May 29, 2020
We hope that all of our citizens and their families are doing well and staying safe. The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted our daily lives and routines on several levels. A lot has happened since we last were able to address you in this format and we are grateful to once again have this opportunity to practice governmental transparency. We have had an extremely busy, yet productive week within the Executive Branch and we’re happy to share some focal points of our activities.
First and foremost, we are thrilled to welcome our employees back to work on June 1.
This decision came through several weeks of consulting with our health officials because safety has always been our top priority. The data and information we’re receiving along with the precautions we will be putting into place through our comprehensive “Protect Our People” return initiative, leaves us confident that it’s the right time to bring our employees back.
We’re happy to report that our casino operations will also resume on June 1, albeit with health restrictions in place to maximize safety. Our Gaming Board, casino officials and employees and MCN Health have done a phenomenal job working together throughout this interruption and have put a great plan in place to get the doors open again for our guests.
On April 24, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation IT Department informed our office of a potential data security incident that required our attention and swift action. On April 27, we held the first of three updates with the National Council to inform the legislative branch of the situation. This office was advised by cyber security experts and investigators that the utmost discretion was needed to secure the situation, as well as to not hinder the investigation. There was never evidence provided at any time during the investigation that any personal information or sensitive data was stolen or compromised. Today, we learned that the forensic investigation is being finalized with still no evidence of a breach of citizens’ personal information. Until the investigation is concluded no specifics can be publicly discussed, however we expect a final technical analysis report of the incident will be available June 10.
Finally, we are happy to announce a historic payment to the tribe of $282 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund established through the CARES Act. A committee was formed to deploy these funds which included grant professionals, federal policy experts and National Council representatives to provide citizen input on the distribution. This committee has thoroughly assessed the guidelines and restrictions of this funding, and have named four key areas for disbursement: Individual and Family Support, Health Care Services and Access, Government Operations and Infrastructure, and Business & Enterprise Relief. We feel strongly that this relief funding is meant for the prosperity of our Nation’s citizens. We are confident that the committee has addressed crucial areas of need, while remaining good stewards of this fund by adhering to the standards and purpose set forth in the guidelines.
In closing, we want to let our citizens know that we value their input and welcome their interest in the operations of tribal government. While we admit that we have been faced with what at times seems like an unimaginable situation and having to make several difficult decisions, we appreciate the support we’ve received. Stay blessed and stay safe.
David W. Hill, Principal Chief
Del Beaver, Second Chief