Leaders discuss cultural concerns
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court Judge Greg Bigler has been meeting with the Nation’s ceremonial ground leaders to help with the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
What they have agreed on is having the declaration translated into Mvskoke.
“That is in order to develop and preserve the languages that the Nation has had,” Bigler said. “Also, to make it our own.”
Bigler feels with these translations into Mvskoke, it will help with the preservation of ceremonial ways.
“Also, our rights for elderly, health, nutrition lands and territories,” he said.
According to the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner’s website, UNDRIP is a declaration that establishes framework for minimum standards of survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.
This declaration was adopted in 2007.
Bigler brought up that the Murphy v. Royal case can come down to whether the Nation gets the control of their territory.
“The declaration says we get to,” he said.
Bigler said in current federal Indian law, which controls what MCN can do within the Nation, there are no ultimate rights for MCN to continue as a people.
“If that is true where can we find that inherent right to exist and a way to protect ourselves, and the declaration says we have those rights,” he said.
He said the translation process has been going on for over two years.
“The translators do a marvelous job,” Bigler said.
Bigler said the 1867 MCN Constitution is written in Mvskoke.
“Our current constitution is not,” he said.
University of Colorado professor and UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People Committee Member Kristen Carpenter was invited to attend the meeting to speak with the ceremonial and tribal government leaders about UNDRIP.
“I’m also here to listen to the concerns of the Muscogee (Creek) people around human rights and federal Indian law and day-to-day cultural concerns,” she said.
Concerns that have been brought up are the survival of the culture, language and ceremonial grounds.
“The ability to keep all these going as society changes and laws in Oklahoma are sometimes restrictive of some of those practices,” Carpenter said.
She said although each tribe is different, they all have struggles keeping their religions and cultural practices.
“Especially the ones that have to deal with specific lands,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said MCN is a leader in using the language of human rights and advocating for cultural freedoms.
“From what I understand I think some of your tribal leaders been going to the UN for decades,” she said.
Bigler said they are making great progress on the translation of UNDRIP. They are hoping to have it finished by this summer.