Chief Walking Eagle, a friend of mind and a Cherokee, sent the following to me tonight and asked for help in spreading the word. If you are reading this, thank you.
Though I am not Indian, and I didn't know the details of the Trail of Tears before I came here and was befriended by Creek Storyteller Doris Adams, musician Billy Whitefox, my writer friend and mentor, Walt Larson who has passed, and Chief Larry, I was ignorant of the history of the southern tribes. The Trail of Tears was a monstrous deed, and I am sure the letter below will touch you.
Please send this on, tweet it, do whatever you can to help stop the construction of the casino and parking lot on this hallowed ground.
If you have loved ones, you would not want them dug up or covered up for a commercial building.
Toll-free to Congress: 866-220-0044
August 30, 2012
OCE VPOFA MEKKO (HICKORY GROUND CHIEF)
My name is George Thompson; I have been the Oce Vpofa Mekko for 42
plus years. This is a lifetime position and it will be until the
day I die. It is not our character as Muscogee (Creek) people to
express our customs, rituals and traditions to those outside.
Things that have been passed down decades and decades stay deep
within. So it is a rarity that I come to you to express myself.
But I feel strongly about the subject at hand and I come to you
with a heavy heart.
The Mekkos before me were lifetime positions as well. It was only
four chiefs ago that our people sat at our traditional ceremonial
grounds in Wetumpka, Oce Vpofa (Hickory Ground) Alabama. This was
the beginning of our people and our traditional home. We are not
rich in money, but we are rich in our knowledge and the language
of who we truly are as Muscogee (Creek) citizens of Hickory Ground
here in Oklahoma. These chiefs that came before me sat in their
arbors, surrounding the fire, and taking medicine and
participating in sacred ceremonies in Wetumpka, Alabama.
Today, this sacred ceremonial ground and burial site have been
disturbed and is a parking lot and hotel casino for the Poarch
Band of Creeks in Alabama. In the process of building this casino
expansion, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians dug up seven chiefs
and 56 remains. This truly makes me sad.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians claims that they are lineal
(direct) descendants of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians gained Federal recognition as a
Tribe by using this lineage to validate their claims as Indian
people. When the United States government gave them federal
recognition, they also gave them the Hickory Ground land in
Wetumpka, Alabama as part of their reservation land.
The Poarch Band Creeks’ claim in the 1980's that this property to
be included in their reservation was valuable and that the Hickory
Ground Creek people in Oklahoma would be pleased to know that
their ancestral homeland in Alabama was being preserved. As Mekko
of Hickory Ground in Oklahoma, if building a multi-million dollar
casino on top of our ceremonial grounds is the Poarch Band's way
of preserving our ancestral home, then I don't want it to be
preserved their way. My way of preserving this land is by leaving
it alone and putting it back to its natural state. We are not
opposed to the Poarch Band casino, or their parking lot. We are
opposed to where it is being built.
I ask you to stand with us in stopping the destruction of our
burial sites and sacred ceremonial ground. We do not want them to
build on top of our people. They are digging up the last known
cultural capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. This was our land
until the United States government forced us to relocate to
Oklahoma during the death marches in the 1830's, or what is more
commonly known as "The Trail of Tears". During the Trail of Tears,
we lost thousands of our people along the way, but our people
survived, and our fires kept burning and our ceremonies and
traditional lifestyle stayed alive. I believe that the tears that
ran down our face during this march was because we left our
ceremonial grounds and our dead behind. We worried what would
happen to them and would we ever be able to return to our
ancestral lands. Little did we know at that time, that some 180
plus years later that our "brothers", the Poarch Band of Creek
Indians, would dig up our dead for financial gain. The Hickory
Ground people of Oklahoma have a new reason for tears to flow down
When the Poarch Band of Creeks became federally recognized, they
promised to protect the historic and sacred Hickory Ground site.
The Poarch Band of Creeks offered to build a "Memorial Garden and
Interpretive Center" to honor Hickory Ground and the estimated 60
remains they had already dug up. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation of
Oklahoma did not agree with this plan. We do not publicize our
dances or sell our medicine. We don't invite outsiders into our
traditions so that our ways become a novelty that can be sold in a
gift shop. Our tradition and our ancestors are not a tourist
We do not know of any Nation or group of people that condone
digging up their relatives for financial gain. There is no custom
or tradition that I am aware of where this would be acceptable.
As the Oce Vpofa Mekko, I fight for our people because I have to
face them someday when I die and I will have to explain to them
how hard I fought to preserve their final resting place. When my
spirit comes to face them, I do not want my spirit to walk through
your casino to greet them.
To all the agencies, the men, women and children of all Nations,
saying thank you for supporting this cause will never be enough.
There are no words to express my feelings for your support in
preserving this sacred site and burial ground. But for now, this
is all that I can offer. To my people of Oce Vpofa (Hickory
Ground), I will fight to protect our ancestors until the day I
die, for I will have to see the traditional people of my sacred
homeland one day.
I send this plea to all Indian Nations, all Nations of color and
Nations throughout the world to stand with the Oce Vpofa (Hickory
Ground) people and stop the Poarch Band of Creeks from further
desecrating our sacred lands and implore them to return our
ancestors and their burial objects, and our cultural items where
they were taken from.
In closing, I would especially like to thank the people of
Muscogee (Creek) Nation for keeping our ceremonies alive and well.
Not only are we closing ceremonies for the winter with medicine
now, but also with the "LITTLE BROTHER OF WAR."
Mvto (Thank You)
Oce Vpofa Mekko (Hickory Ground Traditional Chief)
* Mekko means “King” or commonly referred to as Chief. This
position is a traditional Chief as opposed to the modern day
* Oce Vpofa Mekko = o-je|uh-bo-vuh|me-ko
For more information please visit www.SaveHickoryGround.org