Creek National Capitol

Creek National Capitol
Creek National Capitol
Creek National Capitol is located in Oklahoma
Location: 6th St. and Grand Ave., Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Coordinates: 35°37′21.74″N 95°58′21.05″W / 35.6227056°N 95.9725139°W / 35.6227056; -95.9725139Coordinates: 35°37′21.74″N 95°58′21.05″W / 35.6227056°N 95.9725139°W / 35.6227056; -95.9725139
Built: 1878
Architect: Unknown
Architectural style: No Style Listed
Governing body: Local
NRHP Reference#: 66000632
Significant dates
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL: July 4, 1961[2]

Creek National Capitol, also known as Creek Council House, is a building in downtown Okmulgee, Oklahoma. It was capitol of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation nation from 1878 to 1907, when Oklahoma became a state. In 1919 the U.S. Department of the Interior sold the building to the city of Okmulgee.[3]

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.[2][4]

The building now houses the Creek Council House Museum, with artifacts and exhibits about the history of the Muscogee (Creek) people and Native American arts and crafts. Since 2006 the Muscogee (Creek) Nation had expressed an interest in buying back the building.[3] In August 2010 the city of Okmulgee agreed to sell the building back to the tribe for $3.2 million; the sale was completed and ownership transferred in November 2010.[5]

Historical timeline

  • 1837 - Although some members have already made the trek, the majority of the Muscogee (Creek) Tribe are forced to move west by the U.S. government. The survivors of the trail of tears, they arrive in what is called Indian Territory and hold a meeting at the historic Council Oak Tree which still stands in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • 1860s - Tribal unity is tested as the U.S. creates a Civil war amongst themselves and leaders such Opithleyahola attempt to keep the tribe as neutral as possible, although many tribal citizens choose sides and fight.
  • 1867 - Tribal life begins to flourish again as a new Creek government is established in Indian Territory and Okmulgee is selected as the Capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
  • 1868 - A log Council House is constructed to conduct tribal business. The contract calls for a double log two story structure with six rooms and two great stone chimneys with fireplaces (built by Jeff Berryhill) on each floor not only to give heat but for the ventilation of the rooms.
  • 1877- On October 17th an act was passed by Council and approved by Chief Ward Coachman Appropriating $10,000 for constructing a new Capitol building of stone or brick upon the site of the log Council House.
  • 1878 - On January 10th the log Council House was sold for the highest bid which was sixty dollars. The Muscogee (Creek) Council convened for the first time in the new Council House on September 23rd.The facility contained separate chambers for the Executive and Judicial branches of the government, with the Legislative branch divided into the House of Kings and House of Warriors.
  • 1900 - The turn of the century sees the Muscogee (Creek) continuing to conduct tribal business and establish sovereignty, the Federal Government though, continue to distrust Tribes to conduct all their affairs and future actions will prove so
  • 1906 - With the US Federal Government's passage of the Five Civilized Tribes Act, national self-governance of the Muscogee Creek Nation and other four tribes comes to an end
  • 1907- Indian Territory becomes part of the State of Oklahoma
  • 1907 - The Council House is leased to Okmulgee County for $2,000 a year to serve as the Okmulgee County Courthouse. This arrangement continued until 1917.
  • 1908-Tribal business in the Council House ends as the United States Congress authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to "take possession of all lands belonging to the Five Civilized Tribes, now or heretofore used for government, school, or other tribal purposes..." sovereignty is basically ceased from the tribe itself.
  • 1919 - The City of Okmulgee purchases the Creek Council House and grounds for $100,000 underthe supervision of the department of the Interior The deed conveying title was executed by the Principal Chief. G. W. Grayson. Proceeds of the sale being deposited in the U.S. Treasury in the name of the tribe.
  • 1920s - Many citizens of the City of Okmulgee do not exactly embrace the possession of the Council House in the beginning, but attempts to tear it down are not successful. Plans were to include a hotel or other business attractions to take its place. City continues to grow as a state of the art entertainment building is built just southeast of the Council House. Will Rogers visits Okmulgee and tells the citizens to preserve the Council House. Citizens begin to listen and future attempts to destroy the Council House are put to rest.
  • 1923 – The Creek Indian Memorial Association (CIMA), the parent organization of the Creek Council House Museum, is formed on April 24th.
  • 1934-Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act is created as Tribes begin to slowly rebuild their sovereign status.
  • 1930s–1960s - With the Council House in City possession, different uses are made of the historic building, from a Sheriff's office, a Boy Scout meeting room and a YMCA.
  • 1961 - The Council House and surrounding grounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
  • 1970 - Congress allows the Five Tribes to hold elections to vote for a Chief .
  • 1971 - Claude Cox is the first elected Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation since the early part of the century, all others up to this time were appointed by the President. A tribal constitution will begin to be created through the decade as well as a communal land base for offices and other tribal uses.
  • 1979 - Tribal sovereignty is fully renewed as a new constitution is adopted and does away with the one that was used since 1867. Like the U.S. Constitution, 3 branches of government are formed, an Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. This new constitution will help the tribe select future directions, such as forming an administration, and in education, health, and even gaming. It will also be a factor in focusing the tribe to regain things that were lost, such as the Council House, later on.
  • 1989 - The CIMA initiates a $1 million drive for the historic restoration of the Creek Council House and is also given 501-C-3 tax exempt status on February 2, 1989.
  • 1992 - The Council House restoration is completed and the museum reopened after being closed for one year.
  • 1993 - The Creek Council House Museum received the National Preservation Honor Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the complete historic restoration of the building.
  • 1997 - The City of Okmulgee and the CIMA enter into a Management Agreement that provides $149,650 annually for the operation of the museum. The lease of the Creek Council House between the City of Okmulgee and the CIMA was renegotiated through 2050. All employees of the museum ceased to be city employees and became employees of the museum association.
  • 2000 - On November 02, 2000 the Muscogee (Creek) Nation signs into law an annual appropriation of $35,000 for the support of a Creek Council House Museum curator.
  • 2005 – The CIMA officially renames the organization to the Creek Council House Museum Association.
  • 2010 - Although there has always been a desire to regain legal possession of the Creek Council House throughout the years, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has never organized a total concentrated effort to obtain it back, until 2010. Negotiations begin between the City of Okmulgee and the Muscogee (Creek) after Principal Chief A. D. Ellis signs legislation to begin talks with the City in April to formally purchase the Council House back. After several meetings city officials agree to sell the Council House for an amount of 3.2 million. On August 31, the Creek Council House is officially for sale, but according to city statues, a waiting period of 30 days is enforced to allow Okmulgee citizens to file a formal notification and follow with a petition if they wish to protest the sale. So far, no formal notification has been filed. If after September 30, (30 days) no formal notification is filed, the sale of the Council House will be finalized and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will re-take legal possession of the Creek Council House which will culminate in an official ceremony that is planned on Saturday, November 20, 2011


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