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Reunion and Communion

Immerse yourself in the sacred tribal history, songs, art, sport and culture of the Muscogee Nation during its annual festival in Okmulgee.

Article
Blayklee Buchanan
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
May 28, 2018

There’s something for everybody at the 44th Annual Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival — food, games, a parade, a stomp dance and an all-Native rodeo, just to name a few. The festival, free for everyone, will be held June 21-24 at the Claude Cox Omniplex in Okmulgee.

The opening ceremony for the festival kicks off with a traditional stompdance, which draws thousands of people.

“It’s a chance to share Muscogee traditions and values with people from all backgrounds,” says Brian OnTheHill, tourism and recreation project specialist for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

“Ten years ago, the local community thought it was just for Creek people,” OnTheHill says.

The festival draws anywhere from 30,000-50,000 people each year.
The festival draws anywhere from 30,000-50,000 people each year.

After becoming involved with the downtown and Main Street organizations in Okmulgee, as well as the chamber of commerce, the festival became more known. Now the festival draws anywhere from 30,000-50,000 people.

Other than typical festival or carnival food, there will be individuals, churches and other organizations selling traditional food. You also will find barbecue dishes and homestyle cooking.

And yes, the more contemporary takes on Native American food, like Indian tacos, will be there too. However, many don’t know that Indian tacos and the frybread that they’re made of are not original Creek fare. They came out of necessity during the removal period. Provisions by the U.S. government allotted flour, and frybread was born.

Events include a Children’s Fun Fair with rides and games, arts and crafts and an array of tournaments if you’re the sporty type.
Events include a Children’s Fun Fair with rides and games, arts and crafts and an array of tournaments if you’re the sporty type.

Last year, the rodeo at the Muscogee Nation Festival was the largest all-Native rodeo in the country. This year, expect it to be just as big, if not bigger.

Along with the rodeo, the annual parade is another event that is fun for all ages. It kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday during the festival, June 23. The route will run along Sixth Street, which is Okmulgee’s main street.

As far as music goes, there will be a variety of artists playing live at the festival (though OnTheHill couldn’t yet disclose the lineup). Concerts will be held at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. June 22-23.

The scholarship pageant, which is normally held around the time of the festival, was held earlier this year. In May at River Spirit Casino Resort, participants in the Miss and Jr. Miss Muscogee (Creek) Nation pageants wore traditional attire and competed by delivering a speech and performing a talent.

Other events include a Children’s Fun Fair with rides and games, arts and crafts and an array of tournaments if you’re the sporty type.

Above all, OnTheHill says the festival is a place for reunion and communion — that’s what makes it special.

“My favorite thing is this gives Creek people an opportunity to get together. This makes it official. I have family in Texas, and they will visit that weekend,” OnTheHill says. “It’s kind of guaranteed they’ll be here.”

LOCATOR
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival
Claude Cox Omniplex | Okmulgee
creekfestival.com
June 21-24