OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Over 20 years ago, Muscogee (Creek) citizen Danny Beaver was introduced to Powwow by his Lakota uncle, Jeff Wood.
“He didn’t have any kids to pass it on to and so he was teaching me more traditional ways,” Beaver said.
It was this introduction to traditional Lakota dance that eventually led Beaver to resurrect a traditional weapon used by many Eastern tribes, including Muscogees: the gunstock war club.
Beaver said once he began learning the traditional dances he wanted to incorporate his Muscogee heritage into his regalia, which was the beginning of the war club’s reintroduction to the Nation.
“Traditional dancers will have a fan and some type of weapon, usually a spear or club,” Beaver said. “I wanted something that represented my Creek side and both Nations would understand.”
After some research, as well as conferring with members of other tribes Beaver fashioned his first gunstock war club and began dancing with it.
“I made me one and I danced with it. People seen me at powwows and that’s how it started,” he said.
Since his first club nearly two decades ago, Beaver has produced countless more becoming a true artisan as well as a wellspring of knowledge regarding the history of the weapon.
Beaver said the clubs were fashioned after the muskets wielded by early European settlers in contact with the Northeastern tribes and then spread southward to other tribes through warfare or trade.
“It was just the spreading of something new, it was a weapon with an improved fighting capability,” Beaver said.
It was during the forced removal, Beaver says the weapon was almost lost to history.
“They were barely allowed to take the clothes on their back, much less these weapons,” Beaver said.
Seeing the importance of preserving this small, yet integral part of Muscogee history, Beaver has begun holding workshops for Muscogee youth in the hopes of preserving the history of the weapon and its relationship to the Muscogee people
The only person in the tribe continuing to produce these weapons, Beaver is confident he will not be the last.
Beaver, recently held his third workshop for Fathers Day at the Creek Council House, something he said he would like to see become a regular event.