Muscogee (Creek) Nation gathers to discuss impending law suit to prevent construction on sacred land

TULSA - Members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation gathered Saturday to discuss their law suit against an Alabama tribe constructing a casino on a piece of sacred land known as Hickory Ground.

The suit, filed in Federal court in December, alleges that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians acquired the land under the false pretense that they would preserve it. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation wants an injunction to prevent further disruption where an ancient burial ground is located.

Currently, the Poarch Band are expanding their nearly $250 million casino over that land. Part of that expansion has led to the unearthing of 57 sets of human remains, ancestors of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

"Even though we've been removed to a new place, our, our beginnings like Hickory Ground is still there," said Principal Chief George Tiger of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

The Muscogee hail from the southeastern United States in places like Wetumpka, Ala., where Hickory Ground is located.

"When I came up on this issue, I knew it was an enormous challenge, but I couldn't turn my back on them because I felt like these are my ancestors that are being disturbed," said Chief George Thompson Jr. of Hickory Ground, who's battled to preserve the land since 2006.

Tiger says the tribe has no issue with the building of the casino. What they do take issue with, however, is that they and the Poarch Band cannot come to an agreement of reinterment of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's ancestors.

"We're not concerned about the casino. What we're concerned about is having that property go back to its natural ways- the cemetery being taken care of. There has been some offers however, culturally, we just can't accept those offers."

It's a battle, according to Tiger, that affects all tribal nations.

"I believe that even though we may be fighting it from the Muscogee Creek Nation perspective, in many ways, we're fighting it for all tribal nations."

Tiger and the attorney representing the tribe say they're prepared for a lengthy court battle.

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