PHOENIX, Arizona – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Tribal Liaison’s office hosted a Citizens Beyond the Reservation outreach event March 11 at the Gila River-Wild Horse Pass Resort. The MCN Citizenship office shows that just under 2,000 Mvskoke citizens live in Arizona. Citizens who do not normally get the chance to plug in with the tribe came out to learn, fellowship, and take advantage of services that were provided.
Gila River Indian Community Lt. Governor Monica Antone welcomed the Muscogee Nation to the Gila River Indian Community.
“I honor your people, I honor your men, your women, your families, where you come from, the villages that you represent,” Antone said. “Welcome to our beautiful community, whatever we can do, enjoy the hospitality here.”
“That’s what we do at Gila River, we open up our arms to you with love, care and compassion.”
The outreach conferences serve as important and much-needed events to bring Mvskoke people together and keep the culture alive.
“I just want to reiterate to our citizens both abroad and on the reservation, how important it is that we start engaging every citizen and come together as a community,” MCN Tribal Liaison Anne Townsend-Edwards said. “The government long ago set out the relocation program to divide our Nation so that they could really split us up, probably in hopes that we would soon die as a Nation.”
“So my hope is that by putting these outreaches on, I can make connections with family members both in the reservation and outside of the reservation so that we can come together and have some unity.”
Muscogee (Creek) Nation departments available at the event included the Euchee Language Learning Center, Mvskoke Language Program, Youth Services, Cultural Archives and Museum, Historical and Cultural Preservation, National Council, School Clothing Program, Energy Program, Higher Education, Employment and Training, Scholarship Foundation, Tribal Liaison, Dept. of Health, and Tourism.
Different speakers and departments shared with participants various aspects of the Mvskoke culture.
Jr. Miss Muscogee Nation Chenoa Barnett was present for a question session with citizens at the event. Representatives from the Mvskoke Language Program Jordan Squire and Gracine Hicks provided language resource packets and a demonstration on Mvskoke sounds and greetings.
“This is exciting to be here and a part of this,” Mvskoke citizen and Arizona resident Ella Barnett said. “It gives me an opportunity to speak the language because I know that’s an important part of our culture that we preserve the language.”
MCN Special Projects Coordinator John Brown spoke about the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Cultural Center and gave a demonstration on Archives Weaponry. Mvskoke Artist Dan Beaver also gave a War Club presentation, explaining when and why they were used.
The election board had 48 new registrations, 74 absentee ballot requests, and 13 registration updates.
“It [the outreach event] brings excitement to the process, certainly to our processes that we offer to the tribe, but also to other departments and programs too,” MCN Election Board Manager Nelson Harjo Jr. said. “I think a big part of it is bringing that excitement and energy and getting people engaged.”
The MCN Citizenship office assisted with new citizenship and Certified Degree of Indian Blood applications, card replacements, and enhanced tribal cards. They had over 80 new citizenship and CDIB applications and over 160 replacement cards.
“We go out to do remotes to update cards and help those citizens that need to enroll their kids,” MCN Citizenship Director Nathan Wilson said. “It was a huge turnout for us, that was a good amount of people for us to serve when we go out.”
Citizens living outside of the Nation’s boundaries were able to utilize department resources in person for once instead of completing everything online or through mail.
“The new applications, they would have to send the original documents to us,” Wilson said. “By us going out and doing the outreach like this, we’re able to just scan those documents in and give them back the same day.”
“Of course, with replacements, they can do that all online too but it’s a lot better when they can just come in and we can give them a card the same day versus them mailing those documents to us also.”
Citizens were also able to meet Principal Chief David Hill, Second Chief Del Beaver, and representatives from the National Council. This year marks an election year. The outreach gave citizens beyond the reservation a chance to meet prospective election candidates.
Mvskoke citizen and Arizona resident Roberta Johnston said, “I see pictures of them all the time but just to get to see their faces and put them with the names has been really great.”
United American Indian Involvement Representatives presented Principal Chief David Hill with a seven generations designed blanket. The seven generation blanket represents what is being done now and the impact that will be left on future generations.
There is a group of Mvskoke citizens of about 15 that get together to sing traditional hymns who live in the Phoenix area. Some of those citizens were able to make it out and sang a few hymns for everyone after lunch.
These outreach events bridge the gap not only between the tribe and its citizens but also between long-lost friends and family.
“I’ve met lots of good people here that I’ll call friends from here on out, met a couple cousins I didn’t know I had too,” Second Chief Del Beaver said. “That’s what these gatherings are about, about being family, about being friends, it’s about having fun, and it’s about being Mvskoke.”
Chief Hill closed out the day with a few words.
“It was a great turnout, I enjoyed it, and I can’t say thank you enough to everyone that came and it probably could’ve lasted two days, you never know,” said Principal Chief Hill. “I’m looking forward to next year, meeting new friends and getting to know each and every one, mvto.”
Citizens beyond the reservation can find available resources by visiting www.muscogeenation.com/beyondthereservation.