Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Native American Month at UWG

The University of West Georgia’s Office of Institutional Diversity celebrated Native American Month by hosting Whigham’s Association of the Lower Muskogee Creek Indian Tribe. Several artifacts were on display and there was a presentation about the history of the tribe.

Dr. Christina Venable, secretary of the tribe, discussed how their ancestors went into hiding rather than be forced out of their territory by the United States. This guaranteed the survival of the Muskogee tribe and their heritage.

The history of the tribe is told through P.A.S.S.:
Physical (Government)
Agricultural (Planting, seasons)
Social (Dress, dancing)
Spiritual (Ceremonial beliefs, views of life)

The Muskogee people are historically friendly, not “barbaric” as many are taught about Native Americans. One of the biggest social aspects of their culture is the enjoyment of stickball. Venable shared with the crowd how the game is similar to baseball, but anything goes.

She laughed as she remembered a game of stickball that took place at Stone Mountain with another Muskogee tribe, and how some ended up going to the hospital. Stickball was generally how the tribe dealt with issues. For example, if someone from another tribe took something from their tribe, instead of fighting or going to war, they would play a game of stickball (which, in itself, could be like war at times).

Venable spoke in great detail on the tribe’s belief in wellness, and how everyone should strive to achieve balance in his or her life.

“If one part of the person is out of balance with itself, its tribe or its family…the whole person is out of balance,” she said.

Venable went on to mention how the Muskogee people believe in the four hills of life: birth, youth, adult and elder. She said the tribe believes in their youth, and that you will never hear a young person told that “they can’t become this, or that they would never accomplish that.”

The material she provided to the audience states, “[w]e must allow youth to have a voice to express themselves openly without criticism. We recognize the youth as a small adult with a mind and spirit of their own.”

Venable concluded by giving students some advice: “[e]ach hill must accomplish its goal, in order to move towards the next challenges in this life. We move in the circle of life, it is unending.”

For more information on the Office of Institutional Diversity, visit www.westga.edu/diversity.

For more information on The Lower Muskogee Tribe, visit muskogee-heritage.tripod.com.

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