MACON, Ga. — The Muscogee Creek Nation is a federally recognized tribe that largely lived in Georgia and Alabama. During the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, they were forced out and relocated to what is now Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
The Creeks lived here in the city of Macon-Bibb and its history can be found at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Friday morning, the county wanted to move forward and have the Creeks nation flag permanently raised in front of city hall.
"To see it come to fruition, it just stays a lot. It's hard to express the feeling. It definitely touches your heart," Principal Chief David Hill said.
From the Creek nation's flag being raised, to a formal gift exchange signifying a new relationship, Second Chief Del Beaver says having the flag raised shows how far they have come and it goes back to Macon's Ocmulgee Mounds Historical Park, once the heart of the culture.
"It was the epicenter. It was like Atlanta was. Thousands of people came there for trade, for commerce, to make a living," Beaver said.
The Muscogee Creek Nation is the fourth largest tribe in the United States. In 2004, they founded a tribal college in Okmulgee, called the College of the Muscogee Nation. Beaver says the raising of the flag is a step in the right direction but there is work that still needs to be done.
"The national park is our aim. Just that one little step closer," Beaver said.
The hope is to have the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, recognized as a National Park and Preserve. It would be co-managed by the Muscogee Creek Nation and the Department of Interior.
With the Creek nation's flag flying high, it symbolizes the beginning of a growing relationship. Principal Chief David Hill says this is a long time coming but it is never too late to do the right thing.
"This is where our ancestors came from. There are some that are still buried here. It's just an awesome feeling today that there's a land of acknowledgment, creating that partnership, that's what we're going to do. Raising the flag here says a lot. I'm real thankful to be here. It's just heartfelt," Hill said.