Published November 18, 2018
NORMAN, Okla. — The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and other free press advocates condemn the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s decision to repeal it’s press freedom law. The move by the nation’s tribal council is an alarming attack on press freedom in Indian Country.
On Nov. 7, the Muscogee (Creek) National Council introduced legislation to repeal the free press act. It was signed into law by Principal Chief James Floyd within 24 hours.
NAJA has since confirmed that staff of Mvskoke Media, a tribally-funded media outlet, have been instructed to send all future content to the executive branch for approval. This is a direct form of censorship and restricts the ability of Mvskoke Media reporters to seek truth and report on stories of importance to Muscogee (Creek) citizens.
During debate on the measure, elected officials cited a desire to see “more positive stories” in the newspaper.
It is the position of NAJA that the legal code of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation should reflect its values, and the repeal of the free press act is a direct attack on a fundamental Indigenous right.
By repealing the law, the tribal council has dissolved the firewall between reporters and government officials, placing Mvskoke Media staff under the direction of the Secretary of the Nation and Commerce, Elijah W. McIntosh.
Indigenous journalism plays a critical role in supporting tribal sovereignty and self-determination. From holding the powerful accountable to disseminating stories of cultural significance, a free and independent Indigenous press supports the goals of tribal nations by providing an open public forum for community voices. The council’s actions undermine this role and demean this traditional responsibility.
The new historians of the Muscogee (Creek) hold the responsibility of passing on a complete history of the nation to the next generation. The council’s actions sever its ties to its past and future by failing to recognize the importance of those stories and the journalists telling them.
NAJA and its partners call for the immediate reinstatement of the free press act and for Muscogee (Creek) officials to allow citizens to receive, and impart, information without government interference.