‘Servant Leader’ attitude attributed to military background
Veterans Day is Nov. 11, a time spent to thank the men and women that have given part of their life to serve in the U.S. military. Some have spent their whole career serving, while others have participated in the required time, and then returned to civilian life.
One of those veterans happens to be William Lowe, who served as a Marine, and who happens to also be a member of the Muscogee Nation National Council for one term, and is seeking re-election to continue his service to his Nation.
Lowe will face Robyn Whitecloud in the General Election on Saturday for Seat A of the Okmulgee District. Another veteran, Joseph Hicks, is also on the ballot, as he seeks re-election to Seat A in the Creek District.
Politics aside, Lowe shared how important his military service is and continues to be, especially working in helping all he can as a member of the Muscogee Nation National Council.
Lowe grew up in Eufaula, the oldest of seven siblings, and attended the Nation’s boarding school, Eufaula Dormitory, where his grandmother, who reared him, also worked.
After graduation, he started attending college at Bacone University, but after one semester, answered the call to join the military, leaving two weeks later to become a Marine.
“That’s where I’ve just really learned to be a servant, a servant leader,” Lowe said. He served for nine years, and was stationed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt for two years as an infantryman, and then at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.
There were several members of his family who served in the military.
“My uncles were Marines,” he said. “My grandfather was in World War II. He was in the army … I had one cousin that was a sailor, and all my uncles really made fun of him all the time. But I’m like, ‘Hey, he’s a veteran.’” He also has a daughter who served in the U.S. Army.
Lowe was also a marksmanship instructor in Virginia Beach.
“It really taught me to respect what I already had here at home, and to get my MBA – that infantry really taught me there’s better things to do with your life,” he said.
Following his discharge, Lowe returned to Oklahoma, moving to Okmulgee with his young daughter.
Lowe applied for a job with the Muscogee Nation, but was denied the opportunity since one of the requirements was to have a Bachelor Degree.
“The HR director says ‘until you have a Bachelor’s degree, we have no job for you.’ And it hurt my heart because I’m like, here I am. I served our country. I have all this experience. I just don’t have a degree,” Lowe said.
Lowe then went to work for the Cherokee Nation, getting assistance as a veteran to obtain work.
He then learned about a program that was almost tuition-free at Bacone College, that allowed Lowe to attend school and receive his degree.
“So I ended up staying in the Cherokee Nation for about 13 years,” Lowe said. “I got my undergrads … but for me, I learned how me not finishing that semester, I had to get academic forgiveness from the board, because I failed all my classes. They’re like, ‘We appreciate your service, but you’re gonna need to start all over.’ So I really understood that. Boy, I encourage people if you go to school, you either drop out, respectively, technically do it correctly. Because if not years later, and you feel you’re ready to go back you’re gonna have to do they’re all from scratch.”
Lowe used that experience later to get changes made to assist the veterans and not ‘penalize them’ for their time of service.
“We were missing out on a lot of good employees… and that is something that has been implemented,” Lowe said.
Lowe has also worked for Bacone College, Highland Park Manor in Okmulgee, and was a member of the Okmulgee Lions Club. In the meantime, he has obtained his Masters of Business Administration, which served him well in the next chapter of his life.
As he was about to graduate, Lowe learned that Del Beaver was running for Second Chief of the Muscogee Nation. He jumped into the race to represent Okmulgee District A and was elected in 2019.
Two years later, Lowe had the privilege of being named Speaker of the House for the National Council.
His degrees, along with his experiences in the military, has aided and guided him in the job as a National Council member.
Speaking about the challenges, Lowe highlighted several of those: “I think some of the challenges that we almost face today is people have a misconception that each council rep can make all these changes themselves,” he said. “There are 16 of us, there is no way you can do it.”
Lowe is careful about making promises, knowing that he alone can’t make decisions or changes.
“I would say … 93% of our duties is helping citizens,” he said, “and about seven percent is writing laws, and voting even though we do it every month. That’s the misconception people have. It’s about helping our people, not so much passing laws … Every month we have our meetings and last Saturday, I ran our meeting, we had 27 pieces of legislation. Yes, that’s monthly. But since then, even this morning, it’s been helping all of our citizens.”
Lowe fields calls daily seeking assistance from citizens involving a variety of things such as housing, or even roof repairs.
Of utmost importance to Lowe is being sure to not only know the laws, but also following the rules.
“I follow the rules,” he said. “That’s important. For me, and especially as a veteran, that’s something I’m very proud of and I will always be consistent in following the rules…” Along with that, despite negative things said, Lowe says he focuses on being positive, and “I just keep telling them, “if you have questions about my character, about what I’ve done on the council, please call me.”
Lowe was voted as chair of the Business, Finance and Justice Committee, and with that, “I’ve learned how to run our business and finance committee. I’ve learned the details. I’ve learned everything from the behind the scenes type stuff.”
When approached about being Speaker of the House, Lowe said, “If you feel that I’m qualified enough to be our speaker, I’m not going to say no. And then two years later, they voted me in as speaker.”
What achievement(s) is Lowe most proud of?
“I would say one of the things that I’m most proud of, is what I’ve done for people. I help our people every day. You know, for me, I enjoy being the speaker. Because to me, I think I’ve brought our meetings closer. I tried to bring our Council closer.”
Lowe has also received training and helped bring in resources for his constituents. He stated he is not afraid to ask the tough questions, especially when it comes to expending funds.
“I understand what I’m looking at, such as finances and legislation. I asked the tough questions. Some people don’t like it. They look at me as trying to be awful. But no, you got to show me the logic … “For me, it’s holding people accountable…” With early voting today and tomorrow, Lowe encourages all to get out and vote.
Election day is Saturday, and all Muscogee citizens are asked to cast their ballots.
Lowe is looking forward to hopefully continuing the service as a member of the National Council.