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Muscogee Tribe Revives Complaint that Casino Desecrated Graves

Tiffany Burroughs
Updated: 12 August 2023
2 min to read

MCN has filed a lawsuit against the Poarch Creek Band of Indians again, claiming that the latter tribe committed an act of desecration when they constructed their Wind Creek Casino and Resort in Wetumpka, Alabama on a holy MCN site.
Muscogee, MCN, Poarch Creek, Wind Creek Casino Wetumpka

According to a revived lawsuit by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN), the Wind Creek Casino Wetumpka (pictured above) in Alabama is built on MCN sacred ground. Although the MCN is currently based in Oklahoma, its ancestral homelands encompass much of present-day Alabama, as well as parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. In the 1830s, a federal policy of forced repatriation resulted in the removal of most of the tribe to what is now Oklahoma; during this journey, known as the Trail of Tears, thousands of Muscogee, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole tribe members died from disease, hunger, and exposure. Recently, human remains were reportedly removed from the site of the casino.

Human Remains Removed

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN) is in a long-term court battle with the Poarch Creeks in Alabama. The suit alleges that when building the Wind Creek casino in Hickory Ground, Oklahoma, which was MCN’s last capital city and a sacred burial site, 57 sets of human remains and accompanying artifacts were forcibly removed in 2001. It is said that these remains were kept in containers without the appropriate ventilation or temperature regulation. Auburn University is an additional defendant, for their involvement in removing and storing some of the human remains to be researched. “Do Right by Them” is the slogan MCN stands by.

‘Do Right by Them’

In a letter to the Poarch Creeks last month, Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill reminded them of the promise they made to protect the ancestral lands and ancestors of the MCN. His letter strongly indicated that this promise had been broken as the tribe members had removed the ancestors, placed them in boxes and sent them off to be studied by non-Indians. Sadly, some of these souls still reside in storage facilities to this day. Chief Hill made clear that the Poarch Creeks must “do right” by them and respect Sovereign Immunity.

Sovereign Immunity

In 2021, a US district judge dismissed the case against the Poarch Creek Tribe as they were protected from liability by sovereign immunity due to their sovereign nation status. However, the MOWC has appealed this ruling, asking for a federal appeals court to reconsider and halt further development on the Hickory Ground with the Wind Creek Casino being torn down as well. The appeal also claims Auburn University has violated the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which requires federally-funded museums and universities to return ancestral human remains and artifacts to their descendants. Neither the Poarch Creeks nor Auburn have commented on the appeal.

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Updated: 12 August 2023
2 min to read

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