Pictured: Muscogee (Creek) Nation Okemah Community Hospital. The Tribe also operates one of the largest Tribal health systems in Oklahoma, providing more than 120,000 patient visits annually with an estimated annual impact of care provided exceeding $37 million annually to Medicaid-enrolled Indian and non-Indians.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation contributes more than $1.4 billion a year to the national economy, accounting for more than 10,000 jobs and paying $443 million in wages and benefits. And its economic impact on Oklahoma in 2017 alone reached $866 million, according to the Tribe’s first-ever comprehensive economic impact study released yesterday. The study was led by an economist from Oklahoma City University and conducted by Economic Impact Group.
“The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is thriving,” said Principal Chief James Floyd. “We’re undoubtedly an important part of the greater economy.”
The Tribe employees 8,649 people statewide, paying $303 million in wages and compensation.
Even when the Arkansas River flooding caused the Tribe’s River Spirit Casino in Tulsa to close for two pay periods, affecting 1,400, the Tribe paid those employees, equating to $5 million in payroll expenses.
“We are committed to our workers and to River Spirit Casino in Tulsa,” Floyd said. “Continuing to pay wages despite the closure shows our investment in our employees.”
River Spirit Casino CEO Pat Crofts added: “The last month showed how important we are to the local economy. We’re extremely important to the city because most our employees are local and spend their wages at local businesses and on the necessities needed to live, like utility bills and their mortgage or rent.”
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation also provided $12 million to state and local education programs, and $7.6 million for roads, bridges and other infrastructure. The Tribe also operates one of the largest Tribal health systems in Oklahoma, providing more than 120,000 patient visits annually with an estimated annual impact of care provided exceeding $37 million annually to Medicaid-enrolled Indian and non-Indians.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the country’s fourth largest federally recognized Tribe, counts more than 87,000 citizens, including 75 percent who reside in Oklahoma. In comparison to its $1.4 billion national economic impact in 2017, the Cherokee Nation, the largest Tribe in the United States, reported an economic impact of $2.2 billion in northeast Oklahoma in 2018.
Economist Kyle Dean, who conducted the Creek study, compared the Tribe’s impact on the local economy to a global corporation’s — but a better asset, as the Tribe requires no incentive to invest in Oklahoma.
In 2017, cities across the nation, including Tulsa, submitted bids to win Amazon’s “second headquarters,” offering millions of dollars in tax incentives — with Arlington, Virginia, successfully bidding $573 million in anticipation that the corporation will create 25,000 jobs there.
“How much would Oklahoma be willing to pay for a $866 million impact?” Dean asked The Tulsa World. “How much would Tulsa be willing to offer?”
The Creek Nation, alternatively, is “going to make a huge contribution to the state’s economy year after year, forever, and nobody can take it away,” he told The Tulsa World. “There’s no way I can calculate what that is worth to the state.”
In addition to the economic impact report, a new website allows users to select a county and read about how the tribe has invested in that area. The website can be viewed at www.mcnimpact.com. For example, 36 Lighthorse officers patrol an area four times the size of Rhode Island. A team of swift-water rescuers has been deployed to rescue missions across Oklahoma and other states. Meanwhile, a $50 million investment in Okfuskee County built the Okemah Creek Nation Community Hospital, which serves both Native Americans and non-Native Americans.
“We want to continually improve the lives of Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizens and non-citizens alike, and we continue to invest thoughtfully in critical services areas as well as cultural experiences and tourism,” Floyd said. “We hope the report and accompanying website will give thorough insights into our work in Oklahoma.”