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Saving Their Stories

October 10 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the United States. Here’s how the Muscogee Nation is making sure their stories are told.

A landscape has a grassy mound in the foreground and distance with trees in the background.
© Viktor Posnov/

This land was once home to the people of the Muscogee Nation.

The people of the Muscogee Nation once called Georgia home. Now, a piece of land in central Georgia, with lush forests and green plains, may become a national park. 

Leaders from the Muscogee Nation are working with the U.S. government on a plan to set aside this land as Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve. Creating the park isn’t just a way to protect the forest and wildlife. It’s also a way to help keep Muscogee culture alive.

People have lived around the Ocmulgee River, which runs through the parcel of land, for 17,000 years. The Muscogee people lived in the area for hundreds of years. Then, in the 1820s and 1830s, the U.S. government drove them out. The government forced the Muscogee people to settle in Oklahoma (which was not yet a U.S. state). Today, the Ocmulgee is still a very important part of Muscogee history and culture.

“Our history is here,” David Hill, principal chief of the Muscogee Nation, told Voice of America. “Our ancestors are here. Our stories started here.”

Part of the area has been a national monument since 1936, but if the U.S. government approves the plan for a national park, more of the land will be protected. That means it won’t be built on. 

A national park would also attract visitors. They can go hiking, boating, and fishing, or just enjoy the land and wildlife. They can also learn about the history of the area—how American Indians, including the Muscogee people, lived on the land for thousands of years.

“This is lush, gorgeous land. The rivers are gorgeous here,” said Tracie Revis, whose Muscogee ancestors once lived here. “We believe that [our] ancestors are still here, their songs are still here, their words are still here, their tears are still here.”

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Did You Know?

An animation shows flags from different American Indian nations flashing on and off.
yfpro/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Today, the U.S. government recognizes 574 American Indian nations. Among the nations, there is a huge range of traditions, languages, and cultural beliefs.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

People in the clothing of an American Indian nation perform a dance outdoors
Joseph Prezioso—AFP/Getty Images

Members of a dance group called Cetiliztli Nauhcampa perform at a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021. The group is made up of Indigenous people.

The second Monday in October is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It’s a day when Americans recognize the history and the many cultures of American Indian and Alaska Native nations. These nations include the Muscogee, the Wampanoag, the Massachusett, the Sioux, the Navajo, the Yup’ik, and hundreds of others.

American Indian and Alaska Native people have been in North America for thousands of years—much longer than Europeans, who first started settling in North America about 500 years ago. Among American Indians, many nations developed. Each had its own culture, language, and beliefs.

Europeans started claiming land in what is now the United States in the 1500s. They began to build settlements there, which turned into towns and cities. Over time, they took more and more land. They took the land, even though the people of the Wampanoag, the Massachusett, and other nations were already living there. Sometimes, the U.S. government used violence to force the people off their land so that white people could settle there.

Today, there are nearly 10 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a time to celebrate their cultures. It’s also a time to think about our shared history—the story of America, how we treat each other, and how we can be kinder and more respectful to one another.


Learn More!

A composite of three faces of young, modern Indigenous people
© Tony Anderson—DigitalVision, Justin Lewis—Stone, RichLegg—E+/Getty Images; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

There is so much to learn about American Indians, or Indigenous peoples.

Learn more at Britannica School!

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:



: a tribe of American Indians or a group of American Indian tribes that share the same history, traditions, or language

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