Undoubtedly, the largest organized collective movement of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation since the infamous Trail of Tears will begin on Tuesday, March 25th as tribal leaders and citizens converge on Horseshoe Bend near Daviston, Alabama. The U.S. Park Service will host the tribe at the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park during its bicentennial commemoration of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, a key battle that ultimately determined the fate of the Muscogee Nation in the Southeastern United States.
On March 27, 1814, General Andrew Jackson led a force of 3,500 U.S. Infantry and Cavalrymen (along with a number of loyal Cherokees, Choctaws and Lower Creeks) into battle against approximately 1,000 of Muscogee Chief Menawa’s “Red Stick” warriors who had fortified themselves on a bend of the Tallapoosa River in an encampment the Creeks called Tohopeka (toe-hope-kuh). The assault by the U.S. forces was in retaliation for the previous Battle of Fort Mims, in which the Creeks had been victorious. Although confronted on all sides of the peninsula, the Red Sticks fought valiantly throughout the day until they were eventually overcome by the sheer numbers and superior firepower of their attackers. Of those Red Stick warriors, 857 were killed and 206 were wounded. General Jackson’s forces listed 70 killed while 206 were wounded. The consequent signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson forced the Creeks to cede 23 million acres in Alabama and Georgia and eventually removal to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
In a statement from Principal Chief George Tiger, he noted, “We are honored to be invited back to the home of our ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfathers… and their ancestors. It is from them that we inherit our values, our culture, our religion, our spirituality and our traditions. We go, not to celebrate the battle, but, to commemorate their indomitable spirit and honor their memory, to stand once again on the soil that was theirs… and to gather together as evidence (to them) that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the 4th largest of 566 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., as much as ever, is the worthy and vital nation that they sacrificed their lives for, regardless of where we exist today.”
The Muscogee (Creek) National Council approved an appropriation in January that will sponsor transportation, lodging and expenses for more than 120 elders, artists/craftsmen, traditional leaders, color guard, youth, Native hymn singers and dancers (as well as two of the Tribe’s motor coaches) for the event which is scheduled for March 27-29, 2014. Along with the sponsored groups, Principal Chief Tiger, Second Chief Roger Barnett, members of the National Council, employees, members of tribally chartered communities and citizen families will also be in attendance. The total number is expected to be in excess of 200. While in the area, the group will also visit local relevant historic areas such as Fort Toulouse and Tuckabutchee.
As an added note (and in a rare move) the Muscogee (Creek) National Council rescheduled their March meeting date from March 29th to March 22nd in order to allow its members to attend.
Horseshoe Bend Military Park Superintendent Doyle Sapp has indicated that Congressional members, State legislators, U.S. Park Service officials and other dignitaries have been invited to this momentous and historic event as well.
Those traveling in the motor coach caravan departed from the Tribal Capitol Complex in Okmulgee on Tuesday morning, March 25, 2014 at 7 a.m. and will travel the first leg to Memphis, Tennessee where they will stop for the evening. They will complete the journey to Alexander City, Alabama on Wednesday before the ceremonies, which will begin on Thursday. Others, including Chief Tiger, will be traveling by air on Wednesday and will arrive the same evening.