Honoring Hickory Ground

In Wetumpka Alabama, the once Muskogee (Creek) Capital and now a part of the Poarch Creek Reservation, there is a disruption of one of the last and most important vestiges of sacredness we as a culture of human beings have left. Our final resting place. It matters not the culture in which you are a part of, laying your loved ones to rest with love, ceremony and dignity is universally deep and personal.

As a person with some Muskogee blood I may very well be the least qualified to speak to this, yet as a human being, I am quite qualified. In the early 1980’s the Federal Government recognized the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. With this recognition they received reservation land in Atmore Alabama as well as land in Wetumpka Alabama, the site of  their traditional homeland. These lands were left upon the forced movement by the government known as the Indian removal act. Better and far more accurately known as the Trail of Tears. Upon the Poarch people receiving the Wetumpka lands known as Hickory Ground, in part the agreement was for Poarch to honor and respect the traditional values and ways of life that the Muskogee had known for centuries upon centuries. This agreement has been breached.

Upon federal recognition, they began building a casino on ceremonial grounds and with the expansion project currently underway, burial grounds have been dug up and remains of many ancestors are now being housed in storage sheds. Think if that was your family. In our culture we seem to have short memories and what happens beyond a few generations seems to hold little honor or value.

This is not true in the Native communities. The past and the present hold hands, we are all connected. Promises made to the Creator and to the ones laid to rest must be honored. If not, where as a society do we stop? What is sacred? We are already living in a youth driven, forward progress society. We hold little value to our elders and traditions. They don’t seem to serve us because we are focused on what the future will do for us as individuals, not as a family or cultural unit.

But no need to listen to me. I am but a small voice. But I do value all people and their ancestors. We are the family of man, we are all related. What we do to one, we do to all. But make up your own mind. Below is a you tube video of Muckogee Mekko George Thompson speaking to this heartbreaking issue.

Please know there is no judgement or ill will towards the people and members of the Poarch Creek Tribe. We just feel this is in every way a wrong thing to do both spiritually and culturally, so our words are to the ones making the decisions and holding the power to effect change. The Beloved Path of harmony is calling you!

Also if you are moved by this story, please go to the following link and sign the petition to save Hickory Ground. If also compelled, share it on your Facebook page and with anyone you want. This is a human rights issue, not just a Muskogee one. I hope these words reach your heart. They have been written with a good heart and a strong desire for fair treatment for all people, the ones with voice as well as the voiceless. Mvto (Thank You) !

Save Hickory Ground

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My Sense Of Order

I took a little road trip recently that many of my friends would have considered painful. The folks that like to go from point A to B in the most direct, fastest way possible. But that’s not me, at least not in this stage  of life. I like to wander ! It was an 8 hour route and I spent 6 of it on the backroads. Destination Columbia South Carolina.

I traveled through old Cherokee lands, from New Echota Georgia through Cherokee Corners stopping at most anything that struck my interest. At Cherokee Corners Methodist church I found an old cemetery. I was drawn deeper and deeper into the woods looking at headstones and I remember feeling frustrated in a way that all the stones weren’t in perfect little rows like I’m used to. My sense of culture and tradition took over and I expected things to be “right” ! Now, there were a few in a line but not most of them.

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When I got home and began looking through the pictures, that’s when the beauty of this cemetery hit me. I began to appreciate how it challenged my sense of order, and broke any thoughts of what was “right”. But the thought that really hit me was, if I chose to be buried, that’s the kind of cemetery I’d want to be in. They were all scattered amongst the trees, as if they had their own private place to rest on a specially designated piece of land. It felt more intimante and peaceful.

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It was a good trip to enjoy and appreciate the unexpected. I suppose we all live in some kind of bubble and I think it does me a world of good to get out of mine as often as I can. To see other ways of living and thinking, to see life from the backroads, from the woods and the places that don’t get much attention or appreciation. The picture below is of my friend and former Beaver Creek Indian Chief, Barry Chavis in front of what is going to become his new home. He already lives what most folks would consider way out in the country, but on his land he is recessing even further away !

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This was a trip to see my son Dylan and if provided a great time with him but it also opened my heart up even more for our country and its heart, the people. Good to challenge my sense of tradition and see that there are many different traditions, and how it feels to sense them and appreciate them.

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