Muscogee Nation Offers Food Sovereignty Class

Feb 15th, 2011 | By | Category: 22-3: Food Sovereignty, Spring 2011, Tribal College News
By Karen Haught

In December 2010, the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) moved to a new 22,000- square-foot facility, which is located on a 15-acre campus in Okmulgee, OK, the capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Student resident apartments are being planned for construction in the spring of 2011. “We are fortunate to have the support of the principal chief and the national council, which benefits our student body,” says President Robert Bible. “We are very excited about the new campus and the pride our students are showing as the campus develops.”

Organized as a tribal college in 2004, CMN is an associate member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. It offers four associate degrees (Gaming, Native American Studies with an emphasis in the Mvskoke Language, Police Science, and Tribal Services). Beginning in spring 2011, CMN will begin offering three courses related to the Mvskoke traditional arts and contemporary interests of CMN students. These courses provide Mvskoke cultural context through lectures and class activities.

The contemporary issues course is a food sovereignty class, team taught by Ben Yahola and Dr. Lee Vasquez-Ilaoa, both of whom are recognized community leaders in the food sovereignty movement. Their course introduces students to the evolution of local and global food sustainability cause and relates it specifically to American Indian tribes. They also examine issues in land and water management, food production and distribution, and health practices affecting tribal communities.

Within the flute making class, music in the Mvskoke community is emphasized. Nelson Harjo—a well known Mvskoke tribal flute maker—instructs students in the art of making cedar flutes. Students make flutes and learn traditional Mvskoke musical notes to be used in a recital performance. “These are traditional skills that have been passed down from one generation to the next throughout the centuries from the ancient ones to our present day communities,” says Norma Marshall, an instructor and coordinator for Native American Studies. “The classes reinforce that Native skills are still living and important to our people.”

The Mvskoke ballstick making class is another traditional arts course CMN is now offering. Students experience the historic practice of ballstick making under the guidance of Ronnie Sands, who also teaches math at CMN.

For more information, contact Karen Haught at (918) 549-2812 or

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