Suit filed demands return of site to original state
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed a new complaint in its federal suit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians June 5 demanding the sacred site known as Hickory Ground to be restored to its original condition before the construction of the PBCI Wind Creek Wetumpka casino.
According to an MCN press release, the suit claims PBCI and the federal government violated federal laws including the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Indian Reorganization Act.
The Nation’s actions are in relation to a suit first filed in 2012, which was recently paused for settlement discussions.
The 33-acres located in Wetumpka, Alabama was once a site for the Muscogee (Creeks) until they were forcibly removed in the 1830s.
PBCI received a federal historical preservation grant in 1980 in order to obtain Hickory Ground under the condition no excavation would occur. The grant prevented development on the site for 20 years.
Once the two decades expired, the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued permits allowing PBCI to excavate Hickory Ground, through consultation with MCN.
Without consulting MCN, PBCI began to remove human remains and funerary objects at Hickory Ground and in 2012 an announcement was made a casino would be built directly on top of the original burial site. In 2013, the grand opening of Wind Creek Wetumpka was held.
Hickory Ground members of Oklahoma have opposed PBCI’s actions since they surfaced, including Hickory Ground Mekko George Thompson who is seeking monetary damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
‘No amount of money is worth betraying our faith and disrespecting our ancestors. That land is sacred ground and it needs to be returned to its sacred condition,’ Thompson said in a press release.
PBCI claim ancestry as Muscogee (Creek) descendants who stayed behind during the removal, they were granted federal recognition in 1984.