Dear Tribal Leader:
Several months ago a letter referencing the desecration of Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground) was sent out by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians that was full of misinformation and distorted facts. Although some time has passed since you may have received that letter, we of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation have remained vigilant in our stance of opposition to their plans to expand a casino over our traditional homelands. Our continued actions in the legal systems and public arenas demonstrate our conviction to stop the desecration of Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground).
I am writing to relate the important reasons why the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is seeking to preserve Hickory Ground. It is important to you because this case raises issues of cultural sovereignty rights that are important to all Tribal Nations.
In 1980, Hickory Ground was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, as the last capitol of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation prior to our forced removal to Indian Territory. Also, Hickory Ground has historic significance because the undisturbed burials and sacred funerary objects of our ancestors were located there, and the area was also a sacred ceremonial ground of our ancestors.
Over the past two decades, our Nation steadfastly opposed commercial development at Hickory Ground that would desecrate the ceremonial grounds, burials and graves of our ancestors. Despite our objections, approximately 57 sets of human remains and associated funerary objects were excavated to develop a gaming facility at Hickory Ground. We believe this excavation violated the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), as well as several other federal laws enacted to protect sacred Indian lands.
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of this conflict is that another Indian tribe, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, is responsible for the excavation and desecration at Hickory Ground. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation strongly supports the rights of all Indian Tribes to conduct gaming and pursue economic development. However, we don not believe these rights trump the deeply held tribal values of respecting ancestors, burial sites, ceremonial grounds and cultural sovereignty. The Poarch Band has turned away our people who have attempted to conduct ceremonies for those ancestors that have been disturbed and displaced, and made claims against our people that have been dismissed in orderly legal processes. In light of all that has happened, our Muscogee (Creek) people have shown admirable restraint.
I am hopeful that awareness of Hickory Ground will lead to greater protection for Native American human remains, and that your Nation will support our efforts to strengthen federal laws to protect our sacred places and cultural rights for future generations.
George Tiger, Principal Chief, Muscogee (Creek) Nation