The Creeks Get a Notion, and It's a Capitol Idea
October 10, 2001
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!
Baird, W. D., & Gobel, D. (1994). The Story of Oklahoma. Norman: University
of Oklahoma Press.
The Creeks get a notion, and itís a capitol idea this week on the Oklahoma Audio
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