and they’d draw attention to a lot of issues, as I said earlier.  Because of, at one time, Carl Albert being the Speaker of the House and he represented a wide area of the Five Tribes, he was a champion of some of the concerns and issues that the Five Tribes had with the federal government.  Because of that, many Indian tribes around the country  looked at the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes to carry the torch, if you will, for some of their concerns.  And there was a period of time when, as I said, there was quarterly meetings and the last quarterly meeting that they had was about 7 years ago and it was held in Midwest City.  Because of a lot of the things that were going on at that time, the tribes were pretty much doing their own thing.  It was decided to change the format of the meetings to where just the executive committee would meet. The executive committee being the chiefs of the Choctaws, Cherokees, Seminoles, of course the governor of the Chickasaws and the chief of the Creek nation…they made up the Executive Committee.  About a year ago I started to have a dialogue with Governor Anoatubby and Chief Pyle about what it would take to go back to the old format. And the reason that everyone enjoyed the old format was they had various committees made up of employees and different officers of the respective tribes.  And out of those committee meetings came needs for resolutions or position papers that could supported by the Executive Committee as well as the Inter-Tribal Council itself on the day of the General Session, which was usually on Friday mornings.  We decided it might be best because here in Oklahoma we don’t have, per se,  a state wide organization,  which is badly needed.  But the Inter-Tribal Council has always been looked to provide that leadership.   So it was felt it was needed to get back to having meetings, having the ability to have the influence that we once did.  So that was the basis for having reinstituted, if you will, the Inter-Tribal Council, of going back to the old format  of having a two day summit.

So, I guess you did a lot of housekeeping duties this past week, getting everything started over again?

TIGER:  We passed resolutions to recognize committees we’ve had in the past and added some.  It just basically was a reorganization and we did have some resolutions that came out. One was the Inter-Tribal Council’s support of the Chickasaws and Choctaws efforts with their water issues with the state of Oklahoma and just different things like that.  It was to some degree, again, an historical meeting because of the absence of having these types of summits in the past. And everybody from each tribe was very excited about the going back to this format.


Do you see a kind of swing away from the Oklahoma tribes by our Oklahoma state government?


TIGER:  You know, that’s a great question.  It has been for a number of years.  It’s really ironic that the support the tribes need in Congress has to come from other states, not from the representation that we have from the state of Oklahoma… with the exception of one person and ,unfortunately ,he has decided not to continue his career in congress and its Representative Dan Boren.  But we have to get support from outside of the state and its ironic that to some degree our most challenging  opposition seems to be our own representation from here in Oklahoma.  I know if we can get everybody involved regardless of what tribe they may be, it’s something that I think that we can pursue and we can get back to where we were.  And that was being one of the most influential inter-tribal groups in the country.    Another irony is that a lot of the inter-tribal groups that you hear of now, like the Northwest Intertribal Group, the Great Plains up north, the United South and Eastern Tribes…they took our blue print, our constitution and bylaws and put it to their organizations and so we feel like that if someone else is using our blue print, we need to use our own blue print to make it to where we are influential not only Washington D.C . but in the state of Oklahoma.


Well, I guess if you meet quarterly, you going to meet again at Riverwind?

TIGER:    Actually we were kind of in a hurry to get this thing started again and we would have had a meeting next month but because we had this reorganization meeting last week in Norman it was decided that our next meeting will be in October and the Muscogee Creek Nation will host it in Tulsa.         

That was George Tiger, Principal Chief of the Muscogee Creek Nation and president of the Inter-tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes.


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