Creek Nation Reclaims Council House After 92-Year Struggle

Saturday, November 20th 2010, 12:28 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma -- The Creek Nation is reclaiming its history after a 92-year struggle.

Saturday, the Creek people are celebrated after regaining ownership of their historic Council House in downtown Okmulgee.

11/20/2010 Related Story: Okmulgee Considers Selling Creek Council House, Creek Nation Wants It Back

The Creek Nation was the only civilized tribe who did not own its original capitol. That has changed, thanks to a very concentrated effort.

A song of celebration and a presentation of praise filled the city square in Okmulgee. Children rejoiced for the moment their elders waited nine decades to see.

"It's a shame that our ancestors couldn't be here to see this happen because they probably never thought it could have happened," said A.D. Ellis, Creek Nation Principal Chief.

The Creek Nation, with its 71,000 citizens, has regained its national treasure -- the Council House.

"Many of our forefathers worked to build this building, so it not only houses our history, it contains the very heart of our grandparents," said Creek Nation Second Chief Alfred Berryhill.

Built in 1878, the Council House was the meeting ground for all tribal business. It was a cornerstone through the turn of the century.

But in 1918, the federal government took it from the Creeks and then sold it to the City of Okmulgee the next year.

Fast forward to this year, and the Creek People were finally able to buy the building back.

"My grandfather would have, he would have been very happy. He never was a very emotional man, but today I think he would have been," said Creek Citizen Jeffrey Frank.

The Creek Nation paid Okmulgee $3.2 million for the building. That's the amount city leaders say Okmulgee has spent on the Council House over the last twenty years.

"What's good for us is good for Okmulgee and good for the state of Oklahoma, so we need to all work together," Principal Chief Ellis said.

The mayor and the chief sign the deed, making the ownership official.

Moving forward, the Creek Nation plans to keep the Council House as a museum that holds several tribe artifacts.