Robyn Whitecloud and Dode Barnett
Robyn Whitecloud and Dode Barnett ousted incumbents from the Muscogee (Creek) National Council on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (NonDoc)

The Muscogee National Council will be looking for a new speaker after voters selected challengers Dode Barnett and Robyn Whitecloud over incumbent Rep. Joseph Hicks and Speaker William Lowe.

Unofficial results posted to the Muscogee Nation Election Board’s Facebook page shortly before 10 p.m. showed Whitecloud (1,729 votes) receiving 52.25 percent of the vote over Lowe (1,580 votes), who finished with 47.75 percent support in the Okmulgee District Seat A race.

Hicks, who faces a court appearance Monday, received more votes than Lowe but still lost to Barnett. In the Creek District Seat A race, Barnett (1,690 votes) received 51.35 percent of the vote compared to Hicks (1,601 votes) who received 48.65 percent support.

All Muscogee registered voters can vote in each National Council district and seat, but with undervotes recorded in both races, ultimately 18 more people voted in the Okmulgee seat than the Creek seat for Saturday’s general election. Results are considered unofficial until they are certified by the tribe’s election board.

For Barnett, victory Saturday means a return to the National Council after her previous term ended with reprimand proceedings that she described as a “kangaroo court.”

“Partly because of this awful personal experience, I am adamant about reform and change in our nation’s legislative body,” Barnett wrote in a statement released in response to Hicks’ criticism. “I was accused, investigated and punished without due process. The meetings held were not transparent, followed no rules and were not just. The complaints against me were not true, and it was clear some council members had personal axes to grind with me so I took my lumps and finished my term.”

Whitecloud, on the other hand, will move from employee of the Muscogee National Council to representative. With a background in accounting, Whitecloud has worked 19 years for the Muscogee Nation, most recently as a finance officer for the National Council.

“I just felt like we needed someone that’s going to get in there and fight for positive change,” Whitecloud told NonDoc before the election. “I’m a no-nonsense kind of gal, and I feel like I can get in there, and I know how to get things done, and I know how to take care of business. I’m not going to be blowing smoke in your face for 20 minutes and not really say anything.”

Neither Barnett nor Whitecloud posted a statement about Saturday’s election results on their Facebook pages prior to the publication of this article Sunday morning.

Lowe, however, did make a post.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Mvskoke voters for their support throughout this campaign,” Lowe said. “While we may not have won reelection, I am proud of the fair and honest campaign we ran. Our tribal elections are about choices, and I respect the voters’ decisions. I will continue to work for the betterment of our great Mvskoke Nation in whatever capacity I can. MVTO!”

Unofficial general results posted to the Muscogee Nation Election Board on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, show Robyn Whitecloud defeating Speaker William Lowe and Dode Barnett defeating Rep. Joseph Hicks. (Facebook)

Voters retained chief, second chief in primary

In September’s primary election, Muscogee voters reelected Rep. Darrell Proctor with 58.73 percent support to a fifth term as representative of Seat A in the McIntosh District, which he has served for the last 16 years.

Every two years, half of the Muscogee National Council’s 16 seats are up for election. Eight total council seats were up for grabs this year, but five incumbents won by default after no one filed against them:

  • Rep. Mary Crawford, Muskogee District Seat A;
  • Rep. Randall Hicks, Okfuskee District Seat A;
  • Rep. Anna Marshall, Tukvpvtce District Seat A;
  • Rep. Robert Hufft, Tulsa District Seat A;
  • Rep. Charles McHenry, Wagoner District Seat A.

In September’s primary election, Muscogee voters also reelected Principal Chief David Hill and Second Chief Del Beaver. In that election, 4,037 ballots were cast, down from the 5,137 ballots cast during the Muscogee Nation’s primary chief election cycle in November 2019, which was re-conducted one month after the tribe’s Supreme Court invalidated the original September results following an investigation into how absentee ballots had been handled.

With 18,147 Muscogee citizens registered to vote for September’s primary election, it featured about 22.2 percent voter turnout. An additional 64 voters registered ahead of Saturday’s general election. With 3,327 ballots cast in Saturday’s general election, voter turnout totaled about 18.3 percent.

The Muscogee (Creek) National Council is comprised of 16 seats in eight districts, and all registered voters are allowed to cast ballots in each race, even though citizens must reside within their district and meet a one-quarter blood quantum requirement to seek council office. Meetings are streamed live on the council’s website.