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June 11, 2019

Muscogee (Creek) Nation welcomes California area citizens to annual gathering

By: Amanda Rutland/MCNPR

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation held the annual California At-Large Gathering June 8 at the Native American United Methodist Church in Anaheim. The event provided Muscogee (Creek) citizens living outside of the Nation’s boundaries the opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with tribal leadership and services.

Attendees listened to programs present information, but they also could visit with the programs about individual concerns at the departmental booths. Programs in attendance were: Citizenship, Election Board, Social Services, Realty Trust Services, Higher Education and more.

MCN Principal Chief James Floyd delivered a State of the Nation Address, which touched on economic development, the Council House restoration and the Three Ponds Elder Housing Community.

Chief Floyd said the Nation’s economic development continues to grow.

“The economy of the Nation needs to be diverse and it needs to be strong so that we can continue to provide programs to assist all of our citizens throughout the world,” Chief Floyd said.

The largest economic producer is the gaming division with the largest asset being River Spirit Casino and Resort. River Spirit is the largest hotel in Tulsa with 476 rooms. It is also the number one Uber destination in the state of Oklahoma.

Recently, River Spirit has been forced to close due to flooding from the Arkansas River. The floodwaters have since subsided and River Spirit is set to open July 1.

The Council House restoration was not limited to only the building. Period specific furniture had to be collected or reproduced.

“What you see there today meets the standards of National Historic Preservation because it is on the National Register of Historic places. It is an amazing place to go visit,” Chief Floyd said.

In the last quarter, over 650 people have visited the Council House and it has been utilized for National Council Sessions.

Chief Floyd shared plans for a visitors’ center across from the Council House.

“The Visitors’ Center will have more exhibits than we have [in the Council House],” Chief Floyd said.

MCN is shifting from cluster homes similar to duplexes to more independent type of living for elderly citizens.

“We have a project in Okmulgee called the Three Ponds project because there are three ponds on the property, which have been incorporated into the project,” Chief Floyd said.

The event would not have been as successful without the help of area citizens like Hope Craig of Valencia, Calif. Craig was raised in California and Arizona. Her grandparents came to the western U.S. in the 1950’s with the American Indian Relocation Program.

Craig began to get involved with the Muscogee (Creek) at-large community by attending at-large events and being passionate about Muscogee (Creek) people.

“Knowing how much the tribe has given to us, I thought it was my responsibility to see what I could give back to our tribe, most importantly our Muscogee people,” Craig said.

Craig said, for her, the biggest challenge of being an at-large citizen is maintaining a connection to MCN.

“I always felt like an outsider because I just felt no connection back to Oklahoma and it wasn’t until I went back home to Oklahoma that the connection was created,” Craig said.

Craig said she believes the preservation of culture and language is the main priority

“The best thing I can do to honor my ancestors is to make sure I am a vessel to fill in that gap; so, that no one feels like they are left behind,” Craig said.