CMN Students complete canoe and cooking paddles in 15-week class
By Rita Courtwright, Managing Editor
OKMULGEE, OK — A Muscogee (Creek) custom that has lasted hundreds of years is both canoe and paddle making, and one citizen is working hard to revive this custom.
Special Project Coordinator for Muscogee Creek Nation Cultural Archives John Brown led a class of 15 College of the Muscogee Nation students with the overall goal of creating cultural paddles, cooking paddles and stirring paddles.
“Tribes used to identify themselves by holding up their paddles when they came from the waters to the shore, “ Brown said. “After the removal though, we no longer needed paddles for our canoes like we once had, but I saw the need to recreate this small piece of our cultural past.”
Brown began with the creation of a traditional canoe back in the summer of 2015. This project took him all over the state of Oklahoma where he displayed the canoe at local schools, while discussing the history of canoes and the Muscogee (Creek) people.
“It’s not just canoe making we are trying to keep alive, it is the paddles as well,” he said.
CMN has offered other traditional classes in the past semesters including traditional cooking and flute making, and wanted to offer more.
They reached out to Brown to discuss the possibility of a woodworking class. The class would be held for college credit and cover traditional woodworking, such as bow making, traditional spoons and paddles.
“The cultural arts area an important mission of the college,” said Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Monte Randall. “We hope these classes will bring in new students who want to learn more about our history and culture.”
CMN student and Okmulgee freshman Elizabeth Butler agrees. “I really liked this class. I got to learn how to use a jigsaw and a sander and it was a fun learning experience. I would definitely recommend this class to others, as it helps release stress as well.”
CMN will be offering a new woodworking class for the Spring of 2019. For more information on enrolling please call: 918-549-2800 or log on to www.cmn.edu