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WETUMPKA, ALABAMA Even though the Muscogee Creek Nation was removed from Alabama during the 1830s to Oklahoma, Muscogee did not forget where they came from.
Poarch Band of Creek Indians Creek Casino Wetumpka Expansion Project
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is now embroiled in a dispute with Poarch Band of Creek Indians over the desecration of ancestral burial grounds in Alabama.
The Muscogee Nation is demanding a halt to construction of the "Creek Casino Wetumpka"expansion project, which is desecrating the sacred Hickory Ground. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians already excavated approximately 60 human remains to build the casino, and the recently announced $246 million expansion will cause further desecration to Hickory Ground.
“The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is committed to protecting the burial and ceremonial grounds of our ancestors,”
said Principal Chief George Tiger.
“We have attempted to convey to the Poarch Band why it is wrong to disturb the peace of our ancestors and burial grounds. However, the Poarch Band does not seem to share our cultural values and respect our traditional ways.”
Hickory Ground, known as "Oce Vpofa" in the Muscogee language, was the last capital of the National Council of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, prior to forced removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s. The sacred place includes a ceremonial ground, a tribal burial ground and individual graves.
Hickory Ground was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. In 1984, the federal government officially recognized the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, descendants of Muscogee (Creeks) who were not removed and did not live in Alabama as Muscogee Creeks. The Alabama Historical Commission transferred Hickory Ground to the Poarch Band, even though they had no direct ancestral or cultural connection to the ceremonial ground.
Although the Poarch Band promised to preserve the Hickory Ground for the benefit of all Creek Indians, the Poarch Band exhumed Muscogee human remains and ceremonial objects to build the Creek Casino Wetumpka, with assistance from researchers at Auburn University. The excavated human remains belong to the lineal ancestors of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma, who hold Hickory Ground as sacred and oppose development on the ceremonial ground.
“The desecration of a tribal grave, burial or ceremonial place is a human rights violation,”
says attorney Brendan Ludwick, who represents the Muscogee (Creek) Peoples in Oklahoma opposing the development.
Mekko George Thompson, who has served as a traditional Chief of the Oce Vpofa Muscogee Creeks in Oklahoma for 42 years, said,
“Our ancestors and their burial objects, and our cultural items need to be returned where they were taken from, and the whole place needs to go back to nature.”
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is a federally recognized Indian tribe based near Okmulgee Oklahoma. The Oce Vpofa Muscogee (Creeks) were forcibly removed from their historic, ceremonial and ancestral Hickory Ground near Wetumpka, Alabama, but retain their strong ties and obligations to their homelands and ancestors, along with their traditions and heritage language.
updated 10:20 am edt; posted August 10, 2012 8:50 am edt