Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health is one of the largest Tribal Health Systems in Oklahoma. The foundations of the current Muscogee (Creek) Nation Health System can be traced to the Snyder Act of 1921 and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 1976, which provide specific legislative authority for Congress to appropriate funds for the healthcare of Indian people. The basis for the development of the present system of health for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation began in 1975, with the passage of the Indian Self-Determination and Education and Assistance Act. This legislation gave Tribal governments the ability to contract and operate programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

On November 4, 1977, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation signed a Sub-Lease agreement and an Operation and Maintenance agreement with the Trustees of the Okfuskee Memorial Hospital Authority and the Okfuskee County Commissioners to occupy and operate the former Okfuskee County Hospital in Okemah on a thirty-year lease purchase. That facility is now the Creek Nation Community Hospital in Okemah, Oklahoma.

From 1976 through 1988, the Health System was operated under the broad guidance of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, which included the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. In 1988, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council approved the Hospital and Clinic Board Act of 1988, which established a Board to provide for the functional management of the Health System. In 1992, legislation was passed that created the Division of Health Administration, moving the functional management of the Health System directly under the Executive Branch of the Nation. The Division was managed by a Director appointed by the Principal Chief with the consent of the National Council. This was changed in 1994 with the passage of the Hospital and Clinics Act of 1994, which established the Health System as an independent agency of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation separate from the Executive Branch and under the direct oversight and management of a Health System Board. The Division Director was to be recommended by the Board and approved by the National Council and Principal Chief.

Prior to 2002, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation had contracted with Indian Health Service to provide healthcare services to its citizens. In 2002, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation entered into an Indian Self-Determination compact with the Indian Health Service to provide for the healthcare needs of its people. This method of agreement allowed the Muscogee (Creek) Nation much greater flexibility in the provision of services for the tribal population.

The Health System remained under the control of the Health System Board until February 2009. At that time, the National Council passed legislation thereby eliminating the Health Board, changing the status of the Health System from an independent agency, and returning it to the direct supervision of the Executive Branch, with the Secretary of Health appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the National Council.