Allow me to introduce myself to the readers and tribal citizens of the great Muscogee (Creek) Nation. I am Rita Courtwright, Managing Editor for Mvskoke Media. I am from the Wotkvlke Clan and a descendant of the Keco Pvtake Tribal Town. I am the daughter of tribal member Vernon Courtwright, who also serves on the MCN Honor Guard and the MCN Election Board, and Kathryn. I am the wife of Eric Blevins and the mother to two tribal citizens, Madeline, a current student at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, NM and a former Jr. Miss Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and Corbin, a student at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, OK.
I graduated high school from Checotah and began my education in journalism at Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton, OK under the advisement of Barbara Bashore, who was one of the most influential instructors I ever had. Barbara, or “Aunt Barb” as she allowed us to call her, saw potential in me as a writer and opened up a path I had never dreamed of following.
From junior college I moved on to complete a Master of Arts in Mass Communications and Native American Studies from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK where I now call home.
I began my tribal career in 2002, when I took a position in public relations with Cherokee Nation and then as a marketing manager for Cherokee Nation Enterprises. After nine years, and many hours of my dad coaxing me on the importance of giving back to my own tribe, I began searching for positions within MCN.
Former College of the Muscogee Nation Dean of Academic Affairs, Angela Bunner, and Regents Director for Institutional Effectiveness, Dr. James King, saw something in me as well, and soon became my mentors in traversing a new path, when they offered me the position of Academic Core Instructor.
This position allowed me the opportunity to nurture the confidence and self-esteem of Native American students. The opportunity to work as a college instructor gave me a much clearer understanding of our culture and perseverance as a Nation. This also allowed me to play a role in empowering our nation through higher education, as we successfully fulfilled the requirements to become the first fully accredited tribal college in the state of Oklahoma.
Now, I am grateful to be given a new path to follow, which brings me full circle back to when I first began my college education…journalism.
Transition into my current position has not been one of the smoothest, but I feel I have adapted quickly. Within the first three weeks I saw the person who hired me quit in protest due to the removal of free press, and our editorial board wiped out. Our independence was removed and we were placed back under the guidance of the tribe.
Because of these changes we do have an approval process for our stories, however, this process is only in place to ensure that what is reported is accurate and truthful, and I alone make the decision on what stories should be passed along for approval. I am also very confident in the leadership that we have been placed under, Elijah McIntosh, Secretary of the Nation and Commerce is a firm believer in journalism integrity and ethical standards.
I will strive to provide the most accurate, timely and trustworthy news information to you, the citizens of this tribe. I will work diligently to maintain a level of transparency within our department and our tribe so that our citizens can feel completely secure in the fact that the news they will be reading is truthful and unbiased in all forms. I will keep an open door policy and welcome people to reach out to me via phone or e-mail to let me know how we can better serve you.
If you know of Mvskoke citizens to highlight, have items to be printed (our creative design team is award winning and produces some fantastic merchandise), please contact our office.
You can become more aware of the latest tribal news by picking up a bi-weekly copy of The Mvsoke News, catching our weekly Mvskoke Radio Show at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays on 1240AM ‘The Brew,’ or our television series, Mvskoke Vision, which airs on the CW-19 at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and can also be found through our YouTube channel for those without access to local airing.
Mvto, for allowing me the time to introduce myself and to assure you that in spite of the challenges I will work diligently to honestly and ethically report the news of this great Nation.
You can reach Rita Courtwright by e-mail at: email@example.com or by phone at 918-732-7762.
The views expressed in this column are those of the editor and should not be attributed to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.