OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Muscogee (Creek) Elders are preparing to go to the National Indian Council on Aging Conference with fundraising events. The NICOA Conference is set for September 2023 at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina. This is the first time the conference has been hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Elders from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will begin their fundraising efforts with an Indian Taco Sale. They are seeking art vendors for the event as well.
Although the elder group does not have a precise goal regarding how many people they would like to take to the conference, Esther Gee said they are looking to take a bus or a van load, taking somewhere within the range of 20 to 30 people.
According to Gee, the fundraiser’s goal lies in the ballpark of $25,000. Registration alone for an individual starts at $500.
Elders from tribes all over Oklahoma attend the conference. Gee has gone four times.
“It’s held in different parts of the United States, where the tribes want to be a host. I went to Niagara Falls just myself, and that was great.” Gee said.
NICOA is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the health and well-being of Native Indian and Alaska Native elders. They work closely with the U.S. Department of Health to provide programs and services to Indigenous Elders across the United States.
The conference acts as a forum that allows elders to have their voices heard. Here, elders can provide recommendations and concerns on policies that affect them.
Indigenous Elders across many different tribes attend the NICOA Conference. It features workshops on caregiver support, elder abuse prevention, health, transportation, employment, and financial assistance.
Gee says her favorite part of the conference trip is the camaraderie and sharing her Muscogee culture. “There’s usually a style show, you wear your Native dress, and at times we’ve shared our Creek songs with a talent contest. It’s just a great gathering.” Gee said.
The Indian Taco Sale will be held on June 10 at the new Okmulgee Indian Community Center, 2900 N. Osage Place. Indian Tacos will sell for $10, and raffles will be held for beaded canes. Raffle tickets start at $1 a ticket, or $5 for six.
To learn more about the NICOA 2023 Conference, visit: https://www.nicoa.org/biennial-conference/.