Muscogee Indians of Oklahoma Denied Access to Sacred Site at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel


By Brittany Bivins

Members of the Muscogee Creek Indian Tribe of Oklahoma are in Alabama to protest the Poarch Band of Creek Indians' expansion of Wetumpka's Wind Creek Hotel and Casino onto ancient burial grounds.

Muscogee leaders say their ancestors' remains were removed from the site, and on Thursday, they met for a prayer service on the land, known as Hickory Ground.

Muscogee leaders say they had planned to pray on the construction site where their ancestors' remains were once buried, but they say security and PCI Tribal Police told them to leave.

"We knew that was what's was going to happen. These people have shown greed from day one, we already had a plan to meet here, right when we get ran off, so it was no surprise," said Wayland Gray, who traveled from Oklahoma for the prayer service.

Instead, the group prayed in a parking lot joined by pastors from local churches. "We are all one in God, there is no distinction in God's eyes and I try to live that and pray for anyone who asks for prayer," said Jonathan Yarboro, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Wetumpka.

The feud began nearly a decade ago, when the Wind Creek Casino opened on Hickory Ground, land sacred to the Muscogee people.

"The lump in my throat just came out, disheartening, and I feel sad for my ancestors," said Mike Harjo, a descendant of Hickory Ground.

"It made me feel angry more than anything, it made me want to get ahold of them, but we're here in a peaceful action here," said Michael Deo, who traveled from Oklahoma for the prayer service.

However, not all members of the Poarch Creek Indians agree with the expansion. "When I was here, I seen them. I seen them dig up babies and women, children to put in this casino," said William Bradley, a Porach Band of Creek Indians tribal member.

The Muscogee Indians of Oklahoma say they have filed a lawsuit to stop the expansion and return the ground to its orginal condition. Muscogee leaders say more demonstrations and protests are planned.

The Poarch Creek Indians issued a statement Thursday, saying the Muscogee representatives were denied access to the construction site ongoing litigation and safety concerns.