Q&A - February 24, 2017

Word is getting out that Okmulgee is actually rising. It’s more than talk! When people come to town, who haven’t visited Okmulgee in a couple of years, they can’t believe the progress they see. Because we are here every day and regularly see the improvements downtown and throughout the community, we can easily become oblivious to the truly astonishing things happing around us. With major renovation projects happening simultaneously in downtown Okmulgee, 2017 is shaping up to be a landmark year for this community.

Q:What is OSUIT's relationship with the Creek Nation, and what are they doing to help Okmulgee Rising?

Two of the largest employers in town are investing in downtown Okmulgee to bring new life to our historic square. Both the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) have purchased historic downtown buildings, and both are investing more than just idle talk. Both have launched major renovation projects that promise to transform the very heart of this community.

I’ve dedicated much content in this column to updating readers about OSUIT’s progress in renovating the Old Post Office Complex in downtown Okmulgee and the significant impact this will have on the entire community. But this week, I would like to say a few things about what one of our major Okmulgee Rising partners is also doing to benefit downtown Okmulgee.

The Creek Nation is in the process of doing a period restoration on our greatest historic landmark in town, the Creek Council House. In 1867, the original two-story, log council house was constructed to accommodate the meetings of the legislative branch of the Creek Nation, the House of Kings and House of Warriors. Eleven years later (in 1878), it was destroyed in a fire, and the beautiful stone structure, that still stands today, was built in its place. This site not only marked the national capitol of the Creek Nation but became the developmental cradle for the town of Okmulgee and grand centerpiece in our town square. The Creek Council House received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

This proud structure predates all other buildings in our historic district by over thirty years. And this is precisely why community members recently chose to name the square in downtown Okmulgee, “Council House Square.” We have a lot of grand buildings that pay homage to our history, but the Creek Council House is the “heart and soul” of this community and deserves our respect.

This year, 150 years after this site was originally selected for the Creek Council House, work has begun to restore the building to its pre 1900s condition, with only a few modern essentials. All residents of Okmulgee should be thankful to Principal Chief James Floyd and his administration for their commitment to rescuing this important piece of Creek Nation and Okmulgee history. When it is reopened, the restored Creek Council House will undoubtedly bring a steady stream of tourists to our town.

Your questions and comments are always appreciated, please direct them to osuit-president@okstate.edu.