Progress is the key theme of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and it was the message at the tribe's State of the Nation address on Saturday.
Much of that progress is being made through economic development.
The state of Creek Nation is not only something that affects tribal members, it's also something that affects Green Country as the Creek Nation continues to pump millions into Tulsa-area infrastructure.
"For the past couple months, it's kind of been a rough change but I'm glad to see as Creek people we're able to overcome that,” Chief George Tiger said.
Just several months after former second chief Roger Barnett was arrested and charged with embezzling from the tribe, things for the are moving forward.
"I was just telling Governor Fallin the other day and I said, ‘nowhere in Oklahoma will you be able to find almost $1 billion in development other than the Banks of the Arkansas in Tulsa,” Tiger said.
The Gathering Place along Riverside is one major development. The Creek Nation is funding two others by investing $340 million to expand its Riverspirit Casino into a full-fledged resort with a hotel and Margaritaville. And it will funnel another $22 million into revitalizing the Jenks RiverWalk. Both are projects that not only affect the tribe, but Green Country as a whole.
"Right now, with the project at the Riverspirit that's going to be providing 800 jobs once that's completed, we're looking at another 850 to 900 permanent jobs,” Tiger said.
The message at Saturday's speech: The status quo is no longer acceptable.
is to conduct operations more like a business in order to continue developing big economic projects.
"We've had success,” Tiger said. “We've had challenges as any government. But we've overcome them, and we will continue to be progressive and aggressive and we feel like that we have a good plan for this calendar year."
It's a plan young people in the tribe are looking forward to.
“I believe that this is a good thing, even for the state of Oklahoma,” Tiger said. “What's good for the tribe is good for Oklahoma is what I see."
Tiger also said the Creek Nation has greatly improved its relationship with state and local lawmakers and hopes to continue that trend.
That was very apparent at the address today, when several current and former state lawmakers were seen in the crowd.