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David Hill speaks during a Muscogee (Creek) Nation candidate forum in Muskogee in September. Hill won the runoff election for principal chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. SAMANTHA VICENT/Tulsa World file

Congratulations to David Hill, who won last weekend’s runoff election for principal chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Hill, a second speaker and 12-year member of the tribal council, defeated former Tulsa District representative Bim Steven Bruner on a vote of 3,399-1,779. The results were certified Friday evening. Hill is scheduled to take the oath of office Jan. 4.

It’s the third time Hill came in first and Bruner second in the principal chief vote. Hill placed first in the Sept. 21 primary, but the tribe’s supreme court threw out the results because of absentee ballot security concerns. In the subsequent Nov. 2 primary do-over, he again came in first place, as he did in last week’s runoff.

Representatives from the Atlanta-based Carter Center were on hand to observe the elections and the vote tabulation in November and last week.

Stevens will replace Principal Chief James Floyd, who announced this summer that he wouldn’t stand for reelection to lead the 87,000-member Creek Nation, the fourth largest tribe in the U.S. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation owes many thanks to Floyd for his leadership during stressful times, including the spring floods that threatened the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa and recent months of conflict with Gov. Kevin Stitt over the future nature of tribal gaming in the state.

The continuing dispute with Stitt will likely be an early challenge for Stevens, who will have to weigh constantly the best interests of the tribe moving forward.

We wish him the best of luck. In recent years, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has grown to be a mainstay of the economy of Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma. It is a major local employer and pours millions into local education, health and economic development projects.

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