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COLUMN: Ocmulgee Native Celebration Celebrating Muskogee (Creek) Culture and Arts

Muskogee (Creek) artist Johnny Diacon’s work depicts the contemporary and historical lives of the people of Muskogee (Creek) Nation. He and his work will appear at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Indigenous Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

Special to Telegraph

If you’ve been watching FX Productions’ Reservation Dogs on Hulu, you’ve probably seen a painting of Johnny Diacon without realizing it.

Diacon is an artist and a registered member of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation whose paintings are on the walls of a show advertised as a Native American teen comedy. It was taken in Oklahoma, at a later Muskogee home.

On Saturday and Sunday, Diacon attends the Ocmulgee First Nations Celebration at 1207 Emery Highway at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

In a phone conversation with Tulsa, Diacon told me the creators of the show were looking for him for the painting. They’re not the only ones looking for him.

At age 59, Diacon’s traditional and contemporary works are done in what is known as a flat style, focusing on the people and activities of his country.

His award-winning paintings are widely scattered in permanent collections and exhibits, including Bacon College, where he attended, the University of Arkansas Museum of Contemporary Indian Art at the University of Arkansas, and the University of Arkansas. The Museum of Native American History (MONAH) in Bentonville, Arkansas hosted a flat style workshop and co-curated MONAH’s first contemporary art exhibition.

In addition to working in art materials, Diacon has painted murals for comic books, including the graphic novel compilation Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers Volume 1, published by Native Realities Press. See “Mission Alaska” in the series.

As far as can be traced, Joy Harjo, 23rd American Poet Laureate and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, was dissatisfied with the cover art proposed for her book American Sunrise. , adds that they sought him out. She asked Diacon for improvement.

And Diacon, at first unwitting with each other, both Muscogee officials and the organizers of the Okmulgee Mounds celebration contacted him to produce a painting during this weekend’s celebration.

“It’s my ancestral home, but I’ve never been to the Okmulgee Mounds,” Daikon said. “As a modern man, I can say that I was born in exile in Oklahoma. has come to fruition.

Muskogee (Creek), which once called the region along the Ocmulgee River and much of Georgia and Alabama home, was forced to relocate as a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Most people associate the infamous Trail of Tears with the Cherokee and Tennessee, but the ripping of Native Americans from their hometowns, their homes, their businesses, their farms, their wealth essentially confiscated, and the loss of their wealth to the White Residents. There were many tear trails, as they were redistributed to

The sad and tragic story is told more fully elsewhere, but it’s worth acknowledging here.

Over the last few years, ties between Oklahoma and central Georgia have developed, with Muscogee principal David Hill, other Muskogee leaders, Ocmulgee Mounds Park leaders, the National Park Service, the local Okmulgee Mounds Association, and the Okmulgee Mounds Association. such as national parks and conservation initiatives.

And, of course, in no small part, the Okmulgee Native Festival itself has brought and featured all sorts of Southeastern Native American storytellers, dancers, demonstrators, artisans and other important—and in these parts often forgotten—story for 30 years. I’ve been tell me.

This year marks the first full-scale celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendent Carla Beasley of Okmulgee Mounds said it’s good to welcome Native Americans and celebratory visitors.

“Highlights of this year’s event included traditional dances, music, demonstrations and hands-on activities, with attendees riding a traditional canoe that traditional craftsmen began building this spring. “The canoes will be on display in the visitor center after the event,” she said.

Lisa Lemon is the executive director of the Okmulgi Mounds Association, a community organization that serves as a park cheerleader, operates a gift shop, and raises funds for educational events.

“The best part for me is the people who come,” she said. “I love seeing the charm of the visitors and the pride and passion of the indigenous peoples who share their culture in so many ways. Because I know it’s important.

“It’s beautiful to hear the music played and the languages ​​spoken here again. It’s a wonderful day and a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with different indigenous peoples.”

Johnny Daikon drawing Muscogee.jpg
Muskogee (Creek) artist Johnny Diacon’s work depicts the contemporary and historical lives of the people of Muskogee (Creek) Nation. He and his work will appear at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Indigenous Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Special to Telegraph

Here are some key facts about the celebration:

  • Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
  • This is one of the few events in the park that requires a fee. Tickets can be purchased on-site or in advance at Fees are $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-12, and free for children under 6.
  • Parking is offsite only and is free in the spacious former Macon Bibb Health Authority parking lot at 171 Emery Hwy. A complimentary shuttle operates between the parking lot and the event from 9 AM to 6 PM. The shuttle is wheelchair accessible.

On a slightly related note, Newtown Macon this week premiered an outdoor Second Street Alley exhibit called “From Ocmulgee to Ocmulgee: Rekindling the Fire.” Curated by Tracie Revis, member of the Muscogee Nation and Advocacy Director of the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative, the show features five Muscogee and Yuchi artists/photographers: Yatika Fields, Victoria Tiger, Sierra Revis, Featuring Tom Fields and Melissa Apel.

The number of muskogee (cliques) at the annual festival has been growing, but this year it’s skyrocketed to 150. According to Lemon, many represent tribal government departments and have pamphlets and information to further tell the past and present stories of Muscogee life. Indian Country attractions and sightseeing opportunities are on hand to share. ( Muscogee Nation)

Diacon said he was eager to make the trip to show his people and his art to the people of his ancestral homeland. I prepared to meet people and packed my supplies. Broken takes a short break from his day job as a warehouse manager at Arrow (Oklahoma) Public Schools.

His story is a little more enlightening.

“I was born into a Muskogee (Creek) family but was adopted into a Cherokee family at an early age.” Because I didn’t get enough care.My adoptive father was a sign painter and graphic artist.I was around his supplies and became interested in art.I especially started helping him with painting. I did.”

In fourth grade, his parents realized he had poor eyesight and got him glasses. He clearly saw and was fascinated by the paintings of Native Americans painted in a flat style on the doctor’s wall.

“I liked it, I had a knack for it, and it was my escape, so I kept painting,” Daikon said. “We moved from Oklahoma to Springdale, Arkansas. When I go out, I become Mr. Spock when I play “Star Trek.” I identified with him because he was different, smarter, stronger with many skills. I liked it Other kids wanted to be Captain Kirk. It was good for me. ”

Another positive character he found was Little Sure Shot, the heroic Native American member of the classic comic Sgt. rock easy company.

Those and other trials and tribulations and good times have brought Diacon to where he is today. He says that by portraying his people candidly, he hopes to break down the stereotypes many people have when thinking about their native Americans.

“There is also a kind of bitterness, a kind of sadness in going home,” he said. “It’s not animosity, but the sadness of why all this had to happen and why we had to leave a place so important to us: our homes? I’m looking forward to seeing something that has a strong connection that has never happened before.

“When it comes to my art, there was a void I wanted to fill. I want to show people that. My contemporary work also has that traditional theme.”

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Please contact writer Michael W. Pannell at

Johnny Diacon at work Muscogee.jpg
Renowned Muskogee (Creek) artist Johnny Diacon travels from Oklahoma to Macon to exhibit his work and do live painting at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Indigenous Celebration on Saturday and Sunday. This painting will be part of the Okmulgi Mounds collection. Special to Telegraph