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Tribe increases its hourly minimum wage

By The Associated Press Published: October 12, 2006
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has raised its hourly minimum wage to $7.67, giving a raise of more than a dollar an hour to the tribe's lowest-paid employees.

Before the increase, the tribe could pay workers as little as $5.15, which is the state and federal minimum wage, but most of its employees earned at least $6 an hour.

Principal Chief A.D. Ellis said Tuesday the raise, approved by tribal leaders last week, is intended to help with employee retention. The pay hike will be reflected in the next check sent to employees.

Christine Denny, supervisor of the tribe's child development center in Tulsa, said the pay increase is overdue.

"It's long deserved, and I'm really glad they got it," Denny said. "Especially for the type of work they're doing. No one really understands the type of work we do. I know the people I work with. They deserve it. They work really hard, and I'm glad to see they are finally being compensated."

Ellis said he hopes the tribe will be able to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour within two years.

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed a minimum wage measure last month that would have raised the wage to $8 an hour, but Principal Chief Chad Smith vetoed the law. Smith said he supports a minimum wage increase but would rather the tribe phase in the raises.

Chickasaw Nation spokeswoman Robyn Elliot said the tribe has a minimum wage of $5.35 an hour for summer interns and summer youth employees, but most tribal employees start at $7 an hour. has disabled the comments for this article.