The Muscogee (Creek) Nation's Tribal Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ask Principal Chief George Tiger to resign.
The National Council Speaker of the House says the 12-0 vote stems from a deal Tiger made behind the tribe's back that would have benefited him and another tribe.
The council says Tiger signed a contract in 2009 that would have allowed the Kialegee Tribe to build a casino in Creek territory. According to the council, the deal would have made Tiger a part owner of the development, which would have competed with his own tribe's casino.
Tiger has served the tribe for nearly two decades. He wasn't the chief when he signed the contract, but the tribe said he was on the national council at the time, which made it a conflict of interest.
While Tiger was accepting an American Indian Leadership Award in Las Vegas Tuesday night, back home in Oklahoma, representatives of the Muscogee National Tribal Council held a special meeting with citizens.
“He should put the Muscogee Nation and its citizens at his utmost interest,” Thomas Yahola said.
But instead, tribal council speaker Thomas Yahola said the chief was more concerned about his own bank account.
“I think he needed to disclose it, to let us know what was going on, but that didn't happen,” Yahola said.
The council, Yahola said, learned through a Tulsa World article that Tiger had signed a secret contract with a developer for the Kialegee Tribal Town.
The plan was to build a casino on restricted land within Muscogee Creek Nation jurisdiction and Tiger would be a consultant.
According to the contract posted online, Tiger would get partial ownership of the company, $5,000 each month, plus a $200,000 bonus.
“He said he wasn't doing anything wrong,” Yahola said.
But Yahola said Tiger was undermining the tribe.
Even though the Kialegees are citizens of the Muscogee Nation, they have a government of their own, which means Muscogee Nation would never see any money generated at Kialegee casino.
And on top of that, the council feared development would have competed with River Spirit Casino.
So, while Tiger consulted with the Kialegees, the tribal council fought to keep that casino from being built.
“We as Muscogee Nation, we have to give permission to allow them to build that within the Creek Nation jurisdiction, and so it came to a vote here and it did not pass,” Yahola said.
The tribal council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ask Tiger to resign.
A letter has been drafted, but Tiger told News On 6 he has not seen it and can't comment until he does.
If the chief does not resign, Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizens would need to get 20 percent of their registered voters to sign a petition for Tiger's removal.
They have 60 days to do that, and the petition would then go to the tribal council for a final decision.
That petition has already been started, in the chance Tiger doesn't resign.