Title: Interview with Houston McGhee and Fields McGhee (August 28, 1972)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007510/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Houston McGhee and Fields McGhee (August 28, 1972)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 28, 1972
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: Creek County (Fla.) -- History.
 Notes
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00007510
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Creek County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: CRK 35

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CRK 35A
Houston and Fields McGhee
with
A. Paredes



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
7
a go to Day.

P: Which was in ?

M: Pensacola, Florida. And then from there I got t .oock t- and we started
4hc-
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
Edward
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
-7
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






2



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
invited
boys and 12 girls and we had A everybody up and stuff that was
to make
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?
No
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





3



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
50 F7r4-t-
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
7
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






4



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 ..
7
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?








5



M: Well, I picked it up just listening, being at the pow-wows meeting with

other Indians.

P: The first time out that you danced, did you have singing with it or just

the drum?

M: No, just the drum. Our group didn't, but the other groups in Indiana

they chanted, they did their .
-7
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,
VP 7,kerc-
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
-7
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,
-7.
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






6



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
e7
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?

M: Yes.

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

particular group?

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
tw-i'bP





7


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
there
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






8



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.
in
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 .
always
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

with him.

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







9



around here that's not able to work and if we can get something built up
c-,d
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
by me
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
drum
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 -








10


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
7
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






11




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
You know,
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
r,^C-Q" V
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






12



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





13



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 .





14



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

she made.

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
"h 5
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.






15



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.






16



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?





17



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.

For example,
"-7
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






18



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
ko0
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

herb doctor?

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






19



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?
did kaJa-
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







20



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
7
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
in seeing
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.





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