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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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Houston and Fields McGhee
P: This is August 28, 1972, and Chief Houston McGhee and Fields McGhee talking
about the beginnings of costume wearing and Indian dancing in the modern
history of the Creek Indians.
P: To you knowledge, when was the first time anybody in this community
made any piece of Indian regalia of any kind?
M: Well, it was in '58 when my mother made my father Indian regalia to
a go to Day.
P: Which was in ?
M: Pensacola, Florida. And then from there I got t .oock t- and we started
an Indian dance group and got boys together, me and Fields, and started
practicing. But no costumes for boys dancing, feathers, bells, or
nothing. So we had several practice sessions which led on to us getting
up-costumes for a dance performance.
P: Who were some of the boys in that early, that first dance group that you
guys got together?
M: There was Mike Morris, Johnny McKuen, Edward Rolin, 'MR and Mary McGhee
Steve Fee, Ronny Jackson, Don Jackson, Ricky McGhee, and Gibson .
Oh and myself and Houston both, we danced in it. And also had about 12
girls, young girls that were interested in taking part in Indian dancing.
P: This was 1960 you say or .
M: Yes, this was in 1960. And the names I couldn't. Of the girls. .I
can remember a few of them. .Savanna Lee Daltry, Barbara Ann Gibson,
Dora Ann 7 and Jackie McGhee, and Hattie Mae Sells, and we'd
have a practice session going sometimes two and three times a week, we'd
get together. Our first appearance was from this area was at
in ;, Alabama, about 20 miles -ie^ on the other side of Birmingham
and the starting with it, we'd put a lot of time in it, we had a costume
build up at the schoolhouse one night. It went on for about two or three
nights and we'd make and preparedfor the program and we dressed out 12
boys and 12 girls and we had A everybody up and stuff that was
invited to go A Indian costumes __and on that first program,
we ended up with 158 to go on the first program.
P: All in costume?
M: No, there were quite a few that wasn't in full costume but some of them
would have maybe a feather or something in their hair or other ones would
have just some fringe on their shirts or something like that. Just some-
thing that was Indian-like.
P: Let me interrupt you for just a second. How did you get in touch with the
people at Rickwood Gebins or how did it come about that you were invited
to take part?
M: This come about from what's the name up there? Riker's -
no, you're talking about I never did think I'd forget that guy's
name Oh, Lordy H was o_' postcards and artifacts on the .
trinkets for sale so he was wanting to promote Rikwood Cabins and so
he got in contact with my daddy and this was between him getting in contact
with my daddy and wanting to put on a program like that. This was when
I started getting interested and got with Fields and then we organized the
thing, between him and .
P: How did you learn the dances?
M: Out of a book. It was a book several dances we got from this guy in
Pensacola -- his name is V. R. Stewart he was a Creek Indian and we got
he learnt us several dances.
P: Do you happen to know how he learned them in the first place?
M: T6W don't. & research by books. I think mostly every year in
Pensacola has to do something with the fiesta of A- flags down there and
they have something Indians or white people, mostly dressed up like Indians to
put on a small show down there and I think V. R. got the idea of this and
the know-how was to watch the program there and he took it up himself.
V. R. )as a good .. I mean to (-/7yJ'2 get us up a good dancing
group was from him, through him. He had a dance group before we did here.
P: Was his an Indian dance group or whites dressed up like .
M: His was mostly Indian boys. Part Indians he had a mixed group.
P: Was there any way his getting involved with an Indian dance group, was that
stimulated by activity up here on the land claims do you think or was he one
that signed up for land?
M: Oh, yes, it could have a bearing on it and he was real interested in this
group and he come up several times to help us practice and when we had
programs, he'd come out to the schoolhouse and help us put on programs.
But, getting back to f' we had to we chartered one bus from
Brown and Brown Bus Line and so everybody got so interested in it we went
to the schoolhouse to Braton, the County Board, and my father, chief at
that time, well then Mal and Norman McGhee and two or three more went and
rented another bus from the county and had to pay insurance on the bus to
take the group up so at last we had a meeting time, we had about fifteen
that had never come to a meeting wanting to go they was ready to
go and got on the bus and got them a seat and the ones that had come, that
has been coming to the meeting and had planned on going, they wouldn't get
off to give the others a seat, so we had a little confusion right there and
some of them that's been to the meeting, they said, let's let them go and
we'll stay home this time. It wind up there's about 4 or 5 missed the
trip who was real interested in going and the other ones, they drove their
own cars, and so we went on to Rikwood for a 2-day trip. Was a Saturday
and Sunday evening program and it went over real good. They treated the
Indians real good and from that day on, we always hke been trying to have an
Indian dance group, Indian group that recognized the old-time Indian program.
P; Some of those original ones are still sort of like, Odell and so forth are
still k-da to taking part?
M: Yeah, we still got some of the old dance group that's when we call on them,
they will be ready to dance, but it's kind of hard now to keep the old ones
interested in a dance group.
P4 Fields, were you living up here at the time, or were you living down .
M: Yes, I was living here during the time. In fact, I've only been in Pensacola
about 3 1/2 years.
P: So that really from what you've said, the whole Indian dancing activity
is you and Houston that really put in __. Was there ever-
anybody between the two of you and Billy Smith that sort of took over and ..
M: Yes, Kenny McGhee a couple of years ago, he took them to in ,
they put on a program up there and they done real well on that program and
also we've been to _t__i Wayne, and Gary, Indiana this year.
P; I was jus/getting ready to ask, you said when you first started you had this
guy Stewart helping you look up things in the book, did you pick up new
dance steps and things like going to the pow-wows and .
M: Y/#, they was a fancy dance, not a fancy dance but, what they call that?
Real fast-step dance that they was doing the parade of Indian dance, yeah,
we got that from V. R. Stewart, he had one that really do have steps.
Odelli and Mary McGhee, they both took that up. They did it right fast.
During the time and in Indiana, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, they had, I think it
was about anywhere from three to four hundred up there all the different
tribes of Indians, and they would do all these fancy, fast war dances
and different dance, whoop dance and you picked up the buffalo dance,
the green corn dance, which the girls done and in several of them, during
the time that we was on these trips, we picked up, you know.
P; Which one, you say, Houston?
M: Bear dance, we used to do with the girls.
P; How did you learn your singing, which you're pretty good at?
M: Well, I picked it up just listening, being at the pow-wows meeting with
P: The first time out that you danced, did you have singing with it or just
M: No, just the drum. Our group didn't, but the other groups in Indiana
they chanted, they did their .
P: I was talking when you went to Rikwood Caverns
M: No, we didn't have no chanting at all. We didn't know what it mean the
chanting. As I went on to different pow-wows, I learnt that chanting is
mainly a tune with a drum but dances. Some dances they are nrc
the chants, which I hadn't learned, those songs that go to a dance but
other than this chanting with a drum that's just keeping up rhythm and
letting dances .
P: Could you all just sort of list off the different places that the dance
group through the years has performed?
e-g iood C:Aer, twice
M: Well, we performed in __un y and performed at ? rSonce,
twice, yes, twice, and went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, we were paid I'll
say around two months. We had the Thanksgiving program up there, wasn't
that before December? But I'm talking about the regular show we put on
about two months that we stayed there. See I built an Indian village on
top of Tennessee and we worked there about two months. Then from
there, we went to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, what was that about two or three days?
About three days, wasn't it? And then from there to we come back
to Scotsboro, Alabama. We've been there going at for about three years.
No, since '64, and it's continued. Then we went to Gary, Indiana, and then
we went to E1rilla, Alabama, three times, Roanne, Indiana,
P: What was at Roanne?
M: It was a pow-wow that was in 7 parade and I was included in it.
Welve had several shows out here at the schoolhouse also, to make up money to
go e Then Clinton, Alabama to the rodeo. Wer also went to
Birmingham one night to a horse show, wasn't it? That's where we was at
one night at the horse show? We went to Birmingham to a flower show and
also we well, he did, I'm pretty sure he did, him and his father
participated in Governor Wallace's inauguration in Birmingham.
P: What year was that?
M: What year was he elected governor? First time he was Governor Wallace.
Anyway, f' and another place, we also went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
but we didn't have no dances there.
P: Did you mention Pensacola while I was out of the room?
M: No, we didn't mention Pensacola. Hadn't you all participated in Pensacola
for those people down there? I hadn't but my father has. Some of them
has down there. I participated in McGil\ary Day about twice before we
-7 u -f-1,. .f)o (YlOhf/ L-t
organized the dance group here. As a matter of fact, we've been on Chattanooga
seven or eight times. Birmingham, Montgomery, and we've been on
IV, you know, advertising this thing .
P: All this since 1q60?
P: What has been the general reaction (.,white spectators, first of all, and
secondly, other Indian groups that you've come in contact with to your
M: We've never had any trouble with the white groups, I mean, they seem to
like and agree with the way of the Indian people has been done and they's
encourage us. They thought we was doing a really good thing to keep up
6e-0-0- O LOL--
our heritage through the programs that we've- A and some whites we've
met and know a little bit about the Indian history than we ourselves do;
a lot of times they read up on it, but some we've met are interested to
learn the Indian history of our ancestors. ..Fields and I and the group
L C_ 'j-jgot a lot of young ones still interested in keeping our heritage up.
P: When you went to these big pow-wows were there a lot of other Indian
groups there? Do you have any comments from any of the Indian groups there?
M: Well, they comment on our dancing and no longer time to train them and get
them together.-hey say that we got a real dance group, I mean a real good
dance group and One time we was up in Ft. Wayne, one time our boys
wouldn't dance the dance like a lot of the others that come on from a
reservation and so they kind of wanted to run over our boys a little bit
and so we,. Fields didn't like it right off and we had another guy
about as big as Fields there and he didn't like it neither and so we had a
little talking with him and so after that, some of them had been real.
good and we told him we d4-id't know all the Indian dances and Indian steps
and we was interested in learning so between Fields and Jonathan McGhee,
we got it straight- rr N t they kind of and looked after our
Creek dancing boys on the next session of dancing.
P: In traveling around like this, how often did you encounter other
Indian groups that were surprised to find out oa were Indians in Alabama?
M: It was, we never did have, I didn't, I don't know you, well, I never did
have any other Indian groups ask me about the Alabama Indians. It was more
or less the white people themselves jov ; see Alabama didn't realize
that there was that many living in lec--. But then, during, some of the
groups of Indians we met with they didn't know they was Indians in Alabama.
They didn't know they existed here until ,t/&v we met some on the money
claim come up, had a lot of newspaper clippings and in the paper had learned
about it, but the majority didn't know there was Indians in Alabama the
Indian groups that we met with.
P; I forgot to ask you too about your costumes. Who helped you out on getting
started making your costumes? Where did you get the materials and all that
kind of stuff?
M; Well, that wore back down to our first appearance in Rikwood Caverns, they
donated materials to start making costumes and donated money to buy tars
and feathers and then between me and Fields hustling around, and told of
the other ones, finally we got enough money and enough costumes. We had 12
boys dressed out but they wasn't dressed out making like a dancer, an Indian
dancer should be, but we done the best we could with as little we had.
So we had our heart it and we still tribing and it's been a long struggle
since we really started a dance group in even going to Illinois for
three years. Fields had to leave er Pensacola and find work. It's slowed
down a little bit but part of that time, Kenny,,the one we mentioned, he
he was working close with me and Fields. When we wasn't there, daddy was
the chief, Calvin McGhee would be onec-of us around he could call on.
Well he said so and so want us in a pow-wow up in Indiana or Birmingham
or where it's scheduled, one of us would be ready to go. I don't care
where Fields was, they could give him a ring, and he would be ready .
Calvin you canAcount on me, I'll be there. Anytime you want to take on an
Indian dance, I'll be there. How about the ___. Daddy's
always depended on Fields' for driver. Well, daddy bought a bus particularly
for taking the Indians to pow-wow and Fields was his favorite riL vc
over in being with the group because a couple of times when Fields
wouldn't be there, he said oh, we lack something, Fields, and that's what
we're lacking, and he just, Fields just had something -- a spirit in there
P: I was getting ready to ask. What was the motivation for both of you really
getting involved in all of this?
M: Well, let me put it this a way. It was something that was new to me.
When I first seen it and got interested in it, I thought well, if we
can start something around here and make a go of it, it will kind of
help our older people. You know in the years to come, maybe they can
help themselves, make a living for themselves, because there's a lot of people
around here that's not able to work and if we can get something built up
here so they can start making trinkets or baskets or things like that, I'm
gonna mention about going to North Carolina, you know up in the where
the Cherokees are at. We took a four-day tour up there and we went through
the places up there, the workshops and where they was making arrowheads and
things like that and -A seeing things like that, it got me interested
in it because my mother's old and his mother's old and this just say I got
it into my mind if I can learn this to my people and his people's doing
it themselves, maybe they can make a living for themselves just right at
home. So that's one of the reasons I really got interested in the thing.
P: Primarily an economic motivation, not for yourselves, but for the community.
M: Yes, I was able I was a young man and I was able to get out and work for
myself and then I might say that which we heard about the drums and the
"3L i o.-S o
Indian dances which we'd never have before us when we was younger, and oQur
teenagerS didn't have nobody to teach us, but when me and Fields made our
first drum, just the sound of the drum broke some feelings4 o T and we might
should carry on of our ancestors because we heard so much talk and our
hearts were Creek Indians, and the sound of that drum and know we made it,
it just does something to you. That gives you the feeling to kind of keep
on- doing but from the Indian side of it. And we have to go out and do other
work and all that, but society and all that right now, we were, what
you say, versatile people? And we mix with either group, with rock and roll
music and that but you come back to beating with the old drum, that gives
you the feeling of way back then what your ancestors were real happy and
kind of let down by a lot of folks, especially the government and the beat
of a singleAit gives you a sense of kind of free, or you're Eappy or you
just want to do the thing your way.
P: Do you think that the younger kids that you got involved with this thing,
felt the same way or was it just the thrill of going off someplace b > Cm -
M: I believe a lot of the boys, I actually believe they did it for their own
benefit. I don't believe it was just the thrill of getting away from home.
I believe it was just something new to them that they wanted to learn.
P: Have you, since yowweft to Pensacola, have you continued to try and do
something with the dance group here?
M: Yes, I taught, I've been in the dance group back and forth up here and
trying to keep the dance group up. As a matter of fact, three or four
months ago, we was up in Birmingham, up there to, I believe it was the
race we seen up there, wasn't it Hugh? The race up there
in Birmingham we seen? You know to advertise or the promotion
deal It's like you said, look, I go'the stuff in my glove and I
don't want to get rid of it. I mean if I can keep it going, keep in
health -- I got two little boys coming up and my oldest used to dance
with the group until we moved to Pensacola but I plan on moving back up
here to help Houston himself to keep this up.
P: I've noticed that the basic dances that you all do are the kind that a lot
of tribes are doing basically derived from the Plains Indians. Have you
given much thought to the tribes who revised strictly Creek Indian type
dancing at all?
M: Yeah, I've thought about it several times. Me and Fields talked about it
several years ago, but we hadn't been able to get a regular Creek Indian
that knows the Creek songs that goes to the dances and the Creek way of
dancing, but the most outstanding dance of the Creek Indians 1e the green
corn dance or either the stalk dance is real great in the Creek dance.
But they had the beaver and the rabbit and several other concerned in the
forest in hunting but they didn't have no really fancy stepping war dance
that I know of, but I imagine they had some kind of little spirit of the
dance for war dance, but that is something I'm still looking in for and I
hope to learn, but between myself and other ones real interested in helping
to capture the really true Creek Indian dances.
P: Of course when you go with these other pow-wows, the basic dances that all
the other tribes are doing is the same .
M: It's based on the same type dancing that we do. Yeah, excuse me
a minute. AAbout the onliest thing that I've seen different in the dancing
that other tribes are doing that we do, they got what they call a fancy
dance. As each brave gets out there and shows his style of dancing and
that's about the onliest one that I know that we haven't got that the other
tribes do have.
P: Let me go back to the very beginning, this will be my last question. You
guys were talking what you want. Houston, what was your dad's inspiration--
before the dance group actually got organized-for getting into costume
and all that sort of thing? How did he feel about getting started on that?
M: Well, my feeling of it, he wanted to be recognized. He wanted the group
to be recognized and the Creek Indians to be recognized. Only way to get
it recognized was to get it before the public. It started, well, first
when it first really started rooting for Indian rights and Indian privilege
it was1948, 1947-'48 around there about. But it learned really what
the Indians wore, you know, and then as he grew old in the politics\meeting
the public, he wasn't as recognized as he wanted to be, so he started
adding more of an Indian touch to it. Then my mother, she saw it, several
more of the people working around close to him saw it and so mother finally
got him a headress, which he wanted, a headress, when he met in a public
speaking or somewhere where he wanted to identify himself as an Indian.
One way I a lot of people will say, well, the Creeks didn't wear a
head bonnet or the didn't wear a head bonnet, but at this stage of
time, that's the best way if you got feathers around you, that's any-
where a godd groom of feathers, you're recognized you say, well, he's
part Indian or something
P: Because that's what the public expects?
M: Yeah, the public expects a head bonnet since the first ,-r movie, picture
shows have put the Indians so in their class what they want to do but
this is what the public expects and also the public wanted if they
knowed you was Indian, they wanted;'you to dance. I mean they thought
Indians was supposed to dance and which I think the Indians are doing
good. We've got some good dancers, Indian dancers and modern dancers.
P: Really you and Fields have put that dancing component in there more so
than your dad do you think?
M: Yes, me and Fields were strictly one .
P: I was gonna ask, too, what was the reaction of other members of the
Indian.community around here when your dad first started putting on the
feathers and this sort of thing?
M: I hate to say it about the people around here, but I think when he
started that, he was trying to help his people out around here. He was
trying, just like Houston said, tryinto meet the public and be recognized
and also he was trying to get his people recognized. A lot of these people
around here thought about him wearing his headress -- he was trying to
con them out of everything that they I know it's wrong myself.
But I know the man, I've been with him near and far and if I was never
correct, he never did have to ask anybody for anything. Matter of fact,
he died a poor man, and I can remember myself and Calvin McGhee had anything
that he wanted, a farm, cars, tractors, anything he wanted -- he had that
himself. He didn't have to ask nobody for nothing. I know he told me a lot
of times that he went to the bank and signed for me to get money and I never
did get to pay it back, well, he paid it. I asked him to that's why
he started wearing his headress to help his people.
P: You're saying some of the people didn't understand that?
M; They didn't understand that. They thought by him wearing that and
suppers they would have for him to go to Washington, they thought he's
taking that money and pocketing it to benefit himself. But he was trying
his best to help the people down here. But a lot of people didn't realize
that. Also, a lot of them thought well, maybe he's trying to make a big
name for hisself. Only thing he was trying to do is meet the public and
interest the people who could help the Indians and show there was Indians
in Alabama. At first, we wasn't organized, wasn't by government
_e,_-i there wasn't no Indians existing in Alabama, and this was one
way everytime he would meet another public eye, he would know they was
might have to add another feather to his bonnet. After then, he kept on
until he got a full Indian costume, which wasn't all a Creek costume but
it was something to attract the eyes of the people trying to get help for
his people. This is why he in a lot of cases he bought some beads from
the store and then mother bought, I mean made, most of the beads he wore
but to make it in a rush period, he had to do something 'cause he knowed
he was in a stage that something had to turn over and he was, seemed he
was a slow man of wanting things to go the right way, but it wasn't go
over fast enough for him, so he worked until he got him a full Indian
costume it could be like Apache designs on it, it could be a fuCreek
but a head. he wore that everywhere he went to meet the public, which
you know, the head bonnet was a main western-type Indian, but the Creeks
did wear feathers in their hair. It may hang down with a quill sticking
through their hair but also they had feathers around them so we're the
S I go over
copies of _. to it, I like that bonnet myself,
I think it's beautiful*
P: Yeah, I've noticed you in some pictures of your dad at your house,
there was a sort of a red neck-tie type thing with sort of a curve, little
curves on it which looks really Creek to me and I wondered about where that .
M: His wife made that.
M: Yeah, that was one mother particularly made .
M: I got quite a few of them things in my house that my ryov^ said that
P: And that particular one looks really like a Creek design more so than .
M: And from the designs she got, I don't know, the spirit might have been
with her to make it from the designs of the Crrek, but to me, I'm with
you, it do kind of semble some Creek beadwork.
P: Let me ask you one more thing, do you gentlemen feel like you really are
beginning what you began in 1960 is beginning to pay off in something other
than economic sense or economic either?
M: Well, in one way of speaking, yes. We've got, I was asking Houston this
afternoon about over here on the interstate, they was supposed to put
up a big lake over there and a motel and this would attract tourist
attraction in other words boat rides and was supposed to be run
by Indian people here, and if we could just get that up, I think
we've accomplished quite a bit.
P: What about in the spirit of the community, do you think your dance group
has had any effect there?
M: Yes, I believe they have.
M: I'll go along with that. On an Indian basis, it's helped. It's been one
of the work forces. When we started, now, we used to practice these boys
right out here at the schoolhouse and you couldn't hardly get a person
out of the house to come out there and watch it. We kepon entering these
shows and we were on and come back and the kids themselves would tell the
people, tell their parents about the good time they had, the things that they
seen and the things they done and we put on a show out here, we'd get
bigger groups, even a big burrow of people in and in town would come
to it, the a.r or the chief of police, and all of that, they would
participate in this.
The governori-as a matter of fact, I got a picture of Governor Patterson
out here at the schoolhouse and I think if we get this site over here,
what's the apartments now, I believe we've accomplished a little.
P: Would you go so far as to say in terms of the long-range effect that the
Indian dance group will be as important as the land claims money?
M: I believe so 'cause the Indian dance group will giv4he, it puts th`
feeling back to the people and especially the young ones growing up which
the old ones, now, what 40 to 70 years old, they lost that. Myself I
didn't have nobody to teach me and Fields didn't either when we was
teenagers. I would have enjoyed it and I know Fields would if we
had heard some of the old ones around beating the drum. In this sense
to me the drum beating, the dancing, the old Indian dance, is a part of
us and they enjoy it and go on back to the, I don't believe if it hadn't
been _| 11_ dance group working together and trying to between me and
Fields and Kenny, and now Billy Smith has taken part and doing a very
good job working closely with the dance group, wouldn't have bring more
outside people's attention to our group. They know we would and
wanting to do something for the younger generation which will build up
their generation and this is what we hope that in the past we'll do that
our Indian heritage is gone but not forgotten, so let's keep it up and
this will benefit our people, the Indian people, of the local non-Indian
people and cities out around us will know we are ancestors from the Creek
Indians of Alabama, which are doing a thing that needs 'cause the Creek
Indians is a part of the history of nlr rarntry and which we think, in
my opinion, and when I first come to Fields for a dance group, this
should be kept up, I mean if we lost it now, we'll never get it. So,
I think it plays a good, big part in the local community, city wise and
state level because Alabama the Creek Indians made up the history
of the first of Alabama.
And I think that the $tate of Alabama should recognize this group that
has been trying to struggle for years to hold something, to be recognized
and do something for the older people and this is what hurts sometimes.
You're talking it over, just like Fields spoke, we would like to get a
program started to help the older people orAyou talk with different people
anywhere in the community. I wish we had a place whereAthe old, people
could have really good care and then some of the young people which
their families are not able enough to give good care to them. One
thing is the dental care and this is where we are really hurting in that
area is dental care and this is the health of a kid growing up is their
teeth. This is the type program we'd like to work in with and it
could be worked in and be promoted by Indians here.
P: Have you consciously thought about the Indian dance group as(being\really
aoAag a means to get some health care and this sort of thing? Has that
really been in your mind?
M: Well, not really. My opinion has brought a light, I would say. That
first we got a program, got little kids interested in doing something,
which we never had in the past. You know, different programs supposed
to, I mean for poor people, to take care of them, but in some way, we,
the Creek Indians is lacking to get this type care. But our dance group
will help for the public topee the light on what their needs are. This is
one way we can really spread our feelings to the public about performing,
doing an Indian dance.
P: They get you before the pubic in the first place .
M: Yeah. This is a means of getting us before the public.
P: I wanted to ask you, you were talking about the older people and I know
that your dad went places with the dance group and also the late Norman
McGhee, were thM any other older people who would put on costume to go
with the group?
M: Yes, we've had several Howard McGhee, he passed away. I think he went
on a couple trips with us. And Norman's wife, she went on several trips
with us, matter of fact, she worked in Tennessee with us when we were up
there. And his two brothers, didn't they go to one time with us?
M: He's speaking of old ones there 50, 60 years old.
P: How long, for example, has)Tom McGhee from Pensacola been putting on costume?
M: Tom started us off, didn't he go to Rowood with us?
M: No. His first trip was Indiana, I believe. I'm not sure on this.
M: Somewhere in .(changed sides of tape)
P: Some of the older people put on costumes and take part in this.
M: It wasn't easy. Norman, the Medicine Man, he never __ in medicine,
and he was a well-liked gentleman, and he could be in the community
some of these had little government ways that he didn't got along
with, but as a person they all liked him. But he was one, he was all
fringe? When he first seen daddy, the chief, Calvin McGhee, had on a
head dress and he wanted something Indian. He didn't care what it was,
he wanted to start fringing his clothes. So he was a good backbone helping
to promote I mean and get together with the group to meet the public
when we was meeting. He was a star of the program, might1 ry say.
P: What did he do?
M: Well at first, and I really don't know where we got it from, it just
come up. Norman might have, but it come up before we made a dance appearance
and we never did do no, and I don't think we did, no religious ceremonial
Creek Indian dance and not other tribe dances, ceremonial dances. But
he'd always run the evil spirits away that was his part he was a Medicine
Man we'd let him play the part of the Medicine Man. But this was all in .
he didn't do none of his ceremonial medicine in front of the public.
P: You mean his actual herb medicines?
M: Yeah, open in front of the public, he never did do. He just would go, as a
rule, he would say the evil spirits had to be away from the dancing grounds.
And so this happened in years ago when all the village would get together,
everybody there, the evil spirits had to go,onr3icKchby the Medicine Man.
Then I'll speak of Mal McGhee, he was a good backbone of daddy, Chief
Calvin McGhee. He stood behind he come down and talk out here in
front of the house and talk for 3 or 4 hours a time on what we could do
and he's always, see this ballpark out here, he was always saying, we
need a ballpark for the young kids. And he was a firm believer in a
ballpark, a recreation center right in the community, and he would .
it went for years. We just couldn't get nobody, enough kids interested
in doing this, but it's come on down where it's paying off. He was
the backbone of really pushing a ballpark.
P: Let me ask you about Norman. Do you think the fact that he had for
several years in his life been practicing as an Indian Medicine Man,
do you think that was part of his inspiration for wanting an Indian
costume and all of that? Not so much an Indian Medicine Man but an
M: I believe so, because he'd tell me, I wish I had knowed about my Indian
costume years ago. He said I wished I had learned more years ago be-
cause I've met so many interesting people since when he had his feathers
on, his Indian costume on and I believe it might. He just loved to
wear it, everywhere he went, when he carried out to meet the public, he
was like my father, he'd put that bonnet on and boy he'd have he
didn't met an Indian nowhere.
P: He was really up into his sixties when you all started or .?
M: He was 73 when he died. He was in his early sixties when he started.
P: He died in what year again?
M: '68, wasn't it?
P: You mentioned you never did ceremonial dances, was there ever any time
that there was any Christian religion, say as having a prayer, say getting
the boys together to have a prayer or anything like that, or was that not
part of it?
M: No, I don't believe we ever had.an Indian prayer before the show or anything
like that, but the people themselves, when we go to the park, to put on a
show, they would always have a flag raising, either have a prayer before
the show begin, they would do that.
P: So there was no actual religion involved, but was there an attempt to
try and make it as much Indian dancing to ___ oa -tke moral uplift
program for the boys at all or?
M: Yes, and also to mostly entertain the audience, the people themselves.
P: Well, is there anything else that you guys would like to say about the
Indian dancing activities that I haven't asked you about?
M: Well, there is one thing I'd like to say. I actually believe deep down
in my heart that we have got one of the best, if not the best, Indian dance
groups in the United States, so all the time that we've had to train the
boys, you train one of these boys around here and when he gets a little older,
maybe he wants to drop out, but the younger boys coming along, they
take up. They watch the show themselves one time, they take up the step
and tha/away we 'don't have to go to-the trouble of training him if he
watch it, he picks it up himself. And by that way, see, we can continuously
have a dance group and we've had several boys, here's one dancing,
but I believe they had the schoolhouse, didn't they?
M: Yeah. __
M: They had a contest out here and they participated and several
of the boys, they won trophies out here.
M: This is what we want our group to do to be really recognized is go to
other pow-wows and put forth and join on in their dancing and we would like
to have it big enough and strong enough Wtre we could bring other tribes
here to perform Indian programs and our Creek here, and this is a program
bri \ I S
where I'm fairly wanting to see is @ or 20 tribes right here in this
community here and just have a three-day pow-wow and this would give
really the young boys and the young girls on the about how the
Indian heritage and this is really what I'm interested and I hope Fields
is and other ones working close to us is interestedfA our young ones
take hope and don't drop out at an early age as they do. We've had a lot
of trouble with this in the past. We get them up to a good Indian dancer
and able to learn more about their Indian heritage and then they get dis-
couraged. BCut we got to bring up some kind of program that will e w-Aur-S
keep on trying and will make a bigger and joyful program and then joyful
get together, using, not using, being theirself in keeping the Indian
heritage alive. This is really what I'm really interested in.
P: You are now at the point where many of the boys dancing, they can't remember
a time when there wasn't dancing going on in the community, I guess.
Some of the boys 11 and 12 years old now, since they've been babies, there's
been dancing going on.
M: I would say they would, 'cause Odell and Mary is our oldest dancers still
with the form that a dancer has. They was five, six years old when they
started and a lot of the other boys like Ronnie Ray Jackson, Don Jackson,
Edward Gibson, Edward Rolin and ... these boys have dropped out and might
have gotten kind of shy when they got bigger, but these type guys I like
to keep back in here and really when we have a pow-wow get in there
and get with the Indian dance because it's something their ancestors left
them and I know they would feel better in the happy hunting ground if
they knowed they was young boys from the young generation kept practicing
better methods of back from the older days where .
P: That's a good note to stop on.