“A lot of the citizens that walked the trail didn’t know the history. So that’s more or less what we’re trying to do, tell them the history and culture of the Muscogee Creek Nation.” – Principal Chief David Hill.
OXFORD, Alabama – After an almost 200 year absence, Muscogee (Creek) Nation leaders returned home to host the event that celebrated the tribe’s culture, educated festival participants on the history of the ancestral land and re-established the nation’s presence in Oxford.
The inaugural event was located at the original Arbeka ceremonial grounds in present day Choccolocco Park. It was hosted in partnership with the City of Oxford. Event activities included booths, speakers and walks along the ancestral trails. Festival vendors featured Muscogee artists, cultural information, craft tutorials, and traditional weaponry demonstrations.
Planning for the event spanned three years, dating back as early as 2019. Reyicepes in Muscogee translates as “we have come back”. The festival was open to the public and was attended by Muscogee citizens and non-citizens of all ages.
Principal Chief David Hill said this event is just the beginning of many opportunities to work with local schools and organizations to re-establish the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s presence in the area. Not only did the event serve as a cultural celebration, but a historical lesson as well.
Second Chief Del Beaver was surprised to learn that some festival participants were unaware of why the tribe left the homelands in the first place. This was due to the gradual forced removal of the tribe stemming from the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
“History is history and it’s meant to be told,” Beaver said.
He described the festival as a “healing process” because some Muscogee citizens have never been to the homeland before. Many found the event to be deeply emotional and meaningful. To further preserve the true history of the Arbeka ceremonial grounds, MCN partnered with local schools to provide educational materials in their classrooms.
MCN Ambassador Jonodev Chaudhuri, spoke on the greater purpose of the event.
“We’re coming home to assist the people who are now here in helping shape the lands, the government and the future of this community in a spirit of healing and a spirit of vision for a better tomorrow together.” Chaudhuri said.
On the topic of the tribe’s current day disconnect from the homeland, Chaudhuri said the event was hosted in a spirit of positivity rather than negativity, the main goal serving as a bridge between remembering the past and celebrating the present.
While the event only lasted two days, its symbolic significance marks a turning point in the tribe’s efforts to spiritually reconnect with the land and establish relationships in the Oxford community.