Cold weather presents challenges, opportunities
KVSVPE! In our Muscogee language, that is the word for cold. I’m not sure there is a word in our language to describe just exactly how cold it has been, though!
Weather like we have had certainly presents challenges to national, state, city and tribal governments. We have seen unprecedented wind chills and conditions in Oklahoma and Texas stretch the limits of our energy capacity. Power companies were forced to schedule rolling interruptions - indicating just how desperate the situation has been. The challenges we have all faced over the last several days has led me to think a lot about those that walked the Trail of Tears. Our ancestors travelled in conditions that were equally as miserable and there weren’t nearly the comforts we enjoy today to take the sting out of the cold.
But our ancestors endured. Instilling a toughness in our people that continues today. I have been so pleased with the level of commitment to service that I have seen from our various departments, employees and neighboring communities this week. We have many vulnerable citizens, and when the weather gets to these dangerous levels our priorities and our focus shifts to their well-being. We’ve had water outages, power interruptions, hazardous travel conditions and several other obstacles to contend with. So many have stepped up to assist.
When I asked our people during my State of the Nation address, “what will you do to help your Nation, can you check on each other and make sure we all have what we need?” I’m so happy to see that many of you were listening and took those words to heart. If we are going to be all-in for our people and for our communities, then it is going to take all of us pulling on the same rope to get it done. This week’s weather, while obviously challenging, provided a tremendous opportunity to show we can come together for the good of all. If you took water to elders that had theirs shut off, if you worked extra hours clearing hazardous roads, if you got out on the roads and made it to our health facilities so that we could continue providing care, I say MVTO! The Nation recognizes your efforts, and it is appreciated by 90,000 strong.
Although we have been focused on the weather in Oklahoma, some important news came out of Washington, D.C. this week, too. On Feb. 17, the House Natural Resources Committee held an organizational meeting and selected the Chair and Ranking Republican Member of the House Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples. The Democrats selected freshman Representative Teresa Leger-Fernandez of New Mexico to Chair the Subcommittee. She is a highly respected attorney who has served as counsel to several tribal nations. Though a freshman member, Leger-Fernandez was selected due to her experience with and interest in supporting tribes and our sovereignty. The Republicans selected the longest serving Member of the House, Representative Don Young of Alaska. Rep. Young has been a champion of Native issues since the 1970s and is expected to be supportive on many tribal priorities.
Congresswoman Deb Haaland will have her Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of the Interior on February 23. Haaland, if confirmed, will become the first Native American to hold a Cabinet Secretary position in U.S. history. The Muscogee Nation has communicated our support for Congressswoman Haaland’s confirmation and look forward to the chance to work with the agency under her leadership.
Our Muscogee Nation vaccination efforts continue to be a huge success. Our vaccination numbers continue to increase, and we are looking forward to moving into the next phases. Please visit our website www.creekhealth.org for additional information on the vaccine and to learn where we are in our efforts. Let’s keep strengthening our Nation through vaccination!
In closing, please continue to stay safe and weather aware. Winter isn’t over, and there will be chances for future precipitation. Being prepared before it hits is always the best option. Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other. MVTO!
For our people, for our communities, for our next generations,