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The Creeks Get a Notion, and It's a Capitol Idea

October 10, 2001

Historian's Notes

The great majority of information, as well as the idea for this almanac, came from a visit I made to Okmulgee and the old and new Creek facilities there. Okmulgee is a neat town, if you haven't already, you should go visit!

Resources

Baird, W. D., & Gobel, D. (1994). The Story of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Almanac Transcript

The Creeks get a notion, and itís a capitol idea this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, Iím Steven Kite.

Before the Civil War, the capitol of the Creek Nation was located near the present day town of Council Hill. Like most things in the Creek Nation, the capitol, a log house erected in 1840, was destroyed during the war. For several years the Creek capitol was transient, the tribal leaders conducted business in various locations and camps throughout the country. In 1867, however, the tribe adopted a new constitution, chose a new location for their capitol and made plans to build a council house. The new capitol building was described as a "sturdy, two-story structure of hewn logs with a breezeway through the center and a huge fireplace at each end."

It was on this day in 1868 that the Creeks gave their new capitol the name of "Okmulgee" and officially opened the site for business. Initially, the capitol building was all that existed in Okmulgee and the Creek politicians were forced to camp out in woods alongside their new center of government. Famed historian, Angie Debo, states that ". . . the chiefs and legislators camped in the woods too proud of their new seat of government to feel any serious inconvenience." There were several names proposed for the new capitol site including High House, New Town and even ironically, Columbus. The name Muskogee was also proposed but failed to pass through both houses of government.

The fact that Okmulgee was finally chosen as the name for the new capitol surely was not a surprise to most Creeks. The name Okmulgee was sacred to the Creeks. According to tradition, the tribe had migrated from the far west in prehistoric times and settled in what is now Georgia. Once there they had established a great town named Okmulgee that was the beginning of their confederacy. The ancient city of Okmulgee was deserted by the time of European conquest, but it remained in sentiment as the cradle of the Creek nation. Okmulgee Indian Territory grew in size and population as businesses and houses moved to be near the center of Creek politics. In 1878, a brick capitol building was built to replace the log house and that structure can still be seen in Okmulgee today.

Okmulgee, capitol city of the Creeks receiving its' name this week in 1868.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

 

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