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Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill will lead for four more years

Principal Chief David Hill speaks at the Muscogee Creek Nation Department of Health's 17th Annual Diabetes Summit in September 2023.
The Muscogee Creek Nation - Department of Health
Principal Chief David Hill speaks at the Muscogee Creek Nation Department of Health's 17th Annual Diabetes Summit in September 2023.

Principal Chief David Hill and Second Chief Del Beaver received more than 50% of the vote in this month's primary. A second term will mean both will secure their legacy as leaders who implemented policy in the wake of the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.

It's official: Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill will return for another four years in office.

Hill faced several challengers in a multi-day primary election that concluded last week, but ultimately walked away with more than 58% of the votes.

Second Chief Del Beaver will also get another four years in office with more than 67 percent of the vote.

Mvskoke Media's Angel Ellis says voter turnout was low this year out of 20,000 eligible voters, a little over 4,000 citizens ended up at the ballot box. That could be for several reasons, including voter apathy.

"A lot of people tend to have this attitude of, 'well, maybe I'm too busy at the primary and I won't bother until we decide in the general.' Well, that kind of mentality often can lead to just other people making the decision for you, like this time," Ellis said.

Another reason for a lack of turnout: elections in the past have had a lot of controversy.

In the last election for Principal Chief and Second Chief held four years ago, there were a lot of candidates running and concerns surrounding the security of the vote. That 2019 general election was monitored by the Carter Center, an NGO that frequently monitors high conflict elections.

A year earlier, the tribal nation had rescinded its free press protections, which angered a lot of citizens and became one of the biggest talking points of the election.

Mvksoke Media regained free press protections in 2021, after voters chose to enshrine it in the nation's constitution. The fight for free press protections was featured in the documentary Bad Press.

"They have been so stressful in the past," Ellis said. "This is the first election we've had that was not challenged since 2017. Since then, every single election has had to go into the courts."

The results became official last Friday, the last day anyone could file a challenge.

This year, Ellis said the issue that occupied citizens' minds was transparency, specifically what happened to the influx of ARPA money and the other is how the tribe is handling the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.

"There's frustration from citizens who are seeing this justice system kind of slowly groaning and trying to take on that massive capacity that it's been dealt with after the McGirt decision," Ellis said.

Council seats still to be decided

Two Muscogee Nation Council seats are still up for grabs and will head to the general election. Creek District A will have a runoff between Dode Barnett, Joseph Hicks and Leney McNac after none of those candidates got more than 50% of the vote in the primary.

Okmulgee District A will see a runoff between William Lowe, Robyn Whitecloud and James Jennings.

Elections for the seats will be held on Nov. 4.

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Allison Herrera covered Indigenous Affairs for KOSU from April 2020 to November 2023.
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