Leaders of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation say they are dropping “Creek” from the tribe’s name as part of a rebranding effort that also features a new logo.
But not all citizens of the nation are on board with the new developments, and some say their identity is being stripped away from them and what they’ve known their entire lives.
“What are we, a symbol or a people?” tribal citizen Bill Davis asked Wednesday. “If that had some wording on it to identify who we are as a people, then I’m for it, but if you’re doing it as a symbol to be more invisible, then I’m against it.”
However, Brian OnTheHill, the tribe’s creative manager for marketing and tourism, said the new brand will still be rooted in history and tradition.
The tribe’s official name will remain The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, but OnTheHill said the tribe will prefer to be known just as the Muscogee Nation.
“In order to solidify the nation’s identification and keep the connection to the tribal seal, we chose to use ‘Muscogee’ as the tribe’s sole name,” OnTheHill said in a video announcing the branding effort. “The British coined the misnomer ‘Creek.’ When this alias appears in parentheses alongside the proper name of the nation, it creates confusion amongst the general public and is often mistaken as an interpretation of Muscogee, or the two are read together as if it were one name.”
Some tribal citizens, however, said they are upset they were unable to offer input into such a major decision.
“We are a tribe of many creative people, and we love our nation,” artist and social activist Dana Tiger said. “It would be great if we could come together to an agreement on what would represent us the best.”
One citizen, Galen Cloud, offered a suggestion for a change that would bring the tribe back to its roots.
“We know who we are as Muscogee people. I’m glad they took the ‘Creek’ out, but I wish they would have gone back to the original spelling. If you look at it and you see the spelling of Muscogee, it’s easy to pronounce,” said Cloud.
The traditional spelling of the tribe is “Mvskoke.” Cloud noted that he understands the public at large struggles to pronounce Mvskoke as Muscogee because of the “V”.
“Now we have the opportunity to correctly spell Mvskoke — and we don’t because we still want to appease people,” he said.
The nation also created a new logo to be used as a representation of the tribe. OnTheHill describes the meaning behind the logo in the video, but it was not made known to all members.
“I have no idea what the meaning behind [the symbol] is,” Tiger said. “I was surprised that they just changed it.”
Davis said he thinks the tribe has always been this way.
“It’s just a handful of people that make decisions for the whole, and people have just learned to accept it,” Davis said. “If I wasn’t on the computer yesterday and this weekend, I wouldn’t have known that this happened.”
OnTheHill said the tribe is not eliminating the official seal, but rather “changing the public’s perception of who we are and what we do.”
Tiger said she doesn’t mind the actual change but wishes members had been given more chances to share their ideas.
“I want to see the voices of the people included in the emblem that represents us,” she said.