“It’s something that we were brought up with that we don’t want to lose.”
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The Okmulgee Muscogee (Creek) Nation Elder Community continued its fundraising efforts by hosting a Sovereignty Day lunch on July 8. The event allowed elders in the community to eat lunch while the MCN Elder Nutrition Program was closed for the holiday. Money raised from the fundraiser will go toward an elder trip to the 2023 National Indian Council on Aging Conference in Cherokee, North Carolina.
The featured traditional foods, including sofkey, beans, chicken/dumplings, blue bread, pork with hominy, salt meat, and wieners/kraut. When asked what dish was their favorite, many responded with sofkey. Event organizers were unsure if they were able to get salt meat due to the limited supply.
For many that attended the lunch, it was an opportunity to eat traditional Muscogee foods they knew from their youth. It’s a treat because few know how to prepare foods like blue bread.
“These were made by your mother, grandmother, great grandmother,” Ester Gee said. “It’s something that we were brought up with that we don’t want to lose.”
Elders like Susanna Roberts did not take the risk of missing out on their favorite foods. “I got here before the doors opened,” Roberts said. “These ladies are good cooks. They know what they’re doing.”
Roberts has been to NICOA conferences in the past. “You see tribes from every state in the Union ” Roberts said. “I think what was memorable was banquet night. You dress up in your Native dress.”
The Sovereignty Day fundraiser marks the second fundraising event the Okmulgee Muscogee Elder Community has organized. Elder communities across the Tribe are in the first phase of tentatively planning their trip to the 2023 NICOA Conference.
When asked which dish was her favorite, Gee said hers was the pork and hominy because it reminds her of family gatherings growing up. Traditionally they would prepare a pig for dinner and use the entire animal. “Did not waste a part,” Gee said.
Paula Willits, however, said her favorite food served was the sofkey. “Some people put salt in it. Some people put sugar. I like it with milk,” Willits said.
Willits is a former National Council Representative and currently resides as the head of the Tulsa Creek Indian Community. She had previously attended the NICOA Conference in Albuquerque.
The best part the NICOA Conference offers are the classes they provide, according to Willits. “The classes that they had, they talked about the different things that are of interest to people, especially when they talked about elder abuse,” Willits said. “It makes you more aware of things that you need to be aware of”
Like Roberts, Willits says one of the conference’s highlights is seeing such a large gathering of Indigenous People. “If you went to Albuquerque, even the gathering of nations, and you have all these people of color, it feels nice to be around them, and it’s sort of like you’re at home,” Willits said.
Although the elder community plans to finance most of the trip themselves, they are hoping the Tribe will be able to cover some of the expenses.
To view, prior coverage of this story, visit: https://www.mvskokemedia.com/muscogee-elders-begin-to-raise-money-to-go-to-nicoa/.