EUFAULA, Okla.- The Eufaula-Canadian Tribal Town hosted their eighth annual An Evening of Storytelling event. These stories involved boarding schools, history, and different honkv creatures. The event was held at Jon Tiger’s residence in Eufaula on Oct. 20.
The event’s master of ceremonies was Chris Hill, who recently starred in the movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon”. He helped Tiger with set up and co-hosting. Each citizen had the opportunity to tell their own personal accounts of witnessing honkvs (spirits) or sharing stories passed down from others.
Tiger has hosted this event every October before Oct 31, since it usually gets colder during the week of Halloween. The event provided s’mores, hotdogs, chips, desserts and drinks.
Children gathered around a fire to roast their s’mores, even adults joined in. Tiger also included a spook trail and hayrides. One vendor had displays of bigfoot dolls, painting and more.
“It seems to grow larger and larger each year. Because people are finding out about it, communities like Sapulpa, Wetumka, Holdenville and even the Choctaws from McAlester,” Tiger said.
The length of the event varies, sometimes even lasting long hours into the night. The event’s length depends on how many stories are told, and how long people mingle with one another afterward.
A Family Tradition
This annual event started when Tiger’s late grandfather would gather all of his children and grandchildren to speak about his stories from the past.
Tiger’s late brother had the idea to host a storytelling get together at their house because everyone within their family loved hearing them. The family gathering would expand where anyone that was interested in attending was welcome.
The location of this event took place at Tiger’s grandfather’s allotted land. “It’s his land and he would really enjoy people coming out and getting together like this,” Tiger said.
“Originally it started out as talking about the supernatural beings in our area in the Canadian Valley in Eufaula, which we grew up knowing all of those stories and all of those stecates (Natives) along the Canadian Valley. They know and they hear about these things. A lot of them have passed on but we still have a few that can talk about things,” Tiger said.
One of the citizens that attended had a great experience at the event. Muscogee (Creek) Nation Facilities Department Supervisor Mike Harjo (Mvskoke) has attended this event for seven years. He has heard many stories over the years, one of many reasons why he keeps coming back.
Harjo has told stories of his own in the past and even spoke about some during the event. He mentioned that he told every story he knew, however listeners would ask him to tell it again. This was due to the fact that audience members enjoyed listening to the stories, for some it was their first time listening to them.
Harjo has been involved with Eufaula-Canadian Tribal Town when he attended the Mvskoke Spelling Bee contest seven years ago. That is when he was introduced to the annual storytelling event.
Growing up Harjo would hear stories when he was child at the ceremonial grounds. “There’s a lot of elders that come out here, mostly from Mvskoke tribes and Choctaws, I’ve seen some Florida Seminoles out here before, some Kiowa and so they get a little bit of different tribes out here but mostly it’s Mvskoke Creek,” Harjo said.
As a ceremonial ground member, Harjo enjoys seeing the ground come together. According to Harjo, it’s events like these that help members remember who they are.
“I think it’s good for other ceremonial members to come out here and support them. Because it’s just like going to these other grounds, we visit, we go out and support them. Even though Eufaula is dormant, I think it’s good that we come out here and still support them as a tribal town ceremonial ground. Because they were once a part of our ceremonial grounds that we have,” Harjo said.
Every year Harjo attends he always receives a warm welcome from the community. “It’s just good for socializing, joking and laughing around and good scary storytelling,” Harjo said.
MCN Language Department “Honkv Onvkuce”
The MCN Language Department hosted their first “Honkv Onvkuce” ghost storytelling event. The outdoor event invited guests to come out with a lawn chair and blanket. A meal was provided for those that attended. This storytelling event took place at the newly-located MCN Historic and Cultural Preservation Department on Nov. 3.
MCN Language Department Project Specialist Jordan Squire (Mvskoke) came up with the idea for a storytelling event. One day while she was browsing the internet Squire found sound effects with little beats for a video. That is when she asked one of the language instructors if it would be a good idea to tell stories with those beats for a social media video.
In the beginning the event was only going to feature eleven instructors telling their own stories, but Squire had a thought of making it bigger. “I thought we could incorporate some of our language terms with the storytelling event,” Squire said.
Squire mentioned these stories did not necessarily have to be about ghosts or spirits, rather any supernatural creature. It was organized as an open mic for anyone wanting to tell their own story.
“I feel like everyone has to have one, like something that scared them at one point,” Squire said. “It could be whatever terrified you at one point in your life and feel free to share it, we are excited to hear about people’s stories.”
A fluent Mvskoke speaker called the department and said she had photos she wanted to show at the event.
During the storytelling portion, Squire mentioned that participants who told a story were asked if they could be recorded sharing it.
“We just really wanted the audio, not the actual video,” Squire said. “We will create little social graphics of telling your story and make little cool videos of it.”
At this event the MCN Language Department presented their new website, currently a work in progress. Squire, MCN Language Revitalization Project Manager Eli Rowland and their department’s graphic designer created the website together. “It’s something we are really proud of, I think one of the most important things is just the fact that we did it and no one could ever take it from the program and from the Nation,” Squire said.