Statement by Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief George Tiger

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 to the United Nations sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas.  We at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation recognize that the Indigenous Peoples of the lands that would later become known as the Americas have occupied these lands since time immemorial.  One of our own, Chitto Harjo once testified to the US Congress, “Away back in that time-in 1492-there was a man by the name of Columbus came from across the great ocean, and he discovered the country for the white man. . . What did he find when he first arrived here? Did he find a white man standing on the continent then? . . . I stood here first, and Columbus first discovered me.”

We also recognize that our Nation is built upon the homelands and villages of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom sacrifices were made so that our Nation was made possible.  We acknowledge that in our forced removal to these lands that we were made to occupy tribal territories of the original occupants who were also displaced to other regions to make room for us.  Indigenous Peoples’ Day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous People, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that Indigenous nations add to our region.

 We ask others within our jurisdictional boundaries and outside of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to take notice of the many contributions made to their communities through Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts, and the deep cultural contribution that has substantially shaped the character of the State of Oklahoma and the United States.  Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate the thriving cultures and positive values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region.  Local Public Schools and other educational institutions are encouraged to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day and offer teachings about the native peoples of the Americas. Businesses, organizations, and public institutions are encouraged to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day through exhibiting cultural sensitivity to our peoples’ heritage and traditions.

 The Muscogee (Creek) Nation promotes the well-being and growth of the American Indian and Indigenous community of the greater Eastern Oklahoma area.  We have a responsibility to oppose the systemic racism towards Indigenous People in the United States, which perpetuates poverty and income inequality, and exacerbates disproportionate health, education, and social stability.  We cannot in good conscience endorse or support the celebration of “Columbus Day”, the very source of Indigenous Peoples’ beginning of woes and ill wills.

 Therefore, the second Monday in October 2015 shall be declared as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.