Muscogee National Council approves constitutional amendment ballot question on free press

The Muscogee National Council passed legislation for a ballot question to amend the tribal constitution during September 18 election

The Native American Journalists Association commends the Muscogee Nation for approving legislation to add a ballot question that would strengthen free press protections within the tribal constitution. 

The Muscogee National Council passed NCA 21-053, sponsored by Rep. Mark Randolph, by a vote of 13-2 on May 22 during the regular session. Reps. Joyce Deere and Anna Marshall voted against the bill. Principal Chief David Hill signed the legislation June 2. Proposed legislation amending the tribal constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote of the full Council.

To be fully ratified, the constitutional amendment will require a two-thirds majority vote of eligible citizens who vote in the September 18 primary election. 

The Muscogee Nation restored free press protections to the tribal code for Mvskoke Media in July 2020. The amendment to the tribal constitution would ensure that citizens must approve any future changes or repeal of the free press law. 

The Mvskoke Media Editorial Board serves as a buffer between the department’s leadership and the government. It outlines the board’s responsibility to hire the director of the independent agency, as well as the director’s oversight of staff. 

The amendment, NCA 21-053, allocates tribal funding to support day-to-day operations of the independent agency, covering essential staff and news production costs. 

It also defines how the ballot question will be presented to citizens. 

During the meeting, NAJA Executive Director, Mvskoke Media Editorial Board President and Muscogee (Creek) citizen Rebecca Landsberry-Baker said this fortification of Mvskoke Media’s protections would further empower the department to counter the biased narrative crafted by mainstream media regarding the tribe’s historic U.S. Supreme Court sovereignty case, McGirt v. Oklahoma. 

If adopted, the Muscogee Nation would be the first tribe to add free press protections to the constitution for their independent tribal media.

NAJA encourages citizens to consider the ballot question in September to solidify protections for independent tribal media and support unbiased reporting of news and information regarding the Muscogee Nation.

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