Muscogee (Creek) Nation

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Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Pleasant Porter.jpg
Pleasant Porter, Principal Chief 1899-1907
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Oklahoma)
English, Muscogee
Christianity (Baptist, Methodist[2]),
Four Mothers Society
Related ethnic groups
other Muscogee people, Alabama, Hitchiti, Koasati, Natchez Nation, Shawnee, Seminole, and Yuchi

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is a federally recognized tribe of Muscogee people, also known as the Creek, based in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. They are regarded as one of the historical Five Civilized Tribes and call themselves Este Mvskokvlke.[2] The tribe is part of the Creek Confederacy, a large, heterogeneous group of indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is the largest of the federally recognized Muscogee tribes. The Muskogean-speaking Alabama, Hitchiti, and Natchez people, as well as Algonquian-speaking Shawnee[3] and Yuchi (language isolate) are enrolled in the Muscogee Creek Nation, although historically the latter two groups were from different language families than the Muscogee.

Other federally recognized Muscogee groups include the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Kialegee Tribal Town, and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town of Oklahoma, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.


The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is headquartered in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Oklahoma Indian tribes do not have reservations (with one exception); they have Tribal Jurisdictional Areas. The Muscogee Nation has jurisdiction in Creek, Hughes, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, McIntosh, Muskogee, Tulsa, and Wagoner counties in Oklahoma.[1]


The government of the Muscogee Creek Nation is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches.[4]

Executive branch[edit]

Spc. Stacy R. Mull, an enrolled Creek from Okemah, makes frybread at a powwow at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, 2004.

The executive branch is led by a Principal Chief, Second Chief, Chief of Staff, Executive Director, and Secretary of the Nation. The Principal Chief and Second Chief are democratically elected every four years. The Principal Chief then chooses staff. The current members of the executive branch are as follows:

  • George Phillip Tiger, Principal Chief[5]
  • Roger Barnett, Second Chief[5]
  • Edwin Marshall, Chief of Staff
  • Bill Fife, Secretary of the Nation.[6]

Legislative branch[edit]

The legislative branch is the National Council, made up of 18 members elected to represent different districts within the tribal jurisdictional area. They write the laws of the Nation.[4]

Judicial branch[edit]

The Nation has two courts: the Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has final authority over disputes about the Muscogee Creek Constitution and Laws. The current members of the Supreme Court are as follows:

  • Chief Justice Kathleen Supernaw
  • Vice-Chief Justice Montie Deer
  • Associate Justice Jonodev Chaudhuri
  • Associate Justice Leah Harjo-Ware
  • Associate Justice Andrew Adams III
  • Associate Justice Richard Lerblance[4]


In 2013, there were 77,061 people enrolled in the Muscogee Creek Nation. Of these, 55,591 lived within the state of Oklahoma. Membership to the tribe is based on lineal descent,[1] that is, the tribe does not have a minimum blood quantum requirement.


The Nation operates its own division of housing and issues vehicle license plates.[1] Their Division of Health contracts with Indian Health Services to maintain the Creek Nation Community Hospital and several community clinics, a vocational rehabilitation program, nutrition programs for children and the elderly, and programs dedicated to diabetes, tobacco prevention, and caregivers.[7]

The Muscogee Nation is policed by the Lighthorse Tribal Police Department, with 43 active employees.[8] The tribe has its own program for enforcing child support payments.

The Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, sponsored by the Nation, educates and encourages tribal members to grow their own traditional foods for health, environmental sustainability, economic development, and sharing of knowledge and community between generations.[9]

The Muscogee Nation also operates a Communications Department that produces a bi-monthly news paper, the Muscogee Nation News and a weekly Television show the Native News Today.

Economic development[edit]

Muscogee Creek-Navajo bike messenger, originally from Okmulgee, Oklahoma, 2009.

Creek Nation Tribal Trade and Commerce and Creek Nation Business Enterprise oversee economic development projects for the tribe.[1] The tribal government operates a budget in excess of $106 million; has over 2,400 employees; and maintains tribal facilities and programs in eight administrative districts.[6] The nation operates several significant tribal enterprises, including the Muscogee Document Imaging Company; travel plazas in Okmulgee, Muskogee and Cromwell, Oklahoma; construction, technology and staffing services; and major casinos in Tulsa and Okmulgee.

The Creek Nation operates two truck stops, 30 tribal smokeshops, two bingo halls, and eleven casinos.[1] Gaming establishments owned by the tribe include Bristow Indian Bingo in Bristow; Checotah Indian Community Bingo in Checotah; Creek Nation Casino Duck Creek in Beggs; Creek Nation Casino Muskogee; Creek Nation Casino Okemah; Creek Nation Casino Okmulgee; Creek Nation Travel Plaza in Okmulgee, Eufaula Indian Community Bingo in Eufaula; Duck Creek Casino in Beggs; and River Spirit Casino in Tulsa.[10]

Civic institutions[edit]

The Nation's historic old Council House (also known as the Creek National Capitol) was built in 1878 and located in downtown Okmulgee. It was completely restored in the 1990s. It now serves as a museum of tribal history. The Red Stick Gallery in the museum features contemporary art by tribal members.[11][12]

Tribal college[edit]

In 2004, the Muscogee Nation founded a tribal college, College of the Muscogee Nation, in Okmulgee. CMN is a two-year institution, offering associate degrees in Tribal Services, Police Science, Gaming, and Native American Studies. They offer Mvskoke language classes as well. In 2007, 137 students enrolled and the college has plans for expansion.[13]


Suzan Shown Harjo, Muscogee-Cheyenne policymaker, activist, and poet

The Nation is descended from the Creek and their slaves[14] who were forced by the US government to relocate from their ancestral homes in the Southeast to Indian Territory in the 1830s.

During the American Civil War, the tribe allied with the Confederacy. There were conflicts between pro-Confederate and pro-Union (American Civil War)[15] forces in the Indian Territory during the war at the Battle of Round Mountain, Battle of Chusto-Talasah and Battle of Chustenahlah.[16] With the United States victory, it required the negotiation of new treaties with the Five Civilized Tribes. The Treaty of 1866 required the Creek to abolish slavery within their territory and to grant citizenship to the Creek Freedmen who chose to stay in the territory, including voting rights and shares of annuities and land allotments. If the Creek Freedmen moved out, they would be granted United States citizenship.[17]

The Creek established a new government in 1866 and selected a new capital of Okmulgee. In 1867 they ratified a new constitution.[2] They built their capitol in 1867 and enlarged it in 1878. Today the Creek National Capitol is a National Historic Landmark and houses the Creek Council House Museum. The Nation built schools, churches, and public houses during the prosperous final decades of the 19th century, when the tribe had autonomy and minimal interference from the federal government.[2]

The turn of the century brought the 1898 Curtis Act, which dismantled tribal governments; and the Dawes Allotment Act, which broke up tribal landholdings to allot land to individual households to encourage assimilation as subsistence farmers in the US style. The Dawes Commission registered tribal members in two categories, distinguishing between "Creek by Blood" and "Creek Freedmen," into which category they put anyone with recognizable African ancestry, regardless of their proportion of Creek ancestry. The 1906 Five Civilized Tribes Act (April 26, 1906) was passed by the US Congress in anticipation of approving statehood for Oklahoma in 1907. During this time, Creeks lost over 2 million acres (8,100 km2) to non-Native settlers and the US government. Later, under the 1936 Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act,[18] some Muscogee tribal towns gained federal recognition.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation did not reorganize and regain federal recognition until 1970. In 1979 the tribe ratified a new constitution that replaced the 1866 constitution.[2] The pivotal 1976 court case Harjo v. Kleppe helped end US federal paternalism. It ushered in an era of growing self-determination. Using the Dawes Rolls as a basis for determining membership of descendants,[19] the Nation enrolled over 58,000 allottees and their descendants.

Creek Freedmen controversy[edit]

From 1981-2001, the Creek had membership rules that allowed applicants to use a variety of documentary sources to establish qualifications for membership.

In 1979 the Muscogee Nation Constitutional Convention voted to have citizenship in the Nation by blood, meaning you must have an ancestor on the Dawes Commission roll that is Creek by blood only. Anyone who can provide proof they are Creek by blood can become a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Most utilize the Dawes Rolls for this purpose, an 1893 registry used to negotiate with the Five Civilized Tribes to convince them to agree to an allotment plan and to dissolution of the reservation system.

[20] They excluded descendants[21] of "Creek Freedmen,"[22][23] although they were listed on the Dawes Rolls and often documented in other registers as having ancestors with Creek blood. The Freedmen had been listed on a separate register, regardless of their proportion of Creek ancestry, and there had been intermarriage between the ethnic groups for years. Prior to the change in code, Creek Freedmen could use existing registers and the preponderance of evidence to establish qualification for citizenship, and were to be aided by the Citizenship Board. The Creek Freedmen have challenged their exclusion from citizenship in legal actions[24][25] which are pending.[26]

Notable Muscogee Nation people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 23. Retrieved 5 Jan 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Isham, Theodore and Blue Clark. Creek (Mvskoke). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved 22 Dec 2009)
  3. ^ Innes, 393
  4. ^ a b c "MCN Governmental Branches." Muscogee (Creek) Nation. 2008 (retrieved 22 Dec 2009)
  5. ^ a b Duren, Dee. "New Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief Addresses Broken Arrow Casino." News 9. 9 Jan 2012. Retrieved 19 Jan 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Office of the Administration." Muscogee (Creek) Nation. 2008 (retrieved 27 July 2011)
  7. ^ "Division of Health." Muscogee (Creek) Nation. (retrieved 28 Dec 2009)
  8. ^ "Lighthorse Tribal Police." Muscogee (Creek) Nation. (retrieved 28 Dec 2009)
  9. ^ "About MFSI." Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative. (retrieved 28 Dec 2009)
  10. ^ "Oklahoma Indian Casinos." 500 Nations. (retrieved 22 Dec 2009)
  11. ^ "Creek Council House Museum." Attractions in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. (retrieved 22 Dec 2009)
  12. ^ Clifton Adcock, "Creeks ask to buy Council House: The U.S. sold it out from under them to the city of Okmulgee in 1919. It's now a museum.", Tulsa World, March 18, 2010.
  13. ^ College of the Muscogee Nation Frequently Asked Questions. (retrieved 22 Dec 2009)
  14. ^ Congressional Edition - United States. Congress - 1888 Exhibit E. State of Indian Territory, County of Creek Nation : Before me, ... Sarah Davis (her x mark).
  15. ^ 1870 Loyal Creek abstract - Creek Treaty - Article IV provides how the losses of the loyal Creeks are to be ascertained ... and a roll of the names of all soldiers that enlisted in the Federal army, loyal refugee Indians ...
  16. ^ Creek Indians in the American Civil War
  17. ^ Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and American Indians: The Amendment was intended to give citizenship to the African-American former slaves and not to Indians. Government agencies (the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior), and the courts (state, federal, and, ultimately, the Supreme Court) consistently held that the Fourteenth Amendment did not confer citizenship on Indians. Under the Constitution, and the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution, Indian tribes are classified as "domestic dependent nations," and therefore, Indians were tribal citizenships, not American citizens.
  18. ^ RECENT DEVELOPMENT: AN EFFECTIVE SMOKE SCREEN? - THE MUSCOGEE (CREEK) NATION'S CIVIL COMPLAINT AGAINST BIG TIME TOBACCO AND THE BATTLE OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION 1998 22 Am. Indian L. Rev. 567 Author: Shelly Grunsted* Excerpt Introduction and Background On June 25, 1997, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (the Nation), its members and citizens, by and through their Principal Chief, R. Perry Beaver, filed a lawsuit 1 in the Nation's tribal court against the tobacco industry. 2 In its complaint, the Nation 3 alleges that the tobacco industry injured the Nation and its members by: (1) diminution of available health care dollars when allocated health care dollars are expended treating smoking-related illnesses and diseases; (2) increased health insurance premiums for its employees; and (3) decreased productivity of its employees. 4 The Nation contends that tobacco products directly threaten the Nation's economic security because of the expenditures the Nation must make to combat the illnesses related to tobacco products. 5 The Nation also alleges that the adverse health affects of tobacco products on tribal members directly threaten the Nation's health and welfare because tobacco products have been affirmatively linked to multiple diseases and cancer. 6 Further, the Nation contends that Defendant's tobacco products have injurious health affects on the Nation's "full citizens," 7 and therefore, the tribe's political integrity is in jeopardy because only full citizens are allowed to hold tribal offices. 8 Part I addresses the Nation's tribal court structure. The progression starts with the 1856 Treaty (Treaty of 1856) between the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the United States. It continues by discussing how the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act, 9 passed by Congress in 1936, altered the Treaty of 1856.
  19. ^ The Fourteenth Creek Treaty, concluded at Washington, D. C., on the 7th of August, 1856, was one of the most important in the history of the Creeks. The names of the Creek delegates who signed it—Tuckabatchee Minco, Echo Harjo, Chilly McIntosh, Benjamin Marshall, George W. Stidham and Daniel N. McIntosh, are familiar to those now living, and their children are among the leaders of the present generation of Creeks. This treaty is an attempted summary of all former treaties, canceling many old provisions which seemed to have outlived their usefulness and adjusting many disputes which had arisen during the preceding decade.
  20. ^ Sessional indexes to the Annals of Congress: Register of Debates in Congress ... By United States Historical Documents: 1914 Reference. Creek Nation: to Investigate relative to duplicate and fraudulent enrollments in (see Ы. J. Res. 3SS>. 329.b
  21. ^ McKay v Cambell The negro and his descendants never had been considered a part of the free inhabitants ... McKay v. Campbell. 2 7 was another case in which an opinion was given on the clause in ... II. Status and Disabilities - INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND .Doe v. Avaline, 8 Ind., 6. The term “mestizo” signifies the issue of a negro and an Indian. Miller v. Dawson .... Osborn, 2 Fed., 58; 6 Sawy., 406; McKay v. Campbell, 16 Fed. Cas., No. 8840 ...
  22. ^ United States Courts of Appeals reports: Cases adjudged ..Circuit Courts of Appeals, Samuel Appleton Blatchford - 1895 - Law reports, digests, etc Cases adjudged in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. v. ... J. P. Davison, one of Julia's children, was appointed administrator of her ... Caldwell, Circuit Judge, after stating the DAVISON v. GIBSON. 363.
  23. ^ DAVISON V. WALKER.. of J. P. Davison, guardian of Sally Me ntosh, v. said Walker, involving the N. Q ...
  24. ^ IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE MUSCOGEE (CREEK) NATION. FILED. Ron Graham,. OKMULGEE DISTRICT. Plaintiff,. ) v. 1. ) Muscogee (Creek) Nation. ) Citizenship Board,. ) ) Defendant. ) and. Fred Johnson, ...
  25. ^ Muscogee Creek Nation Official Tribal Website: Freedmen descendants want their own tribe
  26. ^ MASON et al v. SALAZAR et al :: Justia Dockets & Filings Apr 27, 2012 – ... al v. SALAZAR et al - Justia Federal Dockets and Filings. ... KELVIN MASON, JAMES MASON, NATALEE MILLER and GRANT PERRYMAN ...
  27. ^ La Bella, Laura. Carrie Underwood. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2008: 15. ISBN 978-1-4042-1370-8. (retrieved through Google Books, 5.April.2009)
  28. ^ Creek Nation Tribal Member Carrie Underwood Wins Grammy. Free Press. 14.Feb.2007 (retrieved 5.April.2009)


External links[edit]