Information in this blog on events was contributed to by the Ocmulgee Mounds Association, Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative and Fire Starters Film Festival founders. Any historical information was gathered through articles that are hyperlinked in the text below.
For over thirty years, the Ocmuglee Indigenous Celebration has been held annually at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, with even a record of a gathering before its annual status that dates back to 1952. Since its inception, the celebration has had many names, and even the park itself was known as the Ocmulgee National Monument. As time marches on, there is now positive change to accurately tell the history and honor the thriving current culture of those who presently call the area their homeland. The distinct change within the two-day celebration's cultural demonstrations is one such example of these efforts. With an emphasis on education, traditions will be showcased that reflect the southeastern tribes that have deep roots to the region. Additionally, there is the potential for the Ocmulgee Mounds to become the nation's next National Park. Here's a quick look at what this means for the descendants of the area.
In the 18th century, this area was made up of around 60 villages and formed the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. With the Indian Removal Act of 1832, the Muscogee Nation forcibly relocated in 1836 to Oklahoma, to the region now known and recognized as their capital, Okmulgee. The Muscogee Nation are the descendants of the Mississippian people who constructed the earthen mounds thousands of years ago, seven of which have been preserved at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Macon. The park has preserved not only many of the mounds but over 2,000 artifacts have also been retrieved.
“Our people are still here. People talk about us as if we’re the dinosaurs of this land, creatures that no longer exist. We didn’t stop existing; we just went someplace else.” -- says Tracie Revis, director of advocacy for the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative (ONPPI) and a citizen of the Muscogee Nation. (Garden & Gun)
The Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative is working to protect even more land along the Ocmulgee Corridor for conservation efforts and for the sacred relationship between the land and the Muscogee Nation. The park's boundaries today are made of roughly 2,000 acres, but the proposed national park status could add over 50,000 acres and stretch to include the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refugee. Another major part of the designation is the park would be co-managed by the Muscogee Nation, making it one of the first in the country to be co-operated by an indigenous tribe.
To continue to ramp up support for the upcoming possible park designation, at this year's celebration there's more to do than ever leading up to the two-day annual event so let us be your guide through the busy calendar of cultural events!
Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration
September 16- 17, 2023
"This is where it originally started. It's our history; it's who we are. So the fire that's in your heart is also the fire that's here." - Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill
From September 16th to the 17th, catch educational demonstrations depicting storytelling, art, music, and dance featuring different Southeastern Native American tribes. These demonstrations start at 10 AM and continue through 5 PM each day. There will be a kid-center crafts area and the park will open to explore the historic mounds that are interlaced with lush forests and wetlands!
Find an FAQ on important updates for this year's Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration below!
Where should I park?
All Parking will be at the old Macon-Bibb Health Department located at 171 Emery Highway, Macon, GA, 31217Read More
Will there be shuttle services available?
Yes! A free, handicap-accessible shuttle will take you right to the event gate. Please go to the parking lot at the old Macon-Bibb Health Department located at 171 Emery Hwy, Macon, GA 31217, to ride the shuttle to the park.Read More
Is this a kid-friendly event?
Yes! Families are encouraged to learn about the culture of the indigenous communities and the historic site! There will be pottery classes for kids to participate in as well!Read More
How much is admission?
Admission is FREE this year! This is the perfect event to bring the whole family!Read More
Can I use an alternative to an automobile or the shuttles to gain entrance to the park?
There will be an option to enter the back gate entrance of the park only by bicycle. Bike Walk Macon will host a group ride from downtown to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.Read More
Events Leading up to the Celebration!
September 14 - 16, 2023
Fire Starters Festival complements the power of the Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration but is in the heart of downtown Macon creating a place to contemplate contemporary culture in the Muscogee (Creek) homelands. This year’s inaugural festival includes stunning visual artists, powerful filmmakers, and the Ignite the Night concert featuring the Indigo Girls to benefit Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative.
Feature Film Screenings:
Bad Press (Documentary Feature)
DEAD BIRD HEARTS (Narrative Short)
THE JOURNEY OF TIAK HIKIYA OHOYO (Documentary Short)
FANCY DANCE (Narrative Feature)
THIS MAY BE THE LAST TIME (Documentary Feature)
September 14, 2023 (Opening Artist Talk and Reception) at 5:00 PM
The exhibition will run through November 18th / Gallery Hours: Thursday-Saturday 4-8 PM
An exhibition presented by McEachern Art Center featuring Randy Kemp (Euchee/Muscogee/Choctaw) and Bobby C. Martin (Muscogee)
A look behind the lands, stories, and peoples that come from the flowing waters of the Ocmulgee to today’s Muscogee traditions, towns, and governments. Randy Kemp is a multidisciplinary artist whose body of work includes painting, printmaking, mixed media, installation, music, and performance. His work includes both traditional tribal life and contemporary works concerning American Indian issues, themes, and views. Bobby C. Martin is an artist/educator/facilitator who works out of his Martin Mountain Studio near West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma. His work began with family photographs, which have turned into countless re-imaginings as monumental paintings or tiny etchings, as drawings or installations and video projects.
Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 8PM at The Grand Opera House
A Benefit Concert for Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative
Support America’s next national park with a concert of the Indigo Girls featuring Jontavious Willis for the benefit of Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative. Over a 35 year career that began in clubs around their native Atlanta, Georgia, the Grammy-winning folk duo of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray have built a dedicated following across the globe. They’ve recorded 16 studio albums and sold over 15 million records as one of the most successful folk acts in history. New generations are discovering one of their greatest hits with “Closer to Fine” featured prominently in the mega-blockbuster Barbie movie. Grammy-nominated blues musician Jontavious Willis will open for the group. Learn more about the park and join the movement: ocmulgeepark.org