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"To show that we have come back": First event of Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration happening in downtown

Tracie Revis is from the Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma and moved to Macon in January 2022. This exhibit is a passion project for her.

MACON, Ga. — The first event of the Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration is happening Thursday night on Second Street Lane.

The event is called Okmulgee, OK to the Ocmulgee River: Rekindling the Fires and it’s an art gallery featuring photographs from five Muscogee and Yuchi photographers.

The goal was to express the experience of these artists from Oklahoma on their first homecoming to their ancestral lands.

The word Ocmulgee is spelled differently in the title of this exhibit to denote the different spellings of both Muscogee capitals. Ocmulgee for the former capital in Macon and Okmulgee for the current spelling of the capital in Oklahoma.

“So saying Okmulgee to Ocmulgee is connecting those two homelands and making sure that it’s what we were and the name that we left here to who we were when we made it to Oklahoma and then it’s the reverse it’s the rekindling the fires which is those photographers coming back to the homelands and expressing their artistic imagery and the story between the two of them,” curator Tracie Revis said.

Revis is from the Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma and moved to Macon in January 2022. This exhibit is a passion project for her.

She says she loved the Macon community, but she realized that there was a knowledge gap in how much people knew about what the region was like before colonization.

“This project is a way for us to be able to say ‘look we’re now in the downtown region. Our history isn’t only at the park and at the Ocmulgee Mound site. It is this entire region was a civilization and you cannot throw a rock anywhere in Georgia and not hit ancestral, cultural land,” Revis said.

Coming from Oklahoma, Revis says her first visit to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park was a highly sensory experience.

“I smelled plants that we still use today that we make our medicines and to me it was no longer a historical place. It took me to who we are today. We never stopped existing, we never stopped with our ceremonies we just went someplace else with them,” she said.

Revis says the celebration of southeast indigenous culture is about honoring her ancestors to make sure that those who have past are never forgotten.

“It’s a way to honor them to show that we have come back, we have come home. We never forgot you, we still speak our language, we still honor those that were here before,” she said.

 But the celebration is to also cherish the current stewards of the land and build something new together.

She says that it is about helping to grow the fabric of who this community is.

“History is history we can’t change the way it happened, but we can learn from it and we can all grow together and learn to be tolerant of each other,” Revis said.

The exhibit’s opening reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will not only feature the photographers work but also audio storytelling by Tamara Wilson & Richard Whitman.

It all happens at NewTown Macon Headquarters on Poplar and Second Street Lane. The exhibit will be up in downtown Macon through 2023.

“I want people to come out, enjoy it and just share in with us because this is not just for the native community and not just for the downtown community, it is for the state of Georgia and anyone who passes through these lands,” Revis said.

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