FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 24, 2018
Where it All Began: Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reflects Arrival to Indian Territory, History of Council Oak Tree
TULSA, Okla. – Each year, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation holds its Council Oak Ceremony at the Creek Nation Council Oak Park in Tulsa, Okla., to celebrate the Mvskoke (Muscogee) people and reflect on the tribe’s history and triumphs over the years.
The gathering allows citizens to not only reflect on the victories that exceeded the trials the Nation has faced throughout history, but also honor the ancestors for their dedication to the tribe and preserving the Mvskoke traditions and beliefs that continue to live on to this day and generations to come.
With several tribal citizens, dignitaries and community members in attendance, MCN Principal Chief James R. Floyd said the Oct. 20 ceremony was a day set aside as an opportunity to reflect and enjoy fellowship of the Mvskoke people and renew friendships.
“I especially want to thank the Mekko-vlke (Traditional Leadership) that are here today for all that they do in service to us,” Floyd said. “As this tree is a site that represents the service they’ve served throughout their lives that has passed on to succeeding generations, to these folks here that have dedicated their life to service us and carrying on our traditions and our beliefs.”
MCN’s Royalty, Miss Nina Fox and Jr. Miss Louisa Harjo, shared the story behind the ceremony and its significance to the tribe, as well as the City of Tulsa.
After surviving forced-removal from their ancestral homelands of Alabama in 1836, the Nation’s Locvpoka (Locapoga) Tribal Town established their new home at the historic Council Oak tree, which resides within the grounds of the Creek Nation Council Oak Park to this day.
As a sacred act, the Locvpoka then placed the coals and ash from the original fires of their homelands at the base of the towering tree, thus, the Council Oak tree which is still present today, to rekindle the fire at their new home, as fire is a revered element of the Mvskoke people and plays an integral part in their religious, political and social systems.
During the ceremony, Muscogee (Creek) citizen Kenneth Johnson detailed the Mvskoke traditions that hold the element of fire to be a sacred representation.
“A fire built with logs pointing in four cardinal directions from the earliest Mvskoke teachings, instruct that our sacred fire should burn internally; and if extinguished, the Mvskoke people will perish,” Johnson said.
Johnson discussed the integral role of sacred fires in the religious, political and social systems of the tribe.
“We take this time to honor all of our tribal towns and our Mvskoke men and women who perpetuate the traditional ways and keep these ceremonial fires burning,” Johnson said. “So, today we gather to honor those past and present that preserve, protect and live the Mvskoke traditions, cultures and life ways.”
Deemed the first settlement of the City of Tulsa, Okla., the Council Oak tree is also where the Locvpoka Tribal Town, upon arriving to Indian Territory, convened and re-established tribal government and held governmental meetings, gatherings, ceremonies, games and feasts; and became known as Tulsa’s first town hall and the first gathering place.
From 1836 to 1896, the Nation conducted business around the tree and had a significant influence on the surrounding area that would later be known as the City of Tulsa, deriving from the Creek word, ‘Tallasi’ or ‘Tvlvhasse’, meaning ‘old town’.
Floyd thanked the citizens and non-citizens in attendance said it’s the Nation’s prayer that the park continues to be utilized as a place to go for reflection and inspiration and guidance in decision making.
While the Mvskoke culture and traditions have remained prominent in the community, this year’s ceremony was a momentous time for the relationship between the City of Tulsa and the MCN.
Earlier this year, Tulsa Public Schools announced the renaming of Lee Elementary to Council Oak Elementary in respect to the school and park’s half-mile proximity.
More notably, the implementing of the 1887 Dawes Act prior to Oklahoma’s statehood, would indicate the Creek Nation Council Oak Park, located at 1750 S. Cheyenne Tulsa, Okla., is two original allotments away from the school.
“It is our intention as the tribe to have an ongoing relationship with the school and that has already started with discussions with the school administration,” Floyd said. “The MCN Public Relations is working with the school a special event to officially unite the two. Our staff will be going in and teaching them not only about Creek history but the history here and allotment of lands.”
In 1992, the Creek Nation Council Oak Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. However, the Council Oak tree was added in 1976 to the National Registry.